Intelligent Design

AAAS Response to Expelled

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I see all these scientists and science teachers in this video proclaiming they see “God’s Hand” in the universe all day long then in the same breath they say design detection is bogus.

So what exactly do they “see” that convinces them that God’s hand is all over the place? Obviously it isn’t rational evidence that can weighed, measured, or otherwise rationally evaulated because that would be science and furthermore it would be the science behind intelligent design.

Personally I think these people are either liars who are not convinced they see God all over the place or they are being truthful in becoming convinced of things with no rational evidence which technically means they are hallucinating and probably shouldn’t be allowed to drive a car lest they start seeing these big designing hands in the road and swerve to avoid them.

Sorry if I’m offending anyone but these people disgust me. They’re all like “I believe in rational inquiry, science, and bearded thunderers who live in the sky and worry about my immortal soul”. Please. Choose one or the other but not both.

265 Replies to “AAAS Response to Expelled

  1. 1
    bFast says:

    As the church lady would say, “Isn’t that special”.

    How many on this site would have to give up their faith if they discovered that law alone explained it all?

    Not Me.

    For that matter, how many on this site do not hold to a particular faith position?

    I bet, about 10%

    How many are IDers because of the scientific evidence alone.

    I am.

    ‘C-mon yous guys, respect the facts of the data. There’s good data-based reasons for many to take an ID position. Your simple formula ID = religion is full of it!

  2. 2
    StephenB says:

    Dave, your powerfully concise analysis of TE confusion may be the best that I have ever read.

  3. 3
    tragicmishap says:

    It’s good to see somebody downplaying the so-called war between science and religion anyway. That’s one thing I would agree with them on.

  4. 4
    StephenB says:

    The irony is this: It is the TE who pits religion against science, because it proposes a divided truth—one for religion and one for science.

    ID assumes the unity of truth, and therefore encourages the proposition that religion and science are compatible —each provides one aspect of the same truth.

  5. 5
    Rude says:

    Well spoken Dave!

    These guys nauseate me to no end! Give me an honest atheist or agnostic any day! I hate to say it but religion in America is sick! sick! sick! Not everyone, of course, but do we even have a minyan with their heads on straight?

  6. 6
    DaveScot says:

    Stephen

    I have no bloody idea what’s going on in these people’s heads that they so vehemently deny the possibility of science lending support to their religious faith.

    It’s like they want, need, and desire religion to be based on nothing but blind faith. Did I miss the memo from God where he said that science would never provide evidence of planning and purpose in nature? I just don’t get it. These people are not being either rational or reasonable.

  7. 7
    GilDodgen says:

    Francis Collins:

    Evolution is such an incredibly well-supported way of understanding everything in biology…

    There just went my respect for his supposed brilliance. Substitute “an unplanned, goalless, unguided, purposeless material process” for “evolution” (which is what the word means when used by AAAS “scientists”) and then see how the religion-and-evolution-are-perfectly-compatible argument sounds.

    How exactly does one argue that we were made by God in His image (an absolutely essential part of both Judaism and Christianity) through an unplanned, goalless, unguided, purposeless material process?

  8. 8
    William J. Murray says:

    “How many on this site would have to give up their faith if they discovered that law alone explained it all?”

    There would still be the problem of what explains the law.

    Perhaps both NDE’s and TE’s have a vested interest in not pursuing the evidence wherever it may lead.

    In other words, there a huge difference between a people that believes and has faith in god & and afterlife, and one that knows there is a god and an afterlife.

    I don’t think such knowledge would exactly be conducive to maintaining the daily status quo, which might be something NDE’ers and TE’ers wish to maintain.

  9. 9
    DrDan says:

    Dave,

    I get the impression from those in this video that they
    think its ok to believe in God if you are a scientist, as long as God remains a bit “fuzzy”. In other words, those who believe in TE will say they see the hand of God, but don’t ask them to be too specific. ID is specific, which is what it is meant to be. BTW, ID says nothing about God and yet those in the video mention the designer is God. There are therefore extrapolating in a way ID does not.

  10. 10
    RickToews says:

    Personally I think these people are either liars who are not convinced they see God all over the place or they are being truthful in becoming convinced of things with no rational evidence…

    Hmmm… I’m not inclined to think such people are deliberately lying; however, I do suspect that what they say about faith may be (highly?) colored in many cases by the fact that on some level they want to believe. I’d guess that, as scientists, they’ve been trained to filter out what would ordinarily be obvious evidence of design, so that in fact they do NOT “see God all over the place.” They’d just rather not admit to themselves that their faith is pretty much dead in the water. Just a guess, though.

    Sorry if I’m offending anyone but these people disgust me. They’re all like “I believe in rational inquiry, science, and bearded thunderers who live in the sky and worry about my immortal soul”. Please. Choose one or the other but not both.

    Haha! What?? You? Offend someone? No…! (And I’m sure the thought of it would lie heavily on your conscience!)

    I have pretty low tolerance for such myself. Knee-jerk is to think of them as “educated idiots.” I probably wouldn’t trust their science beyond what can be demonstrated in the lab in the present, and I probably wouldn’t care to trust a religious “testimony” from them at all.

    Yet these people aren’t stupid; some of them are no doubt highly intelligent, as well as educated. I’d surmise they’re just intellectually inattentive to things that they’re not pressured to examine carefully and probably aren’t inclined to anyway.

  11. 11
    jerry says:

    In March I posted a lecture from the Teaching Company about how the science discoveries of Newton and the physical laws he discovered led at first to an awe of God but eventually to a feeling that there was no need for God since the laws replaced God. Essentially this was the rise of the Enlightenment. If one wants to read it, the link is below

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-190514

  12. 12
    jerry says:

    Ten years ago I was what would be called today a theistic evolutionists I knew next to nothing about evolution except that survival of the fittest made sense and if everyone in biology thought Darwin’s ides were right then it was ok by me.

    But I thought there was an overall order to the world and everything just fit into place and had no problem with God and thought it absurd that this could happen by itself. No science. So these people may have similar feelings to what I had 10 years ago.

    Except my ideas changed when I attended a conference at Cooper Union in New York in which Behe, Dembski and several others talked. That was the start of my journey to support ID. Now the order in the world made even more sense. The people in this video have the same access to the knowledge I have and yet are now on a different path. Why?

  13. 13
    StephenB says:

    —–Gil: “How exactly does one argue that we were made by God in His image (an absolutely essential part of both Judaism and Christianity) through an unplanned, goalless, unguided, purposeless material process?”

    A couple of TEs visited this blog a while back and I asked them almost that same question in a number of different ways. The funny part is that I can’t report on their answers because they were too incoherent to summarize.

    Someone recently asked Robert Russell, a dedicated TE and fierce ID opponent, to respond to Simpson’s famous statement: “Evolution is a purposeless, mindless process that did not have man in mind–Yes, or no! Russell responded, “from a theological perspective, no, from a scientific perspective, yes.” up.

  14. 14
    DrDan says:

    Jerry,

    I read you post from March. Very interesting. My impression is that Newton was distrubed theologically by his mechanistic laws. He understood the implications of them, that the laws imply a universe that does not require God. However, whats missing is what we have discovered in the 20th century. Underlying all this order is an uncertainity, namely quantum mechanics. QM places limites on what we can know.

  15. 15
    MaxAug says:

    This video is ridiculous.

    Other than the voluntary lying to themselves thing (or worse!), i believe they see no problem between physicalism and Christianity simply because they dont care much about the law of non contradiction.

    Anyway, AAS peeps must be really desperate to call Christians to do their defense 😀

  16. 16
    Jack Krebs says:

    I understand Russell’s statement (end of #13), for what that’s worth, and I think I have non-incoherent thoughts on the matter. However I think it would take a friendlier environment to try to explain – the depths of hostility here are pretty deep.

  17. 17
    StephenB says:

    Jack Krebs: “I understand Russell’s statement………

    Well, Jack, my derivative question was probably too easy anyway. Why not answer Gil’s fundamental question, and I’ll stay out of the way. (for a while)

  18. 18
    Charlie says:

    I don’t disagree with my fellow IDers here but I do want to point out that there are more ways to knowledge than merely science. Since I don’t believe anybody here really subscribes to scientism I would presume that we also accept logical and philosophical evidences for God or faith, as well as, for the Christians, history and revelation.

  19. 19
    bFast says:

    Gil:

    How exactly does one argue that we were made by God in His image (an absolutely essential part of both Judaism and Christianity) through an unplanned, goalless, unguided, purposeless material process?

    Mind if I put my TE hat on for a bit? I don’t find it unreasonable that God has chosen to hide his face. If God chose to not be found by science, he will not be found by science. It could be, for instance, that he established a set of laws which, without further guidance, with only the same determination that water has to find its way to the ocean, will produce intelligent life. It is even reasonable to suggest that as God knows that water will flow to the ocean, he knew that intelligent life would eventually arise. As God need not have charted every tidbit of the course that water would take, he may have not needed to chart every step of the process of evolutionary development. For all of science, it looks like life meandered in an unpurposeful way, yet the results are ultimately obligated by the laws.

    I don’t find TE to be theologically illogical. To me, the schtick is in the data. The big bang looks like a God act to me. Life looks like a God act to me. I note the fact that the hunt for first life has produced no genuine fruit. I look at the arguments against irreduceable complexity, and find them painfully unconvincing.

    What I am convinced of, by this movie, is that the AAAS genuinely believes that religious conviction is the heart and sole of ID. For me they are wrong!

  20. 20
    StephenB says:

    —–Charlie: I am completely in agreement with you. Science is a very high road, but by no means, the only road to knowledge. Indeed, the most important truths of all undergirds science. What is at issue is the unity of truth and the TE proposition that it can be divided. Rationality cannot accomodate more than one truth and sustain itself.

  21. 21
    StephenB says:

    —–bfast: “Mind if I put my TE hat on for a bit? I don’t find it unreasonable that God has chosen to hide his face. If God chose to not be found by science, he will not be found by science.”

    Well, there is the other half of the equation to be worked out. According to the Christian faith, God’s handiwork was made manifest, such that those who deny it “are without excuse.” How does one reconcile a Scriptural God who promised to show himself in nature with a God who hides himself in nature. That is the theological point.

  22. 22
    Rude says:

    Somebody said “educated idiots”—I rather like the term erudite nincompoops.

    As for Newton—his voluminous notebooks are now available on line. Newton is typically blamed for the deterministic view of materialist physics, but when you read him you see that he was as far from that as one could get—he was ID all the way. The opposite is Einstein’s universe—utterly determined, no now, no free will. The Darwinists, evidently not understanding Einstein, have taken the opposite tack—nothing’s determined, it’s all an accident.

    Newton questioned Church authority and its theology and thus his religious insights have not been very popular with churchmen. He would have been burned at the stake had he not been such a gift to Britain.

  23. 23
    jjcassidy says:

    Jack, I think Russell’s statement is unobjectionable as well. And I’m not exactly TE.

    The thing is I think I see the disconnect, as well. On the one hand, I buy that we shouldn’t presume where the evidence is leading. You may believe one thing, but that doesn’t make it inevitable. And working in this “humble”, agnostic way allows you to at least get another piece of the puzzle in focus, that you don’t have to presume about the big picture. Thus looking at the mechanical minutia, it is purposeless.

    However, being a fierce opponent of ID means that you don’t think that the trail can lead toward God, so you are being at least somewhat presumptuous of it. In addition you’re standing on the line with atheists who are trying to fill in the blanks–and let’s face it evangelize society with the new capabilities of a mind free from “God”.

    I see it this way because I can see the purposeless perspective. But I don’t see that the only valuable meta-narratives are ones that presuppose a total absence of purpose, when we don’t know how the mechanics speak to the idea of purpose.

    If you believe in God, you most likely believe that this is in some way a positive statement: Purpose exists. Purpose is a thing or state of something. The only difference is the question is it detectable? Now we might have settled with our own explanation that bridges the gap between God’s likelihood and his lack of evidence. But that doesn’t mean that we’ve arrived at God’s intended balance.

    (Now, in case anti-ID or materialist onlookers are whirling into a tizzy of bad reading, let me clarify why my frequent mention of “God” in this piece does not violate the distance between the “designer” and “God”. 1) Theological Evolution is in view here. Therefore “God” is entirely within context. 2) The complete absence of anything but a suggestion of design.)

    Quickly: Btw, I also understand that sometimes YECs and ID-ists can be too hostile to TEs.

  24. 24
    GilDodgen says:

    bFast:

    It could be, for instance, that he established a set of laws which, without further guidance, with only the same determination that water has to find its way to the ocean, will produce intelligent life. It is even reasonable to suggest that as God knows that water will flow to the ocean, he knew that intelligent life would eventually arise.

    But then evolution was not unplanned or purposeless, was it? It was designed.

  25. 25
    jjcassidy says:

    Gil:

    But then evolution was not unplanned or purposeless, was it? It was designed.

    Sometimes “knowing” it and proving it are two different things.

  26. 26
    bFast says:

    Gil, “But then evolution was not unplanned or purposeless, was it? It was designed.”

    And if you listen early in the interview Miller declares that in his opinion the universe is designed, its just that the design is not detectable.

  27. 27
    jjcassidy says:

    bFast:

    How many on this site would have to give up their faith if they discovered that law alone explained it all?

    Ahh. But I might never have come to faith, if it had. When I broke from being a nominal Christian at the age of 17, I had NO desire to go back to it. I was emancipated, free. The years have shown me it was only ever a belief.

  28. 28
    russ says:

    jjcassidy, I’m confused. Did you go from being a nominal Xn to a true Xn or from a nominal Xn to a non-Xn?

  29. 29
    StephenB says:

    —–“Sometimes “knowing” it and proving it are two different things.”

    Gil wasn’t making an epistemological statement, he was making a metaphysical statement.

  30. 30
    StephenB says:

    —–bfast: “And if you listen early in the interview Miller declares that in his opinion the universe is designed, its just that the design is not detectable”

    Here is what I find interesting about that. Christianity teaches that the design is detectable, so why does Miller, who claims to be so devout, deny a fundamental teaching of his faith by saying that it is not detectable. Also, he doesn’t really believe that the design is real anyway, because he is a Darwinist, which is another way of saying that design is an “illusion.” The contradictions are all over the place.

  31. 31
    bFast says:

    StephenB:

    he is a Darwinist, which is another way of saying that design is an “illusion.”

    For whatever reason Dr. Miller himself is not part of this dialog, so I’m doing a bit of mind reading here. However, I would suggest that the above statement is not necessarily true.

    Back to the water analogy — though gravity obligates that the drop of water will find its way back to the ocean, it doesn’t micromanage the drop’s path. If a series of laws obligates that, given enough time, intelligent beings will arise, the path of development may seem painfully random, but the destination may be sufficiently predictable. The design can be very real, and the random process may also be very real. The general result may be fully predictable, but the specifics of the result very unpredictable.

  32. 32
    StephenB says:

    bfast: I like your water analogy, but my question has to do with Miller’s committment to Darwinist processes which allow of no teleology. What you are describing sounds like front loaded ID evolution which is teleological and inconsistent with Darwinisms no-loaded evolution. I guess what I am saying is that if you load up evolution in any way, Darwin has left the building. Or, do I misunderstand your point?

    Also, there is still that problem about his own religion’s teaching about the detectability of design, which he rejects.

  33. 33
    GilDodgen says:

    I believe there is some confusion. The Miller discussion is probably in reference to my recent post here:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ager-show/

  34. 34
    StephenB says:

    Gil, you are right, and I think that I started the confusion. I am back on track now. Thanks.

  35. 35
    bFast says:

    StephenB, in light of the confusion that I have also engaged, I am responding to post #32 in the correct thread.

  36. 36
    Liz Lizard says:

    Gil, “But then evolution was not unplanned or purposeless, was it? It was designed.”

    And if you listen early in the interview Miller declares that in his opinion the universe is designed, its just that the design is not detectable.

    Wherever Miller’s statement comes from, it is pertinent here. To believe that the Big Bang must have been designed has an enormous impact on how one feels about life, the universe, and all that, but it has no practical impact that I can see on the conduct of empirical science.

    Is design not detectable in the aftermath of a designed Big Bang? No, what is detectable is apparently-improbable order, and one has to make some sort of judgment not strictly required by the empirical data to interpret that improbable order as design originating with some intelligence beyond spacetime.

    Many folks do not realize is that a statement like “beyond spacetime” is inherently absurd. Faith is always absurd. If a belief were justifiable by some rational process, we would not call it faith. The most important of all my beliefs are absurd.

  37. 37
    jjcassidy says:

    russ:

    jjcassidy, I’m confused. Did you go from being a nominal Xn to a true Xn or from a nominal Xn to a non-Xn?

    Both. 😀

    It’s the first–by the way of the second–although I’m reluctant to call myself a “true Christian”, just one that tries my best.

    What I thought I was saying is that the the notion that there was a better world out there without belief was only ever a belief.

  38. 38
    jjcassidy says:

    Gil wasn’t making an epistemological statement, he was making a metaphysical statement.

    That’s exactly what prompted my comment. I’m expressing how a viewpoint similar to what Russell and Miller expressed relates to questions about what actually is. That that what is reducible by method is not necessarily equal to what is actual.

    I agree with their skepticism, but it’s a little problematical if they also argue that Darwinism is true because the evidence points there. Perhaps the manner of 6-day creation is just a little hidden as well. Perhaps the evidence of the “Cambrian Explosion” just means that God does not disclose the exact details. But that kind of skepticism would get them laughed at. But it’s valid if one can argue that the set of all methodologically derivable things and the set of all true things are not equal.

  39. 39
    F2XL says:

    Do they really think this video is going to offset the realities pointed out in Expelled? If so then I would call into question just how competent the AAAS really is.

    Either way, I want my tax dollars back.

  40. 40
    reluctantfundie says:

    Hello readers,

    It’s time for, wacky comments from YouTube with me your host, reluctantfundie.

    OK, so the AAAS responds to Expelled with a video on how religion and science are compatible and I couldn’t agree more. I have a lot of respect for Collins and other Christians who don’t leap all over ID and call us all names. But then we come to the comments on the video and there we see the Darwin Army spouting the most ridiculous nonsense. Here are a few picks

    While I don’t agree with the conclusions that these people are making, they do serve to negate the false dichotomies that idiots like DaveScot and the rest of his ilk over at Uncommon Descent force down the throats of their readers.

    So reader’s here at UD, apparently DaveScot is cramming nonsense down our throats. Actually, I can sympathise with this comment in a way since every time I turn my computer on there’s a default script been inserted which automatically opens Firefox and jumps immediately to this blog and *forces* me to read everything and leave a positive comment before I can go anywhere else on the internet. Now, I’m a supporter of ID so that’s not a problem to me but for all those poor saps who DaveScot has hijacked and forced his material onto their computer screens, I feel a twinge of sympathy

    Yes, the people in this video are most likely incorrect in their beliefs. However, the error does not mean that the ID creationist side is true. Quite the opposite.

    OK, it’s spot the nonsense time. How to say very little in as many words as possible. Let’s summarise:

    * Francis Collins’ views on religion are probably wrong (how he knows this I’m not sure)

    * But because they’re wrong it doesn’t make ID right (huh? If Collins is wrong about God’s existence then so are creationists and the ID supporters who are religious)

    Then we retreat to the I-pulled-it-from-the-ncse-handbook-to-speaking-to-religious-nuts weirdness

    No gods are required to explain life and no evidence exists to support ID creationism.

    *sigh*

    Here’s another rational, scientifically balanced commentary from Zed1967

    I’ve got a better idea.
    F*** FAITH it is for idiots who talk to an imaginary dad in the sky.
    Celebrate science that can provide EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE for it’s claims unlike religion.

    Erm…well…I…OK.

    In the meantime, while I respect Collins et al, I fail to understand how they can hold two entirely contradictory precepts in their head. Either God created everything or he didn’t. You can’t say he did but then try to explain it all naturalistically, that’s a gaping double standard.

    Anyway, I liked that video, I don’t agree with it but I thought it was gracious and balanced.

    TRF

  41. 41
    jjcassidy says:

    Celebrate science that can provide EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE for it’s claims unlike religion.

    That’s funny. ID exists because the Darwinists can’t. The only rejoinder that Darwinists can make is to ask ID-ers not to hold them to such a strict standard, it’s being worked on.

    What scientistics don’t understand is that Science does provide empirical evidence for its’ claims. But it’s just like forensics. Where there is forensic evidence to convict, they’re very good at putting together a case and convicting. That does not mean the percentage of unsolved cases is 0.

    This takes logic: knowing the limitations of the “some are”, existential, statement. Science has solved some questions with empirical evidence. However, if you were to construct a purely empirically-based definition of evolution, you have what Behe points to in the Edge of Evolution. So while Scientistic Zed claims that it’s all about what you can prove materially, the Darwinists depend on just the faith-based, non-empirical elaboration of Zed’s belief.

    The complete empirical picture is either important or it is not. If it is, Darwinism has fallen far short. Sometimes is just good to know logic.

  42. 42
    bornagain77 says:

    What a sad movie, To see such hypocrisy in Collins is depressing. You keep givin it to them both barrels Dave.

  43. 43
    CannuckianYankee says:

    bfast: “For that matter, how many on this site do not hold to a particular faith position?

    I bet, about 10%

    How many are IDers because of the scientific evidence alone.”

    sorry for the late response to this first response (still reading the rest).

    I’m of the 90%. I didn’t come to faith out of ID. I came to faith out of an intuitive sense of the eternal, and then I rationalized the probabilities of the finite out of that:(The need for a First Cause, the impossibility of an infinite regression of finite events, etc… and without access to much data, mind you). I sense that perhaps most people come to faith out of a similar dynamic.

    So it was philosophical thinking, although somewhat elementary that led me to faith, but ID is one of the rationalities that support that faith.

    Dave Scott: “Personally I think these people are either liars who are not convinced they see God all over the place or they are being truthful in becoming convinced of things with no rational evidence which technically means they are hallucinating and probably shouldn’t be allowed to drive a car lest they start seeing these big designing hands in the road and swerve to avoid them.”

    I think that they are products of modern thinking, which tends to be seasoned with a smigin of postmodernism.

    I don’t think they have rationalized to themselves that they want it both ways. They haven’t delved deep enough to be aware of the contradictions. I don’t think they are intentionally lying to us from the depths of their thinking, but perhaps they lie in the presentation of their thinking due to the inherent inadequacies. I’m reminded of a passage of scripture: “having a form of godliness, yet denying the power thereof.” Some people want to hold onto “old” forms of thinking out of a “need” to respect tradition, yet they want to remain thoroughly “modern” for practical purposes, and as such, they are not detecting the larger inconsistencies of their thinking. But their thinking is comfortable for them.

    But I think that any one of us, given similar circumstances in the formation of our own worlviews, might have made the same choices, so being more correct does not make us better. We are all vulnerable to worldly intellectual temptations, and not one of us sees the whole picture.

  44. 44
    CannuckianYankee says:

    I said: “They haven’t delved deep enough to be aware of the contradictions.” I am also aware that they might be intentionally overlooking the contradictions.

  45. 45
    CannuckianYankee says:

    tragicmishap: “It’s good to see somebody downplaying the so-called war between science and religion anyway. That’s one thing I would agree with them on.”

    Is it really a war between religion and science, or a war between two contradictory philosophical worldviews?

  46. 46
    CannuckianYankee says:

    GilDodgen: “Substitute “an unplanned, goalless, unguided, purposeless material process” for “evolution” (which is what the word means when used by AAAS “scientists”) and then see how the religion-and-evolution-are-perfectly-compatible argument sounds.”

    Take this argument to logical conclusions, and say that they became scientists themselves out of an unplanned, goalless, unguided, purposeless material process. Point that out to them, and see how it gets their gander.

  47. 47
    bornagain77 says:

    I have a question for one of you engineer/mathematicians.

    How much horsepower/torque would this be for a alternator size motor in a car:

    http://www.reasons.org/tnrtb/2.....ing-gears/

    excerpt:

    The flagellum is one of nature’s smallest and most powerful motors—ones like those produced by B. subtilis can rotate more than 200 times per second, driven by 1,400 piconewton-nanometers of torque. That’s quite a bit of (miniature) horsepower for a machine whose width stretches only a few dozen nanometers.”

  48. 48
    bornagain77 says:

    Better yet, how much H.P./torque would it be for a V-8 size motor?

  49. 49
    DaveScot says:

    ba77

    re; torque of a flagellum the size of an automobile alternator

    I have no idea what to use for a scale factor. Weight? Rotor width?

    Mechanical things don’t usually scale linearly across that great of a gap either. It’s like asking how much weight could an ant lift if the ant was the size of a horse.

    Well, there aren’t any ants the size of a horse because you just can’t build an ant that big. Stuff stops working.

    I actually use non-linear scaling to try to get biologists to understand that if you can get a little evolution from a few small modifications it does not follow that you can get a lot of evolution from a lot of small modifications.

    Things in the real world generally don’t scale that way. You might be able to stack a million rocks to a height of several hundred meters (like a pyramid). It absolutely does not follow from there that you can stack a billion rocks to a height of several hundred kilometers. Rock structures don’t scale linearly through that range. Before you extrapolate from an empirical observation that a few chance mutations will give a bacteria antibiotic resistance to a few billion chance mutations turning the bacteria into a baracuda you have to know that RM+NS scales linearly. There’s no evidence at all that it does and as any engineer worth his salt will tell you things in the real world seldom scale linearly through ranges that large. You’d think they’d be a little more perceptive since I think most biologists understand that you can’t build an ant the size of a horse.

  50. 50
    DaveScot says:

    And if you listen early in the interview Miller declares that in his opinion the universe is designed, its just that the design is not detectable

    The what the flying fk does he base his opinion on? Do little voices whisper in his head that the universe is designed? Miller and all TEs like him either hold an irrational belief in design, or they are lying and don’t believe in design at all, or they are lying and have a rational belief in design but refuse to give the rational basis for it which would be an admission they are IDists. There’s no middle ground here. They’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. The won’t come right out and say they hold an irrational belief in design because the atheist and agnostic scientists whose favor they curry would laugh at them in public instead of behind their backs. On the other hand they won’t admit they hold no belief in design at all because that could mean the big sky daddy might send them to hell for not believing. It’s pretty comical. I’d like to say I hate pointing out the senseless compromise from hell these guys are making but I can’t. I’m too honest. It’s great fun ripping their philosophy apart into the tiny ridiculous pieces it’s built from.

  51. 51
    DaveScot says:

    I might as well get a little more brutal while I’m on a roll:

    If Ken Miller believes that design is not detectable but he still believes in a designer then in the view of agnostic and atheist scientists he’s a 60 year-old man who still believes in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy. He’s holding on to a bedtime story with no detectable anchor in reality. Kids drop their beliefs in these things when they discover they’re just stories without any basis in reality. Miller must then have the mind of a small child in that regard as there is one bedtime story he continues to believe.

  52. 52
    Paul Giem says:

    To be fair, Francis Collins does outline actual evidence for his belief in God. He cites the existence of the moral law (a la C. S. Lewis), and the Big Bang and anthropic coincidences. So he does believe in a kind of ID. He just believes that the designer, whom he will call God, stopped interfering once the Big Bang happened. His argument is that evolution of the Darwinian kind can explain all life, and that we have no right to use OOL as evidence for God, as all previous gaps have been filled in with science and therefore we must live in fear that OOL will succumb to science and our argument for God’s activity here will fall flat on its face.

    It does seem to me that argument from the existence of the moral law suffers from the same defect as argument from OOL, but that’s how he argues in The Language of God.

  53. 53
    bornagain77 says:

    DaveScot,
    Thanks for the explanation of the non-linearity of scaling for HP/torque for the flagellum.

  54. 54
    StephenB says:

    Paul, I appreciate your caution here, and I agree that Collins acknowledges physical and cosmological design. That’s worth something, but not much. Here’s why.

    [A] On the one hand, he holds for methodological naturalism in biology where ID takes its stand. In that context, he can join Darwinists to use MN against ID scientists and to discredit their work. On the other hand, he conveniently abandons MN for physics and cosmology and allows himself the luxury of following where the evidence leads. If methodological naturalism is something he can use or not use as he pleases, why can he not grant us that same privilege?

    [B] It is obvious the Collins does not understand ID because he thinks it is a “God of the gaps” argument. If he is going to join the anti-ID gang, he has a moral obligation to understand his adversaries’ arguments.

    [C] On the outside of his book, we find the picture of the human genome. Since the title of his book is, “the language of God,” the reader has every right to assume that this same genome is part of that language. So, in effect, the book’s packaging, title and picture, argues for biological design, while the inside of his book argues against it. If he is going to be honest, let him put a circled X over the DNA molecule, or else let him use a picture of the solar system.

  55. 55
    Jack Krebs says:

    This question of the position of “theistic evolution” (TE) comes up over and over here, and is not very well received. For instance, one poster recently said that the TE position is incoherent, and accused TE supporters of not being willing or able to defend their position.

    I’ve often tried to defend TE as a logically and theologically valid Christian viewpoint. I’ve decided to try to thoroughly outline some of my thoughts on this, which I do not think are incoherent.

    What follows is quite long, but it is not rambling, so I hope that those of you who are interested will be willing to read with the intent of truly trying to understand my points.

    Let’s start here: reluctantfundie at #41 writes,

    While I respect Collins et al, I fail to understand how they can hold two entirely contradictory precepts in their head. Either God created everything or he didn’t. You can’t say he did but then try to explain it all naturalistically, that’s a gaping double standard.

    I thoroughly disagree. I do not understand why it is a contradiction to think that God creates within and through the natural processes of the world. I think this issue contains the fundamental confusion about the nature of TE, and ultimately about the difference between TE and ID.

    In #19, bfast writes, “Mind if I put my TE hat on for a bit?”, and then goes on to explain some of his understanding of the TE perspective.

    I’d like to put my TE hat also. However, I don’t think bfast has accurately characterized the TE position, at least as I understand it. So allow me to develop some ideas here for you all to think about.

    First, the issue is not evolution. TE’s have not adopted a particular position on evolution separate from their broader understanding of the nature of God, and particularly the nature of God’s active presence in the world. A TE’s position on evolution is no different than his position on what goes on in the daily lives of all of us: that everything that happens to us reflects God’s will and design for us specifically and for the world in general.

    We may not understand why certain events, sometimes sorrowful, are meant to be a part of God’s design for our life, nor do we understand how events which appear as lucky or unlucky to us are actually instrumental in fulfilling God’s will. For instance, it is customary, and completely orthodox theologically, for a Christian to explain a lucky event – perhaps missing a plane that later crashes – by explaining that it was part of God’s will that he not die now; or conversely, to explain an unlucky event – perhaps the untimely death of a young child – as God’s plan for that person even though we can’t understand why God would have it that way.

    In all these cases, the Christian view is not that God had to intervene in nature in order to cause these lucky or unlucky events to happen, but rather that these naturally occurring events – all naturally occurring events – are ultimately caused by God: all that happens is a manifestation of God’s will.

    The big question that follows is “how is this possible.” How are we to understand how the events that look contingent (including lucky and unlucky) and imbedded in proximate local natural causes are in fact also, simultaneously, the will of God, their ultimate cause.

    It is here that I disagree with bfast, who offers what a think is a common but erroneous answer to this question. bfast writes,

    I don’t find it unreasonable that God has chosen to hide his face. If God chose to not be found by science, he will not be found by science. It could be, for instance, that he established a set of laws which, without further guidance, with only the same determination that water has to find its way to the ocean, will produce intelligent life. It is even reasonable to suggest that as God knows that water will flow to the ocean, he knew that intelligent life would eventually arise. As God need not have charted every tidbit of the course that water would take, he may have not needed to chart every step of the process of evolutionary development. For all of science, it looks like life meandered in an unpurposeful way, yet the results are ultimately obligated by the laws.

    First, I think (with my TE hat on) that God has not hidden his face at all: it is present in the mere existence of the universe and in the wonder of every moment. To the TE, our daily experience puts us face-to-face with the face of God, and to the TE scientist, every bit of science has just added to our wonder and our appreciation of the intricate depths of that face as it appears in nature.

    Second, bfast offer what is essentially a deistic answer to the question: God made the laws of the universe and set them in motion, knowing that the laws were such that intelligent life would eventually arise. I think deism is a flawed perspective, and that it contains a fundamental error about the nature of God.

    Let us contrast our perspective with God’s perspective. We are limited beings, embedded in time and space. As time goes by, we see events happening in sequence, and we have learned, both through common experience and through more systematic investigation via science, that there are regularities in these sequences of events that we identify as proximate causes.

    Being embedded in time, we never experience anything but the present moment: the future is potential and unformed, although to some extent we can accurately foretell it by extrapolating from what we know about the present and the causes we have identified, and the past is known by the evidence it leaves behind (including the memories we have.)

    God, on the other hand, is omniscient, omnipotent, and omni-present. We really can’t know what the world looks like to God, although we can try, with some humility, as I hope I am doing here, to think about the subject.

    The key thing for this discussion is that God is not embedded in time. He is omnipresent: he is equally present in all moments. He knows what is going to happen two weeks from now, not because he can see into the future, or because he can omnisciently see how the present moment will play out from its current state, but rather because he is just as much present in the moments two weeks from now as he is present right now. He is equally present in all moments, from the beginning of the universe to the last ending moment of he universe, however that may turn out to be.

    Because of omniscience he knows every detail of the current moment simultaneously and holistically – every intricate detail of the state of every entity and every relationship between entities throughout the entire universe. This is a concept that we can possible get a glimmer of.

    However, in a similar manner, because of omni-presence, he know every detail of every moment of time simultaneously and holistically – every intricate detail of the relationship of every moment to every other moment. All of what we conceive of as a world in which time flows from one moment to the next, is to God a whole. It’s all of a piece. God’s omniscience spreads “horizontally” throughout each moment in space and “vertically” throughout all moments in time.

    So what does this mean for the idea that “God created the world”?

    Before I answer this question, a disclaimer: if we try to comprehend possible answers to this question from a human, embedded-in-time, point of view, we are bound to run into things that appear illogical and paradoxical. This is to expected: how could the world as experienced and understood by an omni-everything God not contain aspects that are beyond our limited understanding?

    With that said, from this TE point of view I am describing when God created the world, he created it all – not just the beginning moment (the deist view), but all moments. One way to say this is that the universe throughout all moments has already been created. Another way to say it is that God is actively creating every moment. To us these sound like different views, but they are just two different ways of explaining the same view – that God’s creation equally extends in both time and space.

    So it is not that he just created the laws and set them off running – as if he stands outside of the world and just watches the laws play out. Rather, he is creating the world every moment – every aspect of every moment is a creative act of God.

    And it’s also not that God is creating each moment as it goes by, which might be the way we time-embedded humans might interpret this, but rather the creative act for every moment has in fact already happened

    See, we can’t even talk about this without succumbing to our own limited perspective. In the beginning God created the world, God has already created all of the world to the end of time, God is always creating each moment: that all of these are both true and incomplete sounds paradoxical to us.

    So what then are we to think of the natural events that we experience as flowing through time, and the lawful causes we have come to understand?

    From our point of view, both time and space have an internal consistency. The orderly progression of points in space and moments in time reflect the fundamental rational nature of God and his creativity. What we experience as causal relationships between things as the moments of time goes by are a reflection of the fact that God has created/is creating a rational world where all the moments are part of a rational whole. What we experience as proximate causes are the manifestation of the pervasive rationality of the world that God is perpetually creating. God is the ultimate cause of every aspect of every moment, but we can only directly, empirically experience the proximate causes by studying the regularities that persist through the flow of moments available to us.

    In addition to orderly regularities, we also experience chance or random events. What we really mean by these words is “contingent” events: events which to our eyes are not causally related to each other but nevertheless, once they intersect, send events down an unanticipated path. The small car accident that keeps us from catching the plane that crashes is a contingent event: there is no causal connection between my plan to catch the plane and the accident, but once the accident happens and I miss the plane my life is changed forever.

    All histories are constantly changed by contingent events as various streams of causal histories intersect with each other in countless ways. From our point of view, this is all luck, or chance, or randomness. But as I explained above, to God, who has created/is creating everything at once at all time, these events are not luck: they are the product of his omniscient omnipotence. He is creating it all as he wants it to be, and he knows all the connections and consequences that will ultimately play out (from our time-embedded point of view) as the whole fabric of lawful and contingent events unfolds.

    Simply put, what is chance to us is not chance to God.

    So when we systematically study the world via science, the TE understands that we are limited to studying the manifestation of God’s creation as it flows through time, and thus we find an interplay of law and chance. From the point of view of God, both causal regularities and chance events are illusions – artifacts of the human condition. But of course, from a scientific point of view, this is irrelevant: all we can do is study the world as it presents itself, and it presents us with both law and chance.

    So to the TE, God’s creativity, his design, and the desire of his will, are all expressed through the totality of the world and the natural processes (which include both law and chance) that unfold in front of our eyes. Everything is designed – no one thing more than any other – and yet everything happens “naturalistically” from our point of view.

    Back at #13, Robert Russell (who I have not heard of before), when asked to comment on the statement that “Evolution is a purposeless, mindless process that did not have man in mind,” responded, “from a theological perspective, no, from a scientific perspective, yes.”

    I think I have explained why this statement is consistent with a TE Christian perspective. Just as we can look back on the course of our life and see multiple twists and turns from events that did not happen with us in mind, and yet believe that all were part and parcel of God’s plan for us, scientists see evolution happening likewise. It is not contradictory to point to the contingent nature and chance-influenced processes that have driven evolution, as seen from our time-embedded perspective, and to believe, as a consequence of believing in an omni-everything God, that the entire course of life’s history, from the central events surrounding humans to the multitudinous details of the entire spectrum of the diversity of life, have been because God has created/is creating them so.

    And yet the scientist, acting as a scientist, can not add his religious belief in the overall design of everything to his scientific description of what he observes. To further the analogy I’ve used of the small accident that prevents you from catching the plane that crashes, the policeman who writes up the accident report will not add that one of the causes of the accident was God’s desire for you to not die on that plane, even though both you and the policeman, as Christians, might firmly believe that.

    As scientists, we are limited to describing accurately what we empirically observe in the physical world, and as a TE we know that that scientific view does not and cannot adequately encompass our understanding of God’s overall, holistic creative presence in the world. There is no contradiction in saying as a scientist that that this chain of events was moved by contingent events that had no foresight as to where the chain would end and yet at the same time be able to say as a TE that the chain ended where God wanted it to end, because God has in fact created it so.

    This is not a logically or theologically invalid position. It is a direct consequence of accepting fully that God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omni-present, and that God’s creativity activity is ever present and the ultimate cause of everything.

  56. 56
    tribune7 says:

    As scientists, we are limited to describing accurately what we empirically observe in the physical world, and as a TE we know that that scientific view does not and cannot adequately encompass our understanding of God’s overall, holistic creative presence in the world.

    That’s fine, but why do they imply it is somehow bad to apply methods used to determine design in non-biological objects to biological ones? And why do they imply it is somehow bad to say — or even suggest– that these methods indicate the biological objects are designed when they do, or even may?

  57. 57
    Jack Krebs says:

    When you say “that’s fine,” do you mean that you accept my reasoning about TE?

    I’d rather stay focused on whether my defense of TE is logically and theologically coherent. Are you satisfied that one can believe, coherently and within orthodox Christianity, that one can believe that all has been created in ways that manifest themselves to us as natural processes, and that one can understand that we, because of our limited perspective, might see things that appear as unguided chance events which we understand as TE’s are not unguided chance events to God.

  58. 58
    tribune7 says:

    Jack, I agree that science cannot adequately encompass our understanding of God’s overall, holistic creative presence in the world.

    And I am satisfied that one can believe, coherently and within orthodox Christianity, that one can believe that all has been created in ways that manifest themselves to us as natural processes, and that one can understand that we, because of our limited perspective, might see things that appear as unguided chance events (but are not).

    Now, what’s the problem with applying standard methods of detecting design to biology and saying we have a hit?

  59. 59
    StephenB says:

    I have heard similar explanations many times, and it doesn’t solve the problem. I will just give one of many theological inconsistencies. The TEs Christianity declares that design is evident, so much so, that those who deny it are “without excuse.”

    So, which incoherent TE position are you proposing? Is it the one that denies the detectability of design altogether and, therefore, undercuts its own teaching? Or is it the one that says that God plays hide and seek, opening the curtain in cosmology and then closing the curtain on biology? Deal with that one, and I will move on to some of the scientific flaws.

  60. 60
    Jack Krebs says:

    Stephen writes,

    So, which incoherent TE position are you proposing? Is it the one that denies the detectability of design altogether and, therefore, undercuts its own teaching? Or is it the one that says that God plays hide and seek, opening the curtain in cosmology and then closing the curtain on biology?

    I presume you read my explanation of the TE position – can you explain what part of it you think is incoherent.

    I have answered both your questions. To the TE, everything is designed. We detect God’s design at every turn, from the fundamental structure of the universe to the twists and turns of our daily life.

    God is not playing hide-and-seek: as Romans 1:16 says, “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, so that men are without excuse.”

    This was written 2000 years ago. One doesn’t have to wait to find out about the flagellum to understand “God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature”: his design is evident in the air we breath, the sun that comes up in the morning, the flower that blooms in spring. All of nature proclaims God’s design.

    So what is incoherent about my description of TE?

  61. 61
    Jack Krebs says:

    P.S. I have explained the reasons why our human experience, limited as it is by being embedded in time, experiences certain events as contingent when in actuality those events are intertwined with other events at the level of God’s creative activity. Science can show us the deep proximate causal connectivity that reflects God’s rationality, but science cannot see the larger connections of design which transcend proximate causality.

  62. 62
    tribune7 says:

    Science can show us the deep proximate causal connectivity that reflects God’s rationality, but science cannot see the larger connections of design which transcend proximate causality.

    So what is your objection to ID? Really, I’m curious.

  63. 63
    Jack Krebs says:

    Hi Tribune. I appreciate your genuine interest. I promise you that I am keeping a list of your question. However I still want to keep my part of the discussion on the view of TE I’ve described. Not only do I want to hear why Stephen thinks it incoherent, I’m interested in hearing from at least some of the half dozen or so people who spoke so negatively against TEists like Collins et al.

  64. 64
    tribune7 says:

    Jack,

    I don’t think it’s the theology to which people object. For Pete’s sake, Dave Scott is some sort of Quaker skeptic or something.

    What I think gets people upset is the failure to treat the science of ID fairly.

  65. 65
    Jack Krebs says:

    tribune writes,

    I don’t think it’s the theology to which people object. …

    What I think gets people upset is the failure to treat the science of ID fairly.

    I disagree. If you read the remarks in this and other threads, you’ll see that many see TE as an illogical, incoherent position, a sell-out to materialism, a weak or false form of Christianity, and so on. Time and time again – I have multiple examples from both here and other places – TE is actively denounced as just not an acceptable Christian position.

    This is the issue I’m trying to address, separate from and irrespective of TE’s relationship to ID. I know you’d like to move on the question of ID, but I’m resolved to stay focused on TE itself.

  66. 66
    StephenB says:

    —–“I have answered both your questions. To the TE, everything is designed. We detect God’s design at every turn, from the fundamental structure of the universe to the twists and turns of our daily life.”

    The scripture alludes to a “perceived” design not a “conceived” design. Anyone can “believe” in an undetectable design.

    —-God is not playing hide-and-seek: as Romans 1:16 says, “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, so that men are without excuse.”

    The hide and seek part relates to the TE who accepts design in cosmology and rejects it in biology. That is one of the resolutions that I am looking for.

    —–(The Bible) “This was written 2000 years ago. One doesn’t have to wait to find out about the flagellum to understand “God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature”: his design is evident in the air we breath, the sun that comes up in the morning, the flower that blooms in spring. All of nature proclaims God’s design.”

    How do you know that? Is it just a feeling or do you make a design inference of some kind? If it is an inference, what is it your argument for saying that design is evident in every facet of God’s creation except for the DNA molecule?

  67. 67
    Charlie says:

    Hi Jack Krebs,
    I’m not one you want to hear from, being that I do not disparage Collins at all, and have no beef with TE as TE, or even disagree with your theology, but I’d ike to respond to you and for others nonetheless.

    I do not understand why it is a contradiction to think that God creates within and through the natural processes of the world. I think this issue contains the fundamental confusion about the nature of TE, and ultimately about the difference between TE and ID.

    I agree. I don’t see any reason for IDers who are theists and TEs to waste their time with a theological debate.
    I think every Christian believes that God can and does create and act through secondary means as well as directly. You don’t deny His ability to interact temporally in relation to man, do you?
    The difference between TEs and IDists ought to be one of evidence.

    A TE’s position on evolution is no different than his position on what goes on in the daily lives of all of us: that everything that happens to us reflects God’s will and design for us specifically and for the world in general.

    I like this. I think that an IDist who is also a Christian should feel the same way.

    In all these cases, the Christian view is not that God had to intervene in nature in order to cause these lucky or unlucky events to happen, but rather that these naturally occurring events – all naturally occurring events – are ultimately caused by God: all that happens is a manifestation of God’s will.

    Exactly. Nor is the it the Christian position that He did not. Nor is it the IDist position that God had to intervene in nature to create and to demonstrate His design.
    Please get this point – even if the fact that many ID fans happen to also believe in special creation really bothers you.

    I think deism is a flawed perspective, and that it contains a fundamental error about the nature of God.

    Myself as well.

    He knows what is going to happen two weeks from now, not because he can see into the future, or because he can omnisciently see how the present moment will play out from its current state, but rather because he is just as much present in the moments two weeks from now as he is present right now. He is equally present in all moments, from the beginning of the universe to the last ending moment of he universe, however that may turn out to be.

    Also very good.

    With that said, from this TE point of view I am describing when God created the world, he created it all – not just the beginning moment (the deist view), but all moments.One way to say this is that the universe throughout all moments has already been created. Another way to say it is that God is actively creating every moment. To us these sound like different views, but they are just two different ways of explaining the same view – that God’s creation equally extends in both time and space.

    I completely agree with all of this. He created life, bacteria, flagella, trilobytes, apes and men at the same time. While within His ability to do this any way He chose I see nothing about logic, theology or reason that demands that He use one form to achieve the next, or that known physics and chemistry explain this creation.

    So when we systematically study the world via science, the TE understands that we are limited to studying the manifestation of God’s creation as it flows through time, and thus we find an interplay of law and chance. From the point of view of God, both causal regularities and chance events are illusions – artifacts of the human condition. But of course, from a scientific point of view, this is irrelevant: all we can do is study the world as it presents itself, and it presents us with both law and chance.

    Is that all we find? Are these two elements exhaustive of all reality? Do we know everything about law that we can justify force-fitting all observations into our knowledge of law/chance? Where in this chain of logic did these become the only two choices, especially given the previous allowances for providence and Divine will? Is human behaviour merely law/chance as well?
    You seem to be placing a priori limitations on what nature can reveal to us. I don’t think this is a theological requirement.

    And yet the scientist, acting as a scientist, can not add his religious belief in the overall design of everything to his scientific description of what he observes.

    Here you are also rigging the system and making science a game rather than a search for a true description of nature. Maybe nature is not limited to the four forces we’ve identified coupled to contingency.
    If acting as a scientist means ignoring truth because of certain rules then you might just agree with Johnson and Meyer on this point. They simply add that this fact needs to be addressed in some way.

    There is no contradiction in saying as a scientist that that this chain of events was moved by contingent events that had no foresight as to where the chain would end and yet at the same time be able to say as a TE that the chain ended where God wanted it to end, because God has in fact created it so.

    There is also no reason to pretend we know that such a causal chain exists or that we have determined that there is no foresight when we don’t. To insert this claim of no foresight is to bring your theology in as science can’t tell if there is foresight or not. Neither is there reason to improvise such a chain (even though it is a legitimate query as a method of inquiry) and then claim this to be a fact.

    This is not a logically or theologically invalid position. It is a direct consequence of accepting fully that God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omni-present, and that God’s creativity activity is ever present and the ultimate cause of everything.

    Exactly. Neither is it a position demanded by science, logic or theology. It is not the position dictated by the evidence.

    I’d rather stay focused on whether my defense of TE is logically and theologically coherent. Are you satisfied that one can believe, coherently and within orthodox Christianity, that one can believe that all has been created in ways that manifest themselves to us as natural processes, and that one can understand that we, because of our limited perspective, might see things that appear as unguided chance events which we understand as TE’s are not unguided chance events to God.

    I certainly agree with your defence of the theology and logic. The problem is an empirical one.

    Tribune’s acceptance of your position and following question are bang on, in my opinion.
    Tribune:

    Now, what’s the problem with applying standard methods of detecting design to biology and saying we have a hit?

    StphenB raises the excellent question:

    I have heard similar explanations many times, and it doesn’t solve the problem. I will just give one of many theological inconsistencies. The TEs Christianity declares that design is evident, so much so, that those who deny it are “without excuse.”

    You answered with reference to Romans and said:

    This was written 2000 years ago. One doesn’t have to wait to find out about the flagellum to understand “God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature”: his design is evident in the air we breath, the sun that comes up in the morning, the flower that blooms in spring. All of nature proclaims God’s design.
    So what is incoherent about my description of TE?

    By what method do you detect His invisible qualities? How is design evident in air, sun and flower? Why is it not evident in the flagellum and why can God not progressively unfold His revelation in nature as He did in history?

  68. 68
    Jack Krebs says:

    Let’s start at the end: Stephen writes,

    How do you know that? Is it just a feeling or do you make a design inference of some kind? If it is an inference, what is it your argument for saying that design is evident in every facet of God’s creation except for the DNA molecule?

    First, I didn’t say anything that would imply that the DNA molecule was any different than any other aspect of creation. I have no idea why you wrote that last line.

    The broader answer to your question is that the TE believes what he does because he believes in a God that is an omniscient, omnipotent, omni-present divine entity. I doubt that there is any way to pinpoint the reasons why one comes to this conclusion, but I’m sure that TE’s would call their belief more than just a feeling. On the other hand, as I stated earlier, this belief does not depend on modern science. When Paul wrote his letter to the Romans, he surely did not have some complex probability argument about the bacterial flagellum in mind when he said that God’s invisible powers are clearly seen.

    Stephen also writes,

    The hide and seek part relates to the TE who accepts design in cosmology and rejects it in biology. That is one of the resolutions that I am looking for.

    I don’t think a TE accepts one and rejects the other: God created the fundamental structure of the universe and brought it into existence, and God has also, as I have explained, created its end and the dissolution of that structure, and all moments in between. However, as I also explained, all those moments are wholistically structured by the rationality of God, which we perceive as lawful regularities and causal chains consisting of both determinate and contingent events. The fact that we find natural explanations for the existence of things, whether in physics, cosmology, biology or whatever, is not in conflict with believing that the events and entities of the world are designed.

  69. 69
    reluctantfundie says:

    @Jack Krebs

    I thoroughly disagree. I do not understand why it is a contradiction to think that God creates within and through the natural processes of the world. I think this issue contains the fundamental confusion about the nature of TE, and ultimately about the difference between TE and ID.

    Hi,

    I don’t think it’s a contradiction to say that God uses natural processes, I’m saying the theory of evolution is at odds with a plain reading of the Bible.

    I’m not saying he’s wrong, I’m just saying I don’t understand it at all. The way I see it is there cannot be a middle road. Evolution contradicts the Bible and Francis Collins is an evangelical Christian.

    I cannot see how Collins can believe in evolution and what the Bible says. The Bible says that all flesh is not of the same flesh, there is a flesh for birds, one for humans etc. That is in direct contrast to evolution.

    Furthermore, if there was no Adam then there was no Noah, no Noah, no Abraham, no Abraham, no Isaac, no Isaac, no Jacob, no Jacob, no 12 tribes of Israel, no 12 tribes no Judah, no Judah no Jesus.

    I cannot see in my mind how you can allegorise the Genesis account as a Christian. Perhaps (and I’ve only skim read the posts so I don’t know if you’re a TE) you could explain it.

    Regards.

  70. 70
    reluctantfundie says:

    DaveScot,

    I think you’re a bit unfair to Collins.

  71. 71
    reluctantfundie says:

    But I do think Miller’s fair game.

    The design is undetectable??? What a load of pish posh. That’s the theistic evolutionist’s equivalent of saying that Satan planted fossils to confuse us.

    Sheesh

  72. 72
    StephenB says:

    —–“First, I didn’t say anything that would imply that the DNA molecule was any different than any other aspect of creation. I have no idea why you wrote that last line.”

    I assume that you don’t accept the proposition that a DNA molecule was designed. On the other hand, you said that evidence of God’s design is all around us. If you agree that a DNA molecule qualifies as part of that evidence, then we are in business and we have nothing more to quarrel about.

    —–“The broader answer to your question is that the TE believes what he does because he believes in a God that is an omniscient, omnipotent, omni-present divine entity. I doubt that there is any way to pinpoint the reasons why one comes to this conclusion, but I’m sure that TE’s would call their belief more than just a feeling. On the other hand, as I stated earlier, this belief does not depend on modern science. When Paul wrote his letter to the Romans, he surely did not have some complex probability argument about the bacterial flagellum in mind when he said that God’s invisible powers are clearly seen.”

    OK: So, you and the TE merely “”believe” that all these daily things around us are designed. You did not say that you make a design inference, so I conclude that you have no rational reason for believing what you believe. In any case, to say that design is a merely article of faith is anti -Scriptural. Scripture insists that design is self-evident. TEs reject this essential teaching of their faith, yet they insist that they are “devout believers.”

    —–I don’t think a TE accepts one and rejects the other: (cosmological and biological design)

    Sure they do. Do you know of any TEs that accept the reality of PERCEIVABLE biological design?

  73. 73
    Jack Krebs says:

    Hi reluctantfundie.

    I don’t think my post about TE’s has much to do with, or can be reconciled with, Biblical literalism or young-earth creationism. That’s a whole different topic.

  74. 74
    Charlie says:

    Hi Jack,
    Did you just admit that ID is not Biblical literalism and YEC?

  75. 75
    DaveScot says:

    reluctantfundie

    Good exposition. A bible literalist must either dispute (or simply discount as wrong without dispute, or maybe wave off the problems with epistemological objections) a wide array of scientific observations about the world around us or give up on the literal reading.

    I respect the YECs because they don’t give up on the literal reading and make every possible attempt to dispute the contrary science on its own terms. I don’t think their disputes hold water but that’s not the point, they’re at least framing their disputes in scientific methods and principles. It’s hopelessy wrong science in my opinion but it’s still science and because science is always tentative I must concede there is a possibility I’m wrong and they are right.

    The TEs on the other hand just refuse to anchor their religious beliefs in reality. They claim sure knowledge of a designe but give absolutely no reality-based observations in support of that belief. They simply accept scripture because, I guess, it feels right to them in a way they can’t express in an objective manner.

    I don’t really have a problem with that but I think it’s destructive of religious belief and by the same token destructive of modern western Christian culture. I strongly believe that *culture* is the best thing to ever happen on this brutal planet.

    So I have a real problem when what I believe are at least some bits of support that science can offer in the way of providing a rational basis for religious beliefs are censored because it goes against modern atheistic scientific orthodoxy. I’m not willing to go beyond what the evidence can actually support and as far as I can determine the evidence only supports an inference to some form of intelligent agency that transcends and/or predates humananity in the cosmos. There’s little to nothing in science that can support the story of Christ’s divinity, IMO, but a scientific inference of design and purpose in the univeres is a lot better than nothing at all. ID offers a bit of anchorage in reality for religious belief. And like it says in “ID Defined” on our sidebar, it’s the religious implications of ID that cause all the grief. Weighing religious implications has no business whatsoever in the scientific method. Science goes where the evidence leads without qualification or reservation.

  76. 76
    Jack Krebs says:

    I’m off to do yardwork on this beautiful August afternoon, but I’ll quickly respond to this:

    Charlie asks,

    Did you just admit that ID is not Biblical literalism and YEC?

    My response to reluctantfundie had nothing to do with ID, one way or another. My topic of interest in this thread is whether TE is logically and theologically coherent, along with related topics like the nature of law and chance. Given that TE’s accept the findings of modern science (with an understanding of the proper scope and limits of science) and YEC’s do not, there really isn’t anything in the current topic that is relevant to YEC, I think. As I said, this has nothing to do with ID.

  77. 77
    Jack Krebs says:

    I guess I didn’t directly answer the question, but it’s sort of the form “Have you stopped beating your wife”: no, I didn’t admit that “ID is not Biblical literalism and YEC?” and I didn’t assent to that statement either. YEC just has no relevance to the topics I’m writing about today.

  78. 78
    Apollos says:

    ba77 @48,

    A direct linear scaling of a flagellum to something the size of an alternator can be done by considering a proportion of ratios: torque to diameter. The scale of size for the flagellum is given in nanometers (36nm to stand in for “a few dozen” however this rough estimate won’t make much difference in the end). Estimating an alternator as 8 inches in diameter yeilds 0.2032 meters, or 2.032*10^8 nanometers. Torque is given as 1,400 piconewton-nanometers.

    We set up the proportion with T representing torque, and D representing diameter. Sub1 is our flagellum, and sub2 is the alternator-sized motor:
    T_sub1/D_sub1 = T_sub2/D_sub2.

    For the flagellum (sub1) we have a torque:diameter ratio of 1400:36. For the alternator-sized motor (sub2) the ratio is x:2.032*10^8.

    1400/36 = x/2.032*10^8 ->
    (1400)(2.032*10^8) = 36x ->
    2.8448*10^11 = 36x ->
    x ~= 7.902*10^9

    An alternator-sized motor (8 inches diameter or 0.2032 meters) would be capable of 7.902*10^9 or 7,902,000,000 piconewton-nanometers of torque, in strictly linear terms.

    One piconewton-nanometer of torque is equal to 7.37562149*10^-22 foot pounds according to Google. 7.902*10^9 pnm would be 58.2819912*10^-13 = 5.8282*10^-12 or 0.0000000000058282 foot pounds of torque.

    Please allow for the fact that my math could be completely horked, which is likely. I think I’m missing something in the conversion to foot-pounds. If it is actually correct, a torque-to-weight ratio might prove more interesting; even more so a measure of energy efficiency.

    Even still, I think Dave’s comment at #50 is wise: direct linear scaling of something from the microscopic to the macroscopic doesn’t really hold up, and a single proportion is unlikely to say very much. My apologies in advanced if I’ve butchered the math.

  79. 79
    StephenB says:

    I will approach the problem of literalism in the context of the argument that I have been making for the design inference.

    There are three ways to interpret scripture; the liberal approach, the literal approach, and the literalist approach. For our purposes, it is the literal vs literalist approach that matters. A literal interpretation of Scripture consists of interpreting the author exactly as he meant to be understood, which includes context, genre, and method of expression. A literalist interpretation consists of a rigid textual analysis that makes no provisions for context. So, if the author tells us that it is “raining cats and dogs,” the literal interpretation holds that is was raining very hard; the literalist interpretation holds that dogs and cats were falling out of the sky. Unfortunately, the literal interpretation has been given a bad name because literalist interpreters muddy the waters.

    On the matter under discussion, the literal interpretation of Scripture is very clear on the matter of the design inference. Plenty of passages from both the Old and New Testament make the point very well. Design is real and detectable, meaning that it is acknowedged (scripturally) as a self evident truth. No religious faith is needed. As my discussion with Jack has so far indicated, TEs claim to be Christians but they reject a critical element of their faith, namely the intelligibility of the world.” For the Christian, design is “perceived,” not merely “conceived,” “apprehended,” not merely “comprehended,” “inferred,” not merely “believed.” That is a “literal” not a “literalist” interpretation of Scripture.

  80. 80
    Charlie says:

    Ji Jack,

    I guess I didn’t directly answer the question, but it’s sort of the form “Have you stopped beating your wife”:

    No, it’s not really of that form. In order to answer it you don’t have to make any implicit admission of any previous wrong-doing.
    You could have just confirmed a position which accords with reality.
    You didn’t take that opportunity. As you say, that’s not the topic you’ve undertaken to respond to today. That’s your prerogative.

  81. 81
    DaveScot says:

    Appolos

    The drive mechanism in a flagellum (positive ion flow) won’t work at the scale of an automobile alternator. The materials won’t handle the RPM scaled up to that much size & weight and neither will it be able to reverse direction at that RPM with that much mass without self destructing.

    I don’t think a linear torque to diameter conversion even applies in scaling up smaller electric motors to larger electric motors even over smaller ranges because mass of the rotor increases much faster than diameter of the rotor by the formula PI times radius squared. These non-linear scale reasons are why you can build a model plane that flies well with an electric motor but you can’t scale it up into a passenger aircraft.

    There is no answer to the question that isn’t pure nonsense from an engineering standpoint.

  82. 82
    Paul Giem says:

    Jack Krebs (56),

    That’s a beautiful defense of theism. It also appears to be (correct me if I am wrong) a beautiful defense of the idea that what appears to us to be chance can be (in fact, given your presuppositions, many of which I share at least tentatively, is) the direct will and activity of God. What I am missing is how the theology you expressed is reconciled with evolution, as in Darwinian evolution, or neo-Darwinian evolution, or the modern synthesis, or whatever you wish to reconcile this theology with. Presumably if you wish to stay within the limits of orthodox science you would say that (a) the laws of nature are not violated, and (b) everything within those laws are explainable as the result of stochastic processes. Specifically, the null hypothesis cannot be rejected. The question that has been raised, and that we would like to see you address, is how you reconcile an unplanned process with a planned one.

    Let me explain. You mention the minor auto accident that prevents someone from getting on an airplane that crashes. If this happened only one time, then you are right. It is impossible to tell whether this was really planned or not. But suppose that multiple people missed flights that crashed. If one were to investigate variables such as their religious persuasion, their spirituality, their and their friends’ and acquaintances’ prayers, or some other factors or combinations thereof, would you be able to find the null hypothesis violated in terms of who got killed and who did not? This is not intended to be a rhetorical question.

    If you say yes, there probably will be a difference, then at least as far as airplane crashes are concerned, you believe in intelligent design. In that case, the next question would be, if we investigate the course of life on earth, might we see the same improbability of the null hypothesis? Maybe God does it by subtle quantum mechanical effects, or subtle violations of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, or even front-loading at the Big Bang, so that one never finds His fingerprints. But the mere violation of the null hypothesis would seem to be evidence of His intervention in nature. In that case, IMO you are pro-ID, and with regard to OOL and/or evolution. We may differ on the mechanism and/or timing, but welcome to the Big Tent.

    On the other hand, if you insist that the null hypothesis can never be violated, you could be justifiably TE and not ID, but then I do not see where your theory differs from deism in its predictions. If you disagree, perhaps you could explain. If you agree, perhaps you can explain why we should believe your theory rather than deism.

    There would be two further problems that need to be addressed by TE. The first is how we know, in a way that is prior to and thus immune from scientific evidence, that the null hypothesis can never be violated. That seems to me to be a bit of hubris.

    The second only applies to Christians, although I gather that you see yourself as Christian and thus it would apply to you. StephenB has noted multiple times that both in the OT (Psalm 19) and in the NT (Romans 1) the claim is made that God’s glory can be plainly seen in nature. ID would obviously at least be compatible with the possibility of God’s glory being plainly seen in nature, if true. But if one assumes that ID is false, then it seems that one has only two options. Either one must limit the perception of God’s glory to the mere fact that the universe is here, or perhaps the anthropic coincidences, or one must deny that the texts are accurate. In the latter case, one must scrap at least Romans 1-3. One can do that. Many Christians scrap or severely reinterpret Genesis 1-3, so doing it to Romans 1-3 would not necessarily put us outside the bounds of Christianity. But we should be clear about what we are doing.

    My reading of you is the former. That is, you believe that the mere existence of the universe is testimony to the glory of God. You say,

    First, I think (with my TE hat on) that God has not hidden his face at all: it is present in the mere existence of the universe and in the wonder of every moment. To the TE, our daily experience puts us face-to-face with the face of God, and to the TE scientist, every bit of science has just added to our wonder and our appreciation of the intricate depths of that face as it appears in nature.

    That seems to indicate that you believe that the anthropic coincidences are enough evidence for God, so that you are not looking for any other evidences. Am I interpreting you correctly?

  83. 83
    Apollos says:

    Thanks Dave. Might efficiency in converting electrical energy to mechanical energy make for a better comparison?

    I realize this all completely off-topic, so I’ll drop it with this last question.

  84. 84
    Jack Krebs says:

    To Paul, Stephen, and others.

    Workweek real life has started, but I do hope to respond to some of your questions and points. I spent quite of bit of time and thought writing my explanation of theistic evolution at #56, and I do want to capitalize on that by learning through discussion what some of the further issues and objections are. So I hope this thread can stay alive, at a slow pace, this week. We’ll see.

  85. 85
    Rude says:

    The subjective smugness of TE theology doesn’t bother me—in this touchy-feely age folks are expected to blather about whatever makes them feel good. What I disrespect is that the TEs side with the atheists in dissing ID. They want a place at the materialist table that they would deny ID.

    I’ve been put to sleep trying to read the wordy reasonings of TEs like Howard J. Van Till and Denis Lamoureux—why is it these people spend so much time reaching into their religion to explain why ID shouldn’t be admitted into “science”?

    No, give me the simplicity that is in ID—that it is not somehow illegal to look for design in nature.

    How will we ever be able to know if we are forbidden to look?

  86. 86
    reluctantfundie says:

    @DaveScot,

    Too true. I have more respect for YECs than for TEs because, as you say, at least they read the Bible and take what it says at face value. I used to be a YEC but I was dismayed by the attitude displayed by many of them and some of the misleading information I was given by them. I also hate the way they push a 6,000 year old earth so dogmatically when the Bible doesn’t say so.

    I’m more of the disposition that their science is not really science at all. i.e. it’s more of a philosophy much like I regard ID. They don’t dispute observable science, just science which tries to make sense of the past.

    TEs bug me because they just separate their beliefs from the real world. If you are a theist and you actually believe that a God created everything then surely what we see in life is the unveiling of that and, if you’re a Christian, you can’t just get out of it by saying “Yeah well, God said he did it this way because we’re too stupid to know the truth but really we know he did it this way.”

    Either he did it as he said or he didn’t. I tend to think he did but I hold that in faith.

  87. 87
    nullasalus says:

    reluctantfundie,

    “TEs bug me because they just separate their beliefs from the real world. If you are a theist and you actually believe that a God created everything then surely what we see in life is the unveiling of that and, if you’re a Christian, you can’t just get out of it by saying “Yeah well, God said he did it this way because we’re too stupid to know the truth but really we know he did it this way.””

    I think that many, even most TEs would agree that what we see in life is the unveiling of God’s creation or plan – the disagreement tends to be based on the common TE criticism that science can’t decisively rule on a design question in either direction.

    And I’m not aware of any TEs offering ‘God said he did it this way because we’re too stupid to know the truth but really we know he did it this way’ as an explanation. They have a different (and for me, a far more persuasive) reading of Genesis, and argue that theirs is the proper reading. At most they argue that God created man through an evolutionary mechanisms (if not entirely, then at least in large part), and that the utter specifics of how God created anything aren’t essential to the faith.

    Naturally, people will have disagreements over all of this. That said, I too dislike the ID-TE hostility that so often surfaces. I wish these disputes would go down more respectfully, and that both could at least agree to denounce the scientism and other excesses of atheists passing off science as atheism itself.

  88. 88
    Apollos says:

    nullasalus,

    That said, I too dislike the ID-TE hostility that so often surfaces. I wish these disputes would go down more respectfully, and that both could at least agree to denounce the scientism and other excesses of atheists passing off science as atheism itself.

    I think respect is difficult because the TE movement rejects ID based on three issues: 1) its science; 2) its ‘supposed’ theology; 3) the company it keeps (the big tent). The third is a political criticism; the second presumes that ID is primarily a heretical religious movement.

    There really isn’t any common ground between TE and ID. Since ID is about scientific inferences, it really expects to be addressed based on its arguments: IC, EoE, EF/CSI, PPH.

    The TE movement appears (at least most of the time) to refuse to acknowledge the scientific arguments at all, choosing to criticize the company ID keeps, along with its supposed religio-political motivations.

    This is inherently disrespectful. The ‘big tent’ is for those who recognize the scientific merit of design inferences. Friendly critics are those who might disagree with the conclusions, but who address the issues on scientific grounds.

    If one believes that ID is unscientific — and merely an underhanded attempt at sneaking a form of Biblical creationism into schools (or giving ‘fundies’ some cover for their beliefs) then friendly dialog isn’t really possible.

    Friendly dialog requires mutual respect. Mutual respect requires the perception of trustworthy motives. Neither party trusts the motives of the other, and from both perspectives, for good reason: ID is perceived as attempting to supplant philosophical materialism (which it is); TE is seen as seeking to quash (or marginalize) the ID science movement, which it is.

    For mutual respect to be established, either ID gives up its goal to diminish philosophical naturalism in the scientific establishment, or TE recognizes and acknowledges ID’s scientific arguments as a valid science enterprise. Neither is likely to occur before the proverbial hell freezes over.

  89. 89
    bornagain77 says:

    Apollos,
    Thanks for your effort at the math conversion to macro scales , though , I am beginning to see, as Dave says the scaling imposed by the dynamics of physics renders it somewhat meaningless at macro scales. But for purely illustration purposes it may still be useful.

    You say Apollos that:

    An alternator-sized motor (8 inches diameter or 0.2032 meters) would be capable of 7.902*10^9 or 7,902,000,000 piconewton-nanometers of torque, in strictly linear terms.

    One piconewton-nanometer of torque is equal to 7.37562149*10^-22 foot pounds according to Google. 7.902*10^9 pnm would be 58.2819912*10^-13 = 5.8282*10^-12 or 0.0000000000058282 foot pounds of torque.

    This seems incredibly small in terms of horse power…

    for to get H.P. would not we multiply by 12,000 RPM and divide by 5252…. which roughly would be somewhere around 10*10^-12 H.P….that is one incredibly small horse!!!

    Surely my math is wrong or else the scaling is throwing it completely out of wack.

    If this is true the scaling

  90. 90
    nullasalus says:

    Apollos,

    “There really isn’t any common ground between TE and ID.”

    News to me, especially since I’m pretty sure I’ve seen mod posts on this blog arguing that none other than Ken Miller himself is in essence a closet ID proponent – I found such perspectives reasonable. I believe that evolution was in essence a tool God used to create and achieve certain ends. I don’t believe this can be proved scientifically, but I believe it can be argued for philosophically (and that, though I’m Catholic, at least deism/theism is by far the most palatable intellectual option, as opposed to atheism). I may just be one man, but you tell me – is there no common ground there?

    “The TE movement appears (at least most of the time) to refuse to acknowledge the scientific arguments at all, choosing to criticize the company ID keeps, along with its supposed religio-political motivations.”

    I’m not so sure about all of this. I see no TE movement (no particular organizations devoted to TE, etc), just various individuals with a TE stance. When Ken Miller criticizes ID, is that the ‘TE movement’ speaking? It doesn’t seem that way to me.

    There are some supposed TEs I have a very low opinion of – Francisco Ayala comes to mind. And there are some who I have a high opinion of – John Polkinghorne is a good example in turn.

    “Friendly dialog requires mutual respect. Mutual respect requires the perception of trustworthy motives.”

    Agreed, conditionally: Not every TE is Ken Miller, certainly not every TE is Francisco Ayala (Or in turn, Polkinghorne). But I personally think it’s a mistake to condemn all TEs just because some TEs make inane charges against the ID movement. Perhaps I’m wrong.

    Let me clarify: I think there is merit in the TE position insofar as it recognizes God’s role in creation (And before StephenB jumps me on this one – as far as Christianity goes, I take this to mean that evolution was a purposeful process, that man was a foreseen product as opposed to an unforeseen chance result), and a further recognition that evolution and science in general in no way entails atheism. Even if there are disagreements, perhaps deep ones, I think TEs and IDs alike could agree on this much. Both sides are going to have a core disagreement over science – TEs will, judging by what I read, continue to think that science can only rule on so much, and that questions of design (or lack thereof – an important distinction) kick over to philosophy and theology. ID proponents will continue to think that design not only exists, but can be demonstrated in a scientific way. But there are other areas where they do have much common ground.

    Let me add one more perspective: I can essentially be called a TE. I think what we see in science is design, but it’s design that has to be talked about in a philosophical context. I’m open to having my mind changed about whether design can be detected in nature (I think the ID point about SETI is considerable, and I’ve never heard a good response to excuses about how SETI differs from ID), but I happen to think that there may well be no true ‘chance/randomness’ from the perspective of God. Everything, down to the tiniest detail, may be designed. Therefore design detection is like trying to detect radioactivity in a world made out of uranium.

    But I’m not hostile to ID. I think charges that ID is just camouflaged YEC is both ludicrous and a known farce. I think the ID movement has cast light on atheists who try to inject their atheology and philosophy into science. I think it’s inspiring people to look at science from new perspectives, and to question materialistic pretensions. I don’t think I’m the only TE like this – far from it. But I think so long as hostility from some TEs prompts a reaction of hostility TO all TEs, a mistake is being made. Even with the school issue aside (Considering I favor home schooling as the norm before college and autodidactism and certification as the norm in place of universities, the issue is minor to me), I think there is a lot of work for ID to do, and a lot of cooperation that could be had with some, if not all, TEs.

    Again, maybe I’m wrong. But I certainly don’t think every TE by nature has a position which requires automatic hostility to IDs on all topics of God in nature.

  91. 91
    StephenB says:

    —-nullasalus: “And before StephenB jumps me on this one” –

    Peace brother, I have had my say plenty of times. I promise not to play the anti-TE card today.

    But tell me this: Why you find the concepts of “irreducible complexity” and “functionally specified complex information” non scientific.

  92. 92
    nullasalus says:

    StephenB,

    “But tell me this: Why you find the concepts of “irreducible complexity” and “functionally specified complex information” non scientific.”

    This is where things get dicey for me.

    I don’t necessarily find them non-scientific – in fact, I don’t feel capable of ruling on them one way or the other. I’m not a mathematician. I’m not even a scientist. And I don’t find myself automatically endorsing scientists who argue against such things, because I have a healthy skepticism of authorities in general.

    In fact, I’m not convinced that detecting design is an unscientific endeavor. As I indicated, I find it hard to reconcile the claim that design can’t be scientifically identified with the claim that SETI is a scientific endeavor. SETI should be an embarrassment to any true naturalist, since it operates on the expectation that we have a strong reason to suspect that evolution tends towards intelligence (seems downright teleological to me) but that said intelligence will be something akin to our own (even more teleological, and worse, anthropocentric!)

    But any TE v ID conflict can’t be about intelligence in general – it centers necessarily and specifically on theological topics. And I don’t think there can be scientific evidence of God, just as there can’t be scientific evidence against God. The most you’re going to get, in the most optimistic scenario (And this assumes that design/intention are things that can be detected in nature in a scientific way – I’m open to it but not convinced), is evidence of intelligence. And as Crick demonstrated, the moment the best explanation is agency is the moment skeptics can and will dive for any agent that isn’t God. Because there’s no way to scientifically discern between ‘God’ and ‘Agent with tremendous powers that exceed our own’.

    So, short answer: IC and FSCI may well be scientific. But scientific proof of intelligence or design is one thing, proof of God or God’s design is another, and a central issue in any TE-ID dispute. On a theological point, I also worry that people think that if nature does something, it means God did nothing. I see nature as a tool/medium of God, not as some competing design-force.

  93. 93
    reluctantfundie says:

    They have a different (and for me, a far more persuasive) reading of Genesis, and argue that theirs is the proper reading.They have a different (and for me, a far more persuasive) reading

    If their reading of Genesis is better then could you help me resolve these issues that I have with their exegesis?

    How does a TE deal with:

    1) Jesus’ literal belief in Adam and Eve?

    2) Exodus’ instruction to rest on day 7 because that’s how long it took God to create?

    3) 1 Corinthians 15’s declaration that all flesh is not the same flesh?

    4) The geneaologies in Genesis which trace Adam to Noah, Noah to Abraham, Abraham to Isaac and so on right down to Jesus.

    The way I see it, if Genesis is a myth, so is Jesus.

    Any thoughts?

    That said, I too dislike the ID-TE hostility that so often surfaces. I wish these disputes would go down more respectfully,

    Which is why I thought that DaveScot was a touch hard on Francis Collins. In The Language of God Collins gives creationism a wide berth but he is far more gracious in his dealings with it than anyone else I’ve read. He even acknowledges their concern which is why I think we should be less hard on him.

  94. 94
    nullasalus says:

    reluctantfundie,

    “How does a TE deal with:

    1) Jesus’ literal belief in Adam and Eve?”

    You don’t have to reject a literal Adam and Eve to be a TE, and an assertion of God creating male and female does not strike me as convincing evidence of a literal belief in Adam and Eve in the way you take it.

    “2) Exodus’ instruction to rest on day 7 because that’s how long it took God to create?”

    What a day means for God not only is a big question that early church fathers discussed, but 24 hour days are not necessary for the commandment.

    “3) 1 Corinthians 15’s declaration that all flesh is not the same flesh?”

    It’s not, even if common descent is true. I think using this to argue Christians can’t believe in TE is very strained.

    “4) The geneaologies in Genesis which trace Adam to Noah, Noah to Abraham, Abraham to Isaac and so on right down to Jesus.”

    The geneaologies where the given ages and meanings of those mentioned have been and are still under consideration? Where, in the NT, the primary concern is showing Jesus’ link to David? Again, this isn’t a problem for a TE view – there was a point where man arrived on the scene, and descendants followed. Timescales, whether the individuals were individuals or family groups, and so on – it doesn’t strike me as a big concern. Even in Genesis itself, what you get is God creating heavens and earth, animals, plants, man, etc. You don’t get the methods described for verification, and attention to the timespan is fleeting at best.

    You may believe otherwise, that’s fine. But I find the YEC view of Genesis strained, not even the most natural reading.

    “The way I see it, if Genesis is a myth, so is Jesus.”

    First, I see Genesis as no myth and I think most TEs would object to such a description of their view. The progressive creation of what exists, the fact that creation had an apparent start, the arrival of man, the uniqueness of man, the fall – these things are not seen as myths. They are seen as conveying something literal, something important and real, but not in the way YECs understand it. There is ample, tremendous room to view Genesis as describing something that took place in more than a week’s time – which would be why considerations like that were discussed over a millenium before evolution came up.

    And again, I respect your view, but I have this to say: If your stance is that if YEC is not true then Christianity is false, you’re taking a stance Dawkins, Provine, and other atheists not only endorse, but push. I think that alone should be a warning sign that at least in their case, the view is less than honest and well thought out.

    And yes, Collins does tend to be very gracious.

  95. 95
    Apollos says:

    bornagain77,

    No problem, it was fun going through the numbers.

    As Dave points out, the mass goes crazy when the numbers are scaled up, leading to a nonsensical result. A simple “size” extrapolation just won’t do it. I wouldn’t mind trying the same scaling using a torque-to-mass ratio instead, just to see what pops out. 😉

  96. 96
    Apollos says:

    nullasalus,

    Thanks for a very thoughtful response. I’ll respond to some points as best I can.

    Please don’t misunderstand: I do not think that there is no common ground between certain individuals of the TE and ID camps, certainly there is. However where science is concerned, you’ll be hard-pressed to make a case that any non-superficial commonality exists between Intelligent Design and Theistic Darwinism.

    I’m replacing my casual usage of ‘TE Movement’ in the hope of being more clear — a Theistic Darwinist being one who believes that from the human perspective, random mutation and natural selection are the physical forces driving evolution, sufficient in themselves, and that God’s hand is undetectable scientifically, by way of a design inference. This would be your ‘Ken Miller’ TE.

    Agreed, conditionally: Not every TE is Ken Miller, certainly not every TE is Francisco Ayala (Or in turn, Polkinghorne). But I personally think it’s a mistake to condemn all TEs just because some TEs make inane charges against the ID movement. Perhaps I’m wrong.

    From my perspective, nobody is condemning all TEs. However the view that design is scientifically undetectable in nature is 180 degrees off course of that which ID claims: that certain features of the universe and living systems are best explained as the result of an intelligent process (not a blind one) and that the evidence for design is objectively detectable by scientific means, regardless of whether a design signal implicates humans, aliens, or a supernatural being.

    News to me, especially since I’m pretty sure I’ve seen mod posts on this blog arguing that none other than Ken Miller himself is in essence a closet ID proponent – I found such perspectives reasonable.

    I would say that the post in question had the partial motive of jabbing an elbow into Miller’s rib by claiming he is ID. The irony here is that this should be reasonable. If Ken Miller believes in a supernatural creator, then he should have no problem with an enterprise that seeks to assess the effect of that intelligence. Instead he views ID as a societally destructive movement. It’s hard to imagine any real compatibility between ID and one who vehemently rejects and opposes it.

    I hold to the view that there are no concrete and rational reasons to reject ID out-of-hand, especially for a theist. The primary objections seem to revolve around a preference for understanding how God would choose to work, mainly a theological objection. If you believe that God would choose to hide his involvement in creation from objective detection, you are essentially a TE/TD. If you accept that the evidence for God’s involvement in creation is readily apparent and objectively detectable (other than axiomatically) it puts you in the ID camp. The substantive scientific objections appear absent.

    I’m open to having my mind changed about whether design can be detected in nature (I think the ID point about SETI is considerable, and I’ve never heard a good response to excuses about how SETI differs from ID)…

    In my opinion, that puts you right at the entrance to the big tent.

    …but I happen to think that there may well be no true ‘chance/randomness’ from the perspective of God. Everything, down to the tiniest detail, may be designed. Therefore design detection is like trying to detect radioactivity in a world made out of uranium.

    Whether there exists true randomness (I believe there doesn’t) has no effect on a design inference. Randomness can be an alias for that which is beyond our ability to calculate or discern in detail, such as the exact position of stones after a rock slide. However the effects of design are not that way, otherwise we might not discern an automobile from a pile of scrap metal.

    I think there is a lot of work for ID to do, and a lot of cooperation that could be had with some, if not all, TEs.

    While there may be a lot of work, I have a hard time believing that any real help can come from anyone with the view that ID is an unscientific pursuit. From reading your posts on this blog, I don’t put you in that camp. Unless commonality can be established on the basis of design inferences, Irreducible Complexity, the Edge of Evolution, the Explanatory Filter, and the Privileged Planet Hypothesis, then there exists no scientific commonality between ID and TE/TD. For scientific endeavors, science is the most important area of comparison.

    Peace and grace. 🙂

  97. 97
    Ted Davis says:

    I applaud Jack Krebs for his careful articulation of a theological understanding of TE that I generally share. I was asked to provide one awhile back, right when the serious family situation forced me to leave quickly, and I doubt that I could have done any better than Jack did. Thank you, Jack. That was gutsy–not all TEs are gutless, apparently, or without integrity and coherence.

    I echo Jack’s position that design isn’t to be quickly and easily equated with something that can be demonstrated strongly from science. This seems to be the most basic difference between those TEs who believe in a God who acts, on a regular and ongoing basis, and IDs who have similar theological beliefs. (I say this not to start or continue an argument, but simply to state as clearly as I can a point of difference that might be helpful to some.) Quite a few TEs, myself among them, have views not much different from those of some leading ID advocates (such as Mike Behe or Walter Bradley). The main difference seems to lie in our conception of what science can do, and what it can’t do. Jack nicely articulated this above. From our perspective, if/when science can’t seem to explain something adequately (such as the flagellum, according to ID), it isn’t the part of science to jump to a design inference, in the sense usually meant here–namely, that it’s essential to enlarge the scientific tool box to include a Design tool. Whereas ID says, yes, that’s what’s warranted in this instance. Design from a TE perspective is more of a theological conclusion and belief and less of a scientific conclusion. There is less willingness to add design to the scientific box. Maybe that’s wrong, but it’s not malicious or incoherent.

  98. 98
    Ted Davis says:

    Rude (#23) —

    Mostly on target, I would say. Newton was indeed strongly pro-ID and not a materialist (I don’t equate those two things, though they are often found together). He’s often been misrepresented, even by people who ought to know better.

    I wrote an essay about just this a couple decades ago, an essay that Steve Meyer and some other ID folks (but esp Steve) really likes. A shorter version, updated to reflect what’s happened in Newton scholarship in the past 20 years, will be coming out in a few months. The book, edited by Ron Numbers for Harvard U Press, is called “Galileo Goes to Jail, and Other Myths about Science and Religion.” Many of the 25 essays, each by a different author, will be much more popular here than over on PT or salon.com; one or two of them, however, probably won’t go down so well here. I’ll be interested to see responses–to the whole package, not just to those one or two essays–once it comes out. The book is written for intelligent lay people (ie, folks like many here who are bright, who read, and who aren’t specialists in the history of science), at the level of the NY Times, and will be marketed as a trade book. I hope it does really well, even though I won’t be making any royalties from it.

    However, Rude, Newton wouldn’t have been “burned at the stake” if his theological beliefs had become publicly known at the time. Rather, to borrow a word, he’s have been “expelled” from his social position and his university post for his anti-Trinitarian beliefs (he held that the Trinity and the papacy were the two greatest heresies ever put forth by Christians).

  99. 99
    Ted Davis says:

    In several posts above, there is discussion of the water/gravitation concept as an example of design that includes contingencies. Interestingly, this very analogy was used by the first American Darwinian, Asa Gray, to explain exactly the same thing. He spoke about water descending a hillside under gravitation (here the counterpart of NS, as he said), without knowing where it’s going, but that the slope as a whole allowed one to infer an overall design that was useful for irrigation.

  100. 100
    nullasalus says:

    Apollos,

    “However where science is concerned, you’ll be hard-pressed to make a case that any non-superficial commonality exists between Intelligent Design and Theistic Darwinism.”

    Sure, but ‘where science is concerned’ is the principle point of disagreement – so that’s to be expected. If TE’s believe that the question of God cannot be settled through science and IDs obviously do, that’s that. But there still exists some commonality as I’ve outlined – in fact, I think a common complaint is that ID is vastly more appropriate as philosophy than as science. ID-as-philosophy is one sentiment I endorse.

    “I hold to the view that there are no concrete and rational reasons to reject ID out-of-hand, especially for a theist. The primary objections seem to revolve around a preference for understanding how God would choose to work, mainly a theological objection. If you believe that God would choose to hide his involvement in creation from objective detection, you are essentially a TE/TD.”

    I don’t think the typical TE supposes that God is hiding anything. As I’ve said elsewhere here, for me personally, I’m willing to entertain the possibility that some kind of design may be detectable scientifically – again, there’s the SETI question. But any argument that apparent design, no matter how obvious, is the work of God is into philosophy. Not because God hides, but it’s just the nature of the question.

    “While there may be a lot of work, I have a hard time believing that any real help can come from anyone with the view that ID is an unscientific pursuit.”

    I’m not so sure. Even if questions of whether ID is or is not science are put aside, there’s still much work to be done – for instance, ID proponents can press TEs to be consistent in one respect: If it’s unscientific to detect design in nature, then it’s unscientific to detect it’s lack. If they think the mere entertaining of the prospect that design may be scientifically discernible is unscientific and a threat to science, then surely the atheist opposite must be condemned. Remember, this has not been limited to court battles – Ken Miller and others have been rabid simply over books written by Behe and others making relatively modest claims, right or wrong.

    In turn, I think TEs should encourage ID proponents in another way: Shore up the ID presence in the philosophical end of the debate, and in the popular rhetoric end. Even if TEs believe that there is no falsifiable test for design, they have little grounds to object for regarding and reasoning what we see in nature to be the product of design, and to approach science from such an intellectual paradigm.

    As for your arguments about detecting design even if there’s no true randomness, I’ll certainly consider them. It really is a question I follow closely – and I think the core of hostility (at least among many materialists or scientism-adherents) is because that, at heart, ID is putting them in a dilemma. If ID is not science, no-ID is not science either – and to be consistent, the much-yelled-about ‘religion versus science’ dichotomy falls. Science becomes largely unable to oppose religious views. But if no-ID is science, it can only do so if ID is science as well – at which point ‘science’ fractures into camps, and it becomes entirely legitimate, even if unpopular, to argue that even evolution itself, the formation of galaxies, etc are design or artifacts of design – and therefore scientific proof of God.

    Either way, thank you for the pleasant exchange. It’s appreciated.

  101. 101
    Charlie says:

    Hi Ted Davis,

    The main difference seems to lie in our conception of what science can do, and what it can’t do. Jack nicely articulated this above.

    I don’t know if Jack articulated this that well. I think his focus was on theology and that it was those questioning him who have emphasized that the difference is a scientific one. You present it here as a philosophical question regarding demarcation, which obviously is relevant, but there also remains the empirical question and its interpretation.

    Design from a TE perspective is more of a theological conclusion and belief and less of a scientific conclusion.

    Exactly.

    From our perspective, if/when science can’t seem to explain something adequately (such as the flagellum, according to ID), it isn’t the part of science to jump to a design inference, in the sense usually meant here–namely, that it’s essential to enlarge the scientific tool box to include a Design tool.

    There’s more to it that that and reframing this as a God-of-the-gaps argument isn’t likely to be conducive to continued good natured discussion.

  102. 102
    Ted Davis says:

    Stephen (#55) —

    I realize that we probably differ sharply on this, but I will offer a point that needs to be appreciated (not necessarly accepted, but understood) in order to understand a key reason why a lot of TEs are very hesitant to embrace ID–at least, ID in biology, as vs ID in cosmology.

    In their view, ID for something like the bacterial flagellum employs a “god-of-the-gaps” strategy (GG). This itself is a hotly contested point; I realize that entirely. I am not saying that one needs to agree with this, only that one needs to see and understand the point, in order to understand the larger TE/ID picture.

    I most emphatically did NOT claim, please note, that ID employs a GG theology. That is something quite different, IMO. I did say that many TEs think that a GG strategy is being employed, or (more specifically) a designer of the gaps (DG) strategy. Mr Dembski’s explanatory filter itself suggests this, some would say. When you can’t explain it by mechanistic science, you draw the design inference. The explanatory “gap” is filled with “design,” or rather the designer who for virtually everyone involved with ID is “God.”

    Some ID proponents don’t mind this; they want to be able to say that there ought to be scientifically testable consequences of their theism. They apparently accept the GG or DG strategy as a good one, and do not concern themselves with potentially devastating consequences for their theology if those “gaps” get filled in down the road by good science.

    Others deny that this type of inference is a genuine example of GG or DG strategy. (I don’t agree with this group.) So, they don’t worry about it for a different reason.

    Many TEs, however, do worry about this, and more than a little. Maybe they are wrong to do so, for either of the above reasons or for another reason. But, they do worry about it, and I think they have good reason to do so. Hence, they tend not to want to use that type of an argument, at least not in biology.

    In cosmology, however, the situation might well be quite different. Many IDs I’ve talked to don’t see a relevant difference, but IMO there are at least two very significant differences that (again) should at least be understood if not necessarily agreed with.

    (1) To get past the design inference from cosmic fine tuning, it looks like some sort of multiverse hypothesis is needed. And, that looks like something whose existence just can’t be detected–roughly like where the ether was 80 years ago, but even worse b/c it can’t be detected *in principle* rather than in experimental practice. If so, it’s probably not genuinely scientific at all; in this case, there is no way to fill the “gap” with actual science, at any point. That’s a highly important asymmetry with the flagellum case and other biological cases. Thus, no GG strategy is used here.

    (2) Theologically, the divine activity of giving existence to things and determining the nature of nature has no human analogue, whereas making things out of other things has a human analogue. Our logic breaks down in understanding the former, but not the latter. Indeed, the former is past our understanding while the latter is not. Science can comprehend much of the latter, but not the former at all. The anthropic stuff is related to the former; thus, a lot more scientists are willing to draw design inferences from it. I fear I didn’t explain this point as well as I probably can, but words are failing me tonight.

    Bottom line, Stephen: For many TEs, cosmological design inferences are a lot less problemmatic than biological ones. My own view is that they are considerably more powerful and less prone to end up as filled “gaps.” This is probably a big reason why Miller, Collins, Polkinghorne, Russell, and many other TEs (I could also add my colleague Robin Collins, who was for many years a fellow of TDI but is also a TE) do talk about design in cosmology but don’t want to do that in biology. Once again, this is a matter of beliefs–beliefs about science and what it can do, as well as beliefs about what the better strategy is–and not courage.

    One can certainly disagree with them, individually and collectively. But one does need at least to understand this point.

  103. 103
    Ted Davis says:

    Charlie:

    “There’s more to it that that and reframing this as a God-of-the-gaps argument isn’t likely to be conducive to continued good natured discussion.”

    Charlie, I don’t think that is at all fair, either to the tone of my remarks or to their substance. I simply said, that lots of TEs hold the view that ID in biology is a GG strategy, and that is a big factor in understanding TE/ID differences. I just fail to see how that observation, which I believe to be an accurate statement about a difference of opinion, is provocative. Maybe I’m wrong about the state of affairs (that such a difference of opinion exists), in which case that’s what you should dispute. Maybe the TEs are wrong to draw this conclusion–which I was explaining, not trying at length to argue in favor of (although I tend to agree with it)–in which case you dispute that. But please, Charlie, don’t imply that I’m trying to raise the temperature here. If that happens, no one can fairly lay the blame on me. I disown any such conclusion.

  104. 104
    bornagain77 says:

    Apollos,
    I wouldn’t know where to get the proper numbers for the torque to mass ratio (do they actually weigh the different parts of the flagellum? LOL) , but at first glance it seems it would be a lot more effective to getting a proper HP;pound/foot macro scaling number since you would be dealing with actual weight. I would think that the force needed to move weight could be properly scaled, wouldn’t you?

  105. 105
    Apollos says:

    Ted Davis,

    Have you considered that the design inference only opens the door to all sorts of reverse engineering, rather than simply calling “out of bounds” on the subject?

    Just because something is designed doesn’t mean that inquiry into how is for some reason off limits.

    It seems to me this is where the design inference might prove more fruitful than materialistic assumptions. Rather than spending untold resources trying to figure out how a flagellum forms out of nothing by way of unguided processes, a design inference would suggest that we apply principles of good engineering to figure out how it works, and apply the result to all sorts of human technology.

    To use a god-of-the-gaps reasoning against ID is simply to rule out the possibility of design a priori, it doesn’t hold up when assessing the value of the design inference. It merely mourns the fact that materialism itself might have limits — limits that design inferences can break the boundaries of.

    All the best…

  106. 106
    Apollos says:

    bornagain77, my scales aren’t quite sensitive enough to weigh the flagellum (to date I only get 0.000 lbs for a result 😛 ).

    However we already have a torque number (1400 piconewton-nanometers) so if we can find the mass of the motor itself (my scales just won’t do it, and those bacteria are elusive) we could, at the very least, validate Dave’s assertion (that any scaling would be nonsensical) by scaling the ratio up to something the size of a contemporary motor.

    When I used a hypothetical mass (mass=volume=10*PI when radius=1) the scaling was more consistent with what you might expect.

  107. 107
    Apollos says:

    nullasalus,

    “Either way, thank you for the pleasant exchange. It’s appreciated.”

    Likewise. 😀

  108. 108
    tribune7 says:

    Ted,

    There is a big difference in disagreeing with the conclusions of ID and distorting its methodology i.e. claiming it’s based on revelation rather than a falsifiable, testable system.

    There is a big difference in attempting to refute the methodology and dismissing it or attempting to destroy the careers of those who simply consider it much less embrace it.

  109. 109
    Timaeus says:

    Jack Krebs’s thoughtful and polite post is helpful in presenting the TE position. I think that Jack has done a remarkably good job of presenting a view in which what appears to us as chance is really caused by God’s will. His two-perspective account, in which God is responsible for everything from the perspective of eternity, whereas law and chance are responsible for everything from the prospective of the human observer, is well carried out. However, as I re-read it, something troubled me about the account of the relationship of God to nature, something that seemed implied throughout and that didn’t seem quite right. Jack helped me by finally making that something explicit, in this paragraph:

    “So when we systematically study the world via science, the TE understands that we are limited to studying the manifestation of God’s creation as it flows through time, and thus we find an interplay of law and chance. From the point of view of God, both causal regularities and chance events are illusions – artifacts of the human condition. But of course, from a scientific point of view, this is irrelevant: all we can do is study the world as it presents itself, and it presents us with both law and chance.”

    Now I think Jack has accurately captured exactly where his account leads: from the point of view of God, both causal regularities and chance events are illusions. This view is very close to, if not identical with, the view adopted by certain medieval Muslim theologians, which was later dubbed “occasionalism.” In this Muslim view, God essentially recreates the universe at every moment, exactly the way he wants it. Far from being a deistic, hands-off God, who creates the world and then sits back and watches, the occasionalist God is intimately involved in producing the world, in all its details, in every moment of existence. It follows that there is no “nature”. “Nature” (physis, rendered by the Romans as natura) is a Greek notion, and implies that what the Greeks call “nature”, or what Jews and Christians would call the created order, has a kind of autonomy: it follows its own principles or laws. To be sure, in the theistic religions, those laws were given to it by God, but it does operate through them, not through constant, stop-and-start miraculous interventions. God, in the Christian tradition, has given nature powers to operate by itself. This does not mean that God can never alter these laws, or that he cannot suspend them at any time he wishes. It does mean that his will is that nature should be, on the whole, self-sustaining. This view was held, as far as I know, by the vast majority of Christian theologians throughout Christian history. In short, Christian theology has generally admitted that there is something called “nature”, and that the laws of “nature”, being rarely violated, admit of discovery by natural science.

    The Muslim occasionalist theology denies that there is any such thing as “nature”. There is only the appearance of regularity which God has chosen to maintain, but which he could change, as it pleases him, any time. A Muslim scientist can at best study the patterns, the regularities that God seems to follow, as one might follow the patterns of a chess-player, or a tennis-player, and learn to guess what he will probably do next, based on his past pattern, but such a scientist could have no metaphysical confidence in any of these guesses, because “nature” does not exist. And the concept of “cause” would no longer be a concept of “cause” in the strict sense, i.e., event A causes event B; it would amount to saying only that “event B is always found to occur after event A, and never in the absence of event A.” It would be an epistemologically and metaphysically empty concept, useful only pragmatically, on the assumption that what God has done for thousands of years, he will probably keep doing. The notion of necessary connection is completely lost, along with any “hard” notion of causality, in such a view.

    Now at one point Jack speaks of his view as “the” Christian view, but in fact, there have been many Christian views over the ages, and the majority Christian view (unless I am mistaken) is that “nature”, with all its necessities, really exists; it is a quasi-autonomous reality, given genuine causal powers by God. This is in fact the meaning of the idea of “creation”, that a “real” world (in the modern sense of the world “real”), not just a world of mental connections in God’s awareness, has come into being. It was confidence in the independent reality of this world, this “created nature” – a confidence guaranteed by the scriptural account of Creation and its theological exposition — which enabled early modern scientists to go far beyond their Muslim predecessors, and thus we had the outburst of scientific discovery associated with Galileo, Descartes, Boyle, Newton, etc. What Jack is calling “the” Christian view – I am referring to his view that natural laws are merely an illusion – is, I believe, a minority Christian view, and historically more Muslim than Christian in character.

    Be this as it may, I would maintain that Jack’s exposition, however orthodox or accurate, is gloriously irrelevant to the main point in contention between ID and TE (or at least, most TEs), that point being whether or not design is detectable. Even granting everything that Jack says, it by no means follows automatically that design is not detectable. For example, Mt. Rushmore is clearly a designed object. Surely Jack would acknowledge that? Surely Jack would acknowledge that Mr. Rushmore would not have emerged by “law and chance”, by wind and water erosion for example, in a thousand years, or even a million, or even a billion? Surely the design is detectable. And the organization of a cell is a million times more complex, the chance events that would have to fall together are a million times as many, as in the case of Mt. Rushmore. Further, despite all the braying and blustering of Darwinians, we know of no mechanisms involving chance that can do anything more than lengthen finch beaks and give one-celled creatures (through single mutations) immunity from antibodies. There is simply no evidence that chance plus natural laws can produce things a million times more complex than Mt. Rushmore. Not even if we take into account the difference between inanimate and organic objects. Rational thought points inexorably in the direction of design.

    This inference, which is the design inference, says nothing about how design is instantiated. It could be via front-loading, via occasional miracles, or by the constant coaxing of God. Because of this openness, intelligent design, even when it asserts the existence of God, is theologically non-dogmatic. The only conclusion it asserts with firmness is that design is real, not merely apparent, and that the best scientific information that we have about living things cannot even come close to explaining how this design got into nature, without presupposing an intelligent agent of some kind.

    What Jack seems to be allowing is that the design could have got into nature by the uniform coaxing of God throughout all time and space, but that it couldn’t have got into nature via either front-loading or occasional miracles. But why exclude those other methods? It appears that they are excluded simply on the grounds of Jack’s particular theological taste. He doesn’t think God would work in those other ways. Well, he’s entitled to his own taste in theology and his own taste in Gods. But is he entitled to impose that taste on anyone else? This is what is so offensive about Collins, Miller, Ayala, etc.: not so much that they swallow the improbabilities of Darwinian mechanisms indiscriminately; not so much that they are snotty to ID people in public, often, apparently, for political as much as scientific reasons; but that they impose their own private Christian theology as “the” Christian theology, as the only one consonant with true Christian faith. And the odd thing is, most of the TEs are amateurs when it comes to Christian theology. Most of them are biologists, physicists, or clergymen with just the basic divinity degree, etc., and relatively untrained in theology; rarely are they trained at the level needed to settle Christian doctrine authoritatively. Yet they are sure what God is like, and how he must have created, and how he couldn’t have created. There is a degree of audacity here which I for one find astounding. If they would offer their various private notions of God and of Christianity with a wee bit more humility and tentativeness, I for one would find them a bit easier to take.

    To be sure, Mr. Krebs has offered an above-average defense of TE here; his exposition is more theoretically coherent, and much classier in tone, than the writing of Miller, Collins, or Ayala. Nonetheless, even he seems to be pronouncing rather firmly on what Christian theology must be, and what it must not be. And his presentation of Christian theology is selective: as several people here have remarked, there are Biblical statements which seem to suggest that God’s designs are evident to the human senses and the human mind, and don’t require any special dimension of “faith” to perceive. And he is silent about the ancient tradition of natural theology within Christianity. Odd that he would not at least mention Thomas Aquinas, for example. So, while I certainly welcome his exposition as one of the best I’ve seen, I think it sidesteps the evidence for detectable design in nature, and theologically over-states the case for TE. More generally I wish, regarding claims about what is known for certain in “science” and claims about what Christian theology teaches, that TEs would adopt a stance that is more exploratory and less doctrinaire.

    T.

  110. 110
    Charlie says:

    Hi Ted,
    I wasn’t trying to be unfair to you but what you presented still looks like the claim that IDs are jumping to design inferences merely because science hits roadblocks, ie. GoG.
    Like you, I wasn’t trying to raise the heat but state my opinion – that making such a claim is not accurate and is likely to cause ill will.

    From our perspective, if/when science can’t seem to explain something adequately (such as the flagellum, according to ID), it isn’t the part of science to jump to a design inference, in the sense usually meant here–namely, that it’s essential to enlarge the scientific tool box to include a Design tool. Whereas ID says, yes, that’s what’s warranted in this instance.

    There are very many things that science can’t explain but which do not warrant a design inference – gravity, lightning, dark matter, what occurred in the first fraction of a second of the Big Bang when all the laws of physics break down, etc.
    To the contrary, there is an actual methodology and logical rationale in determining that certain features be attributed to design. This includes the method Darwin suggested, that of abduction.

    But I do apologize for implying that you were trying to raise the heat and for using thoughtless words to express what I was saying. There is a certain “internet speak” that I find myself using almost as a default sometimes without really regarding all of its nuance. I’ll try better.

    By the way, I forgot to add that the essay collection sounds great and I hope you’ll remind us when it comes out.

  111. 111
    StephenB says:

    Hi Ted, welcome back.

    It is quite reasonable to identify and challenge GG (God of the gaps) arguments when they pose as scientific arguments. The problem consists in differentiating those types of arguments from ones that only appear to be that way. How can we tell?

    Well, the first order of business is to be aware of the danger. In large measure, gap arguments stem largely from naïvete and arrogance. So, let’s put ID to the test. Does William Dembski, for example, understand the risks and has he made provisions for them. Read his work, and you will discover that he is not only conscious of the problem, he adjusts for the possibility. Further, he admits openly that he could be wrong, acknowledging that there may be yet another factor or another natural dynamic that he has not taken into account. If a fourth factor (other than law, chance, or agency) asserts itself, he is prepared to go back to the drawing board. (By the way, he does not simply move from necessity to a design inference; he also takes contingency into account).

    Now, let’s apply that same standard to the neo-Darwinism framework, which, by the way, is just as subject to a DG (“Darwin of the gaps”) argument as ID is subject to a “God of the gaps” argument. Has the community of evolutionary biologists, 95.8% of whom are agnostic/atheist, ever entertained the prospect that their research may be slipping through these gaps. Do they ever consider the possibility that they could be wrong? Are they even aware of the intellectual compromise inherent in their smugness? We both know the answer. So, who is in greater danger of falling into gap-like arguments? Is it those who are aware of them and take steps to avoid them, or is it those who feel that they are immune from such dangers? I think we both know the answer to that one as well.

    So, now I ask the question. Why do Collins, Miller, Polkinghorne, and Russell, obsess over the God of the Gaps argument, which has yet to be proven about ID, while ignoring the Darwin of the Gaps argument, that defines much of evolutionary history. How often has a Darwin of the gaps argument been used, excused, and buried? Shall I count the ways? How many hoaxes have been perpetrated in its name? Do we need to be reminded? Isn’t it the case that each time the fossil record embarrassed them, they immediately fell into the DG gap and claimed that there must be some reason the evidence has not yet arrived? Even today, do they not continue to search desperately for an evolutionary pathway to complexity, even thought the odds are getting shorter and shorter. Isn’t that a DG argument? Are they taking the necessary steps to alert themselves of the danger and make allowances? Hardly.

    So, we pause to consider the cosmological parallel. How easy it is now for all of us to give credence to cosmological fine tuning. I might even put it another way—what choice do we have? The evidence is so overwhelming that even Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens find it daunting. It hasn’t been that long since the majority of astronomers and astrophysicists were outraged about the “big bang.” Eventually, they were brought in kicking and screaming. Accepting design in the universe, therefore, requires very little effort. Indeed, most reasonable people understand that entertaining the alternative, a multiverse argument, militates against rationality itself, since either the reality or the fantasy of it would completely displace the metaphysical foundations for science. That so many professional physicists and astronomers do not even know this is a testimony to the anti-intellectualism of our times.

    So, the real test for intellectual honesty here is this: Who is willing to follow where the evidence leads? Ideology is all over the place, and every one of us has a dog in the fight. So, we should at least be aware of our own biases and prejudices. For every YEC on our side, who believes that God created the world in seven days, you have five atheists on your side, who thinks that the world created itself. One thing sure, there is more to this than faith. In the end, we all have to make a reasonable inference to the best explanation, and, for those of us who have decided to enter into the fray, understanding the arguments from the other side is essential to understanding the strengths and flaws in our own arguments.

    In fact, many of our prominent public critics cannot even define basic ID terms and definitions, yet they don’t hesitate to criticize that which they don’t understand. That is a very odd thing, and I don’t know what to make of it except to shrug it off as ideology. I test this point quite frequently, by the way, by asking very simple questions in a non-threatening way. Here is one I asked an ID opponent only a few days ago. What is it about functionally specified complex information that seems implausible to you? He had no idea of what I was talking about. By the way, he is a fierce ID critic. Imagine how much zeal he will acquire when he learns something about the subject.

  112. 112
    Timaeus says:

    I enjoy all of Ted Davis’s posts, for their balance and fairness.

    Still, I think that, regarding the “God of the gaps” argument, Ted gives too much credit to Darwinism. He writes as if Darwinism has filled in pretty much all the main parts of the evolutionary tree, i.e., given an adequate causal story for a large number of the nodal points of evolutionary change, and therefore that it is a risky venture to try to insert “design” into the holes that aren’t yet filled. After all, he reasons, these holes may be filled, and then ID will look foolish both scientifically and theologically.

    But this seems to overstate what Darwinism has proved, which is almost nothing. Beyond finch beaks and one-mutation changes in unicellular creatures which give them immunity to antibodies, what has the Darwinian mechanism explained? Certainly not the origin of the major body plans, the major organs or systems, the eye, the flight of birds, etc. All of its explanations of these things to date are speculative and light on data, to say the least.

    So it’s not as if arguing for design, as opposed to chance, is likely to cause any embarrassment in the near future for design theorists. Of course, once Darwinism has explained fully even one complex organ or system in terms of chance and natural selection, without need for design, then Ted’s case will become much more relevant. But since there isn’t even one successful Darwinian explanation yet — by which I mean a fully detailed, step-by-step account, with every genetic and developmental change filled in at the DNA and embryological levels, and with timelines correlated both with mutation rates and with the fossil record — I don’t think the “design of the gaps” concern is very worrisome. Rather, it seems to me that it is the Darwinists who employ “chance of the gaps” to fill out those tidy (but largely fictitious) evolutionary trees that appear in popular science books.

    In terms of the history of philosophy, Ted is arguing, (not consciously, but in effect), that it is too risky to be a Platonist or an Aristotelian, because an Epicurean might come along and explain one of your prized designs in mechanical terms, and then you would look foolish. So, by that logic, we should all become Epicureans, to play it “safe” and make sure we aren’t embarrassed later. I think we know how the Platonists and Aristotelians answered the Epicureans, and their answer still seems valid today: it is those who offer the implausible hypothesis who need to worry about being embarrassed. And Darwinism remains, despite remarkable PR, an implausible hypothesis.

    There’s no evidence that chance can do anywhere near what it must do, if Darwinism is true. But Darwinists believe, based on inference from the fossil record, that evolution has occurred, and chance, despite its obvious inaptitude for the role, is called in (albeit with natural selection in a crucial supporting role) as the only “naturalistic” explanation for the process; i.e., chance is called in specifically for the purpose of excluding design. Why should we be impressed by a “scientific” theory that is obviously driven by such a metaphysical motive?

    T.

  113. 113
    StephenB says:

    Timaeus: Congratulations on your post @ 110. It deserves it’s own thread, and I hope one of the administrators takes notice of it.

  114. 114
    Jack Krebs says:

    Hi guys – fascinating conversation, and I would love to spend some time responding to Timaeus and the rest of you. Work and other responsibilities have kept me from having any time since lateSunday, but I am reading along, and hope to have time to write tonight. Thanks to those who have taken my remarks seriously, and have responded in kind.

  115. 115
    Rude says:

    Ted Davis in 99, thanks for the comments in regard to 23. I look forward to your article on “what’s happened in Newton scholarship in the past 20 years”—might it become available independently on the internet? As for “burned at the stake” I stand corrected—Edward Wightman “was the last person to be burnt at the stake for heresy in England … on April 11, 1612”—which is some thirty years before Newton was born.

    And then as for the “God of the Gaps” argument—I know you’re not defending it—but I should think that if it has “the appearance of design” then the default position is that it is designed. ID, as Stephen B reminds us, easily counters with a “Darwin of the Gaps” argument in the face of all the promisory notes of the Darwinists. Beyond Behe’s Edge of Evolution that is all they have.

  116. 116
    reluctantfundie says:

    Thanks for your response.

    I find it fascinating that you think the YEC understanding of scripture is strained. It’s just a plain reading. That’s it.

  117. 117
    bornagain77 says:

    Apollos,

    Though I could not find the mass for the motor, This site looks very interesting:

    Bacterial motors could inspire nanotechnology

    http://www.physorg.com/news11029.html

    excerpt:

    This motor has the same power-to-weight ratio as an internal combustion engine, spins at up to 100,000 rpm and achieves near-perfect efficiency. Yet at only 50 nanometres across, one hundred million would fit onto a full-stop. The only other natural rotary electric motor is in the enzyme ATP-synthase.

    Dr Berry is a member of the Rotary Molecular Motors Group in the Oxford Department of Physics. He presented his research at the Biophysical Society’s Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Sunday 19 February.

    The physicist and his Japanese colleagues changed the proteins normally found in the motor of E Coli to make it run on sodium instead of hydrogen ions. This allowed them to reduce its speed of rotation by lowering the level of sodium ions present. They also made the actions of the motor more easily detectable by attaching tiny beads to stubs of flagella. Ultimately 26 distinct steps could be observed in each of its revolutions.

    ‘The motor runs on electric current, the flow of hydrogen or sodium ions across the cell membrane, and each step may be caused by one or two sodium ions passing through the motor,’ explained Dr Berry.

    The tools involved included optical tweezers, which employ light beams to hold and to measure transparent particles, and a high-speed fluorescence microscope which can capture 2500 images per second.

    Dr Berry and his colleagues have so far determined the torque-speed relationship of the motor, and that it can have up to twelve independent ‘cylinders.’

    ‘Our research will allow us to measure the performance of the motor when we vary things like the driving voltage and number of cylinders, and to understand the physics of the fundamental torque-generating process,’

  118. 118
    bornagain77 says:

    Apollos I also found this,

    http://creationontheweb.com/content/view/1899/

    The cell is propelled up to 15 body-lengths per second at top speed.2 If this could be scaled up, it would be like a person of height 1.8 m (6 ft) swimming at 100 km/h (60 mph).

  119. 119
    Jack Krebs says:

    Time to sort through 60 or so posts and see what I can add to the discussion. Let me start here: In 83, Paul Giem writes, “That’s a beautiful defense of theism.”

    I appreciate the compliment, but I’d like to make it clear that my post at 56 was not meant to be a defense of theism, but rather merely a description of a set of reasonable conclusions one might reach if one believes in an omniscient, omnipotent, omni-present transcendental divine entity – i.e. a God such as is found in Western monotheism. Arguments for believing in God are a different topic, and if one doesn’t believe in such an entity then the conclusions I described will not be meaningful.

    My main goal was to show that a Christian TE who takes the position I described has no reason to reject scientific descriptions of the world, including evolutionary theory: there is no contradiction between a belief in God and a belief that the world as we know it has progresses through natural causes, including the constant occurrence of contingent (chance, random, or lucky) events.

    Now a number of you have raised some objections to this, and I’d like to sort them out and respond to some of them.

    First, I have been puzzled by a distinction that StephenB makes. After some back and forth, Stephen writes at 73,

    OK: So, you and the TE merely “”believe” that all these daily things around us are designed. You did not say that you make a design inference, so I conclude that you have no rational reason for believing what you believe. In any case, to say that design is a merely article of faith is anti -Scriptural. Scripture insists that design is self-evident. TEs reject this essential teaching of their faith, yet they insist that they are “devout believers.”

    I find this statement puzzling. To the TE, the pervasive nature of God’s design is self-evident to the TE because the TE believes in the God that I have described. This is a matter of faith. I have no idea why Stephen says that believing in design because of a belief in God is anti-scriptural.

    I think I have an idea what is at issue here, although I may be wrong. We can make a distinction between the “argument from design” and an “argument to design.” The former is an argument for the existence of God based on a belief that the world is designed. The latter is a belief that all is designed because one believes in God. I am not discussing the former – arguments for God. I am discussing, as I said earlier, the beliefs of one who already does believe in God. The TE doesn’t make a “design inference”, or at least does something much more than make a “design inference”, to reach his conclusions about the nature of God and his relationship to our experiences, including those that we systematically describe via science.

    Somewhere in this distinction probably lies the issue of why most TE’s reject ID, and vice versa. I hope to eventually return to that topic, but I’d like to first respond to a few other people.

    In 68, Charlie does a good of challenging some of my points. The interested reader might re-read that post.

    In a nutshell (Charlie can let me know if I do not represent him accurately), even though my explanation of why one can believe that God has manifested himself in the natural world in ways that appear internally consistent to us causal chains of natural events, there is no a priori reason why that must be the case, for God could surely have done otherwise. Despite the huge success science has had in finding natural explanations for things, it is possible that there have been/are/will be events in which we, if we could observe them completely, would see breaks in the causal chains.

    For instance, when I wrote, “This [my description of TE] is not a logically or theologically invalid position, ” Charlie responded,

    Exactly. Neither is it a position demanded by science, logic or theology. It is not the position dictated by the evidence. …

    I certainly agree with your defence of the theology and logic. The problem is an empirical one.

    I understand Charlie’s point. If Charlie’s position were widespread I would probably give up working on defending TE because there would be no need. If the majority of ID advocates would understand that TE is a perfectly legitimate Christian position, that its acceptance of evolutionary theory (especially in respect to the role of chance) is not in contradiction with a belief in God’s design and divine will, and that TE’s can validly separate their acceptance of science, which they can share with non-theists, from their religious belief in God, then things would be much different than they are now.

    But this is not the case, and the reasons are numerous. Most ID advocates want TE’s to assent to arguments that the TE”s do not feel are convincing, and of course most ID advocates do not accept the arguments I have made that Charlie accepts as logically and theologically valid.

    Nullasalus at 91 makes a good comment:

    Even if there are disagreements, perhaps deep ones, I think TEs and IDs alike could agree on this much. Both sides are going to have a core disagreement over science – TEs will, judging by what I read, continue to think that science can only rule on so much, and that questions of design (or lack thereof – an important distinction) kick over to philosophy and theology. ID proponents will continue to think that design not only exists, but can be demonstrated in a scientific way. But there are other areas where they do have much common ground.

    Exactly. It is the idea that certain aspects of the world exhibit a different level of design, so to speak – one that can truly be ascertained by science – from all the rest of God’s design, that I think most TE’s object to. TE’s definitely agree about the overall design of the world, but they understand that this is a consequence of their religious beliefs, not a demonstrable conclusion of science (because, as I have explained, science can’t see the world in a way that reveals its design). There may be TE’s who are open to the idea that certain things will never be convincingly explained in terms of natural events, but as nullasalus says, any “design inference” about those events would be a religious judgment: scientifically they would just remain unexplained.

    Ted Davis says this nicely:

    The main difference seems to lie in our conception of what science can do, and what it can’t do. Jack nicely articulated this above. From our perspective, if/when science can’t seem to explain something adequately (such as the flagellum, according to ID), it isn’t the part of science to jump to a design inference, in the sense usually meant here–namely, that it’s essential to enlarge the scientific tool box to include a Design tool. Whereas ID says, yes, that’s what’s warranted in this instance. Design from a TE perspective is more of a theological conclusion and belief and less of a scientific conclusion. There is less willingness to add design to the scientific box. Maybe that’s wrong, but it’s not malicious or incoherent.

    It’s Design with a capital “D” that most TE’s don’t accept – a separate mode of manifested causality different from the pervasive design that one accepts because of one’s belief in God. And again – I think I’m repeating myself here – , it’s not because God couldn’t have acted a particular way, but that the evidence seems to indicate he didn’t, and the ID arguments that he did Design at times do not seem scientifically valid or compelling. They seem more like an religious overlay that makes a unsupported distinction of Design vs. design, one that is theologically invalid in practice even though it is conceivably valid in theory.

    In short, God could have used Design, but the TE’s don’t believe that arguments that this is currently scientifically ascertainable are valid.

    Another example: Stephen writes,

    You said that evidence of God’s design is all around us. If you agree that a DNA molecule qualifies as part of that evidence, then we are in business and we have nothing more to quarrel about.

    I believe the TE position is that a DNA molecule is a part of God’s design, but no more than an oxygen molecule is. Stephen, I am pretty sure, believes that DNA was Designed – not something for which a chance of law and chance events can account for – and a TE doesn’t, so I don’t think this resolves the quarrel. (And, as I said in the beginning, the TE isn’t looking for evidence of design – he knows that the design is there as a consequence of his belief in God.)

    Timaeus at 110 writes that,

    This view is very close to, if not identical with, the view adopted by certain medieval Muslim theologians, which was later dubbed “occasionalism.” In this Muslim view, God essentially recreates the universe at every moment, exactly the way he wants it. Far from being a deistic, hands-off God, who creates the world and then sits back and watches, the occasionalist God is intimately involved in producing the world, in all its details, in every moment of existence. It follows that there is no “nature”. “Nature” (physis, rendered by the Romans as natura) is a Greek notion, and implies that what the Greeks call “nature”, or what Jews and Christians would call the created order, has a kind of autonomy: it follows its own principles or laws. To be sure, in the theistic religions, those laws were given to it by God, but it does operate through them, not through constant, stop-and-start miraculous interventions. God, in the Christian tradition, has given nature powers to operate by itself. This does not mean that God can never alter these laws, or that he cannot suspend them at any time he wishes. It does mean that his will is that nature should be, on the whole, self-sustaining. This view was held, as far as I know, by the vast majority of Christian theologians throughout Christian history. In short, Christian theology has generally admitted that there is something called “nature”, and that the laws of “nature”, being rarely violated, admit of discovery by natural science.

    I don’t think the view I’m describing is at all that of the Muslim occasionalists. As I have said, it is an artifact of our time-embeddedness that there seems to be a difference between God continually creating every moment and God having already created everything.

    But Timaeus is right to bring up the issue of Nature: does it have an autonomy, but surely that autonomy is not immune from God’s omniscience. I consider this one of those inevitable paradoxes that we can’t comprehend because we can’t see the world as God does: God manifests himself in part as the natural world, which, because of God’s rational nature, appears to operate on it’s own. There is a quote I like, the source of which I cannot verify, that “nature is what God does.” One of the ways that God acts is to be nature, even though he also transcends nature and is forever creating it. There is no way we can compress all this into a limited human logic, I know, but I think that is true of many mystical truths.

    Timaeus also writes,

    Nonetheless, even he seems to be pronouncing rather firmly on what Christian theology must be.

    I would like to clear this up: I am doing no such thing. I am describing one Christian perspective. I am not arguing that anyone should adopt this position (or even believe in God), nor am I saying that this is the correct Christian theology. I am trying to present a coherent position based on belief in an omni-everything God. My description may appeal to people, and may in fact influence someone to change their views a bit, but I firmly believe that no one – neither me nor anyone else – can presume to claim that this is the way it really is about God. All we can do is share our understandings in ways that help people along their own path of understanding.

    Well, I have run out of time again, spending most of an evening on this. Perhaps this thread will not continue on, and perhaps it will, but I’ve appreciated the discussion.

  120. 120
    Charlie says:

    Hi Jack Krebs,
    Thanks for your thoughtful repsponse.
    One point that you say you are repeating:

    And again – I think I’m repeating myself here – , it’s not because God couldn’t have acted a particular way, but that the evidence seems to indicate he didn’t, and the ID arguments that he did Design at times do not seem scientifically valid or compelling.

    This is a good description, to a point, of this difference. Yes, TEs say teh evidence is not there and the IDs say it is. But your contention that “God Designed at times” is off. As Dembski and Behe have clearly iterated innumerable times, ID does not identify “times” in which God designed. The design detected says nothing about temporally locating the act, it just demonstrates the points at which we find the evidence. Both men clearly allow that the design could have been implemented at the very foundation of the universe and that it merely reveals itself, to our sensibilities, techniques and instrumentation, at certain measurable points. This also answers your misinterpretation that there are two modes of God’s creation – one resulting in Design evidence and one not. There is no reason that ID claims need be associated with this ontological dualism just because our epistemology limits the points at which we may draw scientific inferences about design.

    In short, God could have used Design, but the TE’s don’t believe that arguments that this is currently scientifically ascertainable are valid.

    Again, I agree with you wholeheartedly.
    What we have here is a scientific disagreement which has been miscast from the beginning (see original theological rebuttals to Phillip Johnson) as religious.
    TEs, for whatever reason, can cast their lot with the mainstream of science and should argue, if compelled, from there.

    I believe the TE position is that a DNA molecule is a part of God’s design, but no more than an oxygen molecule is.

    True that. But in the case of DNA we have a methodology which can demonstrate it – as per ID’s claims. Just because CSI isn’t the method for measuring the design of an oxygen molecule doesn’t mean it isn’t designed. My bathroom scale can’t tell me the mass of the oxygen molecule either, but that doesn’t mean its mass is of a different kind.

    Thanks very much to you and Ted Davis for your participation here. I am not a seasoned pro but this is the first real dialogue I’ve seen on this supposed and unnecessary conflict and I actually feel like some good has been accomplished.
    Please do continue.

  121. 121
    StephenB says:

    Jack Krebs:

    Vince Lombardi, the former Green Bay Packer coach, once became frustrated with his players for forgetting the basics. At the beginning of a morning practice, he took everyone aside and said, “Gentlemen, this is a football.” I am inclined to respond to your last post in much the same way. Please take note of the words in capital letters:

    Originally, I wrote, “In any case, to say that design is MERELY an article of faith is anti -Scriptural. Scripture insists that design is SELF EVIDENT. TEs reject this essential teaching of their faith, yet they insist that they are “devout believers.

    —–You respond, To the TE, the pervasive nature of God’s design is self-evident to the TE because the TE believes in the God that I have described. This is a matter of faith. I have no idea why Stephen says that believing in design because of a belief in God is anti-scriptural.”

    No, jack, design is not self evident BECAUSE one believes in God. Scripture teaches that there is NO NEED to believe in God to make a design inference. It should be obvious, that if something is SELF EVIDENT, faith is not necessary. The Bible teaches that design is not a FAITH EXPERIENCE; it is an OBVIOUS FACT. So, when the TE denies that design is not detectable, or that he MERELY believes in design, he is going against the teachings of his own faith.

    —–Again, you write, “I think I have an idea what is at issue here, although I may be wrong. We can make a distinction between the “argument from design” and an “argument to design.” The former is an argument for the existence of God based on a belief that the world is designed. The latter is a belief that all is designed because one believes in God. I am not discussing the former – arguments for God. I am discussing, as I said earlier, the beliefs of one who already does believe in God. The TE doesn’t make a “design inference”, or at least does something much more than make a “design inference”, to reach his conclusions about the nature of God and his relationship to our experiences, including those that we systematically describe via science.

    No, excuse me, but you do not understand the issue at all. A design inference is an intellectual conclusion based on an empirical observation. It has nothing at all to do with “the beliefs of one who already does believe in God.” The first order of business is to understand the difference between a religious presupposition and a design inference. Because you have not yet crossed that threshold, you make the same error, paragraph after paragraph.

    —–“Somewhere in this distinction probably lies the issue of why most TE’s reject ID, and vice versa. I hope to eventually return to that topic, but I’d like to first respond to a few other people.
    No, excuse me, yet again, but the distinction you propose is totally irrelevant.

    —–Again, you write: “I believe the TE position is that a DNA molecule is a part of God’s design, but no more than an oxygen molecule is. Stephen, I am pretty sure, believes that DNA was Designed – not something for which a chance of law and chance events can account for – and a TE doesn’t, so I don’t think this resolves the quarrel. (And, as I said in the beginning, the TE isn’t looking for evidence of design – he knows that the design is there as a consequence of his belief in God.)”

    You have extended the same error in yet another paragraph. It is quite urgent that you grasp the difference between a religious presupposition and a design inference. Further, it is of paramount importance that you learn the difference between a self evident principle and an article of faith. Everything turns on these distinctions. At this point, I cannot yet discern whether you do not understand them or whether you choose to misrepresent them. I hope to find out soon.

  122. 122
    Timaeus says:

    To Jack Krebs:

    I thank you for a good reply to my post, and the posts of others. One thing I am enjoying about your posts is the level tone. You write without anger. That is a marvellous achievement, considering how strongly everyone is bound to feel about these matters. I congratulate you, and will try to reply in kind.

    Regarding your original discussion, it can be divided into three parts: (a) the timelessness of God vs. the time-bound conceptions of human beings; (b) given that God is timeless, what can ‘creation’ possibly mean?; and (c) what are the implications of ‘creation’ so understood for science?

    Now I thought that your discussion of part (a) followed the classical Christian tradition of metaphysics, as one finds it in Augustine, Boethius, etc. Some might argue that this classical Christian tradition is faulty, due to mixing up pure Biblical religion with illegitimate Greek philosophical elements, but let’s set that aside for the time being, and allow it as a typical statement of post-Biblical, theological orthodoxy. Further, I find myself able to conceptualize, however imperfectly, the difference between God’s perspective and man’s perspective in this classical scheme. The problem comes when we move to part (b), and try to understand ‘creation’ within this scheme. The notion of “creation” conveys to most people an activity, and a certain dynamism (as opposed to passivity) of the Creator God (Christian, Jewish or Muslim, it makes no difference on this point). Aristotle’s God appears to be passive, the object of the world’s desire; he ‘creates’ by drawing the world towards him, as it were, as if he were a static being, a great magnet of some kind. It is not even clear that Aristotle’s God knows the world that he is drawing into activity; he seems to know only himself. But that has never been the picture of God employed in monotheistic religions based on the Bible. God is conceived of as active, as the ultimate producing source of all the beings and activities of the world; and he is also conceived as a being who knows the world that he has created, and cares for it. The problem is how to reconcile this ‘activist’ relation of God to the world – God as producer, God as knower, God as lover – with the God who is beyond time and space, as it were. All the beings we know of, in our own experience, who produce things, know things, and love things, are within time and space. Indeed, their being within time and space is the condition of their knowing and experiencing. It is also the condition of their making or creating anything: you cannot make or create something without realizing that it does not exist yet, and that certain steps must be taken to bring it into existence, and that those steps must take place according to a temporal sequence. So we have a colossal conceptual problem, in that our entire experience (and our entire language, which is shaped to deal with that experience) is such that we cannot envision how God can possibly create, if he is the sort of being that you describe so ably in part (a) of your answer.

    Now you’re aware of this problem, and you mention it a few times in your explanation. You acknowledge that our language and our assertions will sometimes sound paradoxical in trying to deal with the notion of creation. I wholeheartedly agree. So I’m not going to condemn you merely for being unable to express with perfect clarity things which the greatest of theologians have not been able to express. However, I do want to point out that, even allowing for the difficulty of the matter, you have expressed yourself in a way that leaves you open to misinterpretation. For example, I interpreted you to be advocating something like Muslim occasionalism. You deny this, and I accept your word regarding your intentions. Yet you did write:

    “So it is not that he just created the laws and set them off running – as if he stands outside of the world and just watches the laws play out. Rather, he is creating the world every moment – every aspect of every moment is a creative act of God.”

    These two sentences, juxtaposed, suggest that you are rejecting Deism in favor of occasionalism. Now, to be sure, you do go on to say:

    “And it’s also not that God is creating each moment as it goes by, which might be the way we time-embedded humans might interpret this, but rather the creative act for every moment has in fact already happened.”
    So you seem to withdraw from the occasionalist position. But then, if God did not create at one point in the past (a view you reject as Deist), and God is not creating the universe anew at every moment, when exactly does creation take place?

    Again, you seem aware of the problem, when you write:

    “See, we can’t even talk about this without succumbing to our own limited perspective. In the beginning God created the world, God has already created all of the world to the end of time, God is always creating each moment: that all of these are both true and incomplete sounds paradoxical to us.”

    Here you seem to be saying that there is no “correct” answer to the question: “When exactly did God create?” And your reasoning seems to be that all the answers that we come up with distort the reality of creation, by imposing time-bound categories that simply do not apply to God’s action. I’m not sure that I disagree with this; I do believe that all our language concerning God is limited and insufficient for grasping either his nature or his activity. Nonetheless, I am confused by how you seem to use this when you move into your part (c) and discuss the implications of creation doctrine for natural science. Your conclusions in part (c) do not seem to follow from your discussion in parts (a) and (b).

    In part (c), you make a good argument, which I am going to paraphrase, that what we call chance events are not really rationally inexplicable events, but rather, the intersection of two independent causal chains of events. For example, the car crash that prevents someone from getting on a plane that later crashes, is a lucky “chance” event from one perspective, but is fully explicable by a separate analysis of each chain of causes – the chain that led the person to the intersection blocked by the car crash, and the chain of causes (faulty brakes, drunk driving, or whatever) that led to the car crash. In neither chain of causes is there anything rationally inexplicable. Thus, “chance” is not, in the ultimate sense, real; it is our way of describing coincidences which strike as remarkable, but they are coincidences that don’t require any “miracles”, any breaking of “natural laws”. Now you relate the ultimate rationality behind each of the intersecting chain of causes to the rationality and creative will of God; I don’t object to this, but I want to relate your argument to the notion of “natural laws” in modern science.

    Modern science sought from the beginning to explain phenomena in terms of natural laws, regularities which, it conceived, nature was bound to follow in its operations. Thus we speak of Newton’s Laws, and Kepler’s Laws, and Boyle’s Law, and Charles’s Law, and Ohm’s Law, and, in popular speech “the law of gravity”, and so on. “Chance” events, in modern science, ought ultimately to be explicable in terms of such laws. For example, suppose the moon suddenly departed out of its orbit and crashed into the earth. Would a modern scientist regard this as a “chance” happening, in the sense that it had no rational cause? Was the moon just fickle, or lazy, or did it lose attention for a moment, and forget its duty to orbit? Or did it just pop “randomly” out of its orbit, due to some inscrutable cosmic indeterminacy? Modern science would eschew all such explanations. It would try to find another perfectly law-bound chain of causation, intersecting with the chain of causation which keeps the moon in orbit, which drove the moon out of its orbit. For example, a giant asteroid might have collided with the moon, knocking it out of its orbit. That giant asteroid’s motion would ultimately be explicable in terms of gravitational or other causes that kicked it out of its orbit in the asteroid belt and steered it toward earth; there would be no violation of natural law, no miracle. Yet from our point of view on earth, the chances of such an event happening are “astronomically” small, so to speak. We would call it an astounding fluke; a “random” event; some might call it a miracle, or a judgment of God on earth for all man’s sins. Yet that would be looking at an entirely law-bound event as if it were a lawless event, or an event directed by some mind for a destructive purpose. Science does not look at things in that way; it looks at events as caused by laws.

    Darwin, too, insisted that there were no “miracles” in nature, and that all things had to be caused by “natural laws”, “settled laws”, and the like. (These phrases can be found in his works, and in the works of his early supporters.) Indeed, people praised Darwin for making biology like the older sciences, chemistry and physics, as a true science, depending on “laws” of nature. But did he actually do that? This depends on what we make of the element of “chance” in evolution, an element insisted upon by all the leading neo-Darwinists, and vividly by Stephen Jay Gould.

    If “chance” means merely that, from the human perspective, we never would have predicted that this or that mutation would take place, but in reality, all mutations are entirely law-bound (e.g., a cosmic ray emanating from Arcturus, following the laws of physics all the way down to the moment of impact on the genome of a fish, created the first incipient lung-like apparatus which later allowed life to move out on land), then “chance” is not ultimately real; only law is real. Presumably, in terms of your discussion of God, this means that there is no “break” in the rationality of God which, expressed somehow through his will, generates the natural laws. If this is the truth behind evolution, then a full evolutionary science would seek to understand not only natural selection in terms of natural law, but mutations in terms of natural law as well. It would argue that, even if it is not possible to trace back every mutation causally to its source, we can be sure that every mutation issues forth under the rule of natural law.

    But what if “chance” means something different? What if chance means radically contingent, absolutely contingent? Something that literally might have been or might not have been, on a non-deterministic basis? This seems to be what Gould had in mind when he said that if the tape of evolution were wound back and replayed, it would NOT have produced the same results the second time through. This notion of Gould’s is entirely incorrect if nature is shot through and through with natural law, without exception. No matter how complex the calculations of causality might be from a human point of view, from the point of view of God, there is no chance, and there are no accidents. The tape of life, if it could be rewound, would play exactly the same way, every time, because God’s rationality would continue to be expressed the same way.

    Now let’s relate this to the notion of Providence. If Gould is right, there is no Providence. There are events which are, so to speak, outside the control of God. There is chance, a thing that even God is not lord over. The universe can, literally, surprise God. In a law-bound understanding of nature (and hence of evolution), given the same initial conditions, the universe would never surprise God, because the initial conditions (from our time-bound perspective) and all future states were determined in one coherent act of willing by God. “Chance” is not real and cannot tamper with this willing.

    It follows from this that any form of Darwinism which gives chance “ontological reality”, i.e., which understands chance as ultimately accidental, is contrary to Christian belief. So if Darwinism is to be compatible with Christian belief, it must assert that ultimately, even the tiniest of mutations is governed by laws, which are ultimately expressions not of chance but of necessity, necessity connected with God’s reason and will.
    What this means, ultimately, is that the mutations are directed. They may not appear directed to the human mind, but they must be directed. If God is truly omnipotent and omniscient, evolution has not been left to chance. Every single new species which has been created has been created by mutations which proceeded according to inescapable crossing chains of causality reaching back to the Big Bang.

    What this means is that design is divinely ordained. We do not have to solve the problem of “when God created”, raised earlier, to come to this conclusion. It follows from the acceptance of the premises: (a) there is natural law; (b) it is unbreakable because it flows from God’s rational nature, and his steady will. Once we accept these propositions, we can know that the world, life and man are designed. The question of how the design was instantiated is irrelevant. The person who pictures God “front-loading” everything may be metaphysically inaccurate, for reasons discussed above; so, too may the person be who pictures God as creating anew at every moment; so, too, may the person who pictures God as alternating back and forth between natural and miraculous causation. But it doesn’t really matter. The point is, even if we cannot conceive how or when God creates (because of the limitations of our spatial and temporal existence), we can know that such a God would have created a designed universe.

    Now I would think that most ID people (ID people generally believe in God) and most TE people would agree that God would have created a designed universe. But they seem to disagree on whether the design is detectable via the means of science. In other words, they seem to disagree on whether design could be inferred equally well by a religious non-believer as by a religious believer, based on the data of nature. But why do TE people make this a THEOLOGICAL question, to which a negative answer must be given? Why isn’t it properly regarded as an empirical question, open to discussion? If TEs can agree with ID people that a Biblical-type God would have created a designed universe, where does their additional axiom – that the design cannot possibly be detected by science – come from? I see nothing in the Bible, in the Christian tradition, or in the able discussion provided above by you, Jack, that makes this axiom obvious. You have shown, to be sure, that humans often see accident, where on the level of ultimate reality, there is really a rational cause. But that merely shows that Stephen Jay Gould’s notion of contingency is wrong; it does not touch the question at issue between ID and TE people. You have not shown that design is in principle not inferrable from the arrangements of nature.

    I am not asking you to accept that design in inferrable in any particular case. E.g., I am not asking you to concede that the bacterial flagellum can be known by science to be designed. I am asking you why you and other TEs seem to rule out the possibility of design detection “a priori”. Is it for scientific reasons, i.e., that you think that the tools of science are unable to detect design? Or is it for religious or theological reasons, i.e., that you think that if design could be detected in nature – even if that design could not be linked directly to the Christian revelation, but only to some nameless and uncertain designer – that somehow, God or Christianity would be diminished or threatened?

    If it’s the first alternative, then there is absolutely no need for any THEOLOGICAL acrimony between TEs and ID supporters. All that is needed is a methodological discussion about the nature and limits of science, about how we detect design, whether it can be demonstrated by quantitative means, etc. ID people would welcome such a non-theological discussion coming from TE quarters; yet such non-theological criticisms of ID are almost always interspersed with aggressive theological commentary, as in Collins, Ayala, and Miller.

    If it’s the second alternative, then TE supporters have to show how “design detectability” in nature threatens the very idea of the Christian God. And, in so doing, they will have to respond with appropriate detail to those Christian thinkers – among the very greatest – who believed that God could be known by inference from nature, and to those passages from the Bible which, in homelier and less philosophical language, appear to assert the same thing.

    When I said, in my earlier comments, that TE people sometimes seem too theologically sure of themselves, it was this sort of thing I was speaking about – the assurance that the Christian God made nature in such a way that design is not detectable by human science or reason, but perceivable only through the eye of faith. I do not understand where this confidence comes from. It is one thing to say: “ I don’t know whether or not God intended his designs to be partly perceivable by the powers of unaided reason, without the help of revelation, but I’m inclined to think that unaided reason can’t establish design, for scientific reasons X, Y, and Z”; it’s quite another thing to suggest, as many TEs seem to do, directly or “between the lines” in their writing, that “I know that God intended his designs to be perceivable only through the eyes of faith, and therefore I know on theological grounds, without any need to refute the detailed arguments of Dembski or Behe or Denton, that science is incapable of demonstrating, not only that the designs in nature are God’s, but even that there is design at all.” The one statement leaves the possibility of ID-TE discussion open; the other closes it down hopelessly.

    So, let us descend from the great metaphysical questions of timelessness and how and when God creates, to a simpler question: Do you, Jack, assert that Christian faith logically necessitates that design in nature (not necessarily design by the Christian God, just design by some intelligence) can be perceivable only through the eyes of faith, and can never be established by scientific means? Or do you concede that someone can be a fully orthodox Christian, holding a “correct” view of creation, and yet believe that at least some parts of God’s design can be demonstrated by reasoning from scientific data? I am not asking whether you agree that design is scientifically detectable; I am asking you if a person can believe in the possibility of design detection, and still be 100% orthodox in Christian doctrine? In other words, is belief in design detection somewhat like acceptance or rejection of certain global warming theories, about which equally devout and equally orthodox Christians might disagree? Or does belief in design detection involve an implicitly unorthodox stance regarding Christian theology, even if the Christian design theorist does not realize it? If the latter, how so? And if not, why do your fellow TEs express such a theological animus against ID supporters?

    T.

  123. 123
    Jack Krebs says:

    Very interesting, Timaeus. I look forward to replying, but it will probably be tomorrow night before I have the time.

    However, this morning, with my remaining ten minutes, I’d like to respond to Stephen, who says,

    No, Jack, design is not self evident BECAUSE one believes in God. Scripture teaches that there is NO NEED to believe in God to make a design inference. It should be obvious, that if something is SELF EVIDENT, faith is not necessary. The Bible teaches that design is not a FAITH EXPERIENCE; it is an OBVIOUS FACT. So, when the TE denies that design is not detectable, or that he MERELY believes in design, he is going against the teachings of his own faith.

    [snip more of the same]

    You have extended the same error in yet another paragraph. It is quite urgent that you grasp the difference between a religious presupposition and a design inference. Further, it is of paramount importance that you learn the difference between a self evident principle and an article of faith. Everything turns on these distinctions. At this point, I cannot yet discern whether you do not understand them or whether you choose to misrepresent them. I hope to find out soon.

    The third alternative is that I disagree with you, which is the case.

    It is not self-evident, looking at the world, that an omniscient, omnipotent, omni-present transcendental divine entity exists. It is just not. The leap from the evidence of the world to the belief in God, and particularly the Christian God, is an act of faith.

    Scripture may say that this is self-evident, but one must have faith in Scripture for that to have weight. The choice to believe in God comes first.

  124. 124
    StephenB says:

    —–Jack Krebs: “Scripture may say that this is self-evident, but one must have faith in Scripture for that to have weight. The choice to believe in God comes first.”

    Yes, of course, faith in Scriptures underlies the final point, and it is the loss of faith in those Scriptures that the TE will not admit to. Having totally subordinated his faith to the Darwin world view, part of which is that design is an “illusion,” the TE compromises Scripture’s clear teaching that design is self evident. That is precisely the problem. They no longer believe the Scripture’s clear teaching on design because they have found a greater faith, the modern evolutionary synthesis, or whatever its successor is turning out to be.

    Now the TE has every right to do this. If they prefer the academy’s consensus about evolutionary biology to their own religion, that is their business. What they are not entitled to do is to suggest that they have made peace with both world views, when, in fact, nothing of the kind has taken place. Why, you may ask, is that a problem. It is a problem because they use that false reconciliation as a weapon against ID. It they could remain subdued about the incoherence, or, if they would acknowledge the problem, they would not hear a peep out of me.

    In like manner, you are, of course, entitled to believe none of the Scriptures. Since you are a self-professed agnostic, it naturally follows that you and I would disagree. I have no problem with that at all. Believe what you want to believe. Also, I have no problem that, as an agnostic, you would defend the TEs. It is perfectly natural that, as an opponent of ID, you would enter into solidarity with other ID opponents. All of that makes sense.

    I celebrate your exchanges with other bloggers, and I have defended your right to be here. I am a big believer in freedom of speech, even if you are not. Accordingly, I will defend your freedom of speech on this blog, even if you seek to eliminate IDs right to succeed or fail in the free exchange of ideas. I can live with that irony.

  125. 125
    Jack Krebs says:

    I am not a believer in free speech? What in the world makes you think that.

    I accept that you think TE’s are sell-outs to materialism – I’ve done what I can to argue that that is false – but I’m not willing to accept your false statements about what I believe in regards to fundamental principles of our society.

  126. 126
    Jack Krebs says:

    I understand that your rationale for thinking I don’t support free speech seems to be that I “seek to eliminate IDs right to succeed or fail in the free exchange of ideas.”

    This is wrong. ID advocates are free to make their arguments in the public arena any way they want to, and of course others can argue that they are wrong That is what the right to free speech means. Arguing that ID is wrong has nothing to do with being against the free speech rights of ID advocates to make their case.

    Also, this is way off topic, and fairly detrimental to the tone of the recent conversation.

  127. 127
    Apollos says:

    bornagain77,

    Thanks for the links and excerpts. The more we learn about the flagellar motor, the more fascinating it seems to me (a 12 ‘cylinder’ motor that advances one step for every 1 or two ions that passes through, wow!).

    If the power to weight ratio is like that of a modern motor, then the forward speed would suggest a pretty efficient propeller as well, I suppose.

  128. 128
    StephenB says:

    —–Jack: “Also, this is way off topic, and fairly detrimental to the tone of the recent conversation.”

    Excellent. We will take up your state-sponsored anti-ID agenda another time. I think that it is relevant, but I can let it go for now. Let’s address the issue that you have been evading. Here it is again word for word:

    Yes, of course, faith in Scriptures underlies the final point, and it is the loss of faith in those Scriptures that the TE will not admit to. Having totally subordinated his faith to the Darwin world view, part of which is that design is an “illusion,” the TE compromises Scripture’s clear teaching that design is self evident. That is precisely the problem. They no longer believe the Scripture’s clear teaching on design because they have found a greater faith, the modern evolutionary synthesis, or whatever its successor is turning out to be.

  129. 129
    Jack Krebs says:

    I’ve thoroughly explained why I think what you’ve written about TE’s is wrong. I have not evaded the subject – I’ve given answers that you don’t agree with. We’ll just have to remain in disagreement at this point, I think.

  130. 130
    Rude says:

    What I know is that TEs are against looking for design in living things. Why they are against this generally takes about twenty thousands words to explain.

  131. 131
    Jack Krebs says:

    TE’s that accept science don’t believe that you can scientifically detect that some things were especially designed in ways that involve invoking “Intelligence” or “Design” as a cause.

    All things are intelligently designed as an ultimate cause, but our scientific investigations can only reveal the proximate causes. What TE’s object to is this idea that there are two classes of objects, the vast bulk of the world that is known to be designed as a consequence of one’s belief in God and this much smaller subset of things that can be scientifically shown to be Designed by other than natural causes irrespective of religious belief. TE’s don’t believe that there are objects in this second class.

    This was much less than twenty thousands words. 🙂

  132. 132
    StephenB says:

    —-Jack: “I’ve thoroughly explained why I think what you’ve written about TE’s is wrong. I have not evaded the subject – I’ve given answers that you don’t agree with. We’ll just have to remain in disagreement at this point, I think.”

    No, you have not addressed the point at all. The Scriptures teach that design is evident, and TE’s deny that teaching. You may wonder why it matters, and why I would put you and everyone else through all this, including what some may perceive as my unpleasant tone.

    Two things:

    Christianity presents itself as a rational religion. In other words, it is founded on faith AND reason. Its reasonableness is associated with its claim that the invisible things of God are made ‘evident’ by those things that are seen. By denying this point, TEs undermine their own religion’s claim to reasonableness. This is no small thing.

    The second issue is the unity of truth. There is no one truth for theology, another for philosophy, and another for science. There is one truth with many aspects. The difference is essential. In fact, there is no reason why a scientist cannot draw freely from all other disciplines in his search for the truth. It is the attempt to draw a hard line between one disciplines and another that causes all this confusion. The various branches of knowledge can be distinct without being radically separated. Acknowledging the unity of truth is the first prerequisite for science and all rationality.

    Although TEs claim to have reconciled their science with their religion, they have not, as I have clearly shown, done any such thing. That is no problem in itself. The difficulty is that they use this false reconciliation as a tool against ID.

    That is why I raise these potentially disturbing questions, and that is why I press so hard.

  133. 133
    Rude says:

    Here—maybe I can say it in fewer words:

    If you define your deity such that he leaves no fingerprints then guess what? No fingerprints will be left by your deity.

    The logic is impeccable.

  134. 134
    StephenB says:

    Rude: You have elevated conciseness to a new level.

  135. 135
    Charlie says:

    H Jack Krebs,

    TE’s that accept science don’t believe that you can scientifically detect that some things were especially designed in ways that involve invoking “Intelligence” or “Design” as a cause.

    What TE’s object to is this idea that there are two classes of objects, the vast bulk of the world that is known to be designed as a consequence of one’s belief in God and this much smaller subset of things that can be scientifically shown to be Designed by other than natural causes irrespective of religious belief.

    You are continuing this assertion without acknowledging my response to it.
    There is no claim that some things were designed in ways that others were not. It is that some things give evidence of their design in ways amenable to our methods and others do not.
    ID is silent on the how and when of design and only remarks on its detection.

  136. 136
    Charlie says:

    Notice that in Romans, as discussed by Jack and StephenB that unbelievers are left, because of the apparent design with no excuse. If it were true that they first needed a faith in Holy Scripture to see this design then the would have an excuse – they were not given faith. But having eyes to see, and apparent design in front of them, they have no excuse.

  137. 137
    StephenB says:

    Charlie @ 137. Precisely!

  138. 138
    Jack Krebs says:

    Yes, but the claim that others have no excuse is being made by those who are believers. To those who don’t believe in God it is not self-evident that the world reflects God’s design. The Bible may say that those who deny design have no excuse, but that is only a meaningful statement to those who already accept the Bible as the word of God.

    And Charlie, I was not able to cover all points in my response last night. I consider the point you make in 136 an important point, and will be thinking about it.

  139. 139
    Rude says:

    “To those who don’t believe in God it is not self-evident that the world reflects God’s design.”

    Good point!

    And a good reason that ID not insist that the world reflects God’s design. Which is why there are agnostics and even some atheists in ID’s Big Tent—but no TEs.

  140. 140
    StephenB says:

    —–Yes, but the claim that others have no excuse is being made by those who are believers.

    No, it is being made by the Bible.

    —–“To those who don’t believe in God it is not self-evident that the world reflects God’s design.”

    Granted. Chosen non-belief can reverse one’s original instict to accept design.

    —–“The Bible may say that those who deny design have no excuse, but that is only a meaningful statement to those who already accept the Bible as the word of God.”

    Everyone understands the meaning of that statement. Of course, that doesn’t mean that they will accept the principle.

  141. 141
    Apollos says:

    Romans 1:20 applies to everyone. The very fact that some may reject self-evident design because they have chosen not to believe is the very point of the verse. I detect irony.

  142. 142
    Jack Krebs says:

    Apollos writes,

    Romans 1:20 applies to everyone. The very fact that some may reject self-evident design because they have chosen not to believe is the very point of the verse. I detect irony.

    I don’t think there is irony here, but I do think there is an important point. This is not likely to lead to productive discussion, but I’m going to try one more time.

    It is a Christian belief that Romans 1:20 applies to everyone. One has to already believe in the Bible to accept the truth of Romans 1:20. The non-believer doesn’t believe Romans 1:20 is true. The believer believes the non-believer is wrong and the non-believer believes the believer is wrong. This is an unresolvable disagreement.

    Just as no one would expect you, as a Christian, to acknowledge the truth of or feel bound by some Buddhist statement about the metaphysical nature of the world, the non-Christian is not going to accept the premise or conclusion of Romans 1:20.

  143. 143
    Rude says:

    No, you’re right Jack, but then sometimes it’s wise to observe wisdom in the other, as when he says, “Traditional Hinduism does not root its own heritage in a tribal, Darwinian past.”

  144. 144
    Rude says:

    No, you’re right, but then sometimes it’s wise to observe wisdom in the other, as when he says, “Traditional Hinduism does not root its own heritage in a tribal, Darwinian past.”

  145. 145
    Charlie says:

    Hi Jack Krebs,
    I was going to make this point a little earlier but wasn’t sure if you were saying exactly what I thought you were. Now you’ve repeated it to Apollos so I am confident that I am getting it right.

    It is a Christian belief that Romans 1:20 applies to everyone. One has to already believe in the Bible to accept the truth of Romans 1:20. The non-believer doesn’t believe Romans 1:20 is true. The believer believes the non-believer is wrong and the non-believer believes the believer is wrong. This is an unresolvable disagreement.

    Sometimes logic trails and semantics can cause us to lose sight of the argument but I think you are presumptuous in declaring this unresolvable (as I think you are in your assessment of design detection as it relates to theology).

    This one is resolved quite easily because, as you say “It is a Christian belief that Romans 1:20 applies to everyone.”

    And whose theology is it that you have written so eloquently in defence of on this thread? TEs, of course. Christian TEs.

    So they accept the truth of the Bible, and they accept that Romans is binding upon and refers to all people – disbelievers not the least. In fact, the verse is aimed at disbelievers, removing their excuse for not believing in God because evidence of God is apparent in His creation. Disbelievers disbelieve this, of course.
    But Christian TEs don’t. They believe the design is apparent and compelling to all without excuse.

  146. 146
    Jack Krebs says:

    Oh yes, TE’s accept that design is apparent, which is the point I’ve been making – it’s right in front of our eyes. It’s just not the case, as I said earlier, that there is a separate class of things which are Designed in some different manner, or which are detectable through science (or at least they don’t accept the arguments for such presently put forth.) I think I’ve covered all those points earlier

  147. 147
    Apollos says:

    Jack, I don’t think any one has been claiming that an atheist or agnostic is somehow obligated to accept the truth of Romans 1:20 for the purposes of debate.

    However since the subject of the thread has focused on TE’s theological objections to ID, it’s highly applicable that from a Christian perspective, the meaning of the verse is unequivocal: that design is apparent to anyone and everyone, being evident by the things that have been made.

    Try to understand that the perception of irony entered the picture when you claimed that an unbeliever was not bound to believe the verse, suggesting that they were also not bound to believe in self-evident design. The very declaration of the verse is meant to remove that excuse — granted, it would require a Christian worldview to acknowledge it.

    On that note, if the Bible is truly the word of God, and if we’re meant to have any understanding of it, then theological objections to design inferences would seem to fail at Romans 1:20, and would find no real support in any of the remainder of scripture.

    It seems appropriate that a discussion of TE’s theological objections to ID would take place from a Christian worldview, and that atheistic or agnostic objections to the truth of scripture would have little relevance.

    Indulge me in a brief exposition of the contents of the verse:

    Rom 1:20 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, so that men are without excuse.

    ———

    For since the foundation of the world…

    Always…

    God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–

    …those attributes which cannot be seen with the human eye: His divinity, His omnipotence…

    have been clearly seen…

    …are obvious, self-evident…

    …being understood from what has been made…

    …apparent to any observer, by an examination of nature….

    …so that men are without excuse.

    …there is no excuse that can be made before God, that He has hidden Himself, or that some other revelation was required — beyond an examination of creation — that any person should not be able to reach the logical conclusion that a divine being with eternal power was responsible for the universe and everything in it.

    ———

    We can certainly differ on whether the above verse is objective truth, but not easily from a Christian worldview — unless such Christian is willing to demote the efficacy and truth of scripture.

    Not that theological objections to ID matter to any degree. The scientific differences between ID and the TE/Darwinist crowd are sufficient for years worth of thoughtful discussion, without ever cracking the seal on whether ID is good Christianity.

    I, like you, expect no fruit from this discussion. I’ll return to lurking… 😉

  148. 148
    Charlie says:

    I’m not sure, Jack.

    But we’ve established that TEs accept that Romans refers to the creation, in which the design is apparent and that they would accept that this obvious to all.
    HIs attributes are perceived in what He has made. That means they are empirically detectable.
    So we have that ground set.

    Now, you are again repeating that TEs don’t believe in a separate class of things which are designed and some that are not. I presume you are getting to your answer that addresses the fact that neither do Dembski, Behe, or ID on the whole, require that there be two classes of things. As Behe has said in both his books, sometimes we can tell what has been designed and sometimes we can’t. This is the entire point of Dembski’s discussions of false negatives and designers who do not make their actions apparent.

  149. 149
    Charlie says:

    Apollos, if you can afford the time please do not merely lurk. Your comments have been excellent.

  150. 150
    StephenB says:

    I’m sorry, Jack, but you are still missing the point (at least my point). Let me approach it another way. If the TE rejects Biblical teaching about design, then he should not say that his “faith is compatible” with his science. His science tells him that design is only “apparent,” but his faith tells me is it “real.” So, if he decides he is going to accept sciences interpretation (apparent only), he must necessarily reject his faith’s interpretation (real). The two have not been reconciled. One has been compromised for the sake of the other.

  151. 151
    Ted Davis says:

    Alas, the term is now about to start, and endless meetings are the prelude. Getting ready for classes after a sabbatical is not trivial. I recall those mathematical proofs which begin, “let there be an epsilon greater than zero,…,” and I fear that my time for blogging has suddenly moved to the left of epsilon on the number line. I will be able to be only very sporadic, at best.

    Stephen–

    You said, “For every YEC on our side, who believes that God created the world in seven days, you have five atheists on your side, who thinks that the world created itself.” This attributes to me a view that I absolutely reject, namely that the world created itself. Several times I’ve mentioned either my theological conviction that God actually made the world (ie, it had a real beginning, prior to which God existed and the world did not) and/or my belief that the evidence for cosmic design is overwhelming (and not subject to potential GG-style refutation).

    I affirm the reality of both creation and design/purpose without hesitation, Stephen. I also believe that a modest natural theology is possible, helpful, and good to uphold. (Romans 1 is true, in other words, though I would say that the way in which Paul phrased it was influenced to some extent by the state of pagan beliefs in his own day.)

    What I have not agreed with here, Stephen, is simply (if the word “simply” is the best choice) the way in which “design” is being defined here, relative to science as vs metaphysics and theology. I won’t rehash all that, but quite a few ID-friendly people hold views similar to mine. I don’t believe that the design inference, when it involves an unevolved mind (as Dr Dembski often calls it), is scientific in the ordinary sense of that term. I think it *involves* scientific knowledge, but goes well beyond it into metaphysics and theology. In other words, I think we do need to know something about the nature of the designer in order to draw that type of design inference.

    I respect other thoughtful views on this, but I don’t accept the view that the type of design advanced here is scientific, pure and simple, and the accompanying claim that those who deny that this type of design is scientific are therefore in league with Dawkins and company.

    I hope I’m being understood clearly, Stephen; I certainly don’t expect resounding applause. To equate my view with that of Dawkins or Weinberg, however, is to show either ignorance of my view (and, as I’ve said, we are all ignorant of many things) or very serious distortion of it. Pray, do not attribute that view to me (as Newton once said to a correspondent).

  152. 152
    StephenB says:

    Apollos, your points are on target. I will not repeat my points @133, but the rationality of the Christian religion and the unity of truth are on trial with that passage in scripture. You, and Charlie seem to get it, (and Rude at least seems somewhat sympathetic) so I think it is worth pressing. I don’t like piling on (Jack is all alone) but much is at stake here.

  153. 153
    StephenB says:

    —-Ted Davis writes: “You said, “For every YEC on our side, who believes that God created the world in seven days, you have five atheists on your side, who thinks that the world created itself.” This attributes to me a view that I absolutely reject, namely that the world created itself.”

    Ted, bless your heart, I don’t think you are reading me very carefully. I didn’t attribute that position to you, I attributed it to some of the people on your side(materialist Darwinists). The phrase “five atheists on your side” is non synonymous with you. Please!

    I was hoping that you would appeciate the irony. The company you keep (materialists) is a bit more problematic than the company we keep (YECs).

  154. 154
    StephenB says:

    —–Ted: “I affirm the reality of both creation and design/purpose without hesitation, Stephen. I also believe that a modest natural theology is possible, helpful, and good to uphold. (Romans 1 is true, in other words, though I would say that the way in which Paul phrased it was influenced to some extent by the state of pagan beliefs in his own day.)

    No one is saying that Romans 1: confirms ID theory as it is understood by Dembski, Behe etc. Those are man-made formulations. To be sure they are consistent with Scripture, but scripture doesn’t confirm them.

    What Romans 1: says is that science shouldn’t even be necessary. The design inference is so obvious, that it should be accepted without any fuss at all.

    —-“(Romans 1 is true, in other words, though I would say that the way in which Paul phrased it was influenced to some extent by the state of pagan beliefs in his own day.)”

    Consider this: The rationality of the Christian religion and the unity of truth itself depends on that phrase. If the design in nature isn’t self evident, then the phrase, “they are without excuse,” is meaningless. The Christian religion is rational because it doesn’t ask for a mindless faith, it asks for reasonable faith based on historical truth and empirical observation. Granted, a leap of faith is necessary, but it is a reasonable leap.

    The unity of truth is equally important. If there is one truth for theology, another for philosophy, and yet another for science, rationality is lost. Rationality requires that God’s revelation in Scripture is consistent with his relelation in nature.

  155. 155
    Apollos says:

    Charlie, you’re very kind, thank you. StephenB, I’ll do my best. As it stands, apparently science can lead us to all sorts of remarkable truth excepting the most obvious and self-evident.

  156. 156
    Timaeus says:

    Dear Jack:

    Sorry to have tired you out with my previous lengthy reply, but your post was very thoughtful, and raised many interrelated points, and so I gave it the lengthy analysis and critique that I thought it deserved, while giving you a chance to clarify your position.

    As for your mini-answer here, well, when you get some time, maybe you can provide an expanded version that covers more of my discussion. In particular, I would be grateful for more development of the points where we disagree, and especially for your answers to these questions:
    (1) Is there such a thing as “real” chance, radical contingency based on no natural necessity? (2) If not, then why do TEs not directly tell the neo-Darwinists that they are wrong to speak of chance in this way? (3) Is belief in real chance compatible with Christian belief in the omnipotence, omniscience, and providence of God? (4) If not, why do TEs demur when ID people ask them to say that out loud, so that materialist Darwinists (and district court judges) can hear it? Why did Ken Miller not say it at the Dover trial, for example? (5) Why, if the disagreement between TE and ID is simply a methodological squabble over the limits of design detection, do TEs have such a religious animus against ID people? (6) What, if anything, about the Christian doctrine of creation REQUIRES the view that design can NEVER be detectable by the methods of science? (7) If the answer to (6) is negative, why cannot TE advocates say, clearly and frequently, something like this?: “Actually, we have no theological objection whatsoever to investigating the possibility that design may be scientifically detectable. Such a view is compatible with both the Bible and Christian tradition. Our objection is only that, so far, the methods of design detection proposed, and the examples of design provided, are scientifically unconvincing. But we remain open to the notion, and if it is ever established, we will gladly absorb the notion of detectable design into our overall account of theistic evolution.”

    T.

  157. 157
    Ted Davis says:

    Stephen writes, concerning my views–
    “I was hoping that you would appeciate the irony. The company you keep (materialists) is a bit more problematic than the company we keep (YECs).”

    Stephen, I’m really not at all clear about what you mean by the company I keep. Are some of my friends materialists? Undoubtedly. Are some YECs? For sure, including a number of my students. My position on this issue, however, is as far from that of Mr Dawkins than yours is (I gather you are a Christian–a serious Christian, for which I commend you).

    What I am trying once again to explain–I hope for the last time–is that we have different understandings of the word “design,” you and I, but both of us repudiate the idea that the world made itself. From your comparison, this just fails to emerge, completely fails to emerge. You’ve stated yourself that this is a fundamental issue, so why do you lump things out this way? It’s not only flat wrong, it’s offensive for someone to keep saying it once it’s pointed out. Please stop saying things like this: these types of distortions can’t possibly advance the truth–and Christians ought always to be in that business.

    Let me change the focus, just a bit, Stephen, in a way that might be helpful. Go over to salon.com, which is not exactly a site friendly to theists, and note how TE Karl Giberson (whose views I do not necessarily endorse in their entirety, though I do agree with him more often than not) is taking on Dawkins quite directly, such that Dawkins even put Giberson’s comments on his own site. The limits of natural selection (which seem to be your focus) are not the focus there, obviously; but the limits of Dawkins’ religion–indeed the fact that he makes a religion out of science, which many atheists don’t even want to hear–are strongly underscored. This type of thing is not uncommon, Stephen, for Karl or many other TEs (think e.g. of Collins vs Dawkins in Time magazine).

    What boggles my mind, Stephen, is that this type of thing is not uncommon, and yet I also hear so often, from many folks who support ID, that TEs lack guts and are unwilling to throw down the gauntlet to the atheists. This is just patently ridiculous; and it sounds like what you were meaning about keeping company with certain friends.

    Last March, Stephen, I debated an atheist philosopher on the question, “Is Nature All There Is?” I argued the negative, obviously, and I did so because I believe the negative and I believe it’s important to defend it publicly.

    So, once again–where is this stuff coming from, about being too cozy with scientific atheists? Could it be that you think that TEs are too soft on design? That perhaps if we were strongly ID we’d be better apologists? (If so, then the charge that ID is apologetics rather than science might hold some water.) Where is this coming from?

  158. 158
    Ted Davis says:

    Timaeus–nice name. I gather you know Mr Cudworth, whose name also indicates a certain preference for Platonism? I have some sympathy with Platonism also, esp in mathematics.

    I have often say, T, that the most fundamental issue in the origins controversy is the problem of “M’s & M’s.” That is, how we get from matter & motion (the only realities that materialists admit) to minds, meanings, and morals. And, IMO, no one really knows how to do that. Because they can’t get there, the materialists deny the reality of the second set of M’s. But because they can’t get there either, the non-materialists deny that the first set of M’s is all that important to the second.

    But you raise another really good one, here: “Is there such a thing as “real” chance, radical contingency based on no natural necessity?”

    Speaking only for myself, I am not completely convinced of a given answer to this one. I’m all ears, all of the time, on that one.

  159. 159
    Timaeus says:

    Ted re 152:

    Since your time is limited, here is an easy example that we might be able to discuss quickly.

    You would agree that the stone sculpture on Mt. Rushmore is designed, no? You would agree with this even if you didn’t know the history of its construction, wouldn’t you?

    Now, shift the scene to Mars. We travel to Mars, and on one of the mountains there, we find what looks like a sculpture similar to that on Mt. Rushmore, but showing whole bodies instead of heads. The figures in the sculpture are not exactly human – they have webbed hands, and little antennae on top of the heads, but they have obvious eyes, nostrils, mouths, and four limbs, with an upright posture. Their outlines are clear and precise, not vague.

    Would you agree that the design inference here is a practical certainty? I.e., would you agree that wind, sun and water did not accidentally carve out these figures over three billion years? Would you agree that we can “know” that this is a stone sculpture carved by intelligent beings? And that we can know this even if we know nothing about those intelligent beings (who may not be the beings pictured in the sculpture, but beings of another race altogether)? And that we can know this even if we can find no other trace of the existence of any previous civilization on Mars, and therefore have no other proof that anything ever lived there?

    Now, presuming that you agree, is this “knowledge” of design scientific knowledge? If not, of what kind of knowledge is it?

    Now take something like the avian lung, or the human circulatory system, either of which is orders of magnitude more complex than a simple carving of four aliens on a mountain of Mars. Can we know (without the aid of revelation or a system of philosophy) that this is the product of design? If not, why not? And if so, is our knowledge scientific knowledge, or some other kind of knowledge?

    And if the inference is scientific in the case of alien carvings, but not in the biological cases, what makes the inference scientific in the one case, but unscientific in the other? Why do you suggest that we are importing religion or metaphysics or philosophy in the case of the biological examples, but not equally in the Martian carving example? Why aren’t both inferences simply examples of deductive reason based on facts established by science, and therefore scientific inferences?

    T.

  160. 160
    Rude says:

    As for Dawkins vs. Collins—gimmie Dawkins! Much clearer about what he believes and much more honest.

    “Oh yes, TE’s accept that design is apparent, which is the point I’ve been making – it’s right in front of our eyes. It’s just not the case, as I said earlier, that there is a separate class of things which are Designed in some different manner …”

    Wow! You mean that my Honda is not designed in some different manner than the laws of planetary motion?

    If the TEs see no hierarchy to design … if it’s all perfectly level … no analogies possible of a painter painting on a pre-made canvass … then I too suspect “they are hallucinating and probably shouldn’t be allowed to drive a car …”

  161. 161
    Timaeus says:

    Ted re 159:

    I’ve never met Thomas Cudworth, though I admire his posts. However, I think he subscribes to Christian Platonism, which is a watered-down version of real Platonism. Someone on UD has to stand up for the perspective of pure, unadulterated Greek philosophy, which in its noblest forms, in Plato and Aristotle, was thumping early analogues of neo-Darwinism 2400 years ago, without any help from the Bible. So I may from time to time analyze Christian ideas or even express partial agreement with them, but ultimately I try to make my arguments for design independent of revelation.

    T.

  162. 162
    Paul Giem says:

    Rude, (161),

    You could make that case for Kenneth Miller (see
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-294550 ),
    but Frances Collins has not yet predicted the collapse of medicine if the theory of evolution is not accepted in its entirety. He even accepts the idea of the physical universe giving evidence of design to any reasonably unbiased observer (unreasonably biased observers are another matter, and I think that all of us would concede that if one is determined, one can push any evidence of design aside). See my comment at (53) above.

    It is easy to get carried away when we think we are right (as most of us do 😉 ), and say that those who disagree with us must be dishonest. In this case, having read Collins carefully, I think that he really believes what he is saying, and has reasons which he believes are rational to back him up. We should be charitable to him, especially as he is charitable to us (read The Language of God to see what I mean).

    Dawkins, on the other hand, has for years (decades?) maintained that there is no merit to the idea that life was intelligently designed, until Ben Stein caught him on tape stating that aliens were fine as long as they were naturalistic aliens. Now there’s some real dishonesty for you. Can we say “lying for Darwin”?

  163. 163
    Jack Krebs says:

    Hi Timaeus.

    First of all, your longer post (110) didn’t tire me out – I just was out of time and had covered a lot of topics. I’ll start tonight with your recent post (157), and maybe go back to 110.

    I like your direct questions. Let me see what I have to say about them.

    Timaeus: “(1) Is there such a thing as “real” chance, radical contingency based on no natural necessity?”

    I don’t know. At the scientific level the probabilities associated with quantum mechanics seem to be real, and they may continue to be considered as such for the rest of the history of physics. However, it is clear that much of that probability gets turned into regularity by statistical averaging. This is probably a digressive topic, so I’ll leave it at that.

    On the other hand, the question of whether there is anything going on behind the quantum curtain, so to speak, is a metaphysical question that I don’t think we can answer. Some, such as Ken Miller, have suggested that both God’s will and human freedom come from or through this under-structure of probability. I don’t know of any TE consensus on this.

    Timaeus: “(3) Is belief in real chance compatible with Christian belief in the omnipotence, omniscience, and providence of God? ”

    I don’t know. I think this this is one of those paradoxes that we can never understand. I would rather just live with the uncertainty of not knowing instead of pretending that somehow we can figure these paradoxes out logically.

    Timaeus: “(2) If not, then why do TEs not directly tell the neo-Darwinists that they are wrong to speak of chance in this way? and (4) If not, why do TEs demur when ID people ask them to say that out loud, so that materialist Darwinists (and district court judges) can hear it?”

    Because, and this is a central point of this discussion, to TE’s there is a clear distinction between what we can know through the consensus activity of science – one which is accessible to people of all religions – and the religious beliefs we have about the larger meta-issues.

    Timaeus: “(5) Why, if the disagreement between TE and ID is simply a methodological squabble over the limits of design detection, do TEs have such a religious animus against ID people?

    Because the ID movement in general says that TE’s are as good as atheists (Johnson), that the are confused about their beliefs (Menuge at the Kansas Science Hearings), no friend of ID (Dembski) and countless other negative comments, including many right here on this forum.

    If one is a TE Christian and is repeatedly told by ID advocates that they are sellouts to materialism and are not really true Christians, then I think there is likely to be some animosity. Does it seem unreasonable to you that they would be upset?

    Timaeus: “(6) What, if anything, about the Christian doctrine of creation REQUIRES the view that design can NEVER be detectable by the methods of science?”

    Nothing. I think this has been addressed in early posts.

    In 110, you wrote, “To be sure, Mr. Krebs has offered an above-average defense of TE here; … Nonetheless, even he seems to be pronouncing rather firmly on what Christian theology must be, and what it must not be.”

    I was not saying anything about how Christian theology must be. I was just describing a TE view – trying to get people to perhaps understand it better. As I’ve said before, I’m not arguing for TE, or even for theism. I’m just trying to describe a position, with my main goal being to explain how the mainstream scientific view of evolution need not be in conflict with Christian theology.

    (7) If the answer to (6) is negative, why cannot TE advocates say, clearly and frequently, something like this?: “Actually, we have no theological objection whatsoever to investigating the possibility that design may be scientifically detectable. Such a view is compatible with both the Bible and Christian tradition. Our objection is only that, so far, the methods of design detection proposed, and the examples of design provided, are scientifically unconvincing. But we remain open to the notion, and if it is ever established, we will gladly absorb the notion of detectable design into our overall account of theistic evolution.”

    I think some TE’s are glad to say this – some right here on this forum have.

    However, and this is a continuation of my remarks above, given that TE’s accept the findings of mainstream science, I imagine TE’s would like it if ID advocates said things like,

    “We understand that randomness from a scientific viewpoint is not incompatible with a belief in God, so we accept that TE’s acceptance of the role of, for instance, random mutations and natural selection in evolutionary theory, does not mean that TEists are essentially the same as atheists.”

    “We understand, therefore, that evolutionary theory is not a source of immorality, that teaching evolutionary theory is not teaching students that they are purposeless accidents that can just behave like animals, and so on.”

    “We understand that the scientific evidence for an old universe, and old earth, and a progressive sequence of life throughout the past few billions years is for all practical purposes conclusive.”

    “We recognize that multiple lines of evidence support common descent, and that there is no theological reasons to reject this evidence. We believe that the mechanism by which evolutionary change happens is at times design, and although it is possible there may be biological discontinuities, there is no reason to reject common descent on theological or scientific grounds as long as the possibility of design playing a role at time is acknowledged.”

    “We understand that ID is not yet established as consensus science, and therefore political attempts to legislate it into public education are improper, especially when the arguments for doing so are based on the above mentioned misconceptions about the equivalence between evolutionary theory and atheism.”

    And so on.

    In short, why should you expect TE’s to say the things you mention in question (7) when they have been essentially ostracized as false Christians by the ID movement because they accept mainstream modern science, have a legitimate theological foundation for doing so, believe that many supporters of ID (YEC’s) are thoroughly wrong about essential science, and feel that the political activities of the ID movement are wrong.

    Look at some quotes from this thread:

    Personally I think these people are either liars who are not convinced they see God all over the place or they are being truthful in becoming convinced of things with no rational evidence…

    These guys nauseate me to no end! Give me an honest atheist or agnostic any day! I hate to say it but religion in America is sick! sick! sick!

    Hmmm… I’m not inclined to think such people are deliberately lying; however, I do suspect that what they say about faith may be (highly?) colored in many cases by the fact that on some level they want to believe. I’d guess that, as scientists, they’ve been trained to filter out what would ordinarily be obvious evidence of design, so that in fact they do NOT “see God all over the place.” They’d just rather not admit to themselves that their faith is pretty much dead in the water.

    —–Gil: “How exactly does one argue that we were made by God in His image (an absolutely essential part of both Judaism and Christianity) through an unplanned, goalless, unguided, purposeless material process?”

    A couple of TEs visited this blog a while back and I asked them almost that same question in a number of different ways. The funny part is that I can’t report on their answers because they were too incoherent to summarize.

    And so on.

    This is not a welcoming environment. Why should TE’s consider investigating the premise of ID from a possible scientific viewpoint when this is the context within which their questions and possible objections will be met?

  164. 164
    Timaeus says:

    Jack:

    Taking your points in reverse:

    1. Yes, I agree that sometimes the rhetoric runs high here and elsewhere, and sometimes people make statements about TE out of anger that they shouldn’t make. Of course, there are reasons for this, as you know; some of the people making these statements have felt betrayed by fellow Christians, especially by Ken Miller, but sometimes by others (as when Lamoureux in effect knifed fellow Christian Behe in the back, by siding with de facto atheist Michael Ruse on a television debate, taking Ruse’s side not reluctantly but with gusto, and giving no indication that he had any disagreement with Ruse [like, maybe, over God?], while speaking with visible anger towards Behe). Still, if we justify all our misdeeds by the misdeeds of the other side, we end up the position of Northern Ireland a few years ago, in which each side had a lengthy list of grievances to justify further attacks, and that gets us nowhere. So ID supporters here and elsewhere should renounce personal attacks and unnecessary speculations about motives – but that doesn’t mean that they should cease to probe various TE writers for logical and theological consistency, and raise questions when they find inconsistencies. For that reason, I find the fourth example you list, attributed to Gil, to be neither an ad hominem remark nor an unnecessary speculation about motives, but a legitimate question about how various assertions of certain TE writers fit together logically.

    2. In response to my proposed moderate statement in which TEs could show a theoretical openness to ID, you wrote:

    “I think some TE’s are glad to say this – some right here on this forum have.”

    The only person at UD I can think of who has said anything like this from the TE side is Ted Davis. So if “some” means “one”, I can perhaps agree. But most TEs, here and elsewhere, have given us the impression, NOT that they are open to the idea of design detection, and are merely not yet convinced of its successful execution, but rather that they think the whole idea of design detection by scientific means is wrong-headed, an attempt to blur the distinction between science and theology; as if “design” is an inherently theological concept and therefore doesn’t belong in science, and as if “design” can be perceived only by the eye of faith. If this is not what many TEs think, if many of them think what you are now saying, that design detection need not traipse into theological territory, and should at least be given a chance to prove that it’s genuinely scientific and capable of generating results, well, they need to make those thoughts much more explicit, because that’s not what I’m hearing.

    3. On the confessions you’d like ID people to make, I personally go along with: (1) An old earth, old universe, and progressive sequence of life (so does Behe, by the way, but that doesn’t stop TEs like Steve Matheson, Denis Lamoureux, and Ken Miller from mercilessly savaging him every chance they get); (2) multiple lines of evidence point towards common descent (again, Behe and many IDers agree, but they’re still pilloried by atheists and TEs alike); (3) ID is not established as consensus science (pretty easy to go along with, when it’s obvious), and that it would be wrong to force it into the school curriculum (which the Discovery Institute has agreed with, at least since before the Dover Trial began, if not earlier).

    I could go along with several of the other confessions you’d like, as well, provided that I could insert qualifications. For example, I agree that “evolution” as such (common descent, progress to higher forms, etc.), doesn’t necessarily generate immoral human behavior or force people to regard themselves as purposeless accidents; however, there is a genuine debate over whether specifically Darwinian evolution, evolution operating purely by chance and natural selection, provides any solid basis for moral standards or the traditional virtues; this is a serious debate among political theorists, as the debate between Arnhart and West shows. Again, I could certainly agree that accepting certain notions of “randomness” and natural selection hardly makes one an atheist; Behe, a devout Catholic, accepts natural selection and a certain sense of randomness, in that he grants a role for chance in the evolutionary process. But the devil is in the details. What is meant by randomness or chance must be spelled out. Randomness of the electron? Randomness of atomic movement? Randomness of molecules floating in cytoplasm? Randomness of cosmic rays striking the genome and mutating it? And is the randomness conceived of as ontologically ultimate, or only relative to our limited knowledge, etc. Until these things are spelled out by the champions of TE, there is no reason why ID people should sign on for a year’s free trial of “randomness”. It’s natural to want to see the fine print before locking oneself in. If any TE has written a serious account of chance or randomness that shows, with examples employing actual segments of DNA, how it would actually work to produce a mutation, without God on the one hand, and guided by God on the other, certainly we would all be willing to read it. But where is this account?

    4. You say that you were not pretending to represent a unique, correct, Christian theology, but at points it sounded as if you were. For example, in post 56 you wrote:

    “In all these cases, the Christian view is not that God had to intervene in nature in order to cause these lucky or unlucky events to happen, but rather that these naturally occurring events – all naturally occurring events – are ultimately caused by God: all that happens is a manifestation of God’s will.”

    Notice the phrase “the Christian view” – implying that there is only one Christian view. But there have been Christians who have believed exactly what you say is not the Christian view (i.e., that God intervenes), and the implication is that their theology is incorrect and the one you are setting forth is correct. Why is there not a qualifier, such as “the most common Christian view”, or “the Roman Catholic view”, or “the Calvinist view”, or “the nominalist Christian view”, or something of that sort?

    I have seen this sort of narrowed notion of “the Christian view” in Ayala, who thinks that it is “un-Christian” to make God directly responsible for evil, and likes Darwinism because it makes nature, rather than God, the cause of suffering. But how does Ayala know that it is not “the Christian view” that God is directly responsible for suffering? Does he cite Aquinas, Suarez, Calvin, Ockham, More, Erasmus, Augustine, Luther, Melanchthon, etc. to back up his conception of “the Christian view”? Or is “the Christian view” merely a personal preference, i.e., “What I, Ayala, can stomach in my conception of God”? Does Ayala never wonder whether the important question might not be what individual Christians can stomach, but what Christianity teaches? And that finding out what Christianity teaches about suffering might not be simply a matter of picking a notion of God that feels good to you? Perhaps, before “winging it” with an amateur theology whipped up between his biology lectures, Ayala should do some tough historical study, beginning with a careful reading of John Hick’s classical historical survey, Evil and the God of Love, followed by numerous special studies on the problem of evil? And perhaps Miller, who also apparently thinks that Darwinism “solves” the problem of evil, needs the same advice.

    But I digress. The point was not to make you responsible for the particular views of Ayala or Miller, but to point out that they speak of “the Christian view” of things too glibly, as if “the Christian view” on any point of theology is easily accessible, and has not itself been the subject of long and complex debate over two millennia. So I guess I would like TEs (unless they happen to be historical scholars of theology on the level of Jaroslav Pelikan) to speak of their individual views as “possible Christian views”; and I guess I would like to hear them stop denigrating ID notions as merely “deistic”, or as unacceptable because they make God “a mere mechanic”, and so on. People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, and for dime-store theologians like Ken Miller or Ayala or Collins to complain that Michael Behe’s or William Dembski’s theology is not sophisticated enough, and doesn’t do justice to the depths of Christian theology, is nothing less than chutzpah.

    T.

  165. 165
    Upright BiPed says:

    Timaeus,

    I liked that so much. Do you mind if I read it again?

  166. 166
    DaveScot says:

    Timaeus

    Just to address one of your questions.

    Presuming TE’s hold to the common understanding of MET then random in the context of random mutation & natural selection means random with respect to fitness. Any random mutation may result in a gain, loss, or have no effect on differential reproduction.

  167. 167
    Rude says:

    Paul Giem 163,

    Point well taken.

    One suspects that even Richard Dawkins believes in what he is saying. We shouldn’t say that Frances Collins is lying—just that (after listening to him above) it’s obvious that if he’s honest he’s ignorant of the subject on which he’s pontificating.

    “I said in my haste, All men are liars.”

  168. 168
    Jack Krebs says:

    Timaeus:

    I agree that rhetoric runs high sometimes – I added some myself in the previous post. And I agree that Gil’s question was reasonable – it was one of the man ones I was trying to answer. It was the comment about incoherency that I was offering as an example.

    Also, Ted Davis may be the clearest example of someone who has said something like your offered statement, but I think I remember others here who have made slightly similar remarks. But perhaps you are right – most of the TE’s I have worked with closely have been involved in the political battles, and there all the other issues I mentioned have been much more prominent than just considering the kind of statement you mentioned.

    I’m glad to hear that you agree with most of the points I mentioned would be good to hear from ID (with appropriate disclaimers), but, as with your point about Ted Davis, you (and Behe) are a very small minority among ID supporters. I have heard countless ID supporters in Kansas, from leaders of the ID movement to speakers at public meetings to authors of letters to the editor, and and I don’t think I’ve heard one who didn’t offer some of those things that I’d like to hear ID supporters not say. As I’ve frequently pointed out, at the Kansas Science hearings, where 25 people were brought in by the Intelligent Design network to make statements about the Kansas Science standards, 14 of the 17 people we asked denied common descent (Behe being one of the three who didn’t), and many denied an old earth.

    You write.

    I agree that “evolution” as such (common descent, progress to higher forms, etc.), doesn’t necessarily generate immoral human behavior or force people to regard themselves as purposeless accidents; however, there is a genuine debate over whether specifically Darwinian evolution, evolution operating purely by chance and natural selection, provides any solid basis for moral standards or the traditional virtues; this is a serious debate among political theorists.

    Here you are conflating the two views that I have tried to clear up. There are questions about whether a materialist philosophy, including a materialist understanding of evolution, can provide a basis for morality, but this is not an issue for the TE, who accepts, as I have explained, that what we see as contingency from a scientific point of view is still part of God’s design. There is no need to keep going over this here, but this is exactly one of the main issues: TE’s are just tossed in with the materialists.

    You write,

    What is meant by randomness or chance must be spelled out. Randomness of the electron? Randomness of atomic movement? Randomness of molecules floating in cytoplasm? Randomness of cosmic rays striking the genome and mutating it? And is the randomness conceived of as ontologically ultimate, or only relative to our limited knowledge, etc. Until these things are spelled out by the champions of TE, there is no reason why ID people should sign on for a year’s free trial of “randomness”. It’s natural to want to see the fine print before locking oneself in. If any TE has written a serious account of chance or randomness that shows, with examples employing actual segments of DNA, how it would actually work to produce a mutation, without God on the one hand, and guided by God on the other, certainly we would all be willing to read it. But where is this account?

    This paragraph surprises me a bit. You had asked about real chance earlier – you called it radical contingency – events that had no natural cause, and I mentioned quantum probabilities. Here all the things you mention are random in the sense of not having causes that are directly related to other causal chains with which they act. Mutations have causes – they are not random in the quantum sense – but their causes are not related to the eventual effect they might have on the individual organism and its ability to survive. Many causes are well known (chemicals in the environment, irradiation, etc,). When we say random mutations we don’t mean uncaused, we just mean without regard to the fitness effect they may have in the future. This is just contingency, but not pure chance.

    You write,

    4. You say that you were not pretending to represent a unique, correct, Christian theology, but at points it sounded as if you were.

    I try to be careful about this, but sometimes I slip because it takes so many qualifiers. I have tried to describe a particular view. I’m not trying to convince anyone of that view, or say it’s the only view, or say it’s my view, or anything beyond describing one way of looking at TE.

    Hastily written over morning coffee.

    Jack

  169. 169
    tribune7 says:

    On the confessions you’d like ID people to make, I personally go along with:

    For the TEs out there, how about a confession on your part — that there is a supreme absolute moral law that trumps everything and anything conceived by man and science, no matter how apparently beneficial or seemingly reasonable man and science indicates it to be at the time.

  170. 170
    Jack Krebs says:

    That is an issue that is off the topic here. I’m sure many TE’s believe what you say, and profess it as part of their religious beliefs.

  171. 171
    StephenB says:

    Ted Davis, thanks for giving me another chance to clarify. It is not my purpose to “distort,” so I will try to be especially careful on this matter and avoid any semblance of hyperbole. I will take each point, one at a time.

    On the matter of your associates: I submit to you that 95.8% of evolutionary biologists are either atheist or agnostic. So, it would seem that the atheists in that group, unless they also believe in self-existent aliens, believe that the world “created itself.” I gather that you do not challenge their science on the grounds that they are atheists, meaning that you do not suspect that their ideology leaks into their science. Since you do suspect that of ID scientists, it seems that you are being selective about whose motives you will challenge and whose motives you will not challenge. That is all I meant, and perhaps that is all I should have said. Next time, I will try to frame the issue in a less offensive manner.

    —–“Last March, Stephen, I debated an atheist philosopher on the question, “Is Nature All There Is?” I argued the negative, obviously, and I did so because I believe the negative and I believe it’s important to defend it publicly.”

    Fair enough. I take note of that, and I salute you for it. To be sure, not all TEs are alike, and it is good that our side should recognize that fact. For my part, I am always open to changing my mind on these matters. I do not have a “no concession policy.” Further still, I thank you for taking up for the common good, because not everyone will enter into the fray. You have made a significant contribution to the culture by challenging the radical materialists, so to the extent that I didn’t take that into account, I retract my overly simplistic appeal to stereotype.

    But, I must remind you about one thing: The real battle in the academy is not between public atheists and public theists, because most atheists practice their atheism without admitting to it. So you can challenge metaphysical materialism all day long and those in power will keep their sense of humor. Lampoon Richard Dawkins if you like; they don’t mind. Why should they? Dawkins publicizes that which they would prefer be kept quiet—the truth about the folly of trying to synthesize Christianity with Darwinism. There is only one thing that the gatekeepers care about and insist on and that is “methodological naturalism,” which is another word for quietly enforced atheism under the protective cover of anonymity. So, if you want some real action, lay down the gauntlet on that one. You will then discover the real world of institutional persecution with which we must contend and from which you have been spared.

    As a point of social interest, no one thing separates you and me and ID from TE more than methodological naturalism. In fact, if you repudiated that one thing, that one rule that Darwinists invented to rule out ID in principle and to protect its dying paradigm, all other barriers between us would fall. Our disagreements about design detection, scripture, Darwin, and science would not matter, because everyone one would be free to follow where the evidence leads. Who among the TEs will challenge the Darwinist academy on our behalf on the name of justice? And if none on your side will do it, then why are you offended that some of us might think that you are “cozying up to them?” While you are here on this site, don’t just challenge us, challenge Jack Krebs about his institutionalized methodological naturalism. All your grievances against us are about hurt feelings; all our grievances against the academy are about chilled speech, damaged careers, and expulsion. You may think that there is a moral equivalency there, but I don’t.

    So, what is all the fuss about coming from me personally? In my judgment, most TEs have subordinated their religion to their science, and as a result, they seem to have a built in bias against design thinking. I don’t mind alluding to Scripture here, even if it does make me look like an apologist. The passages in Romans 1: Psalm 19, and other such references about design in nature are not mere throwaway lines: There are important reasons for their inclusion that have nothing to do with salvation issues.

    First, The Christian religion is rational because it doesn’t ask for a mindless faith, it asks for a reasonable faith based on historical facts and empirical observations. No other belief system is like that; no other expression of God is both transcendent and immanent. Granted, a leap of faith is necessary, but it is a reasonable leap. When TEs challenge the detectability of design, they are challenging the very rationality of their own faith. Christians are not supposed to have to believe everything; some things are supposed to be self evident. Among the many things we can know through the use of unaided reason are evidence of God’s handiwork in nature and the inherent dignity of the human person. Mindless faith grounded in nothing but an act of the will is little better than atheism, and no better than agnosticism. Common sense is the gateway to an authentic and lasting faith.

    The unity of truth is equally important. If there is one truth for theology, another for philosophy, and yet another for science, all rationality is lost. In spite of their claim that “science and religion” are compatible, TEs don’t seem to believe that at all. Quite the contrary, they appear to believe in one truth for science and another truth for religion. All the great scientists of the past thought otherwise. They insisted that they were “thinking God’s thoughts after him,” meaning that they and God were on the same page. It would never have occurred to them that God reveals himself in Scripture and hides himself in nature.

  172. 172
    Jack Krebs says:

    1. TE’s accept methodological naturalism as a reasonable restriction on science.

    2. I am sure that more than 4.2% of evolutionary biologist have religious beliefs.

  173. 173
    Timaeus says:

    Jack:

    Thanks for another good reply, once again verifying your intellectual “krebibility”.

    Yes, you and DaveScot are quite correct that the standard Darwinian qualifier on the randomness of mutations is “random with respect to fitness”. And the atheist Darwinian simply stops there, not feeling any need to trace back the mutations further, to find out whether they are “radically” chance events, i.e., ultimately uncaused by any natural law, or if they are actually law-governed events, all the way back to the Big Bang. But the TE has no such luxury, because the TE, unlike the atheistic Darwinian, makes the additional claim that God is somehow responsible for the evolutionary process. The TE therefore has to take a stand on the mutations, in relation to God. Are the mutations “radically” chance events, i.e., with no natural causes, or are they only “apparently” chance events, with natural causes, and in either case, how do they connect to God?

    If the mutations are “radically” chance events, i.e., naturally causeless events, then there are only two possibilities: either they are “spot miracles”, by means of which God makes happen what would otherwise not happen, or they are events which surprise even God. In the former case, Darwin himself and all orthodox neo-Darwinians would repudiate them, as the whole idea of Darwinism (as is indicated many times in the Origin) was to get “miracles” out of the account of origins. So then Christianity would be saved, but TE-Darwin rapprochement would fail. In the latter case, there are events outside of God’s providence, which is heterodox Christianity, and this means that TEs are willing to embrace heterodoxy in order to Christianize Darwin.

    Taking the other alternative: if the mutations are not genuine chance events, but actually law-governed events, with law-bound antecedents all the way back to the Big Bang, then either there is no God, and impersonal law reigns over the universe, or there is a God, who set up the laws but then does not interfere with them after the Big Bang. TE rules out the first explanation, which means that TE would have to accept the second explanation, i.e., “front-loading”. Front-loading is certainly compatible with God’s omnipotence, omniscience, and in a sense with God’s providence. (Whether it is compatible with the Biblical or Christian presentation of God overall, which seems to suggest a more personal interaction with nations and individuals, is less certain, but we don’t need to address that question here.)

    In sum, then, if the mutations are truly random, the TE must either affirm miracles or affirm that nature produces actions that God cannot anticipate and hence are out of his control; and if the mutations are really law-bound, then the TE must affirm front-loading. I have yet to read a TE who follows out this logic ruthlessly and clearly affirms one of these three possibilities in its metaphysical nakedness.

    The more typical TE position, which does not appear to be yours, seems to be an unclear variant of the first alternative discussed above, i.e., that God actually is the cause of the mutations, and that they really are little miracles, but they are miracles so little that hide beneath the radar, so to speak, under the guise of “quantum indeterminacy”, and hence science cannot see them as miracles, but only as random events. I find this answer not merely evasive, but actually scientifically incoherent, which is why I asked you at what level the “randomness” takes place, and if any TE has written a book or article with an EXAMPLE of how a “phony random” mutation caused by God might change, say, cytosine into thymine or guanine into adenine. If we are talking about the “indeterminacy” associated with the electron, then, since the electron has a mass of only 1/1836 the mass of a single proton, let alone an entire guanine molecule, it’s hard to imagine how any “quantum fluctuation” in the electron’s energy level, guided by God or not, could bump an entire molecule out of the DNA chain and substitute another one. Or if they mean by “quantum indeterminacy”, a change at a higher level than that of an electron, if they mean a random substitution of, say, an entire atom, or an entire base pair, are they willing to declare that sometimes atoms or base pairs just pop out of the DNA chain for no reason, and are replaced by others for no reason, and that God hides in these random changes? Would any biochemist on earth confirm the occurrence of such random poppings-in and poppings-out of atoms and molecules?

    Thus, at the level of detail (which unfortunately for TE is the level at which real science works), the “quantum indeterminacy” explanation for guided mutations is, to put most charitably, on the vague side; yet it is the mantra we see over and over again in TE literature. Are the TEs not aware how vague their account is? Are they not aware that trying to slip God into the picture under the cover of quantum indeterminacy will seem to ID folks (who tend to be hard-minded biochemists, engineers, computer programmers, physicists, etc.) as an imprecise, inadequately modelled bit of pseudoscience? Do they feel no scientific responsibility whatsoever to make this “quantum indeterminacy” explanation more intellectually rigorous? That is why I asked for a written account which provides the missing details. Until I see one, I will continue to regard the “God hides behind quantum indeterminacy” explanation as an explanation of desperation, and a product of uncontrolled theological imagination, not of truly scientific, i.e., rigorous and detailed, thinking.

    T.

  174. 174
    Jack Krebs says:

    Timaeus, I don’t have time to respond until to tonight, but I really am puzzled by my first quick read of this. Mutations have natural causes, and this is not a problem for TE’s, because all natural causes are a part of God’s ultimately caused creation, as I have explained.

    I am very interested in this subject of chance, so I will look closely at all your points tonight.

  175. 175
    StephenB says:

    —-Jack: “1. TE’s accept methodological naturalism as a reasonable restriction on science.”

    In the spirit of friendliness and mutual respect, I ask you not to be redundant. We already know that TEs accept MN as a “reasonable restriction on science.” The point has been made that the restriction is not reasonable so it makes little sense to answer that charge by saying that it has been accepted as reasonable.

    —–+2. I am sure that more than 4.2% of evolutionary biologist have religious beliefs.”

    Take it up with those who made the study. It has been confirmed by Dave Scot and Denyse O’Leary on this site. I researched it myself, though I don’t remember the source. I think that it came from a group of social scientists at Dartmouth.

  176. 176
    StephenB says:

    Timaeus: You may be interested in a recent UD post by Thomas Cudworth, entitled, “TEs your position is incoherent, but we can help you.”

  177. 177
    StephenB says:

    Timaeus:

    Also, thanks for the thought stimulators at 177.

  178. 178
    StephenB says:

    Sorry, I mean thanks for the thought stimulators at 174.

  179. 179
    Ted Davis says:

    Epsilon really isn’t very large (see above), and I am probably going to have to shut this down for awhile on my part. I have two final posts to place here this morning. I hope they won’t be too long.

    First, my sincere thanks to all who engage this issue seriously and honestly. One can always try to listen, but I’ve tried very hard to listen as carefully as I can to what’s been said here and on some other threads. The absence of replies in some cases may mean that I don’t have a good answer, or that I agree with a given point; in other cases (the majority) it means that I can’t write the essay or book I’d need to write to answer adequately. I don’t really get into blogging, as some here probably sense–it can eat up all available time, and there is a day job that I need to pay attention to. 🙂 There are also perhaps generational things here: we old fogies just can’t get used to this very easily. We still read real books and journals (that’s frankly where most of the serious TE writing is found) in “libraries”, those places where they keep that stuff so that people can take their kids in to see what people used to read. 🙂

    I think the posts by Jack and “Timaeus” very nicely frame a difference of opinion on really important matters. I agree with most of what *each of them* is saying above. I also agree that almost everyone who writes about ID or TE at the popular level–including Collins, Miller, Ayala, Behe, and some other leading ID writers–is not very deep or persuasive theologically (the science is another matter, and most on this blog are mainly interested in the science). It’s extraordinarily difficult, IMO, to write about serious and deep theological issues at a popular level. Some do that well, but most just have to throw up their hands, even if they do know theology at a deeper level than popular works can indicate. This is in fact part of the problem in conversing about ID and TE, at least from where I sit. (The essay by physicist Loren Haarsma in Keith Miller’s book, “Perspectives on an Evolving Creation,” is IMO a rare if not unique exception. And “Timaeus” is very good, also.)

    I have an idea to put forth in the other post, but here let me just respond to two things as I leave.

    jerry–on another thread, you said you’d ask John Calvert about the Kansas standards fights. Did he ever get back to you? I didn’t see anything more about that, and left a question for you, but you probably haven’t seen it.

    Tribune7–You wrote:

    “On the confessions you’d like ID people to make, I personally go along with:

    For the TEs out there, how about a confession on your part — that there is a supreme absolute moral law that trumps everything and anything conceived by man and science, no matter how apparently beneficial or seemingly reasonable man and science indicates it to be at the time.”

    Well, Tribune, it’s interesting you should say this, b/c IMO Francis Collins comes pretty close to this, if not exactly in the same language, on pp. 22-30 of “The Language of God.” That’s hardly a profound book (See above), but he does follow C. S. Lewis, who was no lightweight on such matters. Have you seen his account? Or, if you have, did you just forget about that part? (I can relate to this–I forget things all the time, now that I’m well past my prime.)

    John Polkinghorne says pretty much the same thing, in far more eloquent language and much more thoughtfully (typical of him on both counts) on pp. 17-20 of “Belief in God in an Age of Science.” I know this is an old-fashioned book, not something that can be downloaded for free on the web, but (as I have just said) it’s in old-fashioned books that the best TE stuff is found. See my next post… You might want to try to find a copy of this one. I’ll just offer one sentence, to see his approach:

    “Did Oskar Schindler take great risks to rescue more than a thousand Jews from extermination because of some implicit calculation of genetic advantage?”

    Isn’t that pretty close to what you are asking for, Tribune? At least, perhaps, somewhere in the ballpark?

  180. 180
    Ted Davis says:

    I will shut down my involvement here now, with a proposal for your consideration. I read a lot of ID people, in real books much more than on the web, and I find some of it pretty darn interesting. I also agree with more than a little of it, as indicated often here, even if I disagree on certain points that are seen here as central to being an ID advocate. I’m not interested in throwing stones and hoping that people just go away. I don’t like to throw stones, and I don’t think ID is going away (contrary to most cultural pundits, many of whom don’t know diddley about ID in the first place).

    At the same time, I think it would be very helpful if more ID folks read some serious theological stuff pertaining to science. TE isn’t really about evolution, nearly as much as its about various different theological perspectives on “the whole shebbang,” if I could put it that way, within which perspectives on science are a very important part. I know that this blog is not about theology, as far as possible. It would clearly be contrary to that attitude and spirit if we were to look more seriously at TE–that is, if we were to look at TE as seriously as you want TEs to look at ID. Where ID is centrally and almost solely about evolution (according to proponents at least, though I am skeptical of that claim), TE is much more openly about theology, though evolution is part of the conversation. This is one reason, at least, why many in the ID camp don’t understand serious TE very well (IMO): they are interested in talking about science, not “God” or “theology.” OK, that’s all well and good, but then it’s not so well and good just to dismiss TE as having nothing important, interesting, or helpful to say.

    It’s difficult now for me to know how best to proceed, if there can be more of a genuine dialogue here about TE (assuming that such a thing is even wanted). A few of my friends (including at least two who found ID quite attractive, prior to their brief involvement here) got thrown off this island–it may have been warranted in one or two cases, but it wasn’t warranted in all cases–and I don’t know how many of them would consider coming back, even if they were welcome to do so. Most serious science/theology people I know don’t blog at all (for reasons given above), and probably wouldn’t want to start. John Polkinghorne, e.g., is 78 years old (though still near or at the top of his game), and he doesn’t even use email (I know for sure) or a cell phone (to the best of my knowledge).

    If I were to do anything more serious myself, it couldn’t possibly take place before late winter or early spring; my schedule is such that I even have to stop blogging right now.

    What I was thinking, however, I will share with you all, and I’ll check back for your thoughts about it in a few days. I probably will do that silently. Some regulars here know how to get in touch with me (though anyone who knows how to blog really knows already how to do that), if my ideas strikes a chord.

    It might be fun, if time-consuming, for us to discuss together a particular work of some depth by a TE. It’s hard to know what would be best. For getting at “Timaeus” points, it might have to be something by Bob Russell, something that readers need a very serious theological background in order to really understand and appreciate. You can’t just jump into it. “Timaeus” clearly could, and so could some others, but I doubt that most here would find the time well spent, any more than I would find the time well spent to slog my way through a technical paper in Nature: I might get some of it completely, more of it a little, and some of it not at all. You wouldn’t want me to summarize it for you, no way. 🙂

    Polkinghorne’s “Belief in God” (above) might be a good choice, but he does not say very much there about evolution, per se, and I realize that’s the number one interest here. It’s a very nice, fairly deep, overview of his own thinking about science and Christian faith, however, and one that many here would probably find at least interesting, if not necessarily helpful (whether something is helpful typically depends on what a reader is looking for).

    Or, it might make sense to take an intermediate road, by choosing a collection of writings that include some science, some theology, and some philosophy–for example, selected essays from Keith Miller’s “Perspectives on an Evolving Creation,” which contains really nice stuff by Loren Haarsma, philosopher Robin Collins (a fellow of TDI at the time his essay was written), geologists David Campbell & Keith Miller (on the Cambrian explosion), etc.

    As I say, something like this would be a departure from the norm here, in at least 3 ways. (1) you’d need to buy a book to be part of it; the internet alone won’t get you there. And, you’d have to read the book, pretty carefully. (2) it’s be sort of a mini-course, sort of a seminar on the web. I don’t know how good of a seminar it might be, given that I’m neither a theologian nor a philosopher nor a scientist (and those are the most relevant disciplines), but at least I’m reasonably familiar with this material as a whole; and, it’d be much better if there were more bloggers here sympathetic to TE, in order to have more opportunities for diverse views to be aired and defended. (I no more represent “TE” as a whole than anyone else does.) and (3) it doesn’t seem the usual practice here, to let a TE introduce and frame the conversation, which is what would happen if this idea is taken up.

    Well, as I say, this is just an idea, a late-night thought that I’ll share before going silent–and before I have time to realize that I’m nuts and should’ve kept my mouth shut. Again.

    Beam me up, Scottie, I wanna go home. 🙂

  181. 181
    Charlie says:

    Hi Ted Davis,
    I find your idea intriguing and although I’d have little of interest to add I’d find the experience highly educational and would love to try to find the time to participate.
    And, thanks to the internet and blogs, I have been exposed to hundreds of real books which now adorn my shelves and I am never averse to picking up another. My only Polkinghorne is Quantum Physics and Theology which is a nice read but hardly of the heft that you would be suggesting, I think.
    I think to a great degree you seem to want to be emphasizing the T more than the E in TE. What I think is often forgotten here is that a lot of the great theology we read, and a lot of the characters we draw upon for support of our different ideas, are theists whom we embrace for theistic reasons but who might presume evolution. It doesn’t bother me in the least that a theist can describe his ideas of God, or even of nature, assuming a backdrop of evolutionary thinking with which I don’t agree. I tend to expect it and can separate the two. I glean the evidences and support that I can and file my disagreement on what is usually a very tangential issue. Many of the authors may or may not presume evolution but it just need not enter their discussions as the don’t see it as relevant.

    I think that the TE position that draws the most fire here is that of the theist who goes out of his way to distance himself from ID and to denigrate the ID project for whatever reason. As you’ve seen, that reason is usually suspect – whether rightly or wrongly.
    I’ve read good books on all kinds of topics -probability analysis, for example – by believers whose off-topic slights against ID seem almost gratuitous and one has to wonder why the idea is even broached. While I roll my eyes a little at the mention I continue on to enjoy the rest of the arguments and to respect the authors.
    But in this venue, where the topic is ID and empirical science, however influenced it may or may not by religious belief, you have to expect that those who cast aspersions on the project will by criticized – even if they would be loved and embraced in another venue on a different topic. Others, who repeat and rely upon a false representation of ID are going to draw scorn. Sadly, as in most disputes, charity is often a casualty. This is not foreign in science, philosophy, politics or unfortunately, theology.
    While we must discuss our differences and argue our cases, sharpen the iron, as it were, I wish we would always remember how much more we have in common than that which separates us.

    I’ve enjoyed reading your posts and hope you do pick up on your idea.

  182. 182
    mussels says:

    Skimming over the thread, I thought there were a few issues I could help address.

    On Romans 1:20, if you continue through the next couple of chapters the main lines of evidence that Paul cites are things such as the conscience or that idolatry is incorrect. These are not very amenable to scientific study. Also, as Paul goes on to conclude that everyone, Jew and Gentile alike, are lost except through Jesus, the letter as a whole does not give much encouragement to looking for evidence outside of special revelation. Ecclesiastes takes an approach much closer to science, and concludes that, from that alone, you arrive only at meaninglessness. Job 28 is more positive about science but still concludes that it’s no good for getting to true wisdom-that comes from fear of God. Thus, I don’t think Scripture affirms that there must be scientifically detectable evidence of God, though it doesn’t rule it out, either. There’s intuitive evidence either way, depending on what you expect God’s hand to look like and what you look at. Is a spider web a beautiful pattern, an effective way to help maintain ecological balance, or a sinister trap? The answer reflects more on the answerer’s attitude than on the spider.

    On the detection of design, there are several distinct questions that tend to get conflated:
    What is design?
    Is evidence of natural causes such as evolution evidence against design?
    Are proposed methods of detecting design actually valid?
    Is the evidence being presented correctly?

    I can think of two ways to detect design scientifically. One would be to have large sets of known designed and undesigned objects which are examined for patterns to see if the two can be distinguished. The other would be to have information about the designer and what are likely purposes, abilities, methods, etc.

    Obviously the first is not an option with regard to the universe. This cuts both ways-even if an infinite number of universes exist, unless we have data on a large, representative sample of them, we cannot say that our own universe is not exceptional. On the other hand, though common sense suggests that our universe is special to have all the needed parameters for intelligent life, we don’t have the data to scientifically test that intuition.

    Similarly, for organisms we have what is generally believed by scientists to be a single origin of life on earth. We don’t have sets of known designed and undesigned organisms to compare. When you get to features that arise later than the origin of life, sometimes there are multiple independent origins that can be compared. For example, complex eyes are thought to arise independently in several different lineages of animal. In this particular case, they differ in many details. There are also plenty of very simple eyes and intermediate complexity eyes. All this suggests that there are lots of ways to make an eye and that it’s not too hard to build it step by step (after all, the mere ability to tell light from dark is useful, and increasing visual ability has obvious practical use.) Thus, eyes probably aren’t a good choice of something difficult to evolve.

    SETI operates under the assumptions that any aliens sending signals would be reasonably similar to humans in their motives and methods. Similarly, identifying genuine human traces in the archaeological record can proceed based on our knowledge of what humans do and what other things can do. For example, one early cause of skepticism about Piltdown was the fact that an accompanying “artifact” looked more like a mammoth-bone cricket bat than something plausibly useful to a stone-age human.

    To extend such types of inference to something of real interest to ID requires knowing what the designer in question would or would not do. Conversely, finding some convincing example of something not readily explainable by science still leaves the question of who is responsible. Thus, Jonathan Wells can claim that ID supports the Unification Church, Raelians can claim it supports existence of aliens, etc.

  183. 183
    StephenB says:

    I, too, like the idea of a conference, as long as we apply the principle of proportionality and tell both sides of the story. If we are going to cultivate our TE sensibilities, then our partners in dialogue should consider cultivating their ID sensibilities as well. So, we could alternate the subject matter by discussing someone like Stephen Meyer one day and Robert Russell on another day. I am not enthusiastic about a unilateral TE presentation to promote one-way-understanding.

  184. 184
    jerry says:

    Ted Davis,

    I wrote John Calvert an email at the address listed on the Intelligent Design Network website. He did not return the email. I am on vacation and will call the listed number when I return next week. My guess is that I will get a recording but I will leave a message.

    My motives for engaging in this debate may be similar to most here but I feel no confidence in discussing theology. I read a lot of the theology threads and my initial reaction is that similar discussions have been going on for over 2000 years and there is little chance of solving anything here. Especially with people coming from such varied religious backgrounds.

    Science is a different matter since it is changing every day and is less subjective than theology. I also enjoy history and would love some day to have a discussion on this history of science. I am a novice there but have read your posts at ASA and find them interesting when they discuss history and science.

    I would feel more comfortable discussing the history of heresy than just what constitutes heresy today or if it is a concept that is meaningful anymore. But I would prefer to discuss science since there is less chance of it getting controversial until one gets to evolution in the 20th century or maybe global climate estimates.

    I do have two questions for you or anyone at ASA that plague us here and are the basis for a lot of the disagreement.

    1. Is there any evidence that any mechanism, natural or not, has led to macro evolution. Assume macro evolution as a given. ID’s position is that there is no evidence for a natural mechanism. ID says there does not exist any plausible let alone probable mechanism to lead to any macro evolution let alone all macro evolution. So far no one has appeared here to dispute that nor have we seen it demonstrated anywhere else.

    If you disagree, then point us in the right direction if such a demonstration exists. (We do not dispute micro evolution or that it might be a major player in species or variant origin when the new species or variant is within easy reach of the current gene pool.)

    2. What does universal common descent have to do with the evolution debate? I believe it is a red herring and really has nothing whatever to do with the real issues. ID could accept UCD and it would have nothing to do with the overall debate which is over the mechanism for macro evolutionary origins.

    I personally have found the data used to support UCD conclusive only in that some species have a common ancestor but this does not have any bearing on all origins nor any origins that are classified as macro evolution. And it certainly does not pertain to the origins of eukarytotes or multi-celled organisms. (If we are missing something here then a good discussion might be helpful)

    But even if one concedes UCD, what are the implications of this? I don’t believe it has to do much with the over all debate.

    Finally, I also agree that Loren Haarsma’s essay is one of the best I have read on the topic and have recommended it to all here at UD in the past. There is nothing in his essay that invalidates ID.

    Hope to see you occasionally here at UD or more frequently if possible because your contributions raise the standard here. If you can get David Opderbeck back here, I believe it would lead to some fruitful discussions. Or anyone else at ASA that would like to see just what is the range of things people here believe.

    We are generally not scientists but most of us are well educated and knowledgeable.

  185. 185
    nullasalus says:

    I just wanted to say – I’m very glad to see this thread happening. TE and ID concerns and arguments being aired, respectfully. Count me as one more person who would love to see some kind of conference happen.

  186. 186
    Jack Krebs says:

    Hi Timaeus.

    I have now carefully read your post at 174. I think you are confusing two different kinds of explanations, scientific and theological, and that you are also perhaps not clear on what scientists think happens when a mutation occurs.

    Let me try to explain.

    You start by writing,

    Yes, you and DaveScot are quite correct that the standard Darwinian qualifier on the randomness of mutations is “random with respect to fitness”.

    And the atheist Darwinian simply stops there, not feeling any need to trace back the mutations further, to find out whether they are “radically” chance events, i.e., ultimately uncaused by any natural law, or if they are actually law-governed events, all the way back to the Big Bang.

    First of all, talking about the “atheist Darwinian” immediately mixes metaphysical belief with scientific understanding. Let’s first talk about what the scientist thinks, irrespective of whether they are a materialist or a TE.

    Biologists know quite a bit about what causes mutations (a general term for various genetic changes, not just simple base substitutions.), and I don’t believe any biologist believes that mutations are what you call “radically” chance events – events which have no cause. Things such as radiation, chemicals from the environment absorbed into the cell, small chemical fluctuations around the chromosome when it divides, and so on, cause mutations.

    Also, molecules are not static little configurations such as are portrayed in introductory chemistry books – they are always “jiggling”. Therefore molecular interactions always contain an element of contingency – one may be in a slightly different state when it interacts with another molecule than it normally is, and therefore the result of the interaction will be different. Most of this contingency averages out because there are so many molecules – basic statistics at work – but at times things take an unusual path, and thus a mutation happens.

    So when we say mutations are random, we mean two things. First, we mean, as you quoted, that mutations are “random with respect to fitness”. Their future effect on the phenotype, and possible on the organism’s survival, is not causally related at all to the mutation happening.

    These mutations are also random in the sense that they are an outcome from a set of probable outcomes that all happen with certain probabilities. For instance, we assume that when we flip a coin we say that it will comes up heads 50% of the time – this is a random event in that the causes are such that one of the two possibilities is equally likely. However we know that if we flip a coin 100 times, we won’t get 50 heads most of the time: there is a probability distribution that we can calculate for the chances of getting 50 heads, 49 heads, 48 heads, etc. We call all of this random because there is nothing that we can ascertain in advance that will explain or predict whether we will get 48 head, or 36 heads, or whatever.

    Mutations are random in this sense also. They just happen – not because they are uncaused, but because their causes are so full of various probabilities interacting with each other that there is no way we can predict a single event event though we can have some success in predicting the distribution of a large number of events.

    In none of these cases are mutations a product of “radical” chance.

    Now let’s back away from the science and look at how the materialist and the TE see this philosophically. The materialist sees, and this is no surprise, the scientific explanations about the world as sufficient.

    The TE, as you say, “makes the additional claim that God is somehow responsible for the evolutionary process.”

    But the TE is not saying this as a scientific claim: as I explained earlier, the TE accepts the limits and perspective of science. The TE does believe, as a Christian, that everything is designed via God’s creation, from the lawful interactions that bind oxygen and hydrogen to make water to random and contingent events such as the flip of a coin, the gamma ray that affects a base pair in a gene, or just the particular deviation from the norm that occurs when a chromosome divides.

    Next you write,

    The TE therefore has to take a stand on the mutations, in relation to God. Are the mutations “radically” chance events, i.e., with no natural causes, or are they only “apparently” chance events, with natural causes, and in either case, how do they connect to God?

    This paragraphs asks question that in the context of my post about TE at 56 are not relevant. All natural events are connected to God. What we see as random and contingent events are not random and contingent to God. The TE understands that the natural events which cannot appear as anything but contingent to us are nevertheless part of God’s will. The questions you ask just aren’t relevant to the TE perspective, I don’t think.

    Again, you write,

    Taking the other alternative: if the mutations are not genuine chance events, but actually law-governed events, with law-bound antecedents all the way back to the Big Bang, then either there is no God, and impersonal law reigns over the universe, or there is a God, who set up the laws but then does not interfere with them after the Big Bang.

    This is precisely the view that I was explaining is not the case for the TE back at post #56. I’m not going to re-describe that. All I can say is re-read #56 to see why I think the perspective you are describing is wrong in respect to questions facing the TE.

    Last, you write,

    The more typical TE position, which does not appear to be yours, seems to be an unclear variant of the first alternative discussed above, i.e., that God actually is the cause of the mutations, and that they really are little miracles, but they are miracles so little that hide beneath the radar, so to speak, under the guise of “quantum indeterminacy”, and hence science cannot see them as miracles, but only as random events.

    I don’t think this is the typical TE view. Ken Miller offers this explanation in “Finding Darwin’s God,” but I don’t know how widespread this view is. Quantum indeterminacy is a fascinating mystery about the world, and I’ve enjoyed reading about it – I recommend Feynman’s little book “QED” – but I don’t personally see it as central to these theological questions.

  187. 187
    StephenB says:

    —–“Thus, I don’t think Scripture affirms that there must be scientifically detectable evidence of God, though it doesn’t rule it out, either. There’s intuitive evidence either way, depending on what you expect God’s hand to look like and what you look at. Is a spider web a beautiful pattern, an effective way to help maintain ecological balance, or a sinister trap? The answer reflects more on the answerer’s attitude than on the spider.”

    Scripture does indeed affirm that there must be detectable evidence of God, but it doesn’t have anything to do with formal scientific methods. The point is that science isn’t even needed. According to the scripture, God reveals himself in nature and that revelation is perceivable through the senses.

    Romans 1: 19-20. “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely his eternal power and Deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made, so they are without excuse.”

    The term “without excuse” removes any doubt that Scripture is referring to external pointers to the Creator. The point is obvious: no supernatural revelation is needed.

    Psalm 19: The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork….. There are no speeches nor languages where there voices are not heard…….”

    Again, we learn that the power and beauty of created things reflect the wisdom of God. All mainstream Christian commentators point out that created things, perceivable through the sense, are like a “book on which are imprinted traces of God.”

    Wisdom 13: 5 “For by the greatness of the beauty and of the creature, the Creator of them may be seen as to be known already.”

    Once again, there can be no mistake. No supernatural revelation needed. It is a discussion of created things perceivable through the senses. As one commentator puts it, “These things are like a book on which are imprinted traces of God.” The meaning is clear, the message is repeated, and, point is sufficiently dramatized. As they say in some quarters, it’s a slam dunk.

  188. 188
    jerry says:

    I have not read every single post in this thread but there is something that I do not understand. ID does not have any quarrel with whether something is random or not or how random is best explained. ID has problems with these events as an explanation of anything meaningful in terms of evolution happening as a result of these random events.

    Few of us would be here if there were any evidence that “random” events led to anything of consequence in terms of evolution. I have no trouble nor do I think a lot of others who support ID have any trouble with macro evolution taking place through these variation creation events (the result of random processes no matter how they are defined) if there were any evidence that this is how it happened. What ID says is that it is highly unlikely that it happened this way and if it did then God actively hid His involvement after the fact if it was a gradual process or the “random” process produced massive changes. And the latter according to my sensibilities is called a “miracle” or a suspension of natural laws.

  189. 189
    bFast says:

    I’ve been pondering the TE equation in response to this thread. I see that there must be only one of four simple options:

    1 – There is no God.

    2 – God intends to hide himself from science — to “not be put under a microscope” so to speak.

    3 – Science actively avoids finding God (not unreasonable considering the determination of science to hold to methodological naturalism.)

    4 – The scratch marks left by the hand of God at work must be detectable.

    As the prime players in this dialog seem determined to not consider option 1, then which of 2 through 4 is it. Most noteably, I ask the TEers, which of 2 or 3 is correct?

  190. 190
    StephenB says:

    We have settled the point, I think, that, the Bible argues for manifest design and that TEs compromise their faith by denying this teaching. So, I would like to move on to my next question, keeping it simple at first and then filling in the details later.

    Assuming macro evolution via the MET processes, what is the source of the apparent design in biology? We understand, for example, that theistic evolutionists attribute the “apparent” design to the evolutionary process. In other words, the process precedes the appearance of design. We also understand that TEs believe that God designed the conditions for evolution to happen, which suggests that the design precedes the process. So, my question would be this: Does the design precede the process, or does the process precede the design?

  191. 191
    nullasalus says:

    Jack Krebs,

    “Now let’s back away from the science and look at how the materialist and the TE see this philosophically. The materialist sees, and this is no surprise, the scientific explanations about the world as sufficient.

    The TE, as you say, “makes the additional claim that God is somehow responsible for the evolutionary process.””

    This is a seemingly minor point, but this doesn’t strike me as properly put. The materialist doesn’t simply look at the scientific data and determine that what they see is sufficient, while the TE (or perhaps ID proponent) goes on to suppose something additional and extra-scientific. The former would be the position of someone apathetic to philosophy or theology.

    The materialist claims that, regardless of what they may see, there is no intelligent force above or behind nature. And this claim is every bit as much of an additional claim as the TE makes – the science itself is emphatically not ‘sufficient’, because it goes on to be viewed through a particular philosophical lens and perspective, just as with the TE.

    As someone who is more properly a TE, but has strong sympathies with ID proponents, I’d like to ask you: If detecting God’s involvement in nature is extra-scientific (and I’d be willing to grant as much), is detecting God’s lack of involvement in nature also extra-scientific?

    I ask this because I many times (not among TEs, but among atheists) see a double standard in play: The argument is that there’s scientific no way to detect God’s involvement in nature even if God exists, but somehow if a natural explanation is given for an event, it’s scientific evidence God was not involved in any way. And I think this may be part of the ID concern with TEs – namely, that TEs make an aggressive show of not wanting ID proponents to foul the scientific waters with their philosophy, and turn a blind eye to the more evangelical atheists doing the same thing in another direction.

    I know it’s been pointed out that prominent TEs have debated prominent atheists, and I applaud that – but I want to stress that what I’m asking about here isn’t the same as defending the rationality of believing in both evolution and Christianity (a task I applaud), or defending belief in God in an age of science, but having equal standards for both atheists and theists when it comes to science.

    I recall Ken Miller being in a position like this – something about including a passage in an evolution textbook talking about how evolution is random and without purpose, and when pressed, he admitted he included this in the text due to pressure from his atheist co-author. I may have the facts of this case wrong, but it does serve as an example of one problem I have with TEs, as a TE: Aggressively denouncing the prospect of scientifically finding design in nature, while somehow having little concern with those who argue you can scientifically find a lack of design in nature.

  192. 192
    Timaeus says:

    Dear Jack (re 187):

    Thanks for your reply. Let me first get the little things out of the way.

    I used “atheist Darwinist” as a term of clarification. I did NOT mean “Darwinists, who are necessarily atheists”. I meant “ATHEIST Darwinist (e.g. Dawkins), as opposed to TE Darwinist (e.g., Ken Miller)”. So I was not “confusing” theological and scientific terms (nor am I ever likely to). I was distinguishing between two different theological interpretations of a scientific theory – an atheist and a non-atheist interpretation.

    Yes, I have more than enough science to understand what a mutation is. If it seemed that I did not, it was because I was writing in shorthand, presuming a good basic scientific knowledge of the people who come to this site (most of whom are science/technology oriented).

    Yes, there is a jiggling motion of atoms and so on, but when all the jiggling is done and things settle into a stable configuration, at their normal energy levels, carbon dioxide is still made up of two oxygen atoms and one carbon atom, and guanine, cytosine, adenine and thymine (the crucial components of DNA) still have the molecular composition and shape and chemical properties that they do, and still bind to each other in pairs in the normal way. I was asking you how any putative randomness in the electron’s location or energy level (which is what Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle was originally about) could affect the basic chemistry of the DNA molecule to the extent of actually altering one of the core components. That is like saying that a little vibration from the loudspeaker of a truck’s stereo system could shake the truck so much that the truck would be forced off the road. A flea cannot push over an elephant; it cannot even make a noticeable difference in the motion of an elephant. An electron is in a comparable relation to atoms and molecules. So if you or anyone believes that the non-predictability of the electron’s location or energy level, can alter something as large and massive (in relation to the electron) as a cytosine molecule, then please show me how; and don’t spare the chemistry; I will almost certainly be able to follow your exposition. I’ll let you know if you lose me.

    Now on to the larger questions.

    Please do not misunderstand my exposition. I was trying to represent TE in its most logical and consistent form, then criticize it. Do not assume that I take all the notions expressed by TE people with equal seriousness. For example, I do not believe that there are uncaused events in nature (which by the way is how Bertrand Russell interpreted quantum theory when it was “hot off the press” – see his famous radio debate with Fr. Copleston). I am not competent to discuss quantum theory at a high level, but I believe that whatever may be the truth of quantum theory, the interpretation that it implies that certain events are ultimately uncaused, that there is genuine randomness of a radical kind in the universe – is an illegitimate interpretation. Like a good Greek, and like all modern scientists up to and including Einstein, I hold to the ancient axiom that nothing comes from nothing, that all nature is governed by reason, and that there are no exceptions to natural laws [barring the direct intervention of God]. And Polkinghorne, who apparently knows physics, assures me that I am in good [if minority] company, because there is a deterministic interpretation of quantum physics among physicists themselves.

    So when I spoke of the possibility of events that were “radically” chance events, I was speaking of this possibility because certain theoretical physicists and certain TEs have employed it, not because I personally take it seriously. And if there are in fact such radically “uncaused” events, in the sense that no natural law produces them, then I maintain that I was correct to draw the conclusion that I did, i.e., either that they are created directly by God outside of his own ordained laws, i.e., are miracles, or that they are events which must surprise even God, and hence be outside of his providence. You have not refuted my argument, and I will stand by it until you or someone else does.

    As for the “God hides behind quantum indeterminacy” view, it is found in people other than Miller. Polkinghorne reports it (I don’t know if he endorses it, but he reports it) as a TE view, in his essay in the Debating Design book edited by Ruse and Dembski. And Ted Davis, in private communications with me, has reported the view (again, I don’t say that he endorses it) as one held by at least a few TEs. And I have seen it reported in connection with TEs elsewhere, in my reading of many books, articles and web sites over the last few years. So Miller is not an isolated example.

    This is not a trivial question, as you seem to make out. There is a theoretical reason why many TEs would feel the need to make use of quantum indeterminacy. That reason is as follows: the TEs insist that, in evolution anyway, everything happens by natural law; they don’t like “miracles”, and their objection to ID is usually that [in their mind] it interrupts naturalistic processes of evolution every so often with disruptive miracles, as in the case of the Cambrian explosion, or the creation of man. (This is a false view of ID, by the way, but it’s often put forth by TEs and atheistic Darwinists, as in the video clip above which started off this discussion.) So the TEs feel more “scientific” than ID people, because they, unlike like the ID people, rely entirely upon natural laws, not arbitrary, showy, irregular miracles, to get the job of evolution done. But if EVERY step of evolution is governed ONLY by natural laws, and if God does not intervene in nature, at least, not in the evolutionary process, then God cannot be said to be involved in evolution in any way except via front-loading the process. But most TEs reject front-loading, because it is for them the action of a “deistic” God, and for them the Christian God is more intimately involved in the world. So they have to get God in somewhere. But where, since they’ve declared that God doesn’t violate his own natural laws in creation?

    The only opening for God to “sneak in” which is not incompatible with modern science, it seems, is “quantum indeterminacy”, that mystical realm in which things appear to happen without sufficient cause. Science cannot predict detailed events (as opposed to statistical regularities) at the “quantum level”, so there is room for God to sneak little miracles of creation in whenever he needs to, pushing evolution along, without his action ever being detectable by Darwinian science, which will see only “random” mutations.

    But if quantum “indeterminacy” turns out to be only an epistemological, not a real ontological indeterminacy, then even that gap is closed, and then God cannot touch nature after the initial act of creation (Big Bang). So those TEs who use the “quantum indeterminacy” argument MUST believe that there are radical discontinuities in causality at the sub-atomic level. If it could ever be proved that even “quantum phenomena” followed laws (which we have not yet discovered, but might), God would have no “secret space” to move in, and front-loading would be the only way that his design could enter creation – and TEs apparently dislike front-loading.

    I find it interesting that most of the people who seem to use the “quantum indeterminacy” argument (beyond Polkinghorne) are neither quantum physicists nor quantum chemists, but theologians or philosophers or biologists, and therefore are not specialists in thinking out the very difficult field of quantum theory. Yet they blithely drag in quantum indeterminacy to work God into the picture. This is, in my view, intellectually irresponsible, and a form of charlatanism. Miller knows beans about quantum theory, and shouldn’t utter the phrase in connection with theology until he has mastered it on the scientific side. (But then, Miller writes about a lot of things that he’s a dilettante in.)

    I could go on and on about quantum theory. Months ago I posted on this on UD. Quantum theory is dragged in by psychologists, philosophers, theologians, etc. to explain everything. Many have tried to ground “free will” in quantum theory, an argument which was appropriately torn to shreds by Rudolf Carnap and others. When I hear “quantum theory” being used by anyone but a quantum physicist or quantum chemist, I immediately suspect: “dilettante”. I would guess that most of the people who use the words “quantum indeterminacy” (outside of physics and chemistry departments) could not speak for more than 15 minutes on the subject before running out of contents, yet they are sure they can ground human free will and God’s actions in it! This is a sore point with me, and I have lost respect for TE to the extent that TEs employ this gambit without a lengthy technical discussion of what quantum indeterminacy is, and how it would apply in practice to biochemical changes at the DNA level. Given the absence of such technical discussion, it is clear to me that that these TEs are not interested in UNDERSTANDING quantum theory, but only in USING it for theological ends. And I find all such manipulative uses of science offensive, since I hold to the original Greek view of science as “theoria”. The purpose of science is to gaze with comprehension upon “what is”, not to make “what is” fit into one’s politics or theology. (Even less is it to make “what is” fit with one’s politics or theology when one doesn’t first understand the scientific truth in its own terms.)

    All of your discussion about randomness with respect to fitness, coin flips, the chemical causes of mutations, etc., is correct, but is of no use to me. I of course agree with you and with most scientists that there are no uncaused events. But you are not paying sufficient attention to the implication of that assertion, and that is why you have missed the force of my post. If there are no uncaused events, if nature is a closed system (which is what Darwin believed), then TE doesn’t have a leg to stand on, unless it is willing to bite the bullet and say that God interfered from time to time in the process of evolution, breaking the regularities of nature which he ordained in creation (a divine activity which Darwin, and also all modern evolutionary biologists of the atheist variety, would vehemently deny). But as far as I can see, TE won’t say that. It waffles. It says that everything follows natural law, yet God guides everything, too. But that’s simply double-talk. If evolution can be explained entirely by natural law (which ultimately includes chance, as we’ve just agreed), then God is superfluous, and either atheism or divine front-loading must be true. If evolution cannot be so explained, then God must have intervened in the process, hence miracles.

    Let me put the question to you this way. I am going to make a statement, and I’d like you to respond, giving me (a) your personal view, and (b) the view of most TEs, in your opinion. Here is the statement: “Given the properties and laws established at or before the time of the Big Bang, nature (meaning law plus chance, where chance events ultimately boil down to law-bound events) is, according to our present scientific knowledge, utterly incapable of producing complex specified information (e.g., life, the Cambrian explosion, the wiring of the human brain) by itself; evolution, therefore, is most reasonably inferred to have been guided, at least in part, by the action of an intelligent being.” True or false?

    T.

  193. 193
    nullasalus says:

    Timaeus & Jack Krebs,

    An additional question to both of you if you’re willing to field it.

    Couldn’t a respectable TE position be to allow for miracles and acts of God within natural history and even potentially in day to day life, but argue that miracles are not open to investigation/demonstration by what we call science? For some reason I always took that to be a standard TE view – not that they rule out miracles, but that science cannot find them even if they did or do occur.

  194. 194
    Timaeus says:

    nullasalus:

    I don’t know what TE says directly about the ability of science to detect miracles. It’s my understanding that TE asserts that science cannot detect design in nature. It’s my understanding that TE asserts that the inference of design is a philosophical or theological inference, not a scientific one.

    I don’t understand why TE asserts this. It seems to me that design can be established, if not directly by science, then by common-sense reasoning built upon the data provided by science. I don’t see how any metaphysical or religious commitment is required. Indeed, it seems to me that there is much more metaphysical commitment in the position of the atheistic Darwinians, i.e., that science is not allowed to speak of design (a point you made well above, in 192), than in the common-sense inference of design. Hence my example of the Martian sculpture (#160 above), which I hope Ted Davis will tackle.

    T.

  195. 195
    DaveScot says:

    nullasaurus

    Suppose the Red Sea parted down the middle allowing a group of people to walk through it. Would science not be able to investigate possible causes for the waters parting? I say that science could indeed investigate the phenomenon. Science might not yield an answer but it can surely make the attempt.

  196. 196
    Jack Krebs says:

    Timaeus, you write,

    But as far as I can see, TE won’t say that. It waffles. It says that everything follows natural law, yet God guides everything, too. But that’s simply double-talk. If evolution can be explained entirely by natural law (which ultimately includes chance, as we’ve just agreed), then God is superfluous, and either atheism or divine front-loading must be true. If evolution cannot be so explained, then God must have intervened in the process, hence miracles.

    Explaining why it is not “doubletalk” to say that “everything follows natural law, yet God guides everything, too,” was precisely the point of my post at #56. At this point, I don’t think it will help for me to repeat myself.

    You offer the following statement:

    “Given the properties and laws established at or before the time of the Big Bang, nature (meaning law plus chance, where chance events ultimately boil down to law-bound events) is, according to our present scientific knowledge, utterly incapable of producing complex specified information (e.g., life, the Cambrian explosion, the wiring of the human brain) by itself; evolution, therefore, is most reasonably inferred to have been guided, at least in part, by the action of an intelligent being.” True or false?

    Most TE’s would not assent to this – certainly not the one’s whose position I am describing – on the grounds that the whole question makes the same false dichotomy between things that have natural causes and things that reflect the creative guidance of God.

    I’ve done my best to explain the position of such TE’s and the reasoning behind that position. There really isn’t any point, I think, in continuing to repeat myself.

  197. 197
    Charlie says:

    Hi Jack Krebs,
    Don’t leave before addressing my ealier questions please.
    You said you were going to give them some thought, and, since you are alluding to the false dichotomy again I think it would be relevant to both Timaeus’ very excellent comment and your answer.

  198. 198
    Timaeus says:

    Jack @ 197:

    I don’t claim to be an expert on TE thought, but the TEs I have read — Miller, Collins, Ayala, Lamoureux, Matheson — don’t rest their argument where you do. And even to the extent that they tangentially employ an argument such as yours, they don’t articulate it nearly as well as you do.

    However, as I’ve pointed out, even granting the main point of your argument, i.e., that God’s perspective is not ours, the second and third aspects of your argument, i.e., the “how” of creation, and the implications of creation doctrine for the possibility of design detection, leave much to be desired.

    For example, as I’ve already pointed out, under the “how” of creation, your distaste for front-loading as “Deism”, on the grounds that this misunderstands the implications of God’s timelessness, does not carry over into a distaste for TE, which (in the TE authors I’ve read) speaks of God’s interaction with nature as ongoing. Both equally anthropomorphize God, and are equally “unreal” descriptions of creation on the basis of your metaphysical analysis. You don’t apply the timeless/timebound distinction consistently.

    Of course, you can simply retreat into: “God’s interaction with the world, and the way that creation takes place, are ultimately a mystery beyond the human mind, but TEs feel sure that God is creator and designer of the world in some mysterious sense.” But then TE is nothing but the expression of a religio-aesthetic perception, of no value for either science or philosophy. It’s just a private notion of certain Christians, of no public significance outside their circles. And that, from my point of view, makes it a big yawner.

    From my point of view, it’s fine to set forth the “timeless” perspective, but one should also thoroughly set forth an account of creation and nature as it appears from the human side. Your discussion short-changes the reader by giving an incomplete analysis of the timebound, human perspective.

    Within the timebound perspective, you can, of course, continue to dodge the implications of your admission that “chance” is ultimately reducible to natural law (if only we had a sufficiently detailed knowledge of all the interacting causes). You can, of course, continue to deny that in fact TE people sometimes speak as if God is actively involved in the evolutionary process (meaning natural laws are broken), and sometimes speak as if he is entirely outside it (which means that the only logical explanation for evolution which is non-atheistic is front-loading). As someone who’s spent a lot of time reading thinkers like Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Bacon, Locke, Hume, Kant, etc., I don’t know how you can give yourself the intellectual luxury of not dealing with the chains of argument I’ve presented. It’s as if you think that, because of the Boethian “insight” you possess, philosophizing about these matters in terms of rigorous logical argument doesn’t matter. But I am afraid it does. Even for a Boethian, God-as-eternal is only part of the story. For a Christian Boethian, God-as-involved-in-matter must be fleshed out with equal philosophical care [what do you think the Incarnation was about?], and, while you’ve fleshed out “God as eternal” beautifully, you shy away from “God-as-involved-in-matter.” From the point of view of many in this conversation, who take a very Biblical point of view, your point of view is more Greek and metaphysical than Christian, because God in the Bible is not represented as the Boethian God, or at least, is represented as something much more than the Boethian God, and his creative activity is understood in concrete ways which you have not addressed.

    This may go back to the general complaint of ID people and YECs that TE is not Biblical enough, i.e., that it tends to “pick and choose” its Biblical contents in accord with a fairly loose and modernized Christian theology. I do have to agree that the TE authors I have read don’t seem deeply pre-occupied by close, detailed, Biblical study as such. The only exception I can think of is Lamoureux.

    In your discussion with the others about the universal perception of design vouched for by Biblical authors, I sense an evasiveness about the passages in question, and a distaste on your part for making Christianity dependent on Biblical exegesis. Am I wrong there?

    Finally, you avoid the important scientific question implied in my last question to you, which is whether or not chance plus natural selection can produce complex structures. You say that most TEs would not agree, which is obvious, but you don’t say whether or not you are on their side, or against them. From the timebound, human perspective, of course, the question whether blind matter could self-organize itself without guidance (either transcendent or immanent, I’m not fussy) is one of ultimate importance, and sharply divides Dawkins from Behe. You are continuing the TE tradition of evading a decision, on the timebound level, between Dawkins and Behe.

    So again I ask: If matter is what Dawkins, Coyne, etc. think it is, can matter of such a kind organize itself into life, complex forms, and man, without either immanent or transcendent guidance? I say, speaking for myself, decidedly not; or, more cautiously, that the neo-Darwinists have provided us with close to zero evidence that it can. Do you agree with me, or with Dawkins?

    And if you agree with Dawkins, I’d be interested in your scientific evidence for this remarkable ability of brainless matter to mimic the powers of a designing intelligence. It’s not demonstrated in any scientific literature that I’m aware of, so why would you or any Christian believe it, or even want to believe it? What is your reason for simply capitulating to Darwinism on the timebound level, without so much as a single critical remark on the scientific side? Where is that healthy skepticism regarding loose causal stories which is the hallmark of all good science, a skepticism which I see in Denton, Behe, Dembski, Berlinski, Flew, Nagel, and others, but not in any TE writer known to me?

    T.

  199. 199
    allanius says:

    Personally, I don’t really have a problem with what Jack has to say in #56. He has addressed the sovereignty problem adequately, in my view, or at least has demonstrated that he understands its importance and takes it seriously. And in fact I heard a TE-leaning scientist speak at the Bar Harbor Congregational church last Sunday and found her to be very persuasive and (more importantly, in my view) a sincere believer.

    It does seem to me, however, that the debate between TE and ID falls into the category of “disputable matters.” In developing his notions of TE with such precision, Jack has done us the invaluable service of showing that TE is susceptible to the same limitation as Aristotle and all who think like him. As soon as God is described as actively bringing creation into being at each contingency, then he is also drawn into creation; he becomes immanent and loses his transcendent qualities—his resistance to the limitations of existence.

    Now Jack is correct when he says that the corresponding limitation in ID is that it can lead to what he calls “deism,” or the clockmaker concept of God, which draws a bright line between creator and creation—at least when ID attempts to dabble in theology. This method of describing God turns him into a purely transcendent being, leading to a rather negative concept of value. To use the philosophers’ jargon, it lacks “substance”—in this case, the descriptive scientific content that TEs generally complain about.

    In my view, these two conceptions of God—pure act and pure resistance—reflect the limited nature of intellect itself. It is interesting to note that the divide Jack has identified between TE and ID is exactly the same divide that was seen between Plato and Aristotle, Augustine and Thomas, Descartes and Kant. Intellect is a qualitative force of resistance; hence all of its concepts of value are divided between the notion that “the good” is pure resistance, pure transcendence, and the concept of goodness or value as some sort of ratio of resistance and existence, or pure action.

    In other words, it is possible that the seeming divide between TE and ID is dictated by the nature of intellect itself and not by a lack of faith or sincerity. It seems intellect cannot conceive of transcendent value—something that is pure—without dividing it between pure action and pure negation. If so, then the differences between TE and ID may be an example of those “disputable matters” about which we are advised not to pass judgment. Sincere believers may hold either view (after all, Thomas and Augustine were both officially designated as saints). A truly catholic church leaves room for both, appealing to a “more excellent way” of obtaining knowledge of God than intellect and its divided pathways.

    From what Jack has said here, and from what I heard last Sunday, the real foe of ID is not TE. No, ID and TE have a common foe—which is the materialism and corresponding nihilism of the modern age.

  200. 200
    Jack Krebs says:

    Hi Charlie. Can you point me back to the post(s) that contain the questions you have for me? This is a long thread, and I’ve lost track.

    Thanks.

  201. 201
    Charlie says:

    Hi Jack,
    I guess the main point I am referring to here isn’t exactly a question.
    My point came out most explicitly at 121:

    his is a good description, to a point, of this difference. Yes, TEs say teh evidence is not there and the IDs say it is. But your contention that “God Designed at times” is off. As Dembski and Behe have clearly iterated innumerable times, ID does not identify “times” in which God designed. The design detected says nothing about temporally locating the act, it just demonstrates the points at which we find the evidence. Both men clearly allow that the design could have been implemented at the very foundation of the universe and that it merely reveals itself, to our sensibilities, techniques and instrumentation, at certain measurable points. This also answers your misinterpretation that there are two modes of God’s creation – one resulting in Design evidence and one not. There is no reason that ID claims need be associated with this ontological dualism just because our epistemology limits the points at which we may draw scientific inferences about design.

    I referred back to it at 136:

    You are continuing this assertion without acknowledging my response to it.
    There is no claim that some things were designed in ways that others were not. It is that some things give evidence of their design in ways amenable to our methods and others do not.
    ID is silent on the how and when of design and only remarks on its detection.

    You responded at 139:
    And Charlie, I was not able to cover all points in my response last night. I consider the point you make in 136 an important point, and will be thinking about it.

    As I said most recently:

    198
    Charlie
    08/29/2008
    You said you were going to give them some thought, and, since you are alluding to the false dichotomy again I think it would be relevant to both Timaeus’ very excellent comment and your answer.

  202. 202
    StephenB says:

    nullasalus:

    I don’t understand how the TEs can logically hold to many of their positions, as I have pointed out on other threads. We can forget about Scripture, because I have already argued that TEs compromise Scripture (notably Romans 1 and Psalm 19) , and no one has offered a credible argument against that proposition.

    So, now Timaeus has asked several questions, none of which have been addressed or even approached.

    Among the many, I offer just one of the TE formlations that seems to makes no sense to me.

    On the one hand, God designed the evolutionary process such that it can and does function (operate) without his help.

    On the other hand, God is involved behind the scenes every step of the way.

    Can you help me out here?

  203. 203
    Jack Krebs says:

    To Timaeus:

    I’d like to make a similar point to you that I made to someone else lately.

    I am doing my best to explain things as I understand them. You had others may disagree with me – many of you do – you may think that my account is faulty or incomplete, you may think I don’t know what I’m talking about, and so on.

    That is OK with me. I’m a public school educator with a degree in anthropology and a long time interest in religion, science and philosophy, but not a professional academician. I engage in conversation because I think civilized dialog is good for both myself and for others, but I’m not out to convince people I’m right (at least not about philosophical matters.)

    With that said, let me highlight some words in your post: “you can simply retreat”, “short-changes,” “dodge the implications”, “continue to deny, “give yourself the intellectual luxury of not dealing with the chains of argument,” It’s as if you think that, because of the Boethian “insight” you possess, philosophizing about these matters in terms of rigorous logical argument doesn’t matter, “shy away from”, and “You are continuing the TE tradition of evading a decision.”

    Although you bring up some good questions, I am reluctant to continue discussion with someone who has such a low opinion of my character. I’m participating on a blog, spending more time than I probably should be spending – I’m not writing a dissertation, and so I’m not going to cover every conceivable issue. Likewise, I have subjects that interest me more than others, and therefore things I’ve thought about more than others. But I don’t appreciate such a string of negative characterizations accusing me of being evasive et al just because I haven’t answered all the questions you have, or because I don’t address all your points or because I just flat out don’t agree with you about the issues and am not interested in continuing to cover unproductive ground.

    to allanius:

    An interesting post, and I agree that the balance between transcendence and immanence is an important issue.

    I do want to say that I don’t think I meant to associate ID withe Deism. I think you may have misread me. What I did say, in some post long ago, is that people commonly misinterpret TE as a deistic position, which it’s not. For the most part, I haven’t been talking about ID, and I don’t think I’ve made any substantial comments about ID from a theological point of view.

    I liked some of the things you wrote about ““disputable matters” about which we are advised not to pass judgment.” I personally feel – this is me speaking as opposed to me trying to describe a coherent view of TE – that our intellect cannot help but divide things into complementary opposites, and thus in matters of philosophy, when we contemplate the oneness of the word, whether it be the Christian God or other religious concepts, we run into paradoxes that our intellect can not resolve. In such cases, it is better to “not pass judgment.” I would rather live with uncertainty than believe things that are not true.

  204. 204
    nullasalus says:

    Davescot,

    I always get the nullasaurus thing – I can never figure out if it’s a joke or an honest mistyping. 🙂 Either way…

    “Suppose the Red Sea parted down the middle allowing a group of people to walk through it. Would science not be able to investigate possible causes for the waters parting? I say that science could indeed investigate the phenomenon. Science might not yield an answer but it can surely make the attempt.”

    Sure, I think science could investigate such a thing – though the conditions it happened under would largely determine how far they could get in investigating it. Still… would science be able to decide whether or not a miracle occurred? I’d say no, regardless of what they found. If there was a natural explanation, it doesn’t mean that this was not an intervention by God – the natural conditions could have been planned in advance, etc. If no natural explanation was found, they could go different ways:

    1) There’s a wholly natural explanation, and we simply do not know it.
    2) An intelligence involved – but all they would require is an intelligence that is foreign to us, and ‘merely’ advanced.

    As for what they’d have to do to arrive at 2 for a conclusion, I don’t know. I don’t criticize the design-identifying concepts of Dembski or Behe because I’m sure I don’t have a proper grasp on them (I don’t criticize their critics either on the science – though their philosophy or how they communicate is fair game.) But even if they could identify an intelligence, it’s that trade upwards to ‘God’ or ‘miracle’ where I think a definite wall is hit.

  205. 205
    Jack Krebs says:

    Hi Charlie.

    Thanks for the reminder of the issue you have raised.

    I think I have not addressed this question because it is more about how a TE would view ID rather than about TE itself, and describing the TE position has been my goal.

    I think the simplest answer I can give is the most TE’s (certainly the ones I know through their writings (Keith Miller et al) and personally) just don’t accept the argument that scientific evidence that some things are designed can be found, or at least has been found by the methods offered by IDists. The arguments are not convincing.

    One of the difficulties for a TE considering this point is that is is usually couched in terms which are anti-TE. I suppose a TE could reframe the arguments so that they were more TE-friendly, but I think the main point is that even though TE’s are in principle open to the idea of there being some special evidence at times for the design of certain things – I am going to repeat myself here – the arguments aren’t convincing.

    And last, this minimalist idea that design can be detected without “temporally locating the act” has to drawbacks:

    1. given such a lack of specificity it’s hard to see what science could do with the idea even if the arguments were accepted, and

    2. a large majority of ID supporters do in fact seem to temporally locate the act when claim that “macroevolution” cannot occur without intelligence, because this locates the act someplace in the time between the occurrence of one species and another which appears to modern science as related by common descent.

    Very few ID advocates are content with the minimalist position you offer.

    But the main point is that the arguments aren’t convincing.

    (Note: I’m offering this as a description of the TE community. I don’t want to start trying to explain why they are not convincing because that is not the topic of his thread, and I need to be extricating myself from the time I’ve spent here. I’m just saying that it is fact that the ID arguments have not convinced the TE community ether scientifically. or for the most philosophically.)

  206. 206
    StephenB says:

    Jack Krebs: I recommend that you make every effort to be as forthcoming as possible. Here is an exchange you had with Charlie:

    —–You write: “And last, this minimalist idea that design can be detected without “temporally locating the act” has to drawbacks:”

    —–1. “given such a lack of specificity it’s hard to see what science could do with the idea even if the arguments were accepted,”
    Your perception of what ID may do in the future has nothing to do with design detection or any ID argument.

    —–2. “a large majority of ID supporters do in fact seem to temporally locate the act when claim that “macroevolution” cannot occur without intelligence, because this locates the act someplace in the time between the occurrence of one species and another which appears to modern science as related by common descent.”

    Your perception about when and where some act occurs has nothing to do with design detection or any ID argument.

    —–“Very few ID advocates are content with the minimalist position you offer.”

    Your perception of ID demographics has nothing to do with design detection or any ID argument.

  207. 207
    Jack Krebs says:

    I recommend that you don’t give me recommendations.

  208. 208
    Charlie says:

    Hi Jack.
    Thanks for having a look at that point.

    I think the simplest answer I can give is the most TE’s (certainly the ones I know through their writings (Keith Miller et al) and personally) just don’t accept the argument that scientific evidence that some things are designed can be found, or at least has been found by the methods offered by IDists.

    Yep, this is what you said previously and I agreed with it.
    Here you present this as a scientific dispute and I agree that this is where the argument should be. There ought to be no theological concern. But you continually return to the theological concern, i.e., TEs don’t think God would design one way for the universe as a whole and another way for IC structures.

    One of the difficulties for a TE considering this point is that is is usually couched in terms which are anti-TE. I suppose a TE could reframe the arguments so that they were more TE-friendly,

    I don’t know what you mean about the arguments being “anti-TE”. I think, at worst, they are in response to the TE concern that ID requires that God change His mode of action indiscriminately when it doesn’t.

    but I think the main point is that even though TE’s are in principle open to the idea of there being some special evidence at times for the design of certain things – I am going to repeat myself here – the arguments aren’t convincing.

    I’m not sure about this. You are now saying that TEs are open to the demonstration of design but just haven’t seen it. That makes the modes of design concern irrelevant and withdraws the theological question.
    This seems to be contradicted by the number of times I’ve heard the phrase “ID is not only bad science but also bad theology”. Admittedly, the great irony is I often hear this from atheists, but often enough it comes from TEs.
    Is it your contention at this point that the concern is not theological, not about God’s mode/s of design but only about evidence?
    I would truly appreciate if this were the case but I think you would be mistaken to claim this as a majority, or even significant, TE concern.

    Very few ID advocates are content with the minimalist position you offer.

    The theory itself is.

    1. given such a lack of specificity it’s hard to see what science could do with the idea even if the arguments were accepted, and

    That question is entirely secondary to whether or not ID is true. The pragmatic value of the determination is another angle argued by the theorists but is unnecessary right now, I think.


    Right now I see StephenB has commented on this and your objection #2, so I will leave off on that point.

    (Note: I’m offering this as a description of the TE community. I don’t want to start trying to explain why they are not convincing because that is not the topic of his thread, and I need to be extricating myself from the time I’ve spent here. I’m just saying that it is fact that the ID arguments have not convinced the TE community ether scientifically. or for the most philosophically.)

    That’s cool, except that you keep presenting the argument against the dualistic modes of creation, either as yours or as the hypothetical TEs’; that argument is answered, at length, by Dembski and Behe.
    If this really is an issue, if this is not just an issue of evidence as you said above, then anyone presenting this philosophical/theological argument should deal with the responses to it.

  209. 209
    Timaeus says:

    To Jack Krebs re 204:

    I don’t have a low opinion of your character. In fact, in my very first reply to you, I praised you for writing with restraint. And at some other points I praised your account for its clarity and superiority to that of some other TE writers. And I’m further impressed to hear that you are a school teacher who’s deeply interested in these questions. We need more teachers like that.

    I think that maybe I could have re-worded two or three of the phrases you object to, but I think that you are over-reading most of them. They were not meant to be insulting, but merely to express my sense that my objections were not being adequately considered. For example, by “dodge the implications”, I was not implying cowardice on your part, but merely indicating that you hadn’t (in my view) met my argument head-on. And so for most of the phrases you object to. But I see that you might consider such language as combative, and I’ll try to be more careful in the future. In the meantime, if you can be forgiving enough to substitute “fail to meet head-on” every time I said “dodge”, or “evade”, or “shy away from”, and to try to read my protests in the most positive possible light, I would be glad to hear your answers to any of the substantive arguments that I gave.

    At the heart of the whole debate, of course, is the estimation of the probability of the Darwinian mechanism as an engine for the generation of viable novelty. ID people are very skeptical of it, whereas TE people seem not to be so. I suspect that TE people have not fully understood what ID people mean when they say that it is not “evolution” they oppose, but “Darwinian evolution”. “Evolution” does not require a Darwinian mechanism. It might have many possible causes, including God. It’s compatible with various versions of design, including scientifically detectable design. And it’s such an open concept, it’s compatible with almost any Christian theology. “Darwinian evolution”, on the other hand, commits one to mechanisms which place great constraints on the kind of Christian theology that are possible. We ID supporters don’t understand why the TE people would put such constraints on themselves or on Christian theology for the sake of having their view seen as compatible with such a weak, implausible and vastly oversold scientific theory as neo-Darwinism. Neo-Darwinism is increasingly under attack in the scientific community, even by those who are neither supporters of ID nor particularly religious. TEs seem determined to tie their Christian theology to an intellectually sinking ship.

    T.

  210. 210
    Charlie says:

    Hi Timaeus,
    I get the feeling you would have little appreciation for back-patting but I wish to compliment your great comments here. I keep thinking “that’s what I would have said … if I could.”

  211. 211
    Timaeus says:

    Charlie:

    I don’t if there’s anyone who’s entirely displeased by compliments, so I thank you. I’ve enjoyed several of your comments lately as well. Also, in fact, I’ve enjoyed several comments by a large number of people on this thread and other recent threads. If I started trying to name all the excellent writers and critics we have here — StephenB, GPuccio, nullasalus, etc. — I would inevitably leave some talented person out, so I won’t try. But I think there’s a very great talent pool here.

    The only thing I worry about is that sometimes we (and I include myself here) slip into a vendetta-like tone against TE. I know that some prominent TE people have done some nasty things to ID people in the past, but I think we have to be more careful. I think that we have to listen to people like Ted Davis, who are trying to tell us that TE is not a monolithic block, and that there are some TEs (perhaps more scholarly ones, less celebrated than the media stars we usually focus on) that are at least willing to listen to us. So I’d caution all of us (including myself, as I offended Jack Krebs unwittingly by writing too rhetorically) to try to stick as far as possible to analyzing TE arguments, and to speculate out loud as little as possible about TE people’s motives. I know it’s hard to separate the two sometimes, especially when we feel certain that there is a political motive of some kind, but feelings of certainty can be misleading, and also, if we can’t argue civilly with moderate-toned and well-informed people people like Ted Davis and Jack Krebs, we will lose credibility in the eyes of the world. We have to show everyone that ID takes the high ground. We must let writers like Michael Behe be our model. We must combine a certain intellectual ferocity with a certain personal gentleness. I know I fail to live up to Behe’s standard regularly, probably because I’m not as good a person as he is, but I do think we should all try to do so.

    That said, I would again like to say, that when the people here do focus on contents rather than motives, they can be very impressive, and I’ve learned a vast amount about the subject of evolution from reading UD. It’s made me a more intelligent person, and I thank all the writers here for contributing to my own education, and for taking the time to read my sometimes mammoth posts.

    T.

  212. 212
    Timaeus says:

    Charlie re 212:

    Sorry for the mangled first sentence. I either meant to say: “I doubt if …” or “I don’t think …” But you probably got my meaning.

    T.

  213. 213
    StephenB says:

    —-Jack: “I recommend that you don’t give me recommendations.”

    It appears that, once again, my lower nature was calling the shots.

  214. 214
    nullasalus says:

    StephenB,

    “So, now Timaeus has asked several questions, none of which have been addressed or even approached.

    Among the many, I offer just one of the TE formlations that seems to makes no sense to me.

    On the one hand, God designed the evolutionary process such that it can and does function (operate) without his help.

    On the other hand, God is involved behind the scenes every step of the way.

    Can you help me out here?”

    I only just saw this.

    I think there are a number of ways it can go, most of them having been covered. The process could be unfolding of its own accord via a pre-planned operation (front loading), it could be largely unfolding according to pre-planned operation with divine acts intervening at given points (‘little miracles’), there could be no laws per se and just an apparent regularity as a result of God’s consistent development of our reality (occassionalism? by Timaeus’ view), and… you know, there are probably some other possible viewpoints, but these are the ones I’ve seen covered. I could imagine someone taking an eternalist/front-loading view whereby God has created a forwards-eternal universe all at once that we just, for whatever reason, are experiencing sequentially. And so on.

    I think all have their advantages, and I could see a TE being able to argue for each in particular, possibly more. And I think in all of them you can argue that, in essence, what you have is a nature that doesn’t or largely doesn’t need God in most senses, despite being in control by and under the observation of Him.

    I honestly believe, or at least strongly suspect, that any of these particular models of creation are why TEs object to ID proponents – the centerpiece strikes me as coming down to something simpler: “Science is unable to rule on any of these models, so it’s moot.” If miracles truly do occur, if the world really was designed in a front-loading manner, or if time unfolds according to an occassionalist model, science is helpless to investigate such situations. Speculation and investigation is still possible, but not in a way that’s rightly called scientific, by what I take to be the TE view.

    I really can see the rationale of the view. The problem is it doesn’t really work out the way it should – there’s a double standard, where if you detect negative design, you’re still doing science. But positive design is forever outside of science’s scope – and if there’s a possibility that design is the only option, then they’ll ascribe it to the efforts of any intelligence but God’s.

    Hence why I’m more or less a TE, but I have strong sympathies for ID: They’re only playing the same game other scientists have played before them. Personally, I would like to see science utterly scrubbed of metaphysical dabbling or conjecture – leave talk of Gods or lack of Gods to philosophers, theologians, New Atheists, etc. But the abuse runs rampant, and the ID excesses are from my perspective well in the minority.

    And on a related note, I’m surprised this hasn’t been covered at UD directly yet: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2......html#more – Notice how Cortunix, by this very article, hardly seems to care about teaching science for the sake of teaching science. It’s a means to an end for him – getting rid of religious, social, and political views he dislikes. Hence a lot of my skepticism when I hear about atheists pleading that they’re hostile to ID because ID is a threat to science.

  215. 215
    Jack Krebs says:

    Hi Charlie.

    Carrying on the conversation …

    You write,

    Here you present this as a scientific dispute and I agree that this is where the argument should be. There ought to be no theological concern. But you continually return to the theological concern, i.e.

    and you also say.

    I don’t know what you mean about the arguments being “anti-TE”.

    I’m returning to theological concerns because that is the topic of this thread. I got myself so involved in this thread because I decided, back at 56, to address the continuing problem of people here inaccurately characterizing TE, dismissing it as incoherent, etc.

    Yogi Berra once said, “In theory, there’s no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is.” It’s nice to say this all ought to be about science, and there ought not be any theological concerns, but despite the “official” minimalist theory about ID detecting design only, my experience has been that in practice arguments from ID advocates have had theological concerns at their core, and that the rejecting TE and its acceptance of evolution has been central to that.

    During the Kansas science standards issue of 2004-07, John Calvert’s main argument was that teaching science as the search for natural solutions was a materialistic and atheistic enterprise, essentially teaching students that they were meaningless, purposeless accidents. When TE’s objected – Keith Miller, for instance, editor of “Perspectives on an Evolving Creation” that has been recommended in this thread – Calvert et al made all the standard arguments about TE’s being confused, too cowardly to stand up to the materialists, etc.

    I was on a TV news show with Calvert once. He said something to me about “my materialistic definition of science.” I asked John if he thought that God knew how a coin flip would turn out, and he said, “I didn’t know we were going to be talking theology.”

    Whoa, John – you just called me a materialist. Just who exactly is bringing theology into this conversation?

    I know this is a point I’ve made before, but now it has come up again. If ID is about science and not theology, then why do we keep hearing all this stuff about teaching evolution being inextricably linked to immorality, nihilism, Nazis and all that other non-scientific stuff?

    Of course part of the answer to that is that indeed there are materialists who have no theological beliefs. But instead of accepting that this is irrelevant scientifically because TEs and many other people with religious beliefs accept evolution (which would be the proper response if ID were really just about science), the ID movement as a whole rejects the views of all these other people and lumps them all together with the materialists. It is the ID movement that has made it a religious issue, and their rejection of TE’s is central to that.

    Next, when I wrote, “… even though TE’s are in principle open to the idea of there being some special evidence at times for the design of certain things – I am going to repeat myself here – the arguments aren’t convincing,” you wrote,

    I’m not sure about this. You are now saying that TEs are open to the demonstration of design but just haven’t seen it. That makes the modes of design concern irrelevant and withdraws the theological question. … Is it your contention at this point that the concern is not theological, not about God’s mode/s of design but only about evidence? I would truly appreciate if this were the case but I think you would be mistaken to claim this as a majority, or even significant, TE concern.

    Probably my Yogi Berra quote applies here also. In theory, TE’s, believing in a omnipotent God as they do, should accept that God could do things that clearly and radically do not manifest themselves in ways that appear as natural causes. In practice, TE’s believe that in respect to the history of life on earth, and the material aspects of biology in general, he hasn’t. TE’s support science and it’s successes in explaining the world through natural causes. TE’s don’t believe that science can address all issues – they understand its limitations.

    TE’s don’t think the ID arguments that design can be detected are convincing – I’ve said that many times. You would think that TE’s would be more likely than non-believers to perhaps become convinced of ID arguments, so it would seem to me that the ID movement ought to pay more attention to their objections rather than castigating them as sellouts to materialism.

  216. 216
    Jack Krebs says:

    And to Timaeus:

    You write,

    At the heart of the whole debate, of course, is the estimation of the probability of the Darwinian mechanism as an engine for the generation of viable novelty.

    ID people are very skeptical of it, whereas TE people seem not to be so. I suspect that TE people have not fully understood what ID people mean when they say that it is not “evolution” they oppose, but “Darwinian evolution”. “Evolution” does not require a Darwinian mechanism. It might have many possible causes, including God. It’s compatible with various versions of design, including scientifically detectable design. And it’s such an open concept, it’s compatible with almost any Christian theology. “Darwinian evolution”, on the other hand, commits one to mechanisms which place great constraints on the kind of Christian theology that are possible.

    We ID supporters don’t understand why the TE people would put such constraints on themselves or on Christian theology for the sake of having their view seen as compatible with such a weak, implausible and vastly oversold scientific theory as neo-Darwinism. Neo-Darwinism is increasingly under attack in the scientific community, even by those who are neither supporters of ID nor particularly religious. TEs seem determined to tie their Christian theology to an intellectually sinking ship.

    The reason is that the TE people don’t see modern evolutionary theory as “weak, implausible and vastly oversold” nor as “an intellectually sinking ship.” They see it as modern science sees it – a powerful and increasingly confirmed theory that unifies the subject of biology. Given that they have no religious reasons to reject it, they are free to consider the theory itself, and to consider the objections made against it. For the vast majority of them the theory looks strong and the objections weak.

    I know you, and most people here, don’t agree with this. That is fine – keep making your objections and offering your arguments for D, and perhaps you will win some people over.

    But keep the science separate from the metaphysics. Modern evolutionary theory is accepted by people of many religious beliefs as well as those with none. As I said in my post to Charlie, it is the ID movement that makes it a theological God vs. no God issue, but it does that only by rejecting the religious beliefs of everyone who isn’t persuaded by ID arguments.

  217. 217
    StephenB says:

    Jack Krebs, let’s get back to reality.

    [A] TEs accept modern evolutionary theory mainly for theological reasons. For the most part, they begin with the presupposition that a competent or a compassionate God would not have designed the world the way it appears to be designed. They confirm that when they visit here; they never discuss the science.

    [B] The TE position is, indeed, incoherent, but that does always become apparent until the discussion begins to focus on its logical implications. So, it is easy to make it look good for a while, but, in the end, certain inconsistencies start revealing themselves. That is when the discussion always ends, and the TE proponent stops answering questions. Inasmuch as you are wearing the TE hat, your sensibilities in that area are on trial. We are at that point right now with you and Timeaus. Just about the time things start to get interesting, you suddenly find fault with his diplomacy and we have not returned to his critical questions since that time.

    [C] Your personal experience with John Calvert and other ostensibly religiously-motivated IDs is not relevant to ID methodology. I have read Calvert, and I detect nothing in his writings that would confirm your accusations. The only thing we have is your account about his motives, and that does not count for evidence. As long as you continue to muddy the waters with motive mongering, we will never get at the substance of this debate. If we are going to talk about personal experiences about motives leaking into science, I could recount my experience with atheist Darwinists, many of whom hide their ideology behind the cover of “agnosticism.”

    [D] I have not raised my own objections to your account of theistic evolution because I didn’t want to distract you from answering Timeaus’ questions. Also, I appreciate the difficulties involved in dealing with several bloggers, which is why I have been making only abbreviated comments. Some long posts are edifying (Timeaus); others can be insufferably redundant.

  218. 218
    StephenB says:

    nullasalus: God either invervenes or he doesn’t. He can’t both intervene (little miracles behind the scene) and not intervene (naturalistic processes operating independently),

  219. 219
    StephenB says:

    218 [B] but that DOESN’T always become apparent…

  220. 220
    jerry says:

    Jack Krebs,

    you said

    “The reason is that the TE people don’t see modern evolutionary theory as “weak, implausible and vastly oversold” nor as “an intellectually sinking ship.” They see it as modern science sees it – a powerful and increasingly confirmed theory that unifies the subject of biology. Given that they have no religious reasons to reject it, they are free to consider the theory itself, and to consider the objections made against it. For the vast majority of them the theory looks strong and the objections weak.

    I know you, and most people here, don’t agree with this. That is fine – keep making your objections and offering your arguments for D, and perhaps you will win some people over.

    But keep the science separate from the metaphysics. ”

    If find this statement ironic. Not once, and we have asked hundreds and thousands of time of anyone who supports the latest version of the modern synthesis, that they provide a defense for it explaining macro evolution. Not one person including you have been forthcoming. I ask you why?

    The modern synthesis explains the trivial and that is all this powerful overwhelmingly and increasingly confirm theory has ever done. It explains micro evolution and nothing more. That is all the confirming information that has ever been presented. You yourself have asked several times and all you can say is that people endorse it. And you have a background in evolutionary biology.

    Don’t you find this particular defense a little absurd? Can’t you find it in you to admit that ID questions macro evolution and that you and others use micro evolution to support your belief in the modern synthesis?

    Jack, your honesty is at stake here. Who is using metaphysics and who is using science. I have found no one that supports the modern synthesis in terms of macro evolution that is using science so it must be them that are using just meta physics.

    Please don’t answer that this is only our opinion. We want facts and no one has ever provided any. Make a fool of us. Either you or friends on the curriculum committee in Kansas, someone at ASA, AAAS, Panda’s Thumb, or anywhere provide some facts. It will be a first!!!!

    Make us look like fools for objecting to such an overwhelmingly supported theory.

  221. 221
    bFast says:

    Jack, I take offence!

    Given that they have no religious reasons to reject it.

    In this statement you again strongly imply that the only sensible reason to be ID is religious. This flies in the face of my personal metaposition, and flies in the face of the position of a number of significant IDers, Behe and Mike Gene to name a few.

    If you look at a recent thread on telicthoughts.com (http://telicthoughts.com/open-thread-3/#comments), you will notice that the vast majority of the IDers there have a very soft religious perspective, not even giving Jesus Christ the title of divinity.

    The “ID is all religious” argument is all wrong! It is OFFENSIVE!

  222. 222
    bFast says:

    And, Jack, this is the heart of the issue. The metamessage of this AAAS video is that the only reason that anyone would reject neo-Darwinism is religion. This is B*** S***! I, like many, have looked at the neo-darwinan scientific case and found it painfully wanting. Others, like Behe, have the commenserate qualifications, have no religious counter-motivation, have looked at the scientific case, and found it wanting!

    I recall an anonymous poster on this site who had recently been granted a Ph.D. in one of the biological sciences, microbiolgy, I think. He reported that when he entered graduate school he was a content athiest, and a content darwinist. Once he had finished his Ph. D. thesis on ATP synthase, he had become an IDer and an agnostic. What part of “some don’t find the darwinian case convincing” do you have trouble with.

    Now, if qualfied people don’t find the darwinian case convincing, why should they not be given an ear! Because you don’t find the ID case convincing? Wonderful you.

  223. 223
    Jack Krebs says:

    Hmmm. Seems like I got everyone upset. I’m going to spend time thinking about whether this is worth continuing.

  224. 224
    Charlie says:

    Hi Jack,
    Not me, you didn’t.

    I haven’t decided if there is anything left there needing response from my end.

    If you decide not to continue, thanks for the exchanges.

  225. 225
    Jack Krebs says:

    Good point, Charlie – my apologies about “everyone.” I think I am going to keep responding for a bit – we’ll see how things go.

  226. 226
    StephenB says:

    —–“Hmmm. Seems like I got everyone upset. I’m going to spend time thinking about whether this is worth continuing.”

    Well, you can always get back to answering Timeaus” questions @193 and @199. Your objective, after all, was to take up the TE mantle and show that it can pass the test of reason. I have already demonstrated that TE is incoherent from a Scriptural perspective.

  227. 227
    Charlie says:

    Thanks Jack,
    For the first half of your comment to me you are responding to my complaint that on one hand you state that the difference boils down only to an empirical question. In other words, TEs are open, in principle you say, to detecting design but do not believe it has been done. You seem to have withdrawn the theological argument that God, in principle, would not have left such evidence but merely that they have not been convinced that He has.
    Here you and I seem to agree that the argument should be about what nature reveals and not an a priori commitment to what one thinks is befitting God.

    In defending the fact that you reintroduce the TE complaint that ID demands two different modes of God’s designing – which it doesn’t – you then say that IDs you’ve interacted with make theological arguments.
    That doesn’t really undo what you’ve already admitted to be the case. If they do so, then they are straying from the scientific argument, which you have said is central.
    You bring up Calvert and his alleged theological concerns and, as an aside, I don’t agree with your assessment. You say that he complained on air that your definition of science was materialistic and you present this as theology. On the surface I will sound like I am attempting a pedantic gnat-spit but try to see beyond my poor writing skills here.
    What you relate from Calvert is not theology but philosophy. His was not a remark about a Biblical exegesis, or a difference between ID and TE in interpreting God’s will, but rather a question about the demarcation of science. This is a metaphysical question – is naturalism true, is science necessarily wed to materialism, etc. – not a theological question.
    It doesn’t impact whatsoever what you said was important, the TE belief that design has not been empirically detected, nor the point you often return to, the “two modes” complaint. Rather, it asks about the questions science can answer and, since science rightly or wrongly is taken to speak authoritatively about reality and knowledge should it artificially ignore a reality that both TE and ID recognize?
    Again, that question does not hinge upon either an ID or TE notion of God.

    If ID is about science and not theology, then why do we keep hearing all this stuff about teaching evolution being inextricably linked to immorality, nihilism, Nazis and all that other non-scientific stuff?

    This confuses two different questions.
    Is ID in all ways only and always about science and not theology – or at least metaphysics? No. But again, you assented that the difference between IDs and TEs is empirical. Whatever other non-scientific stuff wanders into the discussion by implication or misplaced interpretation it is not impacted by the theology of either ID or TE.
    The single point I wanted to make from the beginning stands up – there is no TE theology that demands God’s activities can’t be empirically discerned, whether because of the “two modes” argument or not.

    It is the ID movement that has made it a religious issue, and their rejection of TE’s is central to that.

    Now, I don’t go back like some of you, but is your history accurate here? Who rejected whom? ID has a big tent and, reading old Phillip Johnson articles and exchanges it seems to me that it was TEs who rejected his position. I know Johnson wrote that his notion of God did not demand that TEs be wrong but was questioning whether or not the science made them wrong. I know the rhetoric built immediately, but I wonder if this was a product of the so-called rejection of TE?

    In your comment I will bold a bit:

    Probably my Yogi Berra quote applies here also. In theory, TE’s, believing in a omnipotent God as they do, should accept that God could do things that clearly and radically do not manifest themselves in ways that appear as natural causes. In practice, TE’s believe that in respect to the history of life on earth, and the material aspects of biology in general, he hasn’t. TE’s support science and it’s successes in explaining the world through natural causes. TE’s don’t believe that science can address all issues – they understand its limitations.

    Agreed again. And again, this makes all theological differences between the two irrelevant and, I daresay, demonstrates your admission that a theology that denies the possibility of ID’s position is incoherent. Again, it becomes an empirical question about what has been observed and not one about what is good theology.
    And everyone understands that science can’t address all issues. IDs say whether or not design is manifest in nature is not one of these issues and offers arguments and methodologies to demonstrate why.
    Yes, I know you are saying that these are not convincing to TEs, but that, again becomes and issue of empiricism and/or the philosophy of science.
    That is where the argument should lie and to say “ID is bad theology” is not the answer.

    Last paragraph:

    TE’s don’t think the ID arguments that design can be detected are convincing – I’ve said that many times.

    And we are agreed on this empirical argument.

    You would think that TE’s would be more likely than non-believers to perhaps become convinced of ID arguments,

    You sure would!

    so it would seem to me that the ID movement ought to pay more attention to their objections rather than castigating them as sellouts to materialism.

    Yes, castigation by either side is unproductive. So, here we’ve been paying attention to their arguments. And where they legitimately lie in the science they are no different than any other and are so answered – convincingly or not.
    When the are theological I think we’ve determined they are illegitimate.
    If they are philosophical then they are taking the side of materialism (methodological) and IDs have a right to question and or castigate that commitment (not the people).

    Sorry for being rambling and unable to focus – I know I need an editor. But otherwise, how’s that?

  228. 228
    Charlie says:

    Here’s what I mean about Phillip Johnson, this from 1992.

    I am using ellipsis in the first paragraph not to be deceptive but to clarify what I am talking about re. TE and ID theology.

    As a theist I believe that God exists and that God creates. Although I insist that God has always had the power to intervene directly in nature to create new forms,
    …[clarifying ellipsis clarifying in-principle position, not Johnson’s own belief]
    He chose not to do so and instead employed secondary natural causes like random mutation and natural selection.
    …[same]
    the process was sufficiently gradual to be termed “evolution.” Most importantly, I agree that the truth of these matters should be determined by interpretation of scientific evidence –experiments, fossil studies and the like. Given these presuppositions, what should be my attitude towards the contemporary neo-Darwinist theory of evolution?

    Theologically, this is exactly what we have determined to be the TE’s ideal or rational positoin, is it not?

    I hope I have made it sufficiently clear that nothing in this analysis is meant to be anything but respectful towards Van Till and other scientists who have been trying their best to be faithful both to God and to the integrity of the scientific method. Christians who are scientifically inclined have been faced with an apparently hopeless dilemma: either accept a rigid Biblical literalism or accept a science whose assumptions are fundamentally naturalistic, whether those naturalistic assump-tions are explicit or implicit. What any sensible person wants to do in such a situation is to find a third alternative, and it is in that spirit that Van Till attempts to separate an autonomous realm of science from its association with naturalism.

    The intention is admirable, and Van Till’s critique of naturalism is excellent as far as it goes, but to do the job we need to cut deeper. Much of what passes for empirical knowledge, at least with regard to neo-Darwinist evolutionary biology, is established not by scientific testing but by deduction from naturalistic philosophy. When a Darwinist insists that “science knows” that natural selection can craft complex organs that look as if they were the products of intelligent design, he is saying that differential survival is naturalistic philosophy’s most plausible substitute for that unacceptable intelligent designer. And when George Gaylord Simpson spelled out the conclusion that man is the result of a purposeless and natural process that did not have him in mind, he was not saying anything that was not already implicit in his description of the power of natural selection.

    http://www.arn.org/docs/johnson/pjcht.htm

    Of late Johnson seems, in my opinion, to have found himself under the bus and I can’t figure out why for the life of me.

  229. 229
    nullasalus says:

    StephenB,

    “God either invervenes or he doesn’t. He can’t both intervene (little miracles behind the scene) and not intervene (naturalistic processes operating independently),”

    Right. But as I said, I think the central issue for the TE is, even if you do believe God does intervene (through whatever model), can this intervention be scientifically demonstrated? And I think the TE does have a very reasonable point in saying, no. It can be real, it can be discernible, but the identification is not the stuff of science.

    I think a TE can believe in any of those models listed, yet still stop short of saying this can be demonstrated by science. My primary concern with TEs is that they ignore the mirror of ID – I wish Victor Stenger’s book (Which I believe is outright subtitled ‘How Science Proves there is No God’) was savaged half as much as ID books tend to be.

    Back to that hypocrisy. If the claim is that science points at no designer (Note that this is very different from ‘science can’t discern a designer’), somehow that’s either science, or not an abuse large enough to worry about. If the claim is that science points at a designer, then not only is this an abuse, but it can never be a scientific claim – it’s ruled out from the outset.

  230. 230
    nullasalus says:

    I should amend, I don’t think this is necessarily true of all TEs – and I’ve seen plenty of TEs who do good work in justifying belief in God, or miracles, etc. I enjoyed Ken Miller’s exchange with Hitchens over at the Templeton Foundation’s website.

  231. 231
    jstanley01 says:

    Pardon the late intrusion of a habitual UCD lurker. (But to borrow from the late Pres. Nixon: “I am Not a Troll,” 🙂 but rather, a Christian believer [OEC] interested in staying abreast of the discussions taking place on the cutting edge of “The Wedge.”)

    I have long seen TE (even before reading Phillip Johnson in the early 90s) as a syncretistic compromise made by Christians, who developed its theological rationalizations concurrently with and in reaction to the rise since 1859 of Darwinism to its perch as the dominant paradigm of science, academia, and much else besides. Rationalizations developed as a survival mechanism, as it were, for their faith. And nothing in this thread, which I have read closely, has changed my mind.

    With ID’s design challenge, on scientific grounds, threatening to teeter DE from its perch, TE appears likewise set up for a fall. Unless TEs, right along side the Darwinists, answer that design challenge, posited so well by Timaeus @ 160 (echoing Dembski re SETI):

    You would agree that the stone sculpture on Mt. Rushmore is designed, no? You would agree with this even if you didn’t know the history of its construction, wouldn’t you?

    Now, shift the scene to Mars. We travel to Mars, and on one of the mountains there, we find what looks like a sculpture similar to that on Mt. Rushmore, but showing whole bodies instead of heads. The figures in the sculpture are not exactly human – they have webbed hands, and little antennae on top of the heads, but they have obvious eyes, nostrils, mouths, and four limbs, with an upright posture. Their outlines are clear and precise, not vague.

    Would you agree that the design inference here is a practical certainty? I.e., would you agree that wind, sun and water did not accidentally carve out these figures over three billion years? Would you agree that we can “know” that this is a stone sculpture carved by intelligent beings? And that we can know this even if we know nothing about those intelligent beings (who may not be the beings pictured in the sculpture, but beings of another race altogether)? And that we can know this even if we can find no other trace of the existence of any previous civilization on Mars, and therefore have no other proof that anything ever lived there?

    Now, presuming that you agree, is this “knowledge” of design scientific knowledge? If not, of what kind of knowledge is it?

    Now take something like the avian lung, or the human circulatory system, either of which is orders of magnitude more complex than a simple carving of four aliens on a mountain of Mars. Can we know (without the aid of revelation or a system of philosophy) that this is the product of design? If not, why not? And if so, is our knowledge scientific knowledge, or some other kind of knowledge?

    And if the inference is scientific in the case of alien carvings, but not in the biological cases, what makes the inference scientific in the one case, but unscientific in the other? Why do you suggest that we are importing religion or metaphysics or philosophy in the case of the biological examples, but not equally in the Martian carving example? Why aren’t both inferences simply examples of deductive reason based on facts established by science, and therefore scientific inferences?

    Someone please. DE, TE. They’re simple as pie. Answer the questions.

  232. 232
    Charlie says:

    Something has been on my mind and jstanley’s comment reminds me again of it.
    It appears to me that one of the motivations (the primary one?) of TE has been to avoid a GoG argument and to avoid being on the wrong side of science as it discovers truth.
    There is a hangover from Galileo, not completely undeserved I’ll add, where Christians are leery of opposing Science and want to make their belief impervious to scientific challenges.
    But, ironically, the TEs are putting themselves, and their beliefs, in the position of sinking with the Darwinian ship insofar as they make the theological errors discussed above.
    With regards to geocentrism, the perception is that the Church was fighting over a fact of nature that violated the Bible, when, in fact, they had erroneously interpreted the Bible in terms of the current science. When that science was challenged they found themselves inappropriately strapped to it (do note that I am simplifying the case and ignoring many nuances which mitigate in favour of the Church – nobody advocated for interpreting the Bible against proven facts of nature).

    This explains to me the severe resistance of many TEs to ID. Having nobly started out trying to accept cutting edge science and showing how it did not affect their religion some have carelessly fashioned their theology upon the truth of that scientific case.
    Guys like Miller, for instance, seem to hang their professional lives as well as their beliefs upon the truth of Darwinism. For that reason, they may have even more metaphysical reason to protect Darwinism than would an atheist who has much less to lose.

  233. 233
    Jack Krebs says:

    Ok guys – this is it. I leave early tomorrow morning for the rest of the Labor Day weekend, and I need to reclaim some of the time I’ve been spending on this. I am glad I’ve spent the time I have, but this could go on for a long time, and I’ve been neglecting things in the rest of my life.

    bfast at 222, replying to my statement that begins, “Given that they [TE’s] have no religious reasons to reject it…”, writes

    In this statement you again strongly imply that the only sensible reason to be ID is religious.

    I don’t think that this is at all what I’ve said. I’ve said that many people, TE’s and people of both other religious positions and no religious beliefs, do not find convincing either the objections to modern evolutionary theory nor the ID arguments that design is scientifically detectable. Clearly there are ID advocates who do think the scientific objections against evolution and for design detection are convincing. I have stated both these things clearly, I think.

    Now I have also said that religious arguments run throughout the ID movement – I won’t repeat those here – but saying this is not the same as saying the “only sensible reason to be ID is religious.”

    bfast also writes,

    What part of “some don’t find the darwinian case convincing” do you have trouble with. Now, if qualfied people don’t find the darwinian case convincing, why should they not be given an ear! Because you don’t find the ID case convincing? Wonderful you.

    I am pretty sure that no place in this thread have I said, or implied, that my personal view on the validity of the ID case, or on TE for that matter, was relevant to this discussion. I have been careful (although maybe not perfectly so) to make it clear that I have been describing the position of TE’s in general, and to describe the state of the worldwide community of evolutionary biologists. It is a true fact, as I said in my last post, that the large majority of evolutionary biologists, religious or otherwise, find the anti-evolution and ID arguments weak and the case for modern evolutionary theory strong.

    You ask, “why should they not be given an ear!” Giving people an ear and agreeing with them are two different things. Also, how one presents one case, and the surrounding context of the presentation, affects how other people hear your message irrespective of the validity of your points. In fact one of the things that I have been trying to point out to you guys is that if you look at the overall affect of the ID movements activities over the last decade, in Kansas and elsewhere, the message to scientists and the public in general is that the ID movement is primarily religious and political. Irrespective of what you think the scientific message is that you’d like people to hear, that message is drowned out by what you might consider noise (YEC, anti-TEism, association of science with Nazism, etc) but what is heard by many as the main message.

    Stephen write,

    TEs accept modern evolutionary theory mainly for theological reasons. For the most part, they begin with the presupposition that a competent or a compassionate God would not have designed the world the way it appears to be designed.

    This has not been my position. I think I have been clear that TE’s believe in a God who, being, omnipotent, could manifest himself in any way he wanted to. What TE’s do think – and I’m repeating myself, I know, but the same points keep coming up, that there is no reason to not accept that God’s activity in the material world will be manifested through natural causes, and that the ID ID arguments that this is not the case are not convincing. Neither of these is a statement that TE’s start with a presupposition about how God had to have acted.

    Now, other issues.

    jerry writes, again, as he has often,

    Not once, and we have asked hundreds and thousands of time of anyone who supports the latest version of the modern synthesis, that they provide a defense for it explaining macro evolution. Not one person including you have been forthcoming. I ask you why?

    I have found no one that supports the modern synthesis in terms of macro evolution that is using science so it must be them that are using just meta physics.

    We need to lay this question to rest. The reasons that modern evolutionary science is almost universally accepted are vast, contained in 150 years of scientific research. There is no way that I or anyone else could lay it all out to someone on an internet discussion forum even if that person were open to learning.

    For you to say that “I have found no one that supports the modern synthesis in terms of macro evolution that is using science so it must be them that are using just metaphysics” is not very meaningful, because all you have to do is walk into any biology department in the world (with a few exceptions) and you will find the vast majority of scientists there who support evolutionary science, including that species have evolved over time.

    Science is a consensus-making activity. At bottom, science relies on evidence, but it builds up a consensual view. I accept this consensual view. I accept that the scientific community has developed the best understanding we can have at the moment of how the physical world works. You can dismiss this as an appeal to authority if you want to, but it’s the reasonable approach for someone like me.

    Stephen writes,

    Your personal experience with John Calvert and other ostensibly religiously-motivated IDs is not relevant to ID methodology. I have read Calvert, and I detect nothing in his writings that would confirm your accusations. The only thing we have is your account about his motives, and that does not count for evidence.

    I’m not talking about motives – I’m talking about things that Calvert wrote as part of official documents that were submitted to the Kansas State Department of Education in support of the ID Minority’s revisions to the state standards. For instance, at he writes that describing science as seeking natural solutions will teach students that

    “they, and all other human beings, are merely natural occurrences, accidents of nature that lack intrinsic purpose,” [that] “this can be reasonably expected to lead one to believe in the naturalistic philosophy that life and its diversity is the result of an unguided, purposeless natural process” [and that this is ] “an indoctrination in Naturalism, the, the fundamental tenet of non-theistic religions and belief systems like Secular Humanism, atheism, agnosticism and scientism.”

    http://www.kansasscience2005.c.....20Stds.pdf

    When confronted by TE’s about how wrong this is (for they accept science and do not believe the above,) in a paper filed to the state after the science hearings, Calvert wrote,

    The claim that: Many scientists who are theists believe in evolution, therefore evolution has no conflict with religion, is not logically coherent because there are many reasons why scientists who are theists do not publicly deny or take issue with evolution. Based on the testimony at the hearings and numerous conversations I have had with scientists and biology teachers over the past six years I know that many theistic scientists who fall into this category do so: (a) because their religious beliefs are held for reasons completely unrelated to science; (b) because they have been misinformed about the adequacy of the evidence that supports evolution, (c) because their reputation, job performance and job security depends on their allegiance to the theory, (d) because they work in operational or applied science where evolution is generally irrelevant and there is no reason to question it, and (e) because they can easily avoid social and political controversy by thinking of evolution as a “tool” used by God to do his work without truly understanding the nature of the evolutionary mechanism and its logical conflicts with their theistic beliefs. Of all these reasons, concern about reputation and job security is probably the most significant reason for not voicing any doubts about Darwin. Indeed a theist can actually win friends and influence people in high places by simply toeing the line.

    http://www.kansasscience2005.c.....sponse.pdf

    This is not about motives. This is exactly what I have been talking about: arguments that science is atheistic because it seeks natural explanations only, and that a dismissal of the contradictory evidence that many religious people accept science as such. This were official arguments made in support of changes to the science standards, and they are religious arguments.

    Stephen also writes,

    The TE position is, indeed, incoherent, but that does always become apparent until the discussion begins to focus on its logical implications. So, it is easy to make it look good for a while, but, in the end, certain inconsistencies start revealing themselves. That is when the discussion always ends, and the TE proponent stops answering questions. Inasmuch as you are wearing the TE hat, your sensibilities in that area are on trial. We are at that point right now with you and Timeaus. Just about the time things start to get interesting, you suddenly find fault with his diplomacy and we have not returned to his critical questions since that time.

    The issue we have been discussing have been being debated by theologians for centuries, and there are necessarily many issues that will never be settled. In That doesn’t mean that my position is incoherent – there are things that you think you have settled in your favor that I disagree about. As I said earlier, I think you and I just have to stand in disagreement.

    Charlie writes,

    Who rejected whom? ID has a big tent and, reading old Phillip Johnson articles and exchanges it seems to me that it was TEs who rejected his position.

    It was hearing Johnson say in 2000 at KU here in Lawrence, Kansas that TE’s “are worse than atheists because they hide their naturalism behind a veneer of religion” that got me and many of my friends upset enough to get more involved in resisting the ID activities here in Kansas. Maybe there is a history before this I don’t know, but that remark threw down the gauntlet, so to speak.

    That’s it. We’ll just have to leave some stones unturned. I imagine some of you will say, as one of you already has, “well, when things got rough he just went away” That would be pretty ungenerous, I think, given the amount of time I’ve spent sticking with this discussion. Of course we haven’t resolved every issue, or even fully explored every one, but I hope the experience has been valuable, to varying degrees, to the participants and the readers.

    Bye all.

  234. 234
    Charlie says:

    Hi/bye Jack,
    I can understand your reaction to such a statement absent the entire context.
    But even without looking for it its a sure bet there’s a lot of history that preceded this 2000 statement.

  235. 235
    Paul Giem says:

    Jack Krebs,

    First of all, you are right. You intended (56) to be an exposition of theism, as you noted in (120), rather than a defense, as I said in (83). However, it serves as a philosophical defense as well.

    I’d like to take a slightly different approach than those above. I don’t think that science can be quite as neatly separated from theology as we would sometimes like. One’s theology tends to adjust to one’s science, so that positions which originally seemed forced by the weight of scientific evidence tend with time to become theologically comfortable. Conversely, when data fits one’s theological position, it tends to be more readily accepted, whereas data that challenges one’s theological position tends to have its validity and/or interpretation severely challenged. This is a human phenomenon; it happens to materialistic atheists and YEC’s alike, and everyone in between and to the side. May I take it that you agree with this principle?

    Assuming this to be the case, it would be helpful to see how much common ground we have. Would you agree with Francis Collins that there is reasonably objective evidence for God in the universe? (I would.) Would you agree with Collins that the existence of the moral law, as exposited by C.S. Lewis, is part of that evidence? (I would.) Would you agree with Collins that the anthropic coincidences and/or the failure of physics to explain the Big Bang itself, and the existence of a singularity, is part of that evidence? (I would.) Keeping in mind that TE’s are no more monolithic that any other group, roughly what percentage of your TE colleagues would agree with your opinion?

    I hope that we have outlined some areas of agreement above. Now I would like to introduce (in one case reintroduce) other questions that might help clarify the issues somewhat. (I promise not to call you stupid, ignorant, insane, or even wicked for your answers.)

    Does your theology encourage the belief that God’s activity can be detected at all? Does it discourage it? Is it neutral? What about the Big Bang? What about the Privileged Planet hypothesis? What about the origin of life? (Notice that none of these examples are strictly speaking about evolution.)

    IN (83) I wrote,

    You mention the minor auto accident that prevents someone from getting on an airplane that crashes. If this happened only one time, then you are right. It is impossible to tell whether this was really planned or not. But suppose that multiple people missed flights that crashed. If one were to investigate variables such as their religious persuasion, their spirituality, their and their friends’ and acquaintances’ prayers, or some other factors or combinations thereof, would you be able to find the null hypothesis violated in terms of who got killed and who did not?

    In other words, do you believe that God’s activity can be (fallibly) detected in history? How about the resurrection of Jesus?

    Now I will grant you that none of these can be proved. Super-intelligent aliens might have created life, or raised Jesus, or done any of the other things that might qualify as miracles. There will always be room for faith. But the question is, is faith a blind leap in the dark, or a leap based on suggestive but not conclusive evidence?

    If you agree with some (for possible example, the resurrection) and disagree that others are theologically permissible (for possible example, the privileged planet), could you explain why one is reasonably ruled out theologically and the other is not? Or is your reasoning purely empirical?

  236. 236
    Timaeus says:

    Charlie:

    Thanks for the link to the Phillip Johnson essay in 229. I read the whole thing. A very nice piece, clear and logical, and written in gentlemanly language. If that is typical of the way Johnson writes and debates, I don’t understand why anyone would find him unreasonable or stridently partisan.

    Thanks also for an excellent discussion in 228. You have made several of the points I have been trying to make, and you’ve made them quite well. Perhaps Mr. Krebs will find your way of expressing them more to his taste, and will answer them.

    My position regarding design detection, in case Mr. Krebs misunderstands it, is this:

    ID, according to William Dembski, investigates the POSSIBILITY that design in nature may be detectable. It does not declare, as a philosophical or theological axiom, that design in nature MUST be detectable.

    Individual ID writers then go on to offer certain arguments, regarding flagella, malaria, complex systems like the avian lung, etc., in an attempt to show that the design of these systems can be inferred from the scientific data. But in no case do they say that these arguments MUST be accepted, as some kind of religious duty. They offer the arguments, and listen to rebuttals, and sometimes offer rejoinders. They regard the arguments as scientific, not theological, and therefore as vulnerable to falsification.

    Finally, even where “design” is inferred, ID does not go on to infer either the existence of, or nature of, God. Of course, it’s true that most ID proponents believe in God, believe that God is the designer, and believe other things about God. But some do not. And even those who infer that the designer is God may well infer the God of Judaism (Klinghoffer), Islam (the Turkish ID crowd), or Deism (Antony Flew). Theology comes in after the scientific work is done, not before or during it. And from the ID point of view, theology is an optional extra, not required by ID as such.

    Mr. Krebs, and many other TE proponents, appear to believe that ID asserts that God’s design MUST be detectable scientifically. ID does not assert this. ID does not even assert that there is a God. ID asserts that it is a reasonable thing for a scientist to do to inquire about a causal role for intelligent design. That’s it.

    Thus, ID does NOT theologize about whether God would or would not have employed a design that was scientifically detectable. As far as I understand it, only TEs do that. And I’m not sure all TEs do that, but enough TEs have done that (referring to ID as “bad theology” for considering design detection, for example) that it makes ID people worry. From the ID point of view, it seems as if TE people are claiming to know what God is like and what he would do, and are sure that they can know that he would never employ detectable designs.

    I propose a deal between ID and TE: if all TEs will sign a statement saying that design in nature, specifically biological nature, MAY be scientifically detectable, and that therefore, at least regarding the question of design detection, ID is not in principle either scientifically or theologically offensive, all ID people will sign a statement denying that design in biological nature MUST be detectable, and therefore acknowledging, at least regarding the question of design detection, that the TE position is not scientifically or theologically offensive to them. Such an agreement would remove the debate over detectability from the theological plane, and transfer it to the scientific plane, where no one’s theology is privileged over anyone else’s.

    If we could reach this accord, then one source of the bitterness and infighting would be removed. We could could then go on to explore other areas of disagreement, and maybe (hopefully), even some areas where we agree against the atheistic brand of Darwinism.

    Of course, for such an agreement to mean anything, it would have to show itself in practice. So, if Behe comes out with a new book arguing for design, and the atheists all try to annihilate the arguments on principle, without even listening to them, we ID people would expect the TE critics to do two things differently: (1) consider the arguments on their merit, discussing in detail the mathematics, chemistry, biology and logic of them; (2) eschew all theologizing (e.g. all complaints about how they don’t like the implications for the problem of evil, etc.), and simply render a verdict on whether or not Behe has made a good scientific case for the causal role of intelligent design.

    How about it, TEs?

    T.

  237. 237
    Paul Giem says:

    Jack Krebs,

    Sorry. The above post (236) was started before I saw that you were leaving. If you don’t have time to answer, I understand; my answers are often delayed for the same reason, and I will have to finish for today, and probably the next few days for the same reason. But if and when you come back, we (well, at least Charlie and I, and I suspect several others) will welcome you. You have been a gentleman.

  238. 238
    nullasalus says:

    Timaeus,

    My viewpoints are known well in advance, likely – but I’d be happy to sign off on such an agreement. I suspect, and this could be some overt optimism on my part, that you could even find some non-religion-concerned scientists who could agree to such a proposal.

  239. 239
    StephenB says:

    On Jack Krebs visit: I am sorry that I cannot join in this love fest, but what I witnessed here in the last few days was anything but a dialogue.

    [A] First, let’s note that Jack’s original mission was to defend against the charge that TE is an incoherent world view.

    —–I demonstrated very clearly that TE violates its own Christian teaching that God’s design is manifest in nature. I provided plenty of examples of this clear, unmistakable teaching. I further explained why this is important: Christianity relies on rational motives for credibility, (without design, faiths rational foundations are seriously compromised) and Christianity depends on the unity of truth, (God’s revelation in scripture cannot be at variance with God’s revelation in nature).
    When a Christian denies evidence of God’s handiwork, as the typical TE does, he denies the rationality of his own religion. In fact, most TEs do deny this central teaching. For a while, Jack challenged the point, but when it became clear that he had no case, he simply dropped that matter.

    —–Timeaus raised several logical problems with the TE account of God’s relationship with nature. Again, Jack resisted for a while, but when it became clear that he had no case, he dropped the matter again, blaming Timeaus’ diplomatic sensibilities.

    [B] I pointed out that TEs accept modern evolutionary theory mainly for theological reasons. That means that their theological presuppositions drive their scientific perspective.

    —–Jack writes, “I don’t think that this is at all what I’ve said.”

    Of course it isn’t what he said. It is the point that he needs to contend with.

    ——He continues: I’ve said that many people, TE’s and people of both other religious positions and no religious beliefs, DO NOT FIND CONVINCING either the objections to modern evolutionary theory nor the ID arguments that design is scientifically detectable.”

    Totally irrelevant and redundant: We already know that TEs don’t find the objections convincing. He needs to confront my point: The REASON TEs don’t find ID objections convincing is because they have made a prior commitment to an anti-ID theological paradigm.

    [C] Having bypassed the debate on TE incoherence, Jack refuses to make the case for naturalistic science, which is, of course, no small matter. If TEs think that Darwinism is credible, shouldn’t they be able so say why
    _
    —-So, Jerry writes: “Not once, and we have asked hundreds and thousands of time of anyone who supports the latest version of the modern synthesis, that they provide a defense for it explaining macro evolution. Not one person including you have been forthcoming. I ask you why?”

    —–Jack responds: “Science is a consensus-making activity. At bottom, science relies on evidence, but it builds up a consensual view. I accept this consensual view. I accept that the scientific community has developed the best understanding we can have at the moment of how the physical world works. You can dismiss this as an appeal to authority if you want to, but it’s the reasonable approach for someone like me.

    Clear enough. Jack has no case.

    [D] Naturally, this discussion ends up where is always does, with Jack claiming that “religious arguments run throughout the ID movement. “ You know the drill—ID is religion, not science.

    So, Jack searches to find someone who embodies this caricature of a religion soaked fundamentalist who just can wait to inject religion into the science classroom. Since, no prominent ID supporters want anything like that, Jack needs to make up one, and tries to lay that charge on a man named John Calvert. Now just for the record, Calvert is well-informed IDer who is obviously aware of the difference between creationism and intelligent design, so there is no chance that he would publicly argue on behalf of a faith-based science.

    So, I make the obvious point: “Your personal experience with John Calvert and other ostensibly religiously-motivated IDs is not relevant to ID methodology.” I have read Calvert, and I detect nothing in his writings that would confirm your accusations. The only thing we have is your account about his motives, and that does not count for evidence.”

    So, Jack writes:

    ——-“I’m not talking about motives – I’m talking about things that Calvert wrote as part of official documents that were submitted to the Kansas State Department of Education in support of the ID Minority’s revisions to the state standards.”

    No Jack, you are talking about motives, because you are tying to prove that John Calvert has religious motives for contending against your attempts to establish a scientific tyranny.

    Searching to find something incriminating in Calvert’s writings, Jack finally comes up with this:

    ….. “they, and all other human beings, are merely natural occurrences, accidents of nature that lack intrinsic purpose,” [that] “this can be reasonably expected to lead one to believe in the naturalistic philosophy that life and its diversity is the result of an unguided, purposeless natural process” [and that this is ] “an indoctrination in Naturalism, the, the fundamental tenet of non-theistic religions and belief systems like Secular Humanism, atheism, agnosticism and scientism.”

    Well, sure, that’s exactly right. Jack’s science standards are exactly what Calvert says they are, “an indoctrination in Naturalism.” No big secret there. And yes, the purpose is to steep children into Secular Humanism, atheism, agnosticism, and scientism. Exactly right. John Calvert is not promoting his religious views, he is insisting that Jack Krebs should not be imposing and institutionalizing his religion, which is Darwinism. So, Jack has it backwards.

    —–more by Calvert: “Based on the testimony at the hearings and numerous conversations I have had with scientists and biology teachers over the past six years I know that many theistic scientists who fall into this category do so: (a) because their religious beliefs are held for reasons completely unrelated to science; (b) because they have been misinformed about the adequacy of the evidence that supports evolution, (c) because their reputation, job performance and job security depends on their allegiance to the theory, (d) because they work in operational or applied science where evolution is generally irrelevant and there is no reason to question it, and (e) because they can easily avoid social and political controversy by thinking of evolution as a “tool” used by God to do his work without truly understanding the nature of the evolutionary mechanism and its logical conflicts with their theistic beliefs. Of all these reasons, concern about reputation and job security is probably the most significant reason for not voicing any doubts about Darwin. Indeed a theist can actually win friends and influence people in high places by simply toeing the line.”

    All these statements are absolutely true and they remind us of the points made in the movie “Expelled.” This is not evidence of a man trying to impose Christian theology on science standards, it is a man drawing attention to the fact that theistic evolutionists had better go along with the Darwinist program if they know what’s good for them. A point we all know all to well.

    Remember, Jack thinks he is making an indictment here. Believe it or not, this is his strongest argument that ID is religiously based. This is sad, it really is. Jack actually believes that he is exposing Calvert’s ideology, when Calvert is only trying to defend everyone else against Jack’s ideology.

  240. 240
    jstanley01 says:

    Charlie:

    Of late Johnson seems, in my opinion, to have found himself under the bus and I can’t figure out why for the life of me.

    I’ve had that feeling myself. Methinks “The Wedge” thing may have alienated the less theologically inclined within the ID movement. And some may blame “Wedge” tactics for the Kansas and Dover debacles.

    (Me, I like giving “Wedgies.” 😉 Hate gettin’ ’em, though. 🙁 )

    Paul Giem:

    In other words, do you believe that God’s activity can be (fallibly) detected in history? How about the resurrection of Jesus?

    Thank you for bringing up the theological elephant in the room.

    Timaeus:
    Hard to believe you haven’t read Johnson before.

    Although Darwin on Trial and Reason in the Balance may be long in the tooth regarding specifics on the ID side, they’re still classics. Well worth reading, if for nothing else than to observe Johnson’s patient and well-reasoned fights, on battlegrounds across entire spectrums of culture, against the tactics of the “ID Deniers.” [Note: goose=gander. :)]

    Invaluable I’d say, in that those tactics have barely changed a whit in the ensuing 15 or 18 years. Witness, in this thread, the dancing around to avoid the central questions. Which when the music stops, ends up in a self-admitted appeal to authority.

    If you can’t dazzle them with fancy footwork, baffle them with blustering bullsh*t

    [yawn]

    StephenB

    For whatever it’s worth, from my reading, you’re spot on.

  241. 241
    jerry says:

    This is not for Jack but for those who lurk here and wonder why we say the things we do. Jack Krebs has been closely involved in the writing of the Kansas science curriculum standards and has a background in evolutionary biology. I asked him to provide evidence for the natural origin of species that exhibit macro evolution changes.

    Jack wrote

    We need to lay this question to rest.

    translation: I do not know an answer nor can I direct you to any place on the planet where you could find an answer.

    Jack wrote: The reasons that modern evolutionary science is almost universally accepted are vast, contained in 150 years of scientific research. There is no way that I or anyone else could lay it all out to someone on an internet discussion forum even if that person were open to learning.

    translation:: the reasons are so vast that I cannot think of one thing to help you nor is there anything I could summarize that would do it. I also cannot even point you to a textbook to help you since no textbook has the answers either. But believe me the evidence is overwhelming.

    Jack wrote: For you to say that “I have found no one that supports the modern synthesis in terms of macro evolution that is using science so it must be them that are using just metaphysics” is not very meaningful, because all you have to do is walk into any biology department in the world (with a few exceptions) and you will find the vast majority of scientists there who support evolutionary science, including that species have evolved over time.

    translation: There isn’t a biology department in the country that can answer your question either and there isn’t even one member of all these departments who can answer your question. Despite this they still believe it works even without any evidence. They do science just not on this question.

    Jack wrote: Science is a consensus-making activity. At bottom, science relies on evidence, but it builds up a consensual view. I accept this consensual view. I accept that the scientific community has developed the best understanding we can have at the moment of how the physical world works.

    translation: This unanimity of belief without any support just blows me away. In other words the accepted view must be a political decision because they do not have any evidence. And I with a background in evolutionary biology cannot provide any either so I accept this political decision.

    Jack wrote: You can dismiss this as an appeal to authority if you want to, but it’s the reasonable approach for someone like me.

    translation: Even though I help write science standards, I do not know enough about evolutionary biology even though I studied it, to make a decision on my own about its content. So I will let the political decision stand.

    There are textbooks on evolutionary biology which Jack could have referred to but he did not and instead resorted to an argument from authority. Is there any other science issue that would generate such an answer by a knowledgeable person in its field. I assume Jack is knowledgeable since he has a background in the material.

    So for Jack I will lay this question to rest with him as he requests. There is no reason to ask him again since he has admitted that even with his background in the area he hasn’t a clue on how to answer it. That does not mean I will not use the fact that Jack is unable to answer it in future posts where it is relevant. I just won’t ask Jack to answer the question again. So if Jack at any time in the future claims that there is information to support a natural mechanism for macro evolution, I will direct the readers to his past replies of not knowing any information.

    Jack joins the long list of those with backgrounds in the area of biology and evolutionary biology that are unable to answer the question. He is not alone.

    Are there any TE’s out there that would like to help Jack? We really would like an answer.

  242. 242
    Charlie says:

    Here’s a back and forth between Johnson and TE Van Till
    http://www.outersystem.us/crea.....hnson.html

    Here’s Johnson’s article which drew that Van Till response:
    http://www.arn.org/docs/johnson/cre_bw98.htm

    While I’m at it, here’s Johnson’s review of TE Del Ratzsch’s book The Battle of the Beginnings.

  243. 243
  244. 244
    Ted Davis says:

    I thank and admire Jack for doing what he could to make himself heard. Quite a few were willing to hear him, at least, though some seem not to hear a word.

    Like Jack (as I’ve said before), I do not have the time to take on nearly everyone else properly, but I must point out two things.

    jerry (185) wrote: “If you can get David Opderbeck back here, I believe it would lead to some fruitful discussions.”

    Agreed, Jerry. It’d be great to have David back–and several others who’ve asked interesting questions and were more than willing to engage people. David was very interested in ID, when he came to UD, but–to speak frankly and clearly–he got thrown off unceremoniously and without cause, IMO; the same recently happened to another person who was defending evolution. David is a respected law professor who understands civility and good argumentative procedures. He is a friend you wanted to make, but whether that is still possible I don’t know…

    If you folks want more conversations of the kind that have sometimes happened on a few of these threads, you’re going to have to stop “expelling” people who ask good questions and who do not accept the categorizations of their views that are made by some here. ID folks resent it when others miscategorize their own views, and with good reason. That works both ways.

    Why not take some of this conversation to the ASA list? Anyone can join (many are not ASA members), and though we have “expelled” a few people it’s hardly a common event. If you need some anonymity, just set up a hotmail account and pick a name. “Mike Gene,” whom many here will recognize, is a regular, and none of us has a clue what his real name is.

    The ASA regulars could use a little more diversity of topics and perspectives, but so could you. There are some real scientists there (I’m only an historian and MR Krebs a high school teacher) who can actually answer some of your questions, jerry; and, there are a lot more people over there interested in and knowledgeable about theology. Few here seem to be.

    As for Mr Calvert’s views on the alleged dangers of teaching that science deals only with “natural” causes, I really do wonder whether he looses sleep over all that “atheism” going on at NASA and NOAA and the NIH. Perhaps he ought to, but if his views represent ID, then I understand why Mr Krebs’ views of ID are what they are. And, seeing what Mr Calvert said about TEs, I now understand, more fully, why some of my friends from Kansas have become so polarized about ID. Mr Calvert has already decided that they are either stupid, ill informed, or cowardly. Does anyone here recall what Dawkins likes to say about people who harbor doubts about evolution? Am I getting across? Stephen, you need IMO to disown this type of rhetoric, just as I disown Dawkins; there is no difference that I can see, and I think you’re smart enough to see what I’m saying.

    Finally, let me offer a succint response to Timaeus’ eloquent call for me and Jack to spell out the difference between the obvious, scientifically demonstrable deisgn in the opening scene in 2001 (artifacts of intelligence on Mars, basically) and the less obviously scientific design in biological organisms. In the former case, we know what human agents (presumed to be intelligent) can do, and we recognize our own artifacts (or those of aliens) when we see them.
    In the latter case, however, we have to know something already about divine artifacts–let’s drop the stuff about a nebulous “intelligent designer”
    and cut to the chase. You apparently own a copy of “Debating Design,” Timaeus. Please read the chapter by Elliot Sober. I think he’s basically right: a design argument from nature is not a scientific argument. He spells out in detail just why. If you want to argue with him, I’ll pay attention to what you say, but unless Sober decide to make an appearance here there will probably not be a reply to your points.

    Kudos to Jack Krebs, appreciation to Timaeus, and best to all. See some of you (perhaps) on the ASA list?

  245. 245
    DaveScot says:

    Ted

    David Opderbeck’s idea of civil discourse was to call Denyse O’Leary “pathetic” several times until Bill Dembski banned him. That is hardly “without cause” and if I find you making crap up like that again you’ll be joining Opderbeck. Got it?

  246. 246
    William J. Murray says:

    #245:

    What you don’t understand is that when you say “let’s cut to the chase” what you mean is “let’s use my straw man”. ID doesn’t posit a divine anything, and your assumption that we would immediately recognize alien artifacts is just that – an unsupported assumption; further, relying on intuition and recognition is a rather unscientific finishing process.

    Let’s use a fringe idea that the moon is actually a spaceship parked in orbit around the Earth. If one assumes that it is a natural phenomena, then one arranges all evidence and experimentation and examination along that assumption. It directs how one constructs theories about evidence and facts concerning the moon.

    If one assumes it’s a giant spaceship, then this brings online a whole different set of interpretations and possible experiements and data-gathering exercises that might support or falsify this theory. At no time has one left the venue of real scientific examination.

    Similarly with biology, we are faced with things that look very much like they required design to accomplish. How is it leaving the realm of science to assume design and start interpreting evidence in order to establish further experiments and investigation to see if one’s theory of design is supported or contra-evidenced?

    The fact is, ID itself is of course scientific, and of course it can lead to fruitful results, and of course it can open up avenues of research that would not be taken if one assumed non-directed causes.

    The only problem is that others in science, for whatever motivation, insist that what ID is “really” about is God and so they dismiss it on ideological and statutory grounds. What it might really be about for certain advocates is a god, but the theory itself is agnostic.

    Unless, of course, you’d assert that the only being that could be the builder of the moon-as-spaceship was a “god”.

    Until you can admit internally that ID is not necessarily about any god, you cannot have an honest or meaningful conversation about ID.

  247. 247
    Jack Krebs says:

    Thanks for the kind words, Ted, and for the rest of what you had to say in 245 above.

  248. 248
    Ted Davis says:

    The post by David Opderbeck (who is a law professor at Seton Hall, not the optometrist whose web site seesm to be linked to his name at the relevant entry) is number 4 in this thread:
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....r-theists/

    Mr Opderbeck shows people there the revelant context for the post (by a newcomer to our list who was puzzled and asking questions) that was the basis for Denyse’s commentary. I will leave it to others to determine whether or not Mr Opderbeck’s concerns about how it was handled here were in order.

    “Expelling” me for defending an expression of dissent, directed at an important blogger here who regularly (nearly daily) uses similar language to describe the views and activities of others, would only reinforce what I said in responding to jerry.

    I don’t see how that would be helpful, DaveScot. But that’s not my decision, is it?

    That was David Opderback the law professor. He moved his website to a new URL and some optometrist evidently became the new owner of the old URL because he liked “Through a Glass”. David Opderbeck called Denyse “pathetic” several times and that was the reason he was banned. You’re about to get banned for making me waste my time in an unconstructive argument with an asshat who is incapable of conceding a point. -ds

  249. 249
    Timaeus says:

    Ted Davis @245:

    I’ll look at Sober’s article again, but I doubt anything in it will justify the sudden switch in language to “divine artifacts” that you make here.

    The contention of ID is that, whatever may be the difference between human/alien and divine artifacts, they still have something in common, qua artifacts (dig that Latin!), and it is what they have in common qua artifacts that is detectable. Whether God traced out the faces on Mt. Rushmore miraculously, using his divine finger, or whether human sculptors did it using dynamite and chisels, the argument that it was designed would proceed in exactly the same manner; design by someone or something would be inferrable irrespective of any differences (which ID people gladly grant) between God and human sculptors.

    In other words, there aren’t any techniques of design detection specific to divine design, as opposed to human design. Design is design. Design implies rational planning, foresight, intellectual projection, execution of an end in which the parts are arranged to conduce towards a whole in a certain way. There are techniques of design detection which can be employed to make sure that false positives (like snowflakes) can be eliminated, and not confused with true positives (like Mt. Rushmore). Thus, or so ID argues, just as one can know absolutely nothing about the aliens who carved the sculpture on Mars, yet be certain that the sculpture was no geological accident, one can know absolutely zero about the nature of God, and can even be unsure whether any being properly called “God” exists, yet can still, in principle, determine whether or not a cell or an avian lung is designed rather than the product of chance.

    This claim, of course, does not mean that any particular design inference (e.g., “the flagellum is designed”) is automatically correct. It is compatible with the invalidity of every design inference so far offered by ID proponents. ID is open to having the invalidity of its particular design inferences shown. But ID proponents cannot see how design inferences as such can be ruled out of court, merely because certain religious people — not you personally, but many TEs — don’t want God’s designs to be thought of as detectable. Why would anyone decide, a priori, that God’s designs cannot or must not be detectable? The “cannot” or “must not” in such a statement is certainly not a scientific judgment; it can only be a theological one. And ID proponents wish, for the purpose of discussing design inferences, to eschew theological constraints, which in their view have no place in natural science.

    We understand that TE people, too, exclude theological judgments from science. That is why we cannot understand why so many of them appear to import a theological judgment — that divine design is a priori undetectable — into what ought to be specific scientific discussions about whether or not design is inferrable in the case of X or Y. To us it seems much more natural to first determine whether there is in fact design in an organism, organ or system, and then, if design appears to be legitimately inferred, to leave the realm of science and enter into philosophical or theological speculation about the identity, nature, and purposes of the designer, divine or otherwise. Why do so many TE people deny the legitimacy of the first, non-theological step in this two-step process?

    T.

  250. 250
    jerry says:

    Ted Davis,

    I find the posting at ASA somewhat mysterious. Is there anywhere that explains how one goes about it? It looks like emails as opposed to filling out a comments or response box and then clicking “submit.”

    Also I am not a scientist and most there have some advanced degree in science or are like you have a degree in the history of science. Also I have no desire to discuss religion or theology and that is the most common element at ASA. For example, a thread on ID/TE turns into a discussion of Adam and then goes on forever.

  251. 251
    Ted Davis says:

    jerry–

    To subscribe to the ASA list, send a message to majordomo@calvin.edu with
    “subscribe asa” (no quotes) as the body of the message.

    Timaeus–

    As I say, if you want to refute Sober’s points I think that would be very interesting; I for one would love to see a live exchange between you and him, although I realize that won’t happen here.

    Among many things, Sober says (p. 109f), “When we behold the watch on the heath, we know that the watch’s features are not particularly improbable, on the hypothesis that the watch was produced by a Designer who has the sorts of *human* goals and abilities with which we are familiar. This is the deep disanalogy between the watchmaker and the putative maker of organisms and universes. We are invited, in the latter case, to imagine a Designer who is radically different from the human craftsmen with whom we are familiar. But if this Designer is so different, why are we so sure that this being would build the vertebrate eye in the form in which we find it?”

    Incidentally, Sober also applies the same scepticism to Gould’s theological assumptions about what God would do, later in the essay.

  252. 252
    Jack Krebs says:

    Timaeus, in response to the referral to Sober’s article, writes,

    The contention of ID is that, whatever may be the difference between human/alien and divine artifacts, they still have something in common, qua artifacts (dig that Latin!), and it is what they have in common qua artifacts that is detectable.

    Yes, this is the contention of ID, but whether it is valid is precisely the issue under discussion, and with which Sober disagrees.

  253. 253
    Ted Davis says:

    Timaeus–

    In a rare free moment this afternoon, let me respond to your comments on QM, “randomness,” design, and divine sovereignty/foreknowledge/providence in four ways.

    (1) Yes, there are at least some physicists who like Bohm’s “hidden variable” interpretation of QM better than the standard Copenhagen interpretation, and to the best of my knowledge there is no way to tell experimentally which one is correct. A very fair point, Timaeus. However, (also to the best of my knowledge), in both interpretations it would be impossible for human observers to “prove” divine action at the quantum level. The theology would be different, perhaps (I haven’t thought about that enough to have confidence); but in both cases, divine action is just invisible to us, in terms of having a visible “gap” in the causes. In one case, there is no causal gap, but we can’t tell since those causes are real but invisible (they are *hidden* variables); in the other case, there are no causes at all, and so we can’t find them for a different reason.

    Both Polkinghorne and Bob Russell like to appeal to “fuzziness” in the physical world as a possible locus for divine action, but their approaches are not identical. Polkinghorne puts more stock in chaos; even though chaos is actually deterministic, I think he believes that we’ll someday come to a larger view of chaos in which the determinism is softer. But QM is part of his picture as well. Russell is much more committed to QM, for his part. And, Polkinghorne is definitely an “open theist”; he does believe that God does not know some things about the future, although God knows everything that can be known about all things. (And his view here is not motivated by his acceptance of evolution, as far as I can tell. Nor should anyone confuse it with process theism, in which open theism of a very radical sort is coupled with a radical rejection of omnipotence–and P absolutely believes in a God powerful enough to make the world and raise the dead.) Russell, as far as I can tell, is not an open theist. Indeed, he believes that God controls all things, including QM, so he would reply to your questions about God by affirming divine providence and foreknowledge in very strong terms.

    As for the founders of QM, at least one very prominent founder–Arthur Holly Compton–wholeheartedly embraced the possibility that *human* freedom (he doesn’t discuss divine freedom) had a basis in QM. Absolutely, he believed that we are truly free agents, regardless of what science says; he advised people to have more confidence in our experience of freedom than in the validity of the second law of thermodynamics. And, he absolutely welcomed, even embraced, Heisenberg’s view that classical certainty is dead. Robert Millikan also believed most of what Compton believed on this point. And, finally, both of them might well be classified as ID supporters, if they were alive today–but I won’t go into that right now.

    (2) Sober isn’t the only one to make the type of argument briefly stated above. Former TDI Fellow Robin Collins, while he was a TDI Fellow, gave essentially the same argument against the validity of Dembski’s design inference, in “An Evaluation of William Dembski’s The Design Inference: A Review Essay.” Christian Scholar’s Review, April 2001. Robin was, and still is, highly friendly toward ID, but he does not believe that one can make the design inference in the types of cases we’ve discussed without positing something about the specific identity of the designer. The generic designer argument, in other words, is logically flawed.

    Now, it’s only fair to say that Bill disagrees with Robin about this–obviously. But it’s equally fair to say, that there are well intentioned, friendly, and fair-minded people who just don’t agree that the design inference is simply at the level of science. I am in this category myself.

    [I fail to see how peer pressure or ignorance would explain the existence of someone like Robin, or myself. Perhaps I’m just stupid, as Mr Calvert suggests TEs are, but Robin certainly is no less intelligent than many leading ID thinkers; ditto Elliot Sober. We simply disagree that the explanatory filter works as well as it is claimed. All I ask here, is that it be admitted that some TEs don’t agree with crucial details of the main ID argument, and that this disagreement has nothing to do with defects of character or even theology.]

    (3) Let me just ask a theological question, Timaeus, a question that comes from Dick Bube, the Stanford physicist who taught a course on Christianity and science for a quarter century, before the thought police caught up with him. If God were to “turn himself off” for a little while, what would happen to us and the world? I think you will see that this isn’t just pulled out of thin air.

    (4) Finally, if we can’t even give a coherent account of how we can move our own arms, in terms of the causal joint between “we” and our own arms, then we ought to expect a certain amount of imprecision from TEs, when they try to explain how God governs the “random” process of evolution. I would be more hesitant than you, Timeaus, to point to conceptual problems with versions of TE when it comes to this particular area. They are certainly there, but I think there are very good reasons why that is–reasons unrelated (again) to stupidity, ignorance, or courage.

    I have long felt that ID should have begun (many years ago) not with criticisms of “evolution” or “Darwinism,” but with a positive theory of how agents like ourselves impose order and intelligence on our own bodies. Then, perhaps, everyone would have clearer ideas about what intelligence is, and how an “intelligent designer” (however generic it might be) injects form into matter.

    Good bye, at least for a few days.

  254. 254
    DaveScot says:

    Ted

    The entire TE position against ID is that design is not unambiguously detectable in nature.

    Let’s test your belief.

    If we came across a dead sea scroll that described DNA and defined a cipher that translated codons into Aramaic and we subsequently found that the book of genesis is encoded into the gemone of every living human would you agree that would constitute unambiguous evidence of design?

    If you agree then you have in fact given up the assertion that design is not detectable. If you disagree then you have in fact given up any pretense of rationality.

    It’s like the old joke where a guy says to a girl “Will you have sex with me for a million dollars?”, she says “Yes”, then he asks “Will you have sex with me for ten dollars?” and she says “No! What do you think I am?” and he replies “We’ve already established what you are. We’re negotiating a price.”

    So Ted, if there’s absolutely no hypothetical case where you’d acknowledge a valid design inference then you are simply irrational and your irrational ideas deserve no furhter consideration (so get lost). If there IS some hypothetical case where you’d acknowledge a valid design infernece then you are an IDist but you simply have a higher standard of proof than the rest of us.

    Which is it?

  255. 255
    Jack Krebs says:

    I don’t believe the general TE position is “that design is not unambiguously detectable in nature” in the sense of there being no possibility of the type of thing you describe.

    I think it would be more accurate to say that the arguments that some aspects of nature are designed in ways that can not be explained in terms of natural causes are flawed, or at the very least have not been demonstrated using the techniques described in those arguments.

    I doubt if any theist would claim that God could not have embedded the type of evidence you describe, or that he could not dramatically and unarguably make the power of his presence known in ways that clearly contravened the laws of nature.

    So it’s not a question of what God can or cannot do, but rather one of whether the arguments and evidence put forth by ID advocates are sufficient to claim that design as defined by ID advocates can be and/or has been detected.

    I hope this distinction is clear.

  256. 256
    Ted Davis says:

    I have never said, DaveScot, that design is not detectable in nature. What I have said is, that the logic involved in drawing that inference is not valid, unless something about the nature of the “intelligent designer” is already known or hypothesized.

    In other words, the inference is not scientific, pure and simple. Scientific information is certainly part of the process, but so are metaphysical or philosophical or theological information or beliefs.

    If you believe this is an “irrational position,” such that I should “get lost,” then you can take it up with Elliot Sober or Robin Collins–or any other philosopher who agrees with them. I find their position on this persuasive and you don’t. If you want to respond directly to their points, then (as with Timaus) I would be more than happy to hear what you have to say. I’m open, in other words, to being convinced that their view is “irrational” and that therefore I shouldn’t hold it.

    If you are really interested in having a “big tent,” DaveScot, then why do seem so eager for me to go away? If you think that I’m a raving idiot, such that it’s a waste of time to talk to me, then just ignore me. But neither Robin Collins nor Elliot Sober is a raving idiot, and if you want to ignore them you won’t persuade me.

    ***

    If ID simply involves the claim that the world is purposeful, that it was designed for certain purposes by the Creator, and that some scientific information supports that inference, then you can call me an IDist. I certainly believe all of those things, and I’m not bashful about saying so–here or anywhere else, whether or not it enhances my prestige for anyone within earshot.

    If however ID involves the claim that design in biology and cosmology (as vs design in archaeology or anthropology, where we are dealing with human designers, whose purposes are readily known to us) can be proved scientifically, without bringing in further claims about the nature or character of the designer, then I am not an IDist.

    Just as I am better qualified than you are to state my own position, you are better qualified than I am to state the ID position. Does my position above match your understanding of ID, DaveScot?

    I’ll go silent now but I’ll read any answer you may make.

  257. 257
    StephenB says:

    Ted Davis: “Stephen, you need IMO to disown this type of rhetoric, just as I disown Dawkins; there is no difference that I can see, and I think you’re smart enough to see what I’m saying.”

    Let’s get back to basics.

    The scientific study of origins helps us to probe the roots of our existence. Unfortunately, Darwinists and theistic evolutionists have recently undermined this effort by trying to re-define science. Put simply, they have devised an arbitrary rule called “methodological naturalism, which imposes materialistic conclusions on the evidence even before the facts can speak. Conversely, the science of intelligent design allows the evidence of experience to speak for itself. The evidence tells us that some patterns in nature exhibit functionally, specified complex information and that its source is intelligence.

    That is the point at issue. I would be one thing if this was simply a matter of disagreement, but you and I know that it goes much deeper than that. Both you and Jack Krebs seek to institutionalize your materialistic bias on science by making it a rule in the academy, and, if possible, to pass state laws to enforce it. I submit to you that such injustice does indeed call for rhetoric, and I, for one, am not impressed by those who worry more about the rhetoric against the injustice than the injustice itself. Especially since neither you nor Jack can provide any evidence at all for the position that you hold to so tenaciously, namely that the Darwin engine can drive macro evolution.

    Ironically our fiercest critics do not take the trouble to learn about the very things they speak out against. If, for example, you or another theistic evolutionist has an argument to make against ID, then, by all means make it. If the argument is coming from one of your colleagues, fine; but don’t just tell us about it, reduce it to its simplest essence and then share it with us. If it can’t be summarized, then it may well be incomprehensible, an all too common occurrence. In that case, sending us to the author will not help.

    Meanwhile, the relevant point remains: ID is science, and all the motive mongering in the world will not change that fact. Since neither Jack Krebs, you, nor I have any idea at all whether John Calvert knows anything about ID methodology, there is no reason to inject his name in this discussion. Let me summarize the science by way of example:

    Most paragraphs that you write will contain at least 500 bits of functionally specified complex information. That it was composed by an intelligent agency is obvious beyond any reasonable doubt. It would be equally obvious if the same message was found on the planet Mars. Through the use of probability models, science can confirm this. You will find similar patterns in nature, especially in a DNA molecule. Our experience teaches us that each time FSCI presents itself, intelligence was the cause. Whether the innovator may have been human, superhuman, or Divine, the observable fact remains the same—FSCI is present.

    You and Sober have every right to question the conclusions arrived at by ID scientists, but you have no intellectual warrant for saying that what they do is not science. It is not we who need to read more of your literature; it is you that needs to read more of ours.

  258. 258
    Timaeus says:

    Jack Krebs @256:

    Your position here sounds reasonable, and in fact sounds very much like the ID position — i.e., let’s settle this on the basis of the science — but I’m sorry to say that many TE writers have said things that sound very different from this. At various points, Ken Miller, Francis Collins, Francisco Ayala and others have strongly suggested that ID should be rejected by Christians for theological reasons. They have argued that the ID God is too much like a mechanic or tinkerer, which is not a worthy conception of God, that the ID God makes God directly responsible for evil in the world, which is theologically unacceptable, that the ID God makes God’s action detectable, which makes Christianity depend on reason rather than faith, and that the ID God is vulnerable to “God of the gaps” falsification, which could put Christianity at risk if the gaps are ever filled.

    The theological concerns animating all of these arguments are quite plain. If you have been reading TE authors carefully, you cannot be unaware of the frequency of these sorts of arguments. Further, none of these arguments, even if theologically valid, addresses the scientific arguments involved in particular inferences put forth by ID theorists. Logically speaking, these arguments commit the same error as the argument that Darwinism must be false as biology because it has led to bad ethical and political consequences. If Darwinism is correct biology, ethical and political theory will just have to deal with the fallout, however unpleasant, and if design in nature is detectable, then Christian theology will just have to live with the consequences, however unpalatable those consequences may be for certain Christian theologians.

    Regarding the question of design detection, are you willing, here and now, to disavow the propriety of such theological arguments? And are you willing to say that TEs ought to allow that design MAY be detectable (because nothing in Christian theology forbids this possibility), and that when criticizing ID they should concentrate on the scientific analysis and criticism of specific design claims, as you have suggested above? If so, I don’t think most of us here will have anything more to quarrel with you about.

    T.

  259. 259
    StephenB says:

    —–Ted: “I have never said, DaveScot, that design is not detectable in nature. What I have said is, that the logic involved in drawing that inference is not valid, unless something about the nature of the “intelligent designer” is already known or hypothesized.”

    —–“In other words, the inference is not scientific, pure and simple. Scientific information is certainly part of the process, but so are metaphysical or philosophical or theological information or beliefs.”

    ——“If you believe this is an “irrational position,” such that I should “get lost,” then you can take it up with Elliot Sober or Robin Collins–or any other philosopher who agrees with them. I find their position on this persuasive and you don’t.”

    There is much confusion here. One cannot detect design in nature if the logic involved in drawing the inference is invalid. That is what design detection is—a logical inference. If the logic is flawed, then no detection of any kind can be made. Design is not merely “conceived,” it is “perceived.” That is what the Bible means when it says that God’s handiwork has been made manifest. That means that it can be detected through the use of unaided reason—no faith or presupposition is necessary.

    Further, it is not at all necessary to know anything about the designer’s essence to detect the designer’s existence. This confusion is widespread among TEs and Darwinists. A design inference begins with an observation. It depends on no presuppositions except for these three: {A} we have rational minds, {B} we live in a rational universe, and {C}there is a correspondence between the two. (Obviously, that would include that law of non-contradiction and all the other foundations for logic.)

    In keeping with the above, most ID critics confuse a religious presupposition from a design inference. Some of the confusion comes from having been steeped in Kantianism, which assumes that there is no substantial connection between the images in the mind and corresponding realities outside the mind. In other words, Kant denied the correspondence {C above} between our rational minds and the rational universe. Adler completely refuted Kantianism, but of course Darwinists and TEs didn’t get the word. The academy thrives on skepticism.

    In any case, I am sorry that you find Sober and Collins persuasive because they are very confused. You are reading the wrong people.

  260. 260
    mussels says:

    This somewhat disjointed message seeks to comment on points raised by various folks in several posts. I need to be writing papers about mussels, so I can’t take too much time to keep up with the discussion here.

    bFast suggested four options:
    “1 – There is no God.
    2 – God intends to hide himself from science — to “not be put under a microscope” so to speak.
    3 – Science actively avoids finding God (not unreasonable considering the determination of science to hold to methodological naturalism.)
    4 – The scratch marks left by the hand of God at work must be detectable.”

    This provides a useful starting framework. However, the meaning of a couple terms needs to be explicit, and additional options may exist (depending on how broadly or narrowly the categories are interpreted.)
    Two terms that seem important to the present discussion are “methodological naturalism” and “detectable.” What is methodological naturalism, how does it affect things, is it appropriate? It seems most reasonable to me to identify methodological naturalism as the use of natural methods. (“Natural” being used here in contrast with “supernatural” to mean “in accord with normal physical laws and patterns”. Theologically, both the natural and supernatural are under God’s control, direction, etc.) The premise that natural methods are likely to be useful arises from several different philosophical positions. Obviously, anyone who thinks that the natural is all that there is will think that methodological naturalism is the only method to use. However, firmly theistic considerations such as the idea that God made a creation that behaves in a regular manner (even though He is able to intervene miraculously, too) suggest that natural methods will work pretty well most of the time. For example, most Christians accept the premise that, in case of medical need, you both pray and contact a doctor. Also, a purely empirical approach shows that natural methods work well for a lot of things a lot of the time. There is nothing inherent in methodological naturalism that leads to philosophical naturalism. This is particularly evident because advocates of ID advocate methodological naturalism. ID does not claim, e.g., “Go to a psychic and he’ll tell you that things were designed.” ID claims “Go do natural science studies on things and you will (or may, depending on the version of ID) discover design.” It is possible to investigate a non-natural claim using methodological naturalism, as long as that claim asserts that a particular “natural” result is produced by the supernatural agent. For example, you can take the newspaper horoscope and determine that it does not provide better predictions for people born at certain times than those born at others. Self-identified psychics are no better at guessing what connection a weapon had to a crime than are undergraduate volunteers. The really interesting supernatural claims, however, aren’t amenable to such study. We can confirm that people normally stay dead, but it’s unethical, theologically reprehensible, and not physically possible to try to crucify Jesus again just to get a better statistical sample.

    Methodological naturalism seems to be part of what we think of as science. Although scientists sometimes get ideas in odd ways (the dream that suggested the structure of benzene, for example), the ideas are not considered science until there’s some evidence that they match up with the real physical world. If science is defined as committed to natural _explanations_, that would exclude ID from being entirely science, but natural _methods_ do not exclude ID. (I wouldn’t define science as committed to natural explanations, but more importantly the fact that something is not purely science does not mean that it is wrong or even inferior to something that is purely science-it just means that it partially falls into another category.)

    What types of detection are allowed? (Definition of “scratch marks” comes into this as well.) The immediate context suggests that only scientific detection is in view. This is important because there are many non-scientific ways of detection, and as God is a spirit one might reasonably expect spiritual methods to be more useful than scientific ones at detecting Him. How to detect also depends on what type of “scratch marks” you expect, and this must be based on assumptions about how God implements His designs. As He’s omnipotent, this is hard to narrow down. In particular, He’s smart enough and powerful enough to use or not use evolution as much as He likes, so there’s no a priori reason to expect or absolutely rule out miracles in, e.g., the assembly of complex biochemical systems. (The fact that miracles seem to be relatively rare, and function specifically in the Bible as signs pointing to God versus alternatives, suggests that we shouldn’t expect them to be commonplace in general.)

    At least two categories of options don’t fit neatly into the listed four:
    A. Although God probably has left scientifically detectable traces of His activity in the physical creation, science is not yet able to identify them. For example, arguments both for and against specified complexity depend on estimating probabilities for which we don’t really know the values.
    B. Science is inherently incompetent at detecting God’s fingerprints. We need to look to other approaches in order to detect them. It’s not so much that God is hiding from the microscope as that He doesn’t fit under it.

    Overall, I’d tend to favor something like B. This means that I find the suggestion that something could be undirected as far as the science goes but directed theologically to be quite reasonable. After all, to find out what I mean by this post, you don’t get a physicist to analyze the behavior of the electrons in the computers and wires involved. You read the words.

    Do Ps. 19 and similar passages asserting that God’s glory, etc. can be seen in creation entail that there should be scientifically detectable traces in creation? No, these passages seem to reflect an existing belief in the speaker that all things are parts of God’s creation, so everything amazing, beautiful, etc. is recognized on theological grounds as pointing to God.

    What about Romans 1:20, which specifically asserts that unbelievers are rejecting what they ought to know from creation? Well, what is it that the unbelievers ought to know? The following verses (21-32) list idolatry and immorality as examples of what unbelievers know better than but do anyway. Neither of those are things that science can get at. Science can give a physical explanation of something, but it can’t tell us whether we ought to worship it or in fact anything about what we ought to do. It can tell us about likely health and social consequences of particular behaviors, but not whether those are good or bad. Conversely, 2:14-16 highlight the conscience as a positive example of what may be known from creation. In Acts 14:17, Paul appeals to God’s regular provision of rain and crops as an evidence of God accessible to the local pagans (also cited in Jeremiah 5 as evidence against the apostasy of Jews), yet I don’t think anyone accuses the weatherman of atheism for talking about how physical factors produce the rain. Thus, it doesn’t seem as though these verses imply that there will be scientifically detectable gaps in the working of the physical world. (Nor do they imply that there aren’t any.)

    Some posts have asked for examples of macroevolution. Macroevolution must be defined. In biological usage, it refers to the role of factors other than ordinary population genetics (including effects of selection) in the origin of species and higher categories. However, in antievolutionary contexts, “macroevolution” typically means “evolution I reject”. This makes it impossible to pin down, as any given example of evolution can thus be dismissed as merely microevolution. It also covers up major differences of opinion. For example, there are claims that ID accepts microevolution but rejects macroevolution. In reality, the take on evolution ranges from several of the more popular advocates claiming that one species cannot give rise to another (even though there are numerous examples of it happening in lab and in the wild) to the position advocated by some young earthers that things can evolve within about a family to Behe’s position of extensive evolution, occasionally needing a boost at the molecular level, to Denton’s full endorsement of evolution as an example of design. Thus, a request for an example of macroevolution requires a clear definition of what you want. Would the transition from reptiles to mammals be of interest, or is it too gradual? Would an artificially produced new genus (Raphanobrassica) be of interest? (Of course, the existence of examples of macroevolution doesn’t prove that evolution has no gaps, and full acceptance of biological evolution does not exclude the possibility of seeing design in it and/or elsewhere.)

    Randomness is a frequent issue of confusion, for people with all sorts of views. This reflects both not grasping God’s providence and confusion between different senses of “random”. Random can mean a mathematical pattern best described by the laws of probability, such as many quantum events, the odds of a given mutation, or casting lots. It can also mean something that is not humanly predictable, like the long-term course of the history of life, the path of human history, or precise long-term weather. There is also a more metaphysical sense in which random means purposeless or unguided, like the random shot that hit Ahab. In all three categories, I have included things identified in the Bible as under God’s control. Evidence of randomness in the first two senses is all that science can provide. There is no basis to extrapolate from those to metaphysical randomness. Purpose, guidance, etc. also depend on what level you examine. If I make a decision by flipping a coin, neither the coin nor the laws of physics governing its motion have any inherent goal or purpose in the activity, but I do. Biological study of evolution fails to discover inherent goals or purposes. Very good! This not only accords with the idea that evolution is merely a pattern of nature used by God, rather than some sort of supernatural entity with its own goals, but also it means that all philosophical systems that try to invoke evolution in support of their ideas of progress are wrong. Communism, eugenics, social Darwinism, Nazism, etc. all do not match up with an ateleological understanding of evolution. Likewise, gravity is ateleological. Things on the ground are not better than things up on a shelf.

    I don’t think one can theologically rule out the possibility of inferring miraculous design based on scientific data. I think there are good theological grounds for thinking that it is unlikely, based on the function of miracles in the Bible as signs and the way that their use seems minimized (e.g., water turned to wine but had to be served in the ordinary way, thousands fed from a few loaves and fish but then 13 fed on leftover bread and fish for a while afterwards, axe head flaoting but having to be repaired in the ordinary way, etc.) This contrasts sharply with apocryphal and pseudepigraphical material, tales of the saints, pagan myths, etc.

    However, as popularly proclaimed ID tends to claim that there must be scientifically detectable miraculous design and that its absence implies atheism. This is a god of the gaps. It is also exactly what Dawkins and his ilk want to claim so as to “disprove” God from science.

    Also, ID as popularly advocated tends to put more weight on whether you accept ID (often equated with rejecting evolution) than on one’s view of Christ. This is a grave mistake, as reading Galatians will emphasize.

    Finally, the quality of arguments made by popular ID, especially arguments against evolution, is often quite poor. Poor quality is not a proper Christian approach to doing anything. For example, the degree of complexity does not indicate design. In reality, a truly random item has the greatest complexity because it cannot be described simply. Other complex molecules can readily form naturally, such as clay minerals. It is true that full evolutionary explanations do not exist for a lot of things. However, the amount of ongoing work and rate of new discoveries makes it injudicious to assert that no explanation will be found. After all, efficient DNA sequencing is barely 20 years old.

    I agree that the concept of ID is not in itself theologically bad, but the popular practice of ID does tend to deserve theological criticism.

  261. 261
    DaveScot says:

    Ted

    I’d like you to answer the question I posed here:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-295275

    If you will categorically not accept empirical evidence of design in nature then you simply do not belong on this blog. Discussions with close minded people are not constructive and I won’t have them cluttering up the place when there are people who are open to reason concerning evidence of design in nature.

  262. 262
    DaveScot says:

    Jack

    I was asking Ted, not you, and I’m getting a little irked at you jumping in and me needing to correct your mistakes. The case I proposed to Ted required no supernatural intervention. The claim that ID is all about a supernatural designer is a straw man. This is your last warning.

  263. 263
    StephenB says:

    —-mussel “Do Ps. 19 and similar passages asserting that God’s glory, etc. can be seen in creation entail that there should be scientifically detectable traces in creation? No, these passages seem to reflect an existing belief in the speaker that all things are parts of God’s creation, so everything amazing, beautiful, etc. is recognized on theological grounds as pointing to God.”

    You are reading your preferences into the passage, because that is not at all what it says. The message is that design can be “perceived” through the use of unaided reason. It does not refer in any way to an “existing belief.” On the contrary. It teaches that no faith is necessary at all. That is the whole point.

    —-What about Romans 1:20, which specifically asserts that unbelievers are rejecting what they ought to know from creation? Well, what is it that the unbelievers ought to know? The following verses (21-32) list idolatry and immorality as examples of what unbelievers know better than but do anyway.
    Not at all. Romans 1:20 could not be more clear. It refers to the invisible things made evident by the things that are seen. It points out that design is empirically detectable. So much so, that those who deny it are “without excuse.” Verse 21 begins to explain the REASONS why people deny the evidence which is evident to the senses, which include vanity, idolatry, and a darkened mind.

    —–“In Acts 14:17, Paul appeals to God’s regular provision of rain and crops as an evidence of God accessible to the local pagans (also cited in Jeremiah 5 as evidence against the apostasy of Jews), yet I don’t think anyone accuses the weatherman of atheism for talking about how physical factors produce the rain. Thus, it doesn’t seem as though these verses imply that there will be scientifically detectable gaps in the working of the physical world. (Nor do they imply that the

    The passage begins with, “nevertheless, he left not himself without testimony,” which makes it obvious that what follows is to be interpreted as evidence of God’s activity. To give testimony is to send a message, is it not? The issue is whether the rain and the various seasons were designed to help make life livable, which would be part of the “priveleged planet” hypothesis. In any case, the first sentence is the tip off that the Bible is making yet one more case for the evidence of design.

    If you want to argue against design, which you seem determined to do, the last thing you want to do is use the Bible for support.

  264. 264
    DaveScot says:

    Screw this.

    Jack Krebs and Ted Davis are no longer with us. Arguing with TE’s is like beating your head against a brick wall.

    If anyone wants to carry on their conversations with them then do it on their websites.

    After reviewing Timaeus’ last several comments and finding the word “God” in them over 100 times (I stopped counting at 100) I decided he needs to take it to a site where the topic is God. He is now no longer with us either.

  265. 265
    StephenB says:

    —-What about Romans 1:20, which specifically asserts that unbelievers are rejecting what they ought to know from creation? Well, what is it that the unbelievers ought to know? The following verses (21-32) list idolatry and immorality as examples of what unbelievers know better than but do anyway.

    Not at all. Romans 1:20 could not be more clear. It refers to the invisible things made evident by the things that are seen. It points out that design is empirically detectable. So much so, that those who deny it are “without excuse.” Verse 21 begins to explain the REASONS why people deny the evidence which is evident to the senses, which include vanity, idolatry, and a darkened mind.

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