Intelligent Design

Correcting Misinformation about ID: Yet Another Irresponsible Critic in the BioLogos Comments Section

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ID proponents have many times noted that at BioLogos, both management figures and columnists have distorted and deformed the facts about ID theory and the Discovery Institute.  But perhaps even more damaging to the accurate public perception of ID are the comments which fill the BioLogos discussion boards.  The negative comments about ID coming from BioLogos readers are not only more numerous than those which appear in actual BioLogos articles, but also more unrestrained and extreme, and generally speaking (because the BioLogos boards are frequented overwhelmingly by people who are anti-ID), they go unchallenged.  I here discuss a recent case, from this BioLogos page:

https://discourse.biologos.org/t/its-good-that-dr-gauger-is-keeping-busy-keeping-america-straight-on-intelligent-design/38775/6

I will focus on this passage from one “Ronald_Myers”:

One thing Gauger does not address is that Meyer et al’s book is titled Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical and Theological Critique. The Discovery Institute claims to be a scientific institution so the philosophical and theological critiques are out of bounds. By publishing this book the Discovery Institute surrendered all claim to being scientific

The essence of the much of this heat is that the ID movement is changing. Michael Behe’s original book accepted evolution of multicellural life, now the blogs moderated by Discovery Institute speak more like YEC people without any moderator comment, ie with tacit approval. Further, onj the Discovery Institute web site there are now topics on Economics, Technology and Human Exceptionalism which from the subtitles are value laden topics.

I’ll leave aside detailed consideration of the author’s several typing, spelling, editing, and punctuation errors, such as et al for et al. and ie for i.e.  Such errors are, alas, increasingly common even among supposedly educated people these days, due to the failure of the American school system to train most students in basic writing skills, but to linger on this writer’s sloppiness and incompetence as an author would divert me from my basic point, which concerns his sloppiness and incompetence as a researcher and thinker.

To start, let’s focus on this statement:

By publishing this book the Discovery Institute surrendered all claim to being scientific

And there is the first error.  Discovery did not publish the book in question.  If “Ronald_Myers” had bothered to do even the most basic research on his subject, he would have seen the title page of the book, which gives the publication information as:  “CROSSWAY: Wheaton, Illinois.”  Lest Mr. Myers (if that is his real name, which one can never be sure of on the Internet) should be unaware of the fact, I would inform him that the Discovery Institute and its publishing arm, Discovery Institute Press, are located in Seattle, Washington.  A casual check of the Crossway website would have made clear to him that Crossway is a quite independent publishing operation, which opened its doors in 1979, before Discovery even existed.

The second error follows from the first.  Ronald Myers writes:

The essence of the [sic] much of this heat is that the ID movement is changing. Michael Behe’s original book accepted evolution of multicellural [sic] life

Even if one identifies “ID” with the Discovery Institute (which is not a safe identification, since there are ID proponents who are not members of the DI), the contents of a book published by Crossway would not necessarily indicate that either ID or the Discovery Institute has changed.  The Crossway book contains essays by a number of leading ID advocates, but it does not contain essays by all of them, and it makes no claim to provide a complete picture of the ID spectrum.

For example, there are no essays by Michael Behe or Michael Denton (both Fellows of the DI, and major champions of design) in the Crossway book.  I say that not in a derogatory tone, but simply to note that major ID writers who have long been showcased by Discovery (the DI has published three books by Michael Denton in the past two years), and who accept “evolution of multicellular life,” are not represented in the book.  It is therefore wrong to equate the range of views in the Crossway book with the total range of views found in ID writers.

The Crossway book represents a subset of ID writers, i.e., those who, unlike Behe and Denton, reject or are skeptical of the existence of macroevolutionary change.  It does a good job of expressing the views of that subset, and it can and should be read as an effective critique of the defects of many of the claims of theistic evolution, but it does not give a full cross-section of ID thought.  So it provides no evidence that “the ID movement is changing.”  The ID movement includes Behe, as it always did, and Discovery still promotes the works of Behe and Denton, as it always has.  Myers is drawing an incorrect inference, because he takes the emphasis of a book published by one publisher (Crossway) as indicative of the position of a completely different publisher (Discovery).

To be sure, Myers does not rely upon the Crossway book alone.  He thinks he detects in recent Discovery blogs a bias toward YEC (Young Earth Creationism) and against the position taken by Michael Behe.  But I have to confess that I haven’t seen this alleged bias.  I haven’t seen any columns pushing for YEC.  I have seen some columns that could be taken as anti-macroevolution, and hence as differing from the position of Behe.  But an anti-evolutionary position might just as well be OEC (Old Earth Creationism) as YEC.  And in any case, while in the short run, it may be that several Discovery columns within a short period (depending on who writes the columns) have an anti-evolutionary leaning, in the long run things balance out.  Every time Discovery publishes a book by the pro-evolutionary Michael Denton, it advertises the book strongly in blogs and videos.  And not long ago, Discovery did a big retrospective celebrating the work of Michael Behe.  Over the space of any given year, the whole range of ID views is presented on Discovery.  Myers is taking too small a sample.  But that’s not surprising.  A man who will not even open a book to find out it is published by Crossway rather than Discovery, before jumping to a careless conclusion, is not likely to read Discovery blogs over the course of a year and assess the overall situation with sound judgment.

Myers makes a third error.  He writes:

Further, onj [sic] the Discovery Institute web site there are now topics on Economics, Technology and Human Exceptionalism which from the subtitles are value laden topics.

Myers writes as if this is a new development.  Clearly he has very little knowledge of Discovery.  Discovery has been publishing material on political and economic subjects for years now.  In fact, Discovery was covering most of those topics before it got into Intelligent Design at all!  Discovery started out as a think-tank to address regional economic issues, political issues, etc. and only took up the ID cause later on.  The Center for Science and Culture, where ID is dealt with, is only one of Discovery’s many operations, and that has been the case since long before BioLogos even existed.  Myers simply hasn’t done his homework.  Unfortunately, this is the case for the majority of people who post snarky comments against Discovery and ID on BioLogos.

And of course, it goes without saying that Discovery could publish on “value laden topics” — politics, economics, ethics and so on — while still publishing detached scientific analyses regarding the possibility of design in nature.  Myers writes as if the fact that Discovery publishes books on politics and economics means that its discussions of scientific matters are automatically compromised.  But that does not follow, nor is Myers being consistent in his application here: I don’t see him complaining that Richard Lewontin’s evolutionary biology is compromised because Lewontin is an outspoken Leftist on political and economic matters.  Consistency, of course, has never been a feature of most of the writing in the BioLogos comments section.  The goal is always to bash ID and Discovery, by any means fair or foul.

Normally, it would not be worth the effort to expend time refuting a writer as sloppy and lacking in coherent argument as “Ronald_Myers.”  Taken by himself, he is insignificant in the greater world of design/evolution/creation debates.  However, there are hundreds, probably more like thousands, of people with similar intellectual and literary defects out there on the Internet, posting on BioLogos and other blog sites without thinking before they post, and in the process spreading their existing prejudices to readers who are honestly trying to figure out exactly what ID is all about, what Discovery stands for, etc.  So from time to time it is a good thing to demolish such examples of poor research and bad reasoning.  The open-minded, inquiring reader needs to see how badly ID is being distorted by its detractors.

If there are any UD readers who also have posting privileges on BioLogos (I was stripped of mine by BioLogos management), they are free to post a link to this article in reply to Myers’s comment.  And Myers is of course welcome to reply here to my comments, if he thinks I have in any way misrepresented him or failed to deal with his arguments.

 

 

 

28 Replies to “Correcting Misinformation about ID: Yet Another Irresponsible Critic in the BioLogos Comments Section

  1. 1
  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    as to this claim from the BioLogos blogger:

    The Discovery Institute claims to be a scientific institution so the philosophical and theological critiques are out of bounds. By publishing this book the Discovery Institute surrendered all claim to being scientific

    First off, in order to be ‘scientific’, a theory, first and foremost, must be falsifiable. In regards to falsification, ID qualifies as a science whereas Darwinian evolution has “surrendered all claim to being scientific”:

    Darwin’s Theory vs Falsification – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rzw0JkuKuQ

    It might also surprise that particular blogger to know that ALL of science, especially including Darwinian evolution itself, is dependent on basic Theistic presuppositions about the rational intelligibility of the universe and our ability to comprehend that rational intelligibility. Science is simply impossible without those basic Theistic presuppositions,,,

    Science and Theism: Concord, not Conflict* – Robert C. Koons
    IV. The Dependency of Science Upon Theism (Page 21)
    Excerpt: Far from undermining the credibility of theism, the remarkable success of science in modern times is a remarkable confirmation of the truth of theism. It was from the perspective of Judeo-Christian theism—and from the perspective alone—that it was predictable that science would have succeeded as it has. Without the faith in the rational intelligibility of the world and the divine vocation of human beings to master it, modern science would never have been possible, and, even today, the continued rationality of the enterprise of science depends on convictions that can be reasonably grounded only in theistic metaphysics.
    http://www.robkoons.net/media/.....ffd524.pdf

    Where Darwinian evolution goes off the rails, theologically speaking, as far as science itself is concerned, is that it uses bad liberal theology to try to establish the legitimacy of its atheistic claims, all the while forgetting that it itself, in order to stay scientific, is absolutely dependent on basic Theistic presuppositions about the rational intelligibility of the universe and the ability of our minds to comprehend it.

    In establishing the fact that Darwinists use bad liberal theology to try to establish their science, it is interesting to point out that Charles Darwin’s degree was in liberal theology and was not in mathematics. nor any other field that would be considered essential for founding of a brand new branch of science.

    Charles Darwin – The Rest of the Story
    Excerpt: Charles Darwin received a general degree in Theology from Cambridge, graduating in 1831.,,,
    he almost became an Anglican Minister and his degree was in Theology.
    http://creationanswers.net/biographies/CDarwin.htm

    In fact, the liberal ‘unscientific’ Anglican clergy of Darwin’s day were very eager to jump on the Darwinian bandwagon from the beginning, whilst the conservative ‘scientific’ clergy reacted against Darwin’s theory:

    Reactions to Origin of Species
    “Religious views were mixed, with the Church of England scientific establishment reacting against the book, while liberal Anglicans strongly supported Darwin’s natural selection as an instrument of God’s design.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R.....of_Species

    Pastor Joe Boot and Dr. Cornelius Hunter have both done work exposing the faulty liberal theology that underlays Darwinian thought..

    The Descent of Darwin (The Faulty Theological Foundation of Darwinism) – Pastor Joe Boot – video – starts at 16:30 minute mark
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKzUSWU7c2s&feature=player_detailpage#t=996

    Darwin’s God: Evolution and the Problem of Evil – 2001
    Excerpt: (Cornelius Hunter) shows how Darwin’s theological concerns-particularly his inability to reconcile a loving, all-powerful God with the cruelty, waste, and quandaries of nature-led him to develop the theory of evolution.
    Hunter provides the crucial key to engaging the intelligent design debate in the context of modern theology. He addresses the influences of Milton, rationalism, the enlightenment, and Deism, quoting extensively from Darwin’s journals, letters, and scientific writings.
    https://www.amazon.com/Darwins-God-Evolution-Problem-Evil/dp/1587430118

    To get this point across even further, Charles Darwin’s book itself, Origin of Species, instead of being filled with experimentation and mathematics, is replete with bad liberal theology.

    Charles Darwin, Theologian: Major New Article on Darwin’s Use of Theology in the Origin of Species – May 2011
    Excerpt: The Origin supplies abundant evidence of theology in action; as Dilley observes:
    I have argued that, in the first edition of the Origin, Darwin drew upon at least the following positiva theological claims in his case for descent with modification (and against special creation):
    1. Human beings are not justified in believing that God creates in ways analogous to the intellectual powers of the human mind.
    2. A God who is free to create as He wishes would create new biological limbs de novo rather than from a common pattern.
    3. A respectable deity would create biological structures in accord with a human conception of the ‘simplest mode’ to accomplish the functions of these structures.
    4. God would only create the minimum structure required for a given part’s function.
    5. God does not provide false empirical information about the origins of organisms.
    6. God impressed the laws of nature on matter.
    7. God directly created the first ‘primordial’ life.
    8. God did not perform miracles within organic history subsequent to the creation of the first life.
    9. A ‘distant’ God is not morally culpable for natural pain and suffering.
    10. The God of special creation, who allegedly performed miracles in organic history, is not plausible given the presence of natural pain and suffering.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....46391.html

    To this day, Darwinists are still very much dependent of bad liberal theology, instead of any compelling scientific evidence, in order to try to make their case for Darwinian evolution.

    Methodological Naturalism: A Rule That No One Needs or Obeys – Paul Nelson – September 22, 2014
    Excerpt: It is a little-remarked but nonetheless deeply significant irony that evolutionary biology is the most theologically entangled science going. Open a book like Jerry Coyne’s Why Evolution is True (2009) or John Avise’s Inside the Human Genome (2010), and the theology leaps off the page. A wise creator, say Coyne, Avise, and many other evolutionary biologists, would not have made this or that structure; therefore, the structure evolved by undirected processes. Coyne and Avise, like many other evolutionary theorists going back to Darwin himself, make numerous “God-wouldn’t-have-done-it-that-way” arguments, thus predicating their arguments for the creative power of natural selection and random mutation on implicit theological assumptions about the character of God and what such an agent (if He existed) would or would not be likely to do.,,,
    ,,,with respect to one of the most famous texts in 20th-century biology, Theodosius Dobzhansky’s essay “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution” (1973).
    Although its title is widely cited as an aphorism, the text of Dobzhansky’s essay is rarely read. It is, in fact, a theological treatise. As Dilley (2013, p. 774) observes:
    “Strikingly, all seven of Dobzhansky’s arguments hinge upon claims about God’s nature, actions, purposes, or duties. In fact, without God-talk, the geneticist’s arguments for evolution are logically invalid. In short, theology is essential to Dobzhansky’s arguments.”,,
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....89971.html

    In fact, I would argue that BioLogos itself is very much a continuation of the ‘bad liberal theology’ that lay at the founding of Darwinian evolution.

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    That Darwinists would still today be so dependent on such a faulty theological foundation based in bad liberal theology, in order to try to give force to their arguments, is, contrary to what Darwinists may believe, actually another compelling argument that drives my point home that basic Theistic presuppositions are necessary for us to even be able to coherently practice science in the first place.

    Darwinists, with their vital dependence on bad liberal theology in order to try to make their case for Darwinian evolution are, as Cornelius Van Til put it, like the child who must climb up onto his father’s lap into order to slap his face.

    “In other words, the non-Christian needs the truth of the Christian religion in order to attack it. As a child needs to sit on the lap of its father in order to slap the father’s face, so the unbeliever, as a creature, needs God the Creator and providential controller of the universe in order to oppose this God. Without this God, the place on which he stands does not exist. He cannot stand in a vacuum.”
    Cornelius Van Til, Essays on Christian Education (The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company: Phillipsburg, NJ, 1979).

    Since BioLogos also champions what is termed “Methodological Naturalism”, here is a supplemental note on that:

    Darwin’s Theory vs Falsification – 39:45 minute mark
    https://youtu.be/8rzw0JkuKuQ?t=2387
    Excerpt: Basically, because of reductive materialism (and/or methodological naturalism), the atheistic materialist is forced to claim that he is merely a ‘neuronal illusion’ (Coyne, Dennett, etc..), who has the illusion of free will (Harris), who has unreliable beliefs about reality (Plantinga), who has illusory perceptions of reality (Hoffman), who, since he has no real time empirical evidence substantiating his grandiose claims, must make up illusory “just so stories” with the illusory, and impotent, ‘designer substitute’ of natural selection (Behe, Gould, Sternberg), so as to ‘explain away’ the appearance (i.e. illusion) of design (Crick, Dawkins), and who must make up illusory meanings and purposes for his life since the reality of the nihilism inherent in his atheistic worldview is too much for him to bear (Weikart), and who must also hold morality to be subjective and illusory since he has rejected God.
    Bottom line, nothing is real in the atheist’s worldview, least of all, morality, meaning and purposes for life.,,,
    Paper with references for each claim page; Page 34:
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1pAYmZpUWFEi3hu45FbQZEvGKsZ9GULzh8KM0CpqdePk/edit

    Thus, although the Darwinian Atheist (And liberal Theologians of the BioLogos variety) firmly believes he is on the terra firma of science (in his appeal, even demand, for methodological naturalism), the fact of the matter is that, when examining the details of his materialistic/naturalistic worldview, it is found that Darwinists/Atheists are adrift in an ocean of fantasy and imagination with no discernible anchor for reality to grab on to.

    It would be hard to fathom a worldview more antagonistic to modern science than Atheistic materialism and/or methodological naturalism have turned out to be.

    2 Corinthians 10:5
    Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

    Matthew 7:24-27
    “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

    One final note, since Christianity was necessary for the founding of modern science, then it should not be all that surprising to find out that Christianity also brings us what can be termed ‘an ultimate closure to science’ ,,,, in that Christ’s resurrection from the dead provides a very plausible, empirically backed, reconciliation between Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity into what is called the quote unquote “Theory of Everything”:

    Quantum Mechanics, Special Relativity, General Relativity and Christianity – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4QDy1Soolo

    Verse:

    Colossians 1:15-20
    The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

  4. 4
    eddieunmuzzled says:

    kurx78:

    Thanks for responding, but I fail to see where you have interacted with the points I made in my article. I was objecting not to people who criticize ID or who criticize Discovery; I was objecting to people who criticize either ID or Discovery without checking their facts first, about what ID and Discovery actually claim. Do you not see that Ronald_Myers has misrepresented what ID and Discovery claim?

  5. 5
    aarceng says:

    “… now the blogs moderated by Discovery Institute speak more like YEC people …”

    As a YEC myself I’ll call this one false.

  6. 6
    eddieunmuzzled says:

    To aarceng @5:

    Thanks for your comment. It’s always good to hear another side. One man’s “too much YEC” is apparently another man’s “not enough YEC.” Myers needs to justify his claim.

    Maybe Myers will reply to you here. I’ve tried to alert him through indirect means that he is being discussed here. Of course, if you don’t want to wait on that mere possibility, you can always sign up to post on BioLogos yourself (it’s free) and address your objection to him there. I’d love to see that happen.

    Myers is already being chastised on BioLogos for his unfounded attribution of the Crossway book to Discovery. See the BioLogos thread already indicated, and look near the bottom for the posts of “Daniel Groovimus” — whose identity is unknown to me, but who is nicely holding Myers’s feet to the fire. He is also giving the virulently anti-ID poster George Brooks a hard time, so that’s an added bonus.

  7. 7
    aarceng says:

    I’ve just been to the Biologos site trying to work out what they believe. It seems they are “evolutionary creationists” rather than “progressive creationists”. That is they believe that God created the big bang loaded with all the information and fine tuning to produce man without further intervention, then God could once again step into the picture to imbue (is that the right word?) man with the divine image and begin a spiritual relationship with him.

    ID on the other hand believes that some steps in evolution require intervention to provide information and overcome the barrier of irreducible complexity. So ID appears to be closer to progressive creation.

    However rather than starting with a belief in a particular creator ID infers the unidentified Intelligent Designer from examination of living things and the constraints of the physical systems in which they live. If the system does not have the capacity to produce ATP Synthase or new proteins then an alternative explanation is required.

  8. 8
    eddieunmuzzled says:

    aarceng:

    You are giving BioLogos too much credit. Yes, they (or to be more precise, most of them) believe that things went from the Big Bang to man “without further intervention”; but they don’t affirm that the Big Bang was “loaded with all the information and fine tuning to produce man.”

    If they believed that, they would be affirming a form of Intelligent Design, something along the lines of Michael Denton. But in fact they don’t believe that man was a necessary outcome of the evolutionary process, since they affirm that the process works by random mutations, and according to the understanding of their geneticists, it wouldn’t be possible to pre-load just the right random mutations into the original configuration of the universe; you can’t “store up” random mutations for future use in that way. So from a scientific point of view, the “right mutations” were an accident, not at all front-loaded.

    So how, then, can they attribute the emergence of man to God at all? Good question! They will say that God “ordained” the evolutionary process that produced man (though they seem careful to avoid the wording, God ordained that the evolutionary process should produce man), but they have never had any explanation how a process depending on random changes could be ordained to produce any specified outcome. And if you press the question, they get downright irritated.

    Your statement about ID is not quite accurate. ID does not assert that “intervention” is necessary. That is a popular interpretation of ID, but in fact “intervention” is not part of the definition of ID in any of the statements you will find on the Discovery Institute web site. What ID insists on as necessary is not “intervention” but “design”. ID leaders all agree that things as they are required design; they differ over whether this also required intervention. Steve Meyer thinks that intervention at some points would have been necessary; Michael Denton thinks that it would not be, that the process could have been “front-loaded” (as many say, though that is not Denton’s own term) so that man (or something very close to man) was a logically necessary outcome. Michael Behe allows for both possibilities, a “front-loaded” implementation of design and an “interventionist” implementation. (For a careful treatment of this question by Behe, see the Discovery website here.) So one can be an ID proponent without insisting on intervention.

    The difference between ID and BioLogos is that BioLogos leaders (again, with the odd exception) insist that, as far as science is concerned, no design is necessary; everything (including the origin of life, and the transformation of a primate ancestor into a 100% human being) could have happened due to natural laws and chemical and genetic accidents (pruned by natural selection); for BioLogos proponents, even though science gives us no reason to suppose that design was necessary, we should believe in design anyway, because the Bible tells us God is behind everything. So the BioLogians believe in divine design in spite of the fact that (in their view) the universe possesses adequate causal resources to create life from non-life, and man from slime, without any design (either front-loaded or interventionist).

    Put another way, the BioLogos account of how everything came to be is exactly the same, on the descriptive level, as the account given by atheist materialists like Richard Dawkins and Jerry Coyne; but BioLogos people, being Christian, add a theological gloss that the whole process was “ordained by God”. The ID account differs in that design is seen as an essential causal component in bringing things into being, not merely a gloss put in for reasons of personal religious faith. Thus, from ID’s point of view, it should be possible to get even religious non-believers (if they are open-minded to the evidence of nature) to concede that there is design in the natural world, whereas the BioLogos folks (again, speaking of the majority, and allowing for the odd exception) do not think it is possible to get anyone to see convincing evidence for design in nature unless they already have “the eyes of faith.”

    By all means, if you are so inclined, sign up at BioLogos and dispute points with any of the commenters. For example, you could challenge Ronald_Myers to point out where he sees YEC argumentation on the Discovery site. Just sign up to comment, then go to the page I’ve already indicated, and type a new comment into the box, tagging Myers by his BioLogos name.

  9. 9
    Silver Asiatic says:

    eddie

    but they don’t affirm that the Big Bang was “loaded with all the information and fine tuning to produce man.”

    If they believed that, they would be affirming a form of Intelligent Design ….

    Interesting. I think it’s a very weak form of ID to claim only that everything was loaded at the big bang, although fine tuning arguments in the universe are a good example of ID thought.
    For true theistic evolution, there can be no evidence of design in nature. That is a very bizarre notion. “Yes, it looks like it was designed by God (fine tuning), even atheists admit that without a multiverse there is no explanation … but in reality, fine tuning gives zero evidence of design. It doesn’t look like design at all.”

    Wow. But that’s what they say.

    The same with biology. Dawkins says that things appear to be designed. TE’s say nothing looks like it was designed. All the results in nature are what one would expect from the random release of molecules at the big bang.

    I’m sorry, but that is idiotic.

    It’s really just a religious agenda imposed on science. The TE’s I know who are academics are very embarrassed by their Christian co-religionists who are creationists (same with ID). They want to be considered sophisticated. There is a disdain for what are characterized as “creationist hicks” – basic fundamentalists.

    So, no matter what the evidence shows, they’re going to twist everything and come up with a nihilistic worldview just to avoid association with fundamentalists.

    It’s a psychological disorder. Professional vanity, desire for importance and respectability in the eyes of academic (atheist) community – who really won’t give respect anyway. And beyond all of that, it’s a knee-jerk hatred of Biblical literalism for personal theological reasons.

  10. 10
    es58 says:

    Since BioLogos explicitly rejects Deism, and ID probably gets you no more, minimally, than Deism, (and not even necessarily that, just *some* designer) that would seem to leave plenty of room for “free will”, because you can still reject any obligation on the part of individuals. ID doesn’t compel anyone to their specific conclusions, so, what’s their beef with ID? Does ID somehow rule out the conclusions they hold, any worse than “blind” evolution?

  11. 11
    Silver Asiatic says:

    I don’t see how they can reject Deism since they don’t like “Intervention”.
    I have tried discussing these things with several theistic evolutionists and I find it simply amazing that every conversation is marked by ambiguity, circular arguments and a complete refusal to recognize their own contradictions.

  12. 12
    eddieunmuzzled says:

    es58:

    When you write, “ID doesn’t compel anyone to their specific conclusions, so what’s their beef with ID?”, I don’t know who “their” refers to.

    Do you mean, what beef does BioLogos have with ID? Or does “their” refer to someone other than the folks at BioLogos?

    I’m also not sure how the subject of free will came into the picture, since the person I was quoting doesn’t mention it.

    If you can clarify what you mean, I’ll try to answer your questions.

  13. 13
    eddieunmuzzled says:

    Silver Asiatic @9:

    I’m not sure that front-loaded design is a “weak” form of ID. Supposing for the sake of argument that front-loaded design of the extreme sort were possible, i.e., that from a given first living cell with just the right genetic stuff, placed in just the right initial environment, all the species we know would necessarily follow, you couldn’t get a more rigorous carrying out of the Designer’s will than that! It would be just as effective as if the Designer had created each species individually and put them in place at separate times; i.e., it would have the same result as multiple “interventions”.

    Of course, the scientific question is, given what we know of living things, matter, energy, etc., is fully front-loaded design of such an extreme type even possible? It might not be. But in principle, it falls under intelligent design, because it is a planned outcome that only an intelligence could set up.

    What isn’t intelligent design is the scheme favored by most BioLogos types, i.e.: There is “real randomness” in the bounces of evolution, such that not even a genius geneticist with a super-computer (one with infinite calculating power and infinite memory) could predict the outcomes of evolution once it got started. Such a process could not have a very precise set of intelligently designed outcomes. Even if it were said that God, though not determining which way the random bounces would go, could see which way they would go with his foresight and thus know the outcomes in advance (which is the feeble explanation Francis Collins offers to give the impression he thinks God is actually doing something), that would not be design; it’s not design unless God not only foreknows but also foredetermines the outcomes. And a good number of the BioLogos types are dead-set against foredetermination; they think that if God predestines evolutionary outcomes he is violating the “free will” of nature and being a “tyrant” over it. (After all, they reason, God is a God of freedom and love, and love and freedom know no compulsion, right? Forcing a mushroom to evolve into a toadstool — that would be against the dignity of the mushroom, and we can’t have the creaturely dignity of mushrooms violated, can we?)

    So BioLogos’s God can’t be a “designer” in the sense that ID people mean “designer”; BioLogos can never honestly use the word “design” without scare quotes around it.

    It’s important to stress, however, that theistic evolution originally wasn’t like this. You didn’t hear early theistic evolutionists like Asa Gray, back in Darwin’s day, twisting themselves into pretzels trying to avoid saying that God designed anything. They were very up-front that God charted the course of evolution and made sure of its outcomes. It’s only modern TEs — almost all the TEs at BioLogos, and a good number of those in the ASA — who go all fidgety when the word “design” is mentioned. That’s how much Protestant evangelical theology has changed in the past 100-150 years, that divine design has become a very problematic concept for today’s Protestant evangelical evolutionists. I don’t consider this theological change to be for the better, but apparently at BioLogos they do.

  14. 14
    es58 says:

    Eddie@12 by ‘their’ I meant biologos ; What’s their beef w if. When i referred to free will it was a response to gbrooks (11 h) (reply to aarcg) use of the term over there; I assumed he was suggesting that if contradict it

  15. 15
    eddieunmuzzled says:

    es58 @ 14:

    Thanks for clarifying. I will leave you to argue with Brooks over on the BioLogos site. You can sign up there and post for free. As for BioLogos, they have all kinds of beefs with ID. On the science side, they disagree with all those IDers who reject macroevolution (which is the majority of ID supporters), because they think macroevolution is an incontrovertible fact. They disagree with Behe who accepts macroevolution, because they think Behe’s design arguments don’t work and in any case, they say, design can’t be proved. They also don’t like ID theologically because they don’t like the idea of a God who designs and plans everything, as opposed to a God who leaves his creation partly free to develop itself. And they have many other objections. You can read their site and hear what they have to say.

  16. 16
    Silver Asiatic says:

    eddieunmuzzled @13

    That was very helpful, thanks. I did not understand it at that level of detail. I appreciate the insights.

    I’m not sure that front-loaded design is a “weak” form of ID. Supposing for the sake of argument that front-loaded design of the extreme sort were possible, i.e., that from a given first living cell with just the right genetic stuff, placed in just the right initial environment, all the species we know would necessarily follow, you couldn’t get a more rigorous carrying out of the Designer’s will than that! It would be just as effective as if the Designer had created each species individually and put them in place at separate times; i.e., it would have the same result as multiple “interventions”.

    I’m not following, really. Aren’t multiple interventions where God comes in and fixes things (“meddling with natural processes”) what TEs claim ID requires?

    Then what about front loading at the moment of the Big Bang? Biologos objects even to that level of design? I wouldn’t think that’s even an intervention, since nature didn’t even exist while the design was made and implemented. That’s what I would call very weak ID – a master Design at the beginning, that included all randomness and outputs.

    Of course, the scientific question is, given what we know of living things, matter, energy, etc., is fully front-loaded design of such an extreme type even possible? It might not be. But in principle, it falls under intelligent design, because it is a planned outcome that only an intelligence could set up.

    It just struck me, no – I don’t think that kind of front-loading, at the beginning of the universe or even the beginning of life could really be ID. The reason for this, is that that front-loading means that “randomness is part of the design”. If so – then there’s no way to identify design. I think TE’s often say that. True?

    Even if it were said that God, though not determining which way the random bounces would go, could see which way they would go with his foresight and thus know the outcomes in advance (which is the feeble explanation Francis Collins offers to give the impression he thinks God is actually doing something), that would not be design; it’s not design unless God not only foreknows but also foredetermines the outcomes.

    Ok, this is the key point and I didn’t know this.
    It’s basically a theological understanding (misunderstanding).
    They’re saying that God can foreknow, but that His creation is actually totally independent of Him. Things happen, but God is not involved. From my perspective, that is a false theology. But I don’t think ID depends on one theology or not. It’s just an ordinary understanding of the difference between what is designed and what is not. It seems Biologos has to redefine what Design means.

    I wonder, do the Biologos folks all follow the same school of theology – the same teachers on the nature of God, etc? I think that would be necessary. Nobody could accept the Biologos position unless they accept that specific theology (i.e. that creation acts independently of God’s power, providence, care, etc).

    And a good number of the BioLogos types are dead-set against foredetermination; they think that if God predestines evolutionary outcomes he is violating the “free will” of nature and being a “tyrant” over it.

    That says a lot. Yes, this is the hyper-defensiveness I’ve seen. Where does this notion come from, that nature has to be totally free? Is it radical liberalism, where any kind, loving governance of a process – any shepherding or care – is considered tyranny?

    (After all, they reason, God is a God of freedom and love, and love and freedom know no compulsion, right? Forcing a mushroom to evolve into a toadstool — that would be against the dignity of the mushroom, and we can’t have the creaturely dignity of mushrooms violated, can we?)

    Weird – I’m not getting it. The mushroom has dignity because … ? It accidentally mutated that way? I think that’s the opposite. If it just evolved due to random circumstances, it has no dignity and is not a “creature”. It’s just an output of a mindless process. Right? They’re saying the mushroom is sacred and God can’t touch it?

    So BioLogos’s God can’t be a “designer” in the sense that ID people mean “designer”; BioLogos can never honestly use the word “design” without scare quotes around it.

    I did not realize they were so far gone – wow. Even atheists understand and accept what design is, in principle.

    That’s how much Protestant evangelical theology has changed in the past 100-150 years, that divine design has become a very problematic concept for today’s Protestant evangelical evolutionists.

    What do you think caused this change? Yes, it’s obviously a very twisted theology that has no roots in the past, that I can see. Is it an extreme reaction against what is perceived as fundamentalism? Is it just extreme opposition to biblical Creationism, that lumps ID into that same camp?

    I know many Catholic TE’s take that anti-ID view, because of a fear of Biblical Creationists. They didn’t want to be ridiculed. They’re very afraid that Spencer Tracy would make fun of them.

  17. 17
    Jon Garvey says:

    Even if it were said that God, though not determining which way the random bounces would go, could see which way they would go with his foresight and thus know the outcomes in advance (which is the feeble explanation Francis Collins offers to give the impression he thinks God is actually doing something), that would not be design; it’s not design unless God not only foreknows but also foredetermines the outcomes.

    Just to mention, there are some TEs who plump for a form of “Molinism”, in that he foresees all the ways “truly” random events would pan out in different possible universes, and then chooses to create the one where things go the way he wants. In that way the universe gets to be “random” or “free”, and God gets to decide the outcomes.

    It sounds OK until you realise it’s the equivalent of tossing a coin to make a decision, but keeping on until you get the “heads” you wanted all along. Logically, it’s design – but a particularly odd way to do design when you could just make something…

    …just as front loading is a great way to do thoings if you want to prove you’re a brilliant engineer, but not if you want to be a loving father (I’m down at the pub, but I’ve build machines to feed and wash you…)

  18. 18
    Silver Asiatic says:

    JG

    Logically, it’s design – but a particularly odd way to do design when you could just make something…

    Interesting. There’s no way to avoid the fact that Design is a Decision – an act that is willed. In the example you give, it doesn’t matter the method (as you say, that method is foolishly complex, inelegant and makes a strange statement about God) – but if there’s a decision (choosing one set of random events), then that is design.
    It’s like artificial selection that humans do. Or, in other words, “guided evolution”, where some outputs are selected and others prevented by a guiding intelligence.
    When we observe that unguided randomness cannot produce the output, then this is evidence of ID.

  19. 19
    eddieunmuzzled says:

    Silver Asiatic @ 16:

    1. “I’m not following, really. Aren’t multiple interventions where God comes in and fixes things (“meddling with natural processes”) what TEs claim ID requires?”

    Compare these two scenarios:

    A. God does a miracle to create planets. Then he does a new miracle to creation oxygen atmospheres and oceans. Then he does a new miracle to create the first life. Then another miracle to create multi-celled life. Then another to create vertebrates, then another to create mammals, then another to create primates, then another to create man.

    B. God sets up the universe so that, by purely natural causes, hydrogen gas will turn into stars which will produce planets with atmospheres and water which will produce life which will produce vertebrates etc.

    In both scenarios, God is the designer of the universe, of every last detail of the universe. The difference is that the design in A is implemented by a series of interventions, whereas the design in B is (after the initial miracle of creating matter and natural laws) implemented entirely through natural causes without interventions.

    Scenario A falls under ID and also under creationism. Scenario B falls under ID and also under evolutionism.

    Of course there can be combinations, where there are long stretches of purely natural development mixed in with acts of intervention. Steve Meyer perhaps conceives of things in this way, and maybe Michael Behe as well, with Behe supposing the natural component to be more extensive. But in principle, the question of design is separate from the question of how many interventions there are. That’s why a YEC creationist like Paul Nelson, an OEC creationist like Steve Meyer, an evolutionist like Michael Behe, and a rigorously naturalistic evolutionist like Michael Denton, all count as ID proponents.

    Does that help?

    2. “Then what about front loading at the moment of the Big Bang? Biologos objects even to that level of design?”

    Not explicitly. BioLogos would presumably like the pure naturalism and non-interventionism of the idea. Nonetheless, not a single BioLogos leader has explicitly endorsed that scenario, in the nine-year existence of BioLogos. One non-BioLogos EC, Denis Lamoureux, perhaps endorses it. You’d have to ask him.

    3. “The reason for this, is that that front-loading means that “randomness is part of the design”.”

    No, there is no requirement in front-loading for randomness to be involved. In fact, if there is “real ontological randomness”, to use Jon Garvey’s term, it’s hard to imagine how front-loading could possibly work. The front-loading engineer couldn’t possibly guarantee that some future random mutation wouldn’t divert the whole evolutionary process off course. Absolutely strict front-loading seems to be possible only if one assumes a kind of Laplacean determinism about natural causes.

    Of course, the term “front-loading” isn’t used uniformly. Mike Gene (now missing in action in these discussions) used it in a less deterministic sense, which could include randomness and a less fixed set of outcomes. But when ID people use the term, they mean that the future outcomes of evolution are determined by the initial configuration of the first life, or by the initial configuration of the universe at the Big Bang. I think the BioLogos people don’t like the concept because they don’t like the deterministic flavor of it; as I said above, they like to think that God leaves nature “free” in some sense.

    4. On mushrooms and dignity, etc. It was Darrel Falk who on BioLogos openly proclaimed the idea that God wouldn’t deny nature its “freedom”, and that this implied non-determinacy of evolutionary outcomes. The mushroom example is my sarcastic own, not Falk’s, and is intended to show the absurdity of Falk’s argument. But Dennis Venema seconded Falk’s “non-Calvinistic” view of the openness of evolution, and Ken Miller, a leading EC, stressed nature’s “adult” freedom as well. I’m less familiar with the exact phrasing of Polkinghorne, but he is an Open Theist and as such does not find the idea of a determined future very appealing, so he may well line up with Falk, Miller, etc. I’m not saying that all ECs carry the idea to such extremes as the folks I have mentioned, but it’s a prominent enough idea in EC that it deserves attention (and in my view, rebuke).

    5. Finally, yes, I think at least some ECs are or in the past were afraid that Spencer Tracy would make fun of them. Many of the top leaders are ex-YECs, and as YECs practicing science, they were stung by criticism from evolutionists, i.e., that no one could be a good scientist without accepting evolution. Nobody likes to be mocked by his fellow-professionals, and to me it’s a psychological impossibility that this isn’t one of the motives that contributed to YEC to EC conversion — to avoid being mocked and belittled. Of course, I don’t deny that the ECs genuinely believe there is strong evidence for evolution. But I do think the mockery and the sense of second-class citizenship in the world of science was one of the factors that drove many of them to reconsider evolution and eventually accept it. I don’t say that is their motivation for accepting evolution now, but I think it played a role along the way.

  20. 20
    eddieunmuzzled says:

    Jon Garvey @ 17:

    Thanks for the refinement of the situation. I agree that Molinism has been appealed to, to hold together “real randomness” with divine planning.

    It has always troubled me, however, to observe that these EC leaders who appeal to Molinism (a very difficult technical position in medieval philosophy) are scientists who do not appear to have read even the less esoteric, more basic works of theology by standard authors such as Aquinas, Calvin, Luther, and Augustine. Their sudden interest in Molinism has all the appearance of arising not out of a deep study of theology for its own sake, but out of a desire to find some theological position that will allow them to keep evolutionary randomness along with more traditional faith. In almost every case, these EC scientists appear to have heard about Molinism from other ECs and not because they are in the habit of reading systematic Christian theology, and they seem to have latched onto Molinism because it gives them a big theological name by which to justify the position they came to on other grounds, i.e., that real randomness drives evolution. I can’t imagine that Collins, Giberson, Falk, Venema etc. would have any interest in Molinism if it weren’t for that.

    After all, one doesn’t hear them talking about other equally technical theological writers from the same period, such as Suarez. It looks as if they are merely quarrying, just as they repeatedly quarry the statement from Calvin on the waters above the heavens, without having read much else from Calvin, or the statement from Augustine on Christians accepting worldly science, without having read much else from Augustine. They seem to *use* traditional theological writing, rather than learn their Christian thinking from it. And I’ve always found that intellectually offensive.

    I agree also with your further comment on Molinism. I guess Mike Gene holds to a sort of broadly Molinist approach (though I don’t say he has read any Molinist primary literature), since he has used the “God picks a total universe” idea before. I myself find the idea contrived and unpersuasive.

  21. 21
    StephenB says:

    eddieunmuzzled

    but they have never had any explanation how a process depending on random changes could be ordained to produce any specified outcome. And if you press the question, they get downright irritated.

    This point is *big,* *big,* “big.* I have said essentially the same thing on this site many times using the same vocabulary (random process >> specified outcome.) How do you get from there to here? When I press them on the point, they head for the tall grass.

  22. 22
    StephenB says:

    Jon Garvey

    Just to mention, there are some TEs who plump for a form of “Molinism”, in that he foresees all the ways “truly” random events would pan out in different possible universes, and then chooses to create the one where things go the way he wants. In that way the universe gets to be “random” or “free”, and God gets to decide the outcomes.

    It seems to me that increasing the number of possible universes, itself an incredibly indirect, exaggerated, and unrealistic means of getting an acceptable outcome. would still fall short of producing the specified outcome. Can the creator guarantee the specific outcome with a trillion random processes that are open to producing something else? Wouldn’t that be the same as getting closer and closer without really getting there?

  23. 23
    Jon Garvey says:

    Can the creator guarantee the specific outcome with a trillion random processes that are open to producing something else? Wouldn’t that be the same as getting closer and closer without really getting there?

    I suppose any number of possible universes less than infinity would be conceivable in God’s mind. Just think of a googolplex and make it to the power of googolplex. It’s like the multiverse where any conceivable event will happen in at least one of them, only he discards all the others before they exist.

    The silliness is evident from the limiting case. God envisages a test universe in which only one event happens, a coin toss with (we’ll say for argument’s sake) an equal “chance” of heads or tails. He can make the one where the chance turns out heads, or the one where it turns out tails.

    The problem is, whichever one he makes simply abolishes the chance element altogether – he has determined a universe where it’s 100% going to be, say, heads. And that is no different from his simply choosing to make a deterministic “heads” universe – in fact, that’s exactly what he’s done.

    But (without going off on my hobby-horse), since true “ontological” chance would be, by definition, an event without an adequate set of causes, it’s suggesting that God can cause a non-cause to exist, or that he can will an unwilled event. Crazy talk.

  24. 24
    StephenB says:

    Jon

    The problem is, whichever one he makes simply abolishes the chance element altogether – he has determined a universe where it’s 100% going to be, say, heads. And that is no different from his simply choosing to make a deterministic “heads” universe – in fact, that’s exactly what he’s done.

    Precisely. It is his decision, not the process, that determines the outcome. The process has just come along for the ride.

  25. 25
    Jon Garvey says:

    Precisely. It is his decision, not the process, that determines the outcome. The process has just come along for the ride.

    Indeed – and that, of course, is what final causation is all about. If I decide to buy a screwdriver I have to invoke adequate efficient causes to do so. I might go myself, and will scarcely think about how I will drive to the shop, let alone what muscles I use.

    But if my wife says she’s going that way anyway and will happily drop by the hardware shop get the screwdriver for me, it’s all one as far as my “design” to get a screwdriver is concerned. The process has, indeed, just come along for the ride.

  26. 26
    Silver Asiatic says:

    eddieunmuzzled @19 – that was very helpful, thank you.

    not a single BioLogos leader has explicitly endorsed that scenario, in the nine-year existence of BioLogos. One non-BioLogos EC, Denis Lamoureux, perhaps endorses it. You’d have to ask him.

    Rather than ask him, I will accept that it’s one of those things they don’t like to talk about and just leave it at that. You clarified for me that the TE/EC is reactionary and religious at its base. It seems that they accept materialist evolution, but then merely claim that they see no conflict with religion. If the doctrines of faith need to be changed, then so be it. I know Ken Miller has stated that “mankind’s appearance on this planet was not preordained, that we are here… as an afterthought, a minor detail, a happenstance in a history that might just as well have left us out.” — that God did not intend or even know that human beings would emerge from evolution. The same Ken Miller claims to be a faithful Catholic, but he has to change his religion, radically, to reconcile it with his scientific views.

    But Dennis Venema seconded Falk’s “non-Calvinistic” view of the openness of evolution, and Ken Miller, a leading EC, stressed nature’s “adult” freedom as well.

    I did not realize that an opposition to Calvinism was also a motive behind TE/EC belief, but it does make sense that it is.

    Nobody likes to be mocked by his fellow-professionals, and to me it’s a psychological impossibility that this isn’t one of the motives that contributed to YEC to EC conversion — to avoid being mocked and belittled.

    That is an important confirmation of what I thought. The ridicule and hostility from atheists towards creationists has been cruel and unjust – outright lying and insults are common. Or at least, it was so 20 years ago. I think some of that has died-down (the extreme hostility), and also thanks to ID and the internet, more people are unafraid of the term “creationist” so that is not working as well as a term of derision.
    In any case, I am sympathetic with anyone who has to work in a hostile environment and I can understand how it can cause a reaction.

  27. 27
    StephenB says:

    eddie

    …it’s not design unless God not only foreknows but also foredetermines the outcomes. And a good number of the BioLogos types are dead-set against foredetermination; they think that if God predestines evolutionary outcomes he is violating the “free will” of nature and being a “tyrant” over it.

    Yes, this is another vitally important point that I wish TEs could understand: God’s foreknowledge does not impact man’s free will. There is no causal connection. It is what Fos does, not what God knows, that counts.

  28. 28
    StephenB says:

    @27 was a misprint. What I meant to say was that God’s decision to arrange for a specified evolutionary outcome has no impact on man’s capacity for free will. It is also true to say, though, that God’s foreknowledge also has no impact on human free will.

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