Intelligent Design

Francis Beckwith Replies to UD Critics

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FBOver on Biologos, Francis Beckwith has posted a third and a fourth instalment of his “Intelligent Design and Me” series.  He has dedicated these instalments to some of his critics, naming some UD people specifically, and also discussing the views of Jay Richards of the Discovery Institute.

I’m grateful that Dr. Beckwith has seen fit to reply.  I must confess that I had almost written him off as a “drive-by shooter”, but now I must say “better late than never”, and thank him for his effort to get back to us.

First, as one of the UD people mentioned by Dr. Beckwith, I should apologize for misreporting, in my earlier column, some of the chronological details of Dr. Beckwith’s religious and intellectual life.  Dr. Beckwith has corrected me on these in his new article.  I can assure him that there was no conscious attempt to misrepresent anything, and I am glad he has reminded us that his adoption of Thomism preceded his return to Rome by many years.  This makes the important point that Thomism is a theological approach rather than a religious confession, and is open to Christians other than Roman Catholics.

I won’t comment on Dr. Beckwith’s new articles point by point, but will focus only on two main ideas which I think need discussion.

A.  Dr. Beckwith tells us that Thomas Aquinas did not have an argument from design in the style of William Paley, but an argument from the existence of final causes.  I grant that there is no Paley-like argument in the famous “Five Ways”.  But does it follow that arguments in the style of Paley are incompatible with the argument of Aquinas?  Is there anything in Aquinas’s writing which would lead us to believe that he would have rejected Paley-like arguments?

I will not pose as an expert on Aquinas.  We do know, however, that Aquinas was a very thorough student of Aristotle, and that his writings about nature are very heavily influenced by Aristotle’s conceptions.  We know also that Aristotle himself was a good observational biologist (as even Darwin confessed), which is quite understandable given that Aristotle’s father was a physician.  Aristotle was very much aware of the “adaptation of means to ends” in the bodies of plants and animals, and very much aware of what we now call “integrated complexity” in living systems.  He at least at one point appears (though the meaning of the passage is debatable) to heap scorn on a very Darwinian-sounding hypothesis of Empedocles.

More important, Aristotle constantly makes use, in his descriptions of nature, of the analogy of the artisan or craftsman.  True, he does not understand God to be literally an artisan.  Nonetheless, the fact that he so often recurs to the artisan analogy suggests that natural things, and especially living things, are very much like the products of craftsmanship in key respects.  One of the major similarities is of course that neither the products of craft nor those of nature occur by “chance”.  This is not Paley, but it is not incompatible with Paley, either.  If Aquinas absorbed Aristotle’s teaching about nature, which I believe he did, is it inconceivable that he took the artisan analogy with some seriousness?  Can we be certain that Aquinas would have rejected Paley-like arguments as bad philosophy and bad theology?  Need all modern Thomists reject Paley-like arguments?

B.  Dr. Beckwith complains that ID confuses categories by offering “intelligent design” as a scientific theory, and expecting it to defeat “naturalism”, which is a philosophical position.  If I understand Dr. Beckwith correctly, Thomism opposes naturalism, not on the level of natural science, but on the level of the philosophy of nature.  Thus, Thomism avoids category confusion, and leaves modern natural science free to its own methods and investigations, while steadfastly upholding a teleological view of nature on the metaphysical level.

In order to respond properly to this, I must make clear my own notion of intelligent design.  And let me say that I have no authority to speak for Uncommon Descent, or for The Discovery Institute, or for “ID” as a movement.  I am simply going to state what I take to be the essence of intelligent design, based on my intensive reading of the major theoretical works of its leading proponents and associates, and my intensive reading of its critics and its rejoinders to its critics, over the past several years.

First, I concede that my notion of the essence of ID is a filtered and idealized notion, stripped of its cultural associations and given a consistency that it does not always present.  It incorporates elements from Behe, Meyer, Dembski, Denton and others, and attempts to give these ideas a rough unity, but does not claim that it can reconcile itself with every individual statement these writers have ever made, let alone every statement about design or evolution that a fundamentalist pastor in Georgia or Oklahoma might have made.

I see ID as an attempt to construct an argument for the design of living nature, based on the empirical facts of living nature.  The most striking fact about living nature is its high degree of integrated complexity.  In a cell, physiological system, or organism, individual molecular, cellular or organic systems, each extraordinarily complex, interact harmoniously with other individual systems.  The levels of complexity, interaction, efficiency, etc. are far beyond what the best human engineers have been able to achieve in inorganic systems. 

We have no experience of such complex integrated systems being built up by chance, or by any process largely dominated by purely contingent events.  Yes, crystals and snowflakes can form naturally into elaborate geometrical patterns, but crystals and snowflakes do not eat, breathe, digest, walk, fly, mate, think, laugh, cry or sacrifice themselves for a political or religious idea.  Their mathematical structures are neither machinelike nor lifelike; they do not display the adaption of means to ends that both machines and organisms do. 

Insofar as we are able to calculate the odds against complex organic systems forming by chance, or by any evolutionary process largely driven by chance, we come up with numbers so large as to be beyond human imagination. 

When we take all of this into account, and when we ask the question:  “Could complex integrated organic systems have arisen without any input, direct or indirect, from intelligence or something in the universe that resembles intelligence?”, it would appear that the most rational answer, i.e., the one most in accord with evidence and logic, is:  “Based on our current understanding of nature, no.”  And with this negative answer, the positive suggestion of intelligent design is implied.

Now, note that I have spoken only of “design”, not of “miracle”, “intervention”, “supernatural causes”, filling in “gaps” in naturalistic explanation, etc.  In my view, ID, in its purest form, has nothing to do with these things.  In my view, ID is a theory of design detection, applied to nature, especially to biological nature.  It detects design, not how the design was implemented.  And it detects present patterns, not past events which might account for those patterns.  In other words, ID is (or at least in my view should be) an a-historical theory of design, not a historical theory of “origins”. 

Is this nonsense?  Am I ignoring the obvious fact that many ID proponents, major and minor, have insisted that ID is a theory of origins?  And one that involves divine activity?

Not at all.  It is inevitable that human beings will ask origins questions, i.e., “How did this design get into nature?”  And it is almost inevitable that some design theorists will conclude that certain designs could not have found their way into nature without the direct manipulation of nature by God.  But neither an affirmation of a particular historical narrative nor an insistence upon divine interventions is essential to ID theory as I understand it.

So if Nelson believes that direct creation was necessary and that macroevolution did not occur, and if Behe accepts macroevolution and is open-minded about whether or not it needed to be executed or supplemented by divine intervention, and if Denton accepts macroevolution and utterly rejects intervention, this is not an inconsistency in ID theory as such; it is a difference of opinion about second-tier questions among ID proponents.  All of them are agreed that neo-Darwinian processes, which lean heavily upon chance (the purportedly non-chance character of natural selection notwithstanding), are not a credible explanation of the empirically verifiable facts of nature.  Chance and selection may have played a role, but without the co-ordinating effects of design, they cannot give a rational accounting for the existence of life and life-forms as we know them.

Now, I come back to Dr. Beckwith’s objection.  I don’t think that ID proper uses science to defeat “naturalism”, even if ID proponents sometimes slip into that language.  I think that ID proper uses science to defeat “chance”.  The Paley-like arguments of ID do not refute naturalism as such; rather, they refute only that form of naturalism which is intensely dependent upon chance, upon blessed combinations of mutations which are (to use neo-Darwinian language) “random with respect to the outcome”.  ID is completely compatible with naturalism of other sorts.  For example, it is compatible with a naturalism in which the whole course of evolution is laid out by physical and biochemical necessities programmed into the universe from the moment of Creation. 

Thus, I think it is wrong to oppose ID to “naturalism”.  I think it is wrong not only when the foes of ID do this, but even when the friends of ID do it.  ID is, or should be, neutral on the question of “naturalism”, if by “naturalism” is meant only “the Designer implements his design through wholly natural means, without having to make special interventions”.  ID has no axe to grind against naturalism in that sense.  Of course, if by “naturalism” is meant, “there is nothing in the universe but nature, and nature does not include God”, then naturalism is just materialism and atheism, and automatically excludes a Designer.  Obviously ID is opposed to naturalism in that sense.  But in the former sense, there is nothing in ID that rules out wholly naturalistic macroevolution.  The design can be conceived of as built into the universe, to unfold or evolve over time. 

Note that a wholly naturalistic version of ID, just as much as any interventionist version, is compatible with Paleyan arguments.  However, it does not involve the notion that God assembled each species bone by bone and feather by feather, as the clockmaker image suggests.  Rather, what living things have in common with clocks is the adaptation of means to ends.  This does not require that they were actually, historically speaking, built as clocks are built.  I doubt that even Paley ever meant that, and certainly I don’t think that is what Behe, Denton and Sternberg envision when they talk about design within an evolutionary process.

So I throw the question back to Dr. Beckwith:  If ID can in principle accept macroevolution as a historical process;  if ID can go further than this, and even contemplate macroevolution as a wholly natural (though intelligently pre-planned) process; if ID does not require that each species or even each body plan be built up miraculously, via supernatural interventions, feather by feather or bone by bone; if ID can conceive of evolution as the unfolding of a latent design rather than the constant imposition of an extrinsic design —  is ID still necessarily incompatible with the view of final causation held by Thomas Aquinas or by modern Thomists?  Is it only the miracles, the interventionism and the literal understanding of the clockmaker metaphor that are unacceptable to Thomism?  Or is the idea of design detection itself, even in the context of a seamless naturalism, antithetical to Thomist thought?  Is it simply wrong, from a Thomist point of view, for a Christian to think that the details of God’s creation might point decisively against chance and decisively in favor of design?

45 Replies to “Francis Beckwith Replies to UD Critics

  1. 1
    Phaedros says:

    Dr. Cudworth-

    From what I’ve seen of the Thomists’ arguments on this blog it does not seem to me that they are really all that interested in what Aquinas may or may not have thought of Intelligent Design and are more interested in preserving the status quo. They may feel they have a good niche in the status quo and thus don’t want it to be shaken up too much. As for me, there is absolutely no reason to believe that Aquinas would have been opposed to finding empirical evidence of design, and thus of teleology and something indicative of a final cause, in nature. I would have thought a Thomist would have been more open to the general revelation found in nature. You know…that idea Aquinas had of two types of revelation….

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R.....c_theology

    “Thomas Aquinas believed in two types of revelation from God, general revelation and special revelation. General revelation occurs through observation of the created order. Such observations can logically lead to important conclusions, such as the existence of God.”

  2. 2
    Upright BiPed says:

    I think some of the comments made in Aquinas name about ID are baseless. If Aquinas was anything it was a deeply honest intellect and an incredible investigator. To think Thomas Aquinas would have left the modern evidence of design rattling around in DNA without seizing upon its significance is just…it sells him short of the legitamacy he earned in history.

  3. 3
    kairosfocus says:

    Mr Cudworth

    Well argued.

    Thought-provoking, and also it underscores why it may be wise to speak descriptively of evolutionary materialism rather than naturalism.

    GEM of TKI

  4. 4
    Nakashima says:

    Mr Cudworth,

    If ID can in principle accept macroevolution as a historical process; if ID can go further than this, and even contemplate macroevolution as a wholly natural (though intelligently pre-planned) process; if ID does not require that each species or even each body plan be built up miraculously, via supernatural interventions, feather by feather or bone by bone; if ID can conceive of evolution as the unfolding of a latent design rather than the constant imposition of an extrinsic design —

    if ID can be and do all that please tell us here at UD about it! I think there are several regular posters here in the Big Tent who would be quite surprised to hear that ID is cool with naturally occuring macro-evolution, change in body plans, etc.

  5. 5
    DLH says:

    Thomas
    Good exploration of the issues.

    Recommend distinguishing between an
    “Open universe” or “Open naturalism” that allows for input by an intelligent designer and
    a “Closed universe or “Closed naturalism” which absolutely excludes any input by an intelligent designer.

  6. 6
    Thomas Cudworth says:

    Nakashima:

    It is no surprise to the veteran posters here, who have been studying ID in depth for several years, in some cases long before this site existed, that there are forms of ID which accept macroevolution (Behe’s) and forms which accept naturalistic macroevolution (Denton’s, and possibly Sternberg’s, though I won’t swear to the latter).

    This does not mean, of course, that all the posters here would *agree with* such forms of ID. But that is neither here nor there, concerning the theoretical point that I am making.

    The crucial thing in this column is to find out if *any* form of ID could meet the standards of the philosophy of nature of Thomism, as those standards are defined by Francis Beckwith. I await his answer with bated breath.

  7. 7
    kairosfocus says:

    Nakashima-San:

    RE: I think there are several regular posters here in the Big Tent who would be quite surprised to hear that ID is cool with naturally occurring macro-evolution, change in body plans, etc.

    I think you may need to refocus on the cited remark, where you may have overlooked the emphasised:

    If ID can in principle accept macroevolution as a historical process [i.e. as natural history of significant and perhaps universal common descent . . . even YEC’s hold to significant variation and specialisation for niches within kinds that are often roughly at the taxonomic level of families]; if ID can go further than this, and even contemplate macroevolution as a wholly natural (though intelligently pre-planned) process [that is, front-loaded, unfolding on an inbuilt original design, using mechanical necessity and/or controlled stochastic processes as components of a plan]; if ID does not require that each species or even each body plan be built up miraculously, via supernatural interventions, feather by feather or bone by bone; if ID can conceive of evolution as the unfolding of a latent design [ditto] rather than the constant imposition of an extrinsic design — is ID still necessarily incompatible with the view of final causation [= “A thing’s final cause is its aim or purpose”] held by Thomas Aquinas or by modern Thomists?

    In short, the focal objection of design thought is to the claim that UNDIRECTED chance and necessity in action across time acting on matter and energy in happenstsance initial configurations, can credibly account for origins from hydrogen to humans.

    In that context, it contends that on empirical investigation, we find abundant reason to hold the highly confident, reliable induction that certain observable — and often, measurable — features of objects, processes, and phenomena are characteristic, distinct signs of intelligent design. So, we have every reason to assert that the presence of such signs points to the reality of design, even when we have not observed the causal process directly. (Notice teh atemporality of the inference to design: detecting the fact as opposed to the method, timing and agent involved; which are interesting but onward questions.]

    And, once we see such signs, we can recognise them in certain key features of life and in the fine tuning of the cosmos. As to how the markers in question were put down, Design Theory and wider design thought, are far more flexible. For, proverbially, “there’s more than one way to skin a cat[-fish].”

    Such points then gain additional force once we see that a good part of the basis for the commonly promoted view that “evolution” was materialistic, is actually Lewontinian subtle imposition of a priori materialism by the methodological back door.

    So, as the raging debate on the credibility of signs of intelligence palpably begins to wane [never mind the bitter-enders], let us begin to reflect on what we can do to reconstruct the natural history and methods of design from further signs on earth and in the cosmos at large.

    GEM of TKI

  8. 8
    Nakashima says:

    Mr Cudworth,

    Thank you, I was unaware if there was an ID advocate who actually held all those positions simultaneously, and how they thought the ID research program of design detection should therefore be structured. Obviously, a cosmic fine tuning advocate would espouse a different program than an interventionist advocate.

  9. 9
    StephenB says:

    In the past, I have asked Francis Beckwith four very direct questions:

    [A] If Aquinas believed that God created all physical entities through secondary causes, how is it that he also believed that God created the bodies of Adam and Eve in finished form?

    No answer.

    [B] If Aquinas’ teaching on Divine causality is incompatible with a design inference, why is it that Beckwith cannot find even one direct quote to support that view?

    No answer.

    If Thomism rules out ID, why is it that so many other Thomists, such as Fr. Robert Spitzer, Fr. Thomas Dubay, Bishop Donald Weurl, Fr. John Corapi, Scott Hahn, Jay Richards, Benjamin Wiker, George Weigel and countless others also accept ID?

    No answer.

    [D] According to Romans 1:20 and Psalm 10, God’s handiwork is evident in nature, which would indicate that the associated design patterns can be readily perceived. Why does Beckwith discount these Biblical teachings?

    No answer.

  10. 10
    Rude says:

    Prof. Cudworth, Good characterization of ID.

    Anyway these Thomist claims smack of an in-house, theological argument with little pertinence beyond its particular confines.

    Nevertheless I am reminded of another field where Noam Chomsky became ever more esoteric, elusive and dense—was it worth the effort to try to keep up? Most of us moved on, though many outside the field felt that anything so opaque must be equally profound.

    If you’re tired of TE and craving clarity I think you will enjoy Johnson and Reynolds’ Against All Gods: What’s Right and Wrong About the New Atheism.

  11. 11
    fbeckwith says:

    StephenB:

    The problem is with your questions. To refer to something called “all physical entities” lacks clarity. Do you mean organisms, artifacts, kidney stones? That makes a huge difference. When Thomas writes of Adam and Eve, that tells us very little about the philosophy of nature and whether ID is consistent with it. Remember, when God animates the dirt that becomes Adam and Eve, from a Thomist perspective, a non-substantial heep is transformed into a substantial whole with its own intrinsic purposes and ordering. Ultimately, then, the creation of Adam and Eve, and what it means philosophically, is triggered by what we know by special revelation. But the philosophical part is a result of our reflections on the content of special revelation. The coherency of these accounts are the proper subjects of philosophy, and ultimately, that has a bearing on how we think about our philosophy of nature. There’s nothing in Thomas’ account of the creation of Adam and Eve that detracts from his philosophy of nature and would lead one to entertain the plausibility of the mechanistic account presupposed by the ID movement.

    You write: “According to Romans 1:20 and Psalm 10, God’s handiwork is evident in nature, which would indicate that the associated design patterns can be readily perceived.” I agree. But “readily perceived” is not the ID project, which relies on the result of a long protracted argument requiring a high-level mathematics that only five people can follow. Immediate, non-inferential, understanding of intrinsic order that can be understood by my Grandma is not inferential, probabilitistic, understanding of the arrangement of parts extrinsically imposed upon it.

    You write: “Why does Beckwith discount these Biblical teachings?” It seems to me that one can turn the question back on you: Why does Stephen take passages that appeal to what is “readily perceived” and employ them to support a design inference that is by its nature inferential and not “readily perceived.”

    You write: “If Aquinas’ teaching on Divine causality is incompatible with a design inference, why is it that Beckwith cannot find even one direct quote to support that view?”

    The same reason why I can’t find a quote in Thomas arguing against Martin Luther. It’s difficult to find critiques of Enlightenment mechanism before the Enlightenment.

    You write: “If Thomism rules out ID, why is it that so many other Thomists, such as Fr. Robert Spitzer, Fr. Thomas Dubay, Bishop Donald Weurl, Fr. John Corapi, Scott Hahn, Jay Richards, Benjamin Wiker, George Weigel and countless others also accept ID?”

    I don’t know. You’ll have to ask them. Not privy to the “countless” you don’t mention, a quick review of those listed reveals no actual scholar of Thomas Aquinas. (And I am not sure it’s fair to list people who have never actually addressed the Thomist-ID question in their works in any great detail. An argument from silence is still silence). (For the record, I don’t consider myself a scholar of Aquinas). The names that really count would be Gilson, McInerny, Clarke, O’Callahan, and Hibbs.

    Nevertheless, if counting noses impresses you, you should abandon ID, since very few in the general academic world accept it. Hence, when it comes to counting noses, be careful which ones you pick. 🙂

  12. 12
    Phaedros says:

    fbeckwith-

    “But “readily perceived” is not the ID project, which relies on the result of a long protracted argument requiring a high-level mathematics that only five people can follow. Immediate, non-inferential, understanding of intrinsic order that can be understood by my Grandma is not inferential, probabilitistic, understanding of the arrangement of parts extrinsically imposed upon it. ”

    It depends on how you interpret “readily perceived”. If you interpret it as being completely obvious to anyone even if they don’t spend much time thinking about God’s creation then yea I suppose you might be right. But I sincerely don’t believe it means that it is necessarily easy or simple. I believe that it is what it says it is, it’s readily perceived if one spends the time to try to understand. Of course, one has to apply that reason that God gave you in order to perceive some order, but one does not need to understand all of the mathematics in order to understand what the ID argument is. Furthermore, I don’t think Paul, or the other disciples, ever meant to say that things should be easy by any means.

  13. 13
    Phaedros says:

    Regardless, doesn’t this quibbling over “readily perceived” just reduce to word games?

    I Timothy 6:3-5
    ” 3If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, 4he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions 5and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.”

    I’m curious what is the Greek word used in that passage from Romans for “readily”?

  14. 14
    fbeckwith says:

    It depends on how you interpret “readily perceived”. If you interpret it as being completely obvious to anyone even if they don’t spend much time thinking about God’s creation then yea I suppose you might be right. But I sincerely don’t believe it means that it is necessarily easy or simple. I believe that it is what it says it is, it’s readily perceived if one spends the time to try to understand. Of course, one has to apply that reason that God gave you in order to perceive some order, but one does not need to understand all of the mathematics in order to understand what the ID argument is. Furthermore, I don’t think Paul, or the other disciples, ever meant to say that things should be easy by any means.

    So much for the perspicuity of Scripture. 🙂

    Seriously, “readily perceived” is not inferential reasoning. Once you have to provide evidence for your belief, the belief is inferred. If it’s readily perceived, evidence is not required.

    Setting this aside, it seems as anachronistic to find contemporary ID in Scripture as it is for a Texas Baptist to find “grape juice” at the wedding of Cana.

  15. 15
    Upright BiPed says:

    Mr Beckwith,

    You seem to be saying that your Gradmother should see design as an evident property of nature, but if an systematic observer looks closely, the design which was so evident from across the room suddenly goes away.

    It is this tortured logic, over and over again, that ID proponents are curious of.

  16. 16
    Upright BiPed says:

    “If it’s readily perceived, evidence is not required.”

    What is one perceiving, if not evidence?

  17. 17
    Phaedros says:

    fbeckwith-

    “Seriously, “readily perceived” is not inferential reasoning. Once you have to provide evidence for your belief, the belief is inferred. If it’s readily perceived, evidence is not required.”

    Then I suppose God is not “readily perceived” since you have to infer God’s existence in some way. Furthermore, almost anything anyone thinks about is based on at least one inference if not multiple inferences. Again, I wonder what the Greek is. As for “readily”:
    1. In a prompt, timely manner; promptly.

    2. In a cooperative manner; willingly.

    3. In a manner indicating or connoting ease; easily.

    “Easily”, if you are using that particular definition, does not imply without inference.

    “Setting this aside, it seems as anachronistic to find contemporary ID in Scripture as it is for a Texas Baptist to find “grape juice” at the wedding of Cana.”

    As for this, it is a ridiculous strawman argument. Personally I have no respect for such blatant simplification and disregard for Scripture as well. By this same logic it would be anachronistic to find anything contemporary in anything deemed not to be contemporary or relevant according to whatever arbitrary standard you want to employ.

  18. 18
    Phaedros says:

    Further, here’s a few different translations-

    English Revised Version:
    For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse

    Darby Bible:
    for from the world’s creation the invisible things of him are perceived, being apprehended by the mind through the things that are made, both his eternal power and divinity, so as to render them inexcusable.

    Douay-Rheims Bible:
    For the invisible things of him, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made; his eternal power also, and divinity: so that they are inexcusable.

    Greek NT: Textus Receptus:
    ?? ??? ?????? ????? ??? ??????? ?????? ???? ????????? ???????? ????????? ? ?? ?????? ????? ??????? ??? ??????? ??? ?? ????? ?????? ?????????????

    I’m at work at the moment otherwise I’d work it out, but if anyone knows Greek :)…

  19. 19
    Rude says:

    Phaedros 13: “I’m curious what is the Greek word used in that passage from Romans for ‘readily’?”

    For a start you might go here.

  20. 20
    Phaedros says:

    Well it appears the Greek doesn’t work on this blog, here’s the site

    http://scripturetext.com/romans/1-20.htm

  21. 21
    Phaedros says:

    From

    http://www.biblicalstudies.com.....omans1.htm

    Kata gives an intensive force to horao “clearly seen.” This verb perhaps more naturally conveys the idea of physical perception with the eyes, but associated as it is with nooumena Paul may well be intending it in the sense of mental perception

  22. 22
    Clive Hayden says:

    Phaedros,

    I’m at work at the moment otherwise I’d work it out, but if anyone knows Greek.

    I know Greek, what is your question?

  23. 23
    Phaedros says:

    My question would be: What a more nuanced translation of the greek word kathoratai would be?

  24. 24
    Thomas Cudworth says:

    Dr. Beckwith:

    Thanks for stopping by to debate with us here. It’s always good to have criticism from a bright person who does not share our views. It forces us to rise to higher levels of theoretical clarity.

    I won’t intrude into your discussions with the others, but I’m hoping you will take the time to reply, either here or on Biologos or elsewhere, to my post above, which I spent a fair bit of time crafting, in hopes of advancing the discussion on some important theoretical points.

  25. 25
    Thomas Cudworth says:

    Nakashima:

    You could look up “Biologic Institute” on the web to get more information about the sort of research projects ID people are interested in. Also, from time to time ID researchers publish popular accounts of their research on the Discovery web site.

    I don’t think the general outlines of ID research require any particular historical hypothesis. For example, when thinking about alleged “junk DNA”, just as a Darwinist would start from the working assumption that the DNA was built up by a series of genetic accidents, and therefore would predict the accumulation of a lot of useless, non-informational material, an ID person, postulating that DNA expresses intelligent design, would predict that much of the apparent “junk” would turn out to have function. And in fact, that is what we have found: much more of the DNA is functional than the Darwinists originally allowed. And this result is compatible with any historical proposal within the ID camp, ranging from young-earth creationist positions through to Denton’s radically naturalist evolutionism. All versions of ID would expect to see more function, and less junk, than would any version of neo-Darwinism.

  26. 26
    tribune7 says:

    Beckwith wrote on Biologos — Biologist Lynn Margulis, for example, has offered endosymbiotic theory as a non-neo-Darwinian evolutionary account that may explain irreducible complexity without requiring a design inference (as understood by Behe and Dembski).

    And maybe she’s right. Or maybe she’s not.

    But why should ID be attacked for forcing the establishment to address obvious problems with the existing paradigm?

    And why should we assume that her reasonable and interesting solution to the problems raised by IC, will be found true?

    Should we presume that Behe’s reasonable and interesting solution to the problems raided by NDE be true?

    I certainly don’t think so but he deserves props — as does Dr. Margulis — for recognizing reality (i.e. NDE doesn’t work).

  27. 27
    Phaedros says:

    I really don’t see how endosymbiosis solves irreducible complexity in any way. Can proteins be endosymbiotic and can they write themselves into DNA?

  28. 28
    Phaedros says:

    Further, it doesn’t really explain, in the case of mitochondria, how a particular structure came about in the first place. Further, it doesn’t explain how an “endosymbiont” becomes integrated into the structure of the cell, the workings of the cell, and coordinated in cell division.

  29. 29
    StephenB says:

    —Francis Beckwith: “Nevertheless, if counting noses impresses you, you should abandon ID, since very few in the general academic world accept it. Hence, when it comes to counting noses, be careful which ones you pick.”

    Thanks for your response. My point was that you appear not be curious about the fact that a number of Thomists disagree with your assessment that Aquinas’ philosophy of nature is incompatible with ID. Why not read Spitzer’s new book about the new proofs for the existence of God. Don’t you want to know both sides of the argument from a Thomistic perspective?

    Speaking of popular opinion and arguments from authority, very few in the “general academic world,” as you put it, agree with what you and I both hold in common. We both understand that St. Thomas Aquinas proved the existence of God beyond a reasonable doubt. Further, we both understand that Kant’s objections to those proofs do not hold; we both argue, I think, that Western thinking has been seriously contaminated by subjectivist metaphysics; and we both insist that, in spite of all protests to the contrary, Aquinas’ arguments do work. So the criticisms coming from the majority of academics that have fallen prey to hype-skepticism is not something over which either of us should lose any sleep.

    If God “animated the dirt the becomes Adam and Eve,” then he was obviously not using secondary causes to do his creating. Since Aquinas did not believe that God used secondary causes to create Adam and Eve, it should be obvious that Aquinas’s philosophy of nature does not prevent God from “tinkering”– much less does it prevent God from front loading or programming nature with information that would cause life to unfold according to His designs.

    It will not do to suggest that God’s revelation in Scripture is of a different order than God’s revelation in nature. As one who believes in the “unity of truth,” I am sure that you can appreciate the importance of the point. To be sure, God’s revelation in Scripture transcends his revelation in nature, but it does not contradict it, especially when one considers that fact that the revealed truths under discussion, Romans 1:20 and Psalm 19, were written as philosophical, not theological, reflections.

    Scripture does not ask us to believe in anything unreasonable and it satisfies our desire for a reasoned argument before it calls for intellectual assent. In other words, faith must pass the test of reason. Then and only then, can it be allowed to illuminate reason. That is what separates Christianity from all other world views. If God’s handiwork was not evident, faith could not build on reason.

    — There’s nothing in Thomas’ account of the creation of Adam and Eve that detracts from his philosophy of nature—

    I agree, and that is the point that I have been pressing.

    —and would lead one to entertain the plausibility of the mechanistic account presupposed by the ID movement.”

    To pick up on design patterns that reflect an organism’s function does not, in any way, do violence against the fact that the same organism has a final end. The reality of the final end can be understood through sufficient reflection, but the patterns can be perceived immediately. It is in our nature is to use our reason and will to attain our final end, which is to be with God, but that does not prevent a physician from detecting the God’s design patterns in our blood count.

    —“But “readily perceived” is not the ID project, which relies on the result of a long protracted argument requiring a high-level mathematics that only five people can follow. Immediate, non-inferential, understanding of intrinsic order that can be understood by my Grandma is not inferential, probabilitistic, understanding of the arrangement of parts extrinsically imposed upon it.”

    ID is attempting to measure design patterns that anyone is capable of perceiving. To challenge the methodology of the measurement is reasonable; to challenge the perceptibility of that which is being measured is not reasonable. Either the patterns are there or they are not. Either they can be perceived for what they are or, as the Darwinists would have it, they are illusions. Most anti-ID theistic evolutionists insist that design is “inherent in the evolutionary process,” meaning that we can only apprehend that design with the help of educators who will teach us about evolution or, for that matter, final causes.

    In fact, no one needs any such academic preparation to perceive God’s handiwork. Romans 1: 20 says, “The things that are not seen are made evident by the things that are seen.” It does not say that the things that are not seen “can be made comprehensible through the teaching of theistic evolutionists, coupled with an education in Aristotle’s teaching on final causality.” In fact, all those points fit together. Final causes are not at war with perceived design patterns.

    –“Why does Stephen take passages that appeal to what is “readily perceived” and employ them to support a design inference that is by its nature inferential and not “readily perceived.”

    A design inference is readily perceived by anyone at any educational level. If I come home and find my house ransacked, I can rule out natural causes [tornado] and infer an intelligent agent [a burglar] from the design patterns [the dresser drawers were left open]. Tornadoes do not go looking for jewelry. Design leaves clues. It’s as simple as that. All rational people understand that nothing comes into existence without a cause; all rational people understand that laws require lawgivers; all rational people understand that designs require designers. That is exactly what Romans 1:20 is saying. Everyone gets it, even those who claim not to. That is the whole point of the words that follow: “They are without excuse.”

  30. 30
    Apollos says:

    kathorátai, ????????? : V-PPI-3S

    Strong G2529, kathorao?, ???????? :

    From G2596 and G3708; to behold fully, that is, (figuratively) distinctly apprehend: – clearly see.

    Thayer :

    1) to look down, see from above, view from on high
    2) to see thoroughly, perceive clearly, understand

    KJC :

    Total KJV Occurrences: 2

    clearly, 1
    Rom_1:20

    seen, 1
    Rom_1:20 (2)

    ——-

    Romans 1:20

    KJV: For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

    RSV: 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;

    DRB: For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made. His eternal power also and divinity: so that they are inexcusable.

    NIV: 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.

  31. 31
    Phaedros says:

    Thanks Apollos, I had found this

    “In keeping with the temporal sense of apo kathoratai (a NT hapax legomenon) is a durative present. Kata gives an intensive force to horao “clearly seen.” This verb perhaps more naturally conveys the idea of physical perception with the eyes, but associated as it is with nooumena Paul may well be intending it in the sense of mental perception. Cranfield argues that both terms indicate physical sight, but this would be an unusual understanding of nooumena. Moo is probably correct when he argues that “these two verbs require that both elements be present.”(18) It would seem that Paul is speaking in terms of both; indeed, it is “by means of things made” that the mind knows ten aletheian But what Paul emphasizes here is not so much natural theology as it is natural revelation. It would not seem that he is speaking merely of knowledge which man has as a result of logical deduction from observation of the created order. Rather, he is speaking of what man can see in the created order because of the knowledge he inherently possesses as a creature made in God’s image. Barrett argues that “the context shows that the men in question did not in fact possess this knowledge in themselves.”(19) However, the broader context does indeed reveal that man possesses this knowledge intuitively (cf. 1:28, 32; 2:14-15, 27), and it would seem that Paul includes both ideas in his argument here.

    All men, then, do indeed possess a kind of sensus deitatis, but that instinctive awareness is said (here, at least) to have been augmented from without. This is not quite the evidentialist’s attempt to prove to natural man that God exists. The apostle’s whole point is to show that by the works of God men already know Him. God has seen to that Himself; hence, the repeated emphasis of verse 19b. Paul does not court men to consider certain evidence in order to arrive at a right conclusion; rather, he condemns them for refusing to accept the knowledge they already have.

    So the knowledge of God in man is both intuitive and deductive, presuppositional and evidential. “Clearly seeing the invisible” is an oxymoron which may be intended to emphasize the same.”

    Thanks to Rude’s link.

  32. 32
    StephenB says:

    Romans 1:20 and Psalm 19 refer to that which can be perceived through the senses and interpreted by the intellect. Knowledge comes from both the faculty of sense and the faculty of the intellect. That is why the words “see” [perceive by way of sense knowledge] and “understand” [perceive by way of intellectual intuition] are often included in the popular translations.

    The difficulty is that both modern philosophy and modern science have been seriously corrupted, each resorting to extremes and skewing the discussion either in the direction of rationalism [intellectual knowledge only] or empiricism [sense knowledge only]. Both militate against common sense realism of Aquinas, who recognized the role of intellect and the role of sense experience.

    Rationalism rightly acknowledges the intellect as an organ of knowledge but it wrongly discounts the role of the sense faculty; empiricism rightly acknowledges the sense faculty as an organ of knowledge but discounts the role of the intellect. Thus, the empiricist is vulnerable to the error of underestimating Aquinas’ philosophical arguments and the rationalist is vulnerable to the error of underestimaing ID’s scientific arguments.

    Interestingly, both Aquinas and ID scientists begin with observation and move backwards in the direction of the designer [reminiscent of Justin Martyr, Aristotle, Paley etc.], placing them in opposite camps from those who begin with faith in the designer and move forward to the evidence for the sake of confirmation [reminiscent of Tertullian, Anselm, Creation Scientists etc.]

  33. 33
    jerry says:

    StephenB,

    I am not spending much time here these days but came across this a few minutes ago and thought you might be interested in it if you are not already aware. I did not know it existed.

    Creation and Evolution
    by Fr. Stephan Horn

    “synopsis – In 2005 the Archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Cardinal Schönborn wrote a guest editorial in The New York Times that sparked a worldwide debate about “Creation and Evolution”. Pope Benedict XVI instructed the Cardinal to study more closely this problem and the current debate between “evolutionism” and “creationism,” and asked the yearly gathering of his former students to address these questions.

    Even after Joseph Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI, he has continued to maintain close contact with the circle of his former students. The “study circle” (Schulerkrers) meets once a year with Pope Benedict XVI for a conference. Many of these former Ratzinger students have gone on to become acclaimed scholars, professors and writers, as well as high ranking Church prelates.

    This book documents the proceedings of the remarkable conference on the topic of “Creation and Evolution” hosted by Pope Benedict XVI in 2006 at the papal summer residence, Castel Gandolfo. It includes papers that were presented from the fields of natural science, philosophy and theology, and records the subsequent discussion, in which Pope Benedict XVI himself participated.”

    I bought the Barnes and Noble ebook edition a few minutes ago for $12.82 and two minutes later it was on my computer and readable with their free reader. The B&N computer reader is far better than the kindle version and is extremely convenient in that the book is very easily searchable and you can make notes at any page and then search your notes. I will probably read it over the next month or two as I have 2-3 other books on evolution ahead of it and a few others on the financial crisis and politics.

  34. 34
    StephenB says:

    Jerry, thanks for the tip. I was aware of the conference, but I did not know that a record of it was available.

  35. 35
    john_a_designer says:

    Francis Beckwith writes: “ID advocates offer their case as a scientific defeater to naturalism. But naturalism is not a scientific theory. It is a metaphysical one.”

    But Darwinists use natural selection, a natural mechanism in their theory, as a defeater for any system that claims to be teleological. Is teleology something that can be proven or disproven scientifically? Why does Dr. Beckwith see only ID’ists as the bad guys here?

    I have a more in-depth discussion here:
    http://telicthoughts.com/franc.....ent-258444

  36. 36
    Apollos says:

    Phaedros, my pleasure. E-sword makes it easy. 😉

  37. 37
    Apollos says:

    Corrected link: E-sword

  38. 38
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks:

    Pardon a rather late intervention.

    In addition to Rom 1:18 – 22 & 28 – 30 we should look at Rom 2:6 – 8 & 12 – 15, as the necessary complement that fills in a lot of the context and force for Paul’s point on what we do or should know but too often willfully suppress.

    I cite NIV:

    Rom 1:18The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For 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.

    21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles [primary referent: ancient idolatry; contemporary application: willfully substituting images resembling creation and distractive speculations about them made plausible by prestigious authorities and institutions for evident truth that points to our common Creator, to suppress the undesired consequences of that truth. Naturalism is on this view, an idolatry] . . . .

    28Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are . . . 30slanderers, God-haters [i.e. Atheism is often a euphemism for outright hostility, cf. the so-called New Atheists and, sad to say, some recent advocacy here at UD], insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil . . . .

    2:6God “will give to each person according to what he has done.”[e] 7To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger . . .

    1 –> Paul is simultaneously addressing the world of the senses, that of the mind, and that of the conscience.

    2 –> We have an in-built knowledge and a duty to know in light of our conscious experience of our inner life and the world we inhabit, which we too often reject and find clever ways to suppress the force of truth we know or should know.

    3 –> In so acting with selective hyperskepticism in the face of what we do or should know but suppress, we have no excuse. For, the core truths in question are SELF-EVIDENT. (Indeed, Rom 1:19 – 20 is the root of this concept in our civilisation’s intellectual history.)

    4 –> By self-evident, is meant that once we have awareness and understanding, we see that certain things are true, on pain of patent absurdity should we try to deny them. Such absurdity comes out in blatant incoherence in our thought, speech, behaviour and argument.

    5 –> For instance, in Rom 2:1 – 3, Paul speaks of how we point the finger of moral judgement at others, thus implying that oughtness is real and binding. But, we then turn around and make self-serving exceptions.

    6 –> But, that immediately means we live in a world in which the reality of OUGHT can only rest on an IS that can carry the weight of ought: the Creator God who is good as to essential character. (And immediately, the so-called gods of classical paganism, who are trapped in the Euthyphro dilemma, are revealed as imposters: they are not ises that can ground ought.)

    7 –> So, already, the voices of pricking conscience and moral outrage at offenses against us leave us without excuse; pointing to the expectation that he world will reflect an IS who can ground OUGHT. On pain of morally incoherent absurdity.

    8 –> Notice here, how often, when we have challenged evolutionary materialist atheists who like to indict believers in God as immoral and dangerous, potentially violent and oppressive hypocrites, and who in recent days have sought to put God in the dock they have consistently been unable to address the gap between attempted moral suasion and the amorality of their worldview.

    9 –> Instead, by force of assertion, they have tried to claim that the concept of a good Creator God is unable to ground OUGHT, and then try to present emotions of outrage and/or community “consensus” as substitutes for the grounds of morality. But these boil down to emotional manipulation, and to what he powerbrokers in a culture are willing to fight for; i.e. in the end, rhetoric makes right and might makes right.

    9 –> Which are absurd. An angry teenager resenting having to do basic duties, and the implication that moral reformers who defy current “consensus” are therefore immoral, are more than enough to show this. Mother Teresa, Francis of Assisi, William Wilberforce, Shaftesbury, Booth, Buxton, Knibb and G W Gordon of Jamaica to name a few — not to mention the likes of a Jesus of Nazareth! — were not immoral. Just the opposite.

    10 –> Thus, too, we see the force of the contrast between profession of cleverness and wisdom, and the emergence at one remove of patently foolish absurdities.

    11 –> But, Paul’s argument goes further. He is not just appealing to the implications of the binding force of ought. He also points to nature without and mind within. The experience of being minded in an organised, wonderful world, for all its pains and evils, points beyond that world to its maker.

    12 –> But in the teeth of that testimony, we tend to erect images made to look like the creatures of God and makeup stories about them, surrounded by august authority and institution that brooks no challenge, and substitute images and stories for realities and truth. Only to again end up in absurdity.

    13 –> We hardly need to more than mention the absurdity of pagan idolatry. A glance at Isa 40 – 45, and Ac 17 would be enough.

    14 –> More relevant is the rise of evolutionary materialism in the name of science, which is actually being redefined by the backdoor of so-called methodological naturalism, as a priori materialism presented as the surest path to understanding the reality of the world.

    [ . . . ]

  39. 39
    kairosfocus says:

    15 –> This is patently, self-referentially absurd once we see that such a view has to both account for the origin of our minds as instruments of credible reason and that we have to use the said minds to get to that account:

    . . . [evolutionary] materialism [a worldview that often likes to wear the mantle of “science”] . . . argues that the cosmos is the product of chance interactions of matter and energy, within the constraint of the laws of nature. Therefore, all phenomena in the universe, without residue, are determined by the working of purposeless laws acting on material objects, under the direct or indirect control of chance.

    But human thought, clearly a phenomenon in the universe, must now fit into this picture. Thus, what we subjectively experience as “thoughts” and “conclusions” can only be understood materialistically as unintended by-products of the natural forces which cause and control the electro-chemical events going on in neural networks in our brains. (These forces are viewed as ultimately physical, but are taken to be partly mediated through a complex pattern of genetic inheritance [“nature”] and psycho-social conditioning [“nurture”], within the framework of human culture [i.e. socio-cultural conditioning and resulting/associated relativism].)

    Therefore, if materialism is true, the “thoughts” we have and the “conclusions” we reach, without residue, are produced and controlled by forces that are irrelevant to purpose, truth, or validity. Of course, the conclusions of such arguments may still happen to be true, by lucky coincidence — but we have no rational grounds for relying on the “reasoning” that has led us to feel that we have “proved” them. And, if our materialist friends then say: “But, we can always apply scientific tests, through observation, experiment and measurement,” then we must note that to demonstrate that such tests provide empirical support to their theories requires the use of the very process of reasoning which they have discredited!

    Thus, evolutionary materialism reduces reason itself to the status of illusion. But, immediately, that includes “Materialism.” For instance, Marxists commonly deride opponents for their “bourgeois class conditioning” — but what of the effect of their own class origins? Freudians frequently dismiss qualms about their loosening of moral restraints by alluding to the impact of strict potty training on their “up-tight” critics — but doesn’t this cut both ways? And, should we not simply ask a Behaviourist whether s/he is simply another operantly conditioned rat trapped in the cosmic maze?

    In the end, materialism is based on self-defeating logic . . .

    16 –> If we look closely, we will see that this 101 level summary is in effect first based on the direct implications of eh evolutionary materialist account of origins, up to and including ourselves. This brings to bear Lewis’ point as summarised by Reppert on the argument from reason (with an echo from Leibniz on the wheels of a mill grinding away not explaining why they are so organised and work towards a purpose):

    . . . let us suppose that brain state A, which is token identical to the thought that all men are mortal, and brain state B, which is token identical to the thought that Socrates is a man, together cause the belief that Socrates is mortal. It isn’t enough for rational inference that these events be those beliefs, it is also necessary that the causal transaction be in virtue of the content of those thoughts . . . [But] if naturalism is true, then the propositional content is irrelevant to the causal transaction that produces the conclusion, and [so] we do not have a case of rational inference. In rational inference, as Lewis puts it, one thought causes another thought not by being, but by being seen to be, the ground for it. But causal transactions in the brain occur in virtue of the brain’s being in a particular type of state that is relevant to physical causal transactions.

    17 –> We also echo a point — and notice carefully how it is an inference form the focus of natural selection, not a metaphysical speculation as such [as objectors are wont to try to say in dismissal] — by Plantinga:

    . . . evolution is interested (so to speak) only in adaptive behavior, not in true belief. Natural selection doesn’t care what you believe; it is interested only in how you behave. It selects for certain kinds of behavior, those that enhance fitness, which is a measure of the chances that one’s genes are widely represented in the next and subsequent generations . . . But then the fact that we have evolved guarantees at most that we behave in certain ways–ways that contribute to our (or our ancestors’) surviving and reproducing in the environment in which we have developed . . . . there are many belief-desire combinations that will lead to the adaptive action; in many of these combinations, the beliefs are false. [Cf. here how for instance Newtonian Dynamics was quite adaptive, thank you, but is plainly not an adequate account of reality. Empirical reliability or pragmatic advantage are not adequate substitutes for truth in the sense of accuracy to reality.]

    18 –> So, already, we have good reason to reject evolutionary materialism, on its inner logic and our experience of the world.

    19 –> This is before we get to the issue that the world seems to be filled with empirically evident, and inductively reliable signs of design. So much so, that absent a priori imposition of evolutionary materialism whether overtly or by the back door, design is the natural explanation for the complex functional orgsanisation we see not only in the man-made world but the wild one.

    20 –> For, in our common and routine experience and observation, functionally specific, complex organisation and associated information are reliably the product of art and skill, not happenstance and blind mechanical necessity acting on such initial conditions as happened to be there but could in principle have been otherwise.

    21 –> This warrants a strong (though of course inevitably provisional and open-ended; i.e. in principle falsifiable or defeatble . . . ] inductive inference from such functional organisation and associated complex specific information to design as best explanation. On known, reliably observable causal patterns and characteristic signs thereof. Which can be quantified in various ways, for scientific purposes.

    22 –> But in fact, we routinely and reliably use such reasoning in common sense form, e.g. we readily understand the characteristic differences between:

    a] the mechanical necessity that makes a dropped heavy object (such as a rock or an apple, or the ripe cashews and mangoes on the trees outside my window) fall to the ground.

    b] the chance forces and factors and resulting outcomes that make a dropped fair die tumble in a random, predictable, contingent statistical pattern to read from 1 to 6.

    c] the art (intelligent design) that makes a loaded die diverge significantly from such a pattern of chance contingency, towards a purpose.

    23 –> So, when we turn to the natural world and see that it is full of complex, specifically functional organisation, that draws our attention to the evidence that it is designed.

    24 –> In the case of life, we can ground inference to a designer, but cannot identify the locus of that designer on the relevant signs alone.

    25 –> When we look at the evident finely balanced organisation and at the beauty of the observed cosmos, that lends support to the inference to an Artist behind it.

    26 –> In a scientific age, the evident fine tuning and complex functional organisation of the observed cosmos that facilitate the existence of carbon chemistry cell based life point to a powerful and highly intelligent designer and maker of the heavens and the earth. To unified intelligence, mind, power and providential purpose beyond the physical world.

    27 –> So, the scientific backs up the common sensical and the philosophical. That is we see why the ordinary intelligent man is without excuse, and why the sophisticated highly educated man is even moreso without excuse.

    28 –> In short, evolutionary materialism — never mind the dominance of the academy and elites for our time — is not tenable in the face of easily accessible evidence. Which brings us full circle to the challentge raised by Rom 1 – 2.

    29 –> And,finally, while the angelic doctor is indeed a formidable intellectual figure, his weight of brilliance and how authentically one’s thoughts trace to his are not the key issues.

    30 –> That is reserved for the force and sum of the evidence of our interior life and what we experience as we live in our common world. On this, we must soberly address Paul’s point that their cumulative force is such that it leaves us without excuse.

    +++++++++++++

    If Paul is right, we will have a bit more accounting to do than the need to hold our own in debates in the face of evolutionary materialism laced talking points in the Departmental seminar room or tenure awarding committees.

    GEM of TKI

  40. 40
    EndoplasmicMessenger says:

    fbeckwith@11

    But “readily perceived” is not the ID project, which relies on the result of a long protracted argument requiring a high-level mathematics that only five people can follow.

    That’s odd. One of the most significant ID books to be published so far is Signature in the Cell. It has barely a wisp of mathematics in it and yet presents one of the most compelling arguments for ID presented so far.

    Your comments makes me very skeptical that you have attempted to understand ID on its own terms.

    Here is a suggestion: next time you present ID, why don’t you present it in the strongest possible terms, perhaps even more strongly than is done by its own proponents. I have heard that Thomas Acquinas used to do that. If true, that’s a trick you might want to pick up from him.

  41. 41
    Paul Giem says:

    Dr. Beckwith,

    You said, replying to StephenB, in #11,

    You write: “According to Romans 1:20 and Psalm 10, God’s handiwork is evident in nature, which would indicate that the associated design patterns can be readily perceived.” I agree. But “readily perceived” is not the ID project, which relies on the result of a long protracted argument requiring a high-level mathematics that only five people can follow. Immediate, non-inferential, understanding of intrinsic order that can be understood by my Grandma is not inferential, probabilitistic, understanding of the arrangement of parts extrinsically imposed upon it.

    It seems to me that you have it exactly backwards. The appearance of design in nature is nearly overwhelming. It can be appreciated by your Grandma, even if not to the detail that it is by Steven Meyer. Don’t believe me; don’t even believe your own eyes; believe George Gaylord Simpson:

    A telescope, a telephone, or a typewriter is a complex mechanism serving a particular function. Obviously, its manufacturer had a purpose in mind, and the machine was designed and built in order to serve that purpose. An eye, an ear, or a hand is also a complex mechanism serving a particular function. It, too, looks as if it had been made for a purpose. This appearance of purposefulness is pervasive in nature.

    Or believe Richard Dawkins:

    Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.

    The latter quote, from The Blind Watchmaker, page 5, is particularly interesting. Dawkins spends the whole chapter explicating in great detail the various features of bat sonar, and comments that life appears even more designed than Paley believed.

    Dawkins’ solution to the problem was to argue that all these wonders could be produced by natural selection acting on random mutations, and that therefore the appearance of design was deceptive. That would be an interesting project if he had succeeded. But he did not. One searches in vain for any step-by-step mutational pathway, selected for at each step, or perhaps at each 2 or 3 steps, that leads from bats without sonar to bats with sonar. He can only give just-so stories, as is true for virtually every supposed evolutionary pathway (color vision possibly being an exception, and that is apparently a very short step from black-and-white vision).

    ID’s project is thus not to persuade everyone that a very esoteric mathematical formulation is correct and matches the physical world. Rather, it is to affirm that the obvious appearance of design is in fact real, and that those who would denigrate this appearance as being deceptive are in fact wrong. At least some of them have an agenda. I will not at this point reproduce the well-known quote of Lewontin. I assume you disagree with him.

    I am curious how you can dismiss ID this casually, when Thomism takes considerable effort to understand, and would arguably not be “readily perceived” by your Grandma. Did we have to wait until Thomas Aquinas came along to understand how the things that are seen gave evidence to God’s power and divinity? Or is Thomas, like some ID advocates after him, simply replying to objections from those who do not wish to see evidence for God’s power and divinity and are using arguments that ultimately are not valid? In this case, are not Thomas and these ID advocates not on the same team?
    _________

    I am fascinated by your argument regarding the creation of Adam and Eve. I presume the last sentence is meant to sum it up:

    There’s nothing in Thomas’ account of the creation of Adam and Eve that detracts from his philosophy of nature and would lead one to entertain the plausibility of the mechanistic account presupposed by the ID movement.

    The last half of that sentence presumes that the ID movement presupposes a mechanistic account. That is sheer bunk. Various ID proponents have proposed different mechanisms, but those mechanisms have very little in common, the movement explicitly eschews the idea that ID requires a specific mechanism, and I have seen no coherent argument that a particular mechanism is presupposed. How you could have missed this is beyond me.

    The first half of the sentence is true, but perhaps not quite in the way you meant. Thomas’ account of Adam and Eve is consistent with his philosophy, almost by definition. But that philosophy left room not only for the special creation of Adam and Eve, but for full-blown young life creationism (I haven’t read enough of Thomas to know for sure where he would come down on young earth or young universe). If your Thomism is not compatible with God’s direct intervention in nature, violating at a bare minimum the second law of thermodynamics, it isn’t really Thomism, but rather your own personal philosophy informed in some, but not all, aspects by Thomas. Not that it couldn’t be right, but let’s not call it Thomism. For Thomas, the ultimate authority on Thomism, his philosophical structure is not incompatible at all with God’s intervention in nature on a massive scale.
    _________

    I’d also like to see you respond to Cudworth’s initial post.

  42. 42
    Proponentist says:

    St. Thomas argues against the claim that all things happened by chance (e.g. evolutionary theory) in his Summa Theologica (On the Government of Things in General (q 103, article 1):

    Certain ancient philosophers denied the government of the world, saying that all things happened by chance. But such an opinion can be refuted as impossible in two ways.

    First, by observation of things themselves: for we observe that in nature things happen always or nearly always for the best; which would not be the case unless some sort of providence directed nature towards good as an end; which is to govern. Wherefore the unfailing order we observe in things is a sign of their being governed; for instance, if we enter a well-ordered house we gather therefrom the intention of him that put it in order, as Tullius says (De Nat. Deorum ii), quoting Aristotle [Cleanthes].

    Secondly, this is clear from a consideration of Divine goodness, which, as we have said above (44, 4; 65, 2), was the cause of the production of things in existence. For as “it belongs to the best to produce the best,” it is not fitting that the supreme goodness of God should produce things without giving them their perfection. Now a thing’s ultimate perfection consists in the attainment of its end. Therefore it belongs to the Divine goodness, as it brought things into existence, so to lead them to their end: and this is to govern

    So, when we enter a well-ordered house, we observe the intention (design) of him that put it in order.

    We can find the same thing starting in the Old and New testaments, the Fathers of the Church, and theologians through the present day (Fr. Thomas Dubay being a superb example of a Thomist, pro-ID thinker).

    Even Stephen Barr’s book “Modern Physics and Ancient Faith” contains the same thing (which apparently he now rejects?):

    This idea of God as cosmic lawgiver was from very early times central to Jewish and Christian thinking. It is the basis of the so-called Argument from Design for the existence of God. An early statement of this argument can be found, for example, in the works of the Latin Christian writer Minucius Felix near the beginning of the third century:

    ”If upon entering some home you saw that everything there was well-tended, neat, and decorative, you would believe that some master was in charge of it, and that he himself was superior to those good things. So too in the home of this world, when you see providence, order, and law in the heavens and on earth, believe there is a Lord and Author of the universe, more beautiful than the stars themselves and the various parts of the whole world.”
    … The old Argument from Design is based on the commonsense idea that if something is arranged then somebody arranged it. The reasonableness of this idea can be seen from an everyday example. If one were to enter a hall and find hundreds of folding chairs neatly set up in evenly spaced ranks and files, one would feel quite justified in inferring that someone had arranged the chairs that way.

  43. 43
    Thomas Cudworth says:

    Well, it’s been five days now, and Francis Beckwith still hasn’t responded, here or anywhere else (to my knowledge) to my attempt at a polite, careful, rational debate.

    Dr. Beckwith, how do you want me to interpret your refusal to engage with my questions, my analysis, and my arguments?

  44. 44
    jerry says:

    Dr. Beckwith nor any other TE will never debate on the substance of ID. He and many others have been challenged many times and never reply. They have no answer to the science and will only argue on some philosophical basis that one can never determine design or make the assessment that it is even highly probable.

  45. 45
    StephenB says:

    —Jerry: “They have no answer to the science and will only argue on some philosophical basis that one can never determine design or make the assessment that it is even highly probable.”

    I have found that they are unwilling to debate on any front, scientific or philosophical.

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