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Hart Whacks the ID Movement

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In my last post I quoted Dr. Hart holding our naturalist friends’ feet to the fire.  But as long-time readers of these pages will know, however, Dr. Hart is no friend of Intelligent Design.  (See, e.g. here)  And in The Experience of God, Hart takes the ID movement to task at both the biological and cosmological level.  He faults us for reducing God to a cosmic tinkerer, a sort of Platonic demiurge.  Of biological ID he writes:

in the light of traditional theology the argument from irreducible complexity looks irredeemably defective, because it depends on the existence of causal discontinuities in the order of nature, ‘gaps’ where natural causality proves inadequate. But all the classical theological arguments regarding the order of the world assume just the opposite: that God’s creative power can be seen in the rational coherence of nature as a perfect whole; that the universe was not simply the factitious product of a supreme intellect but he unfolding of an omnipresent divine wisdom or logos. For Thomas Aquinas, for instance, God creates the order of nature by infusing the things of the universe with the wonderful power of moving themselves toward determinate ends; he uses the analogy of a shipwright able to endow timbers with the power into develop in to a ship without external intervention. According to the classical arguments, universal rational order – not just this or that particular instance of complexity – is what speaks of the divine mind.

Concerning cosmological ID he argues that we make the same category error that Stephen Hawking makes.  Hawking errs when he conceives of (and then dismisses) a God who who mechanistically created the universe at a point in time.  The he writes:

those who argue for the existence of God principally from some feature or other of apparent cosmic design are guilty of the same confusion; they make a claim like Hawking’s seem solvent, or at least relevant, because they themselves have not advanced beyond the demiurgic picture of God. By giving the name ‘God’ to whatever as yet unknown agent or property or quality might account for this or that particular appearance of design, they have produced a picture of God that it is conceivable the sciences could some day genuinely make obsolete, because it really is a kind of rival explanation to the explanations the sciences seek . . . God, properly conceived, is not a force or cause within nature, and certainly not a kind of supreme natural explanation.

If you are an ID proponent, how would you respond to Dr.Hart?

UPDATE:

UD’s own Vincent Torley has answered objections similar to Hart’s in these pages. See, e.g., here and here. Also William Dembski has specifically repudiated a mechanistic understanding of ID. See here.

SECOND UPDATE:

I read further and find Hart saying this: “Distinct levels of causality can be at once qualitatively different from, but necessarily integrated with, one another.”

How is this so very different from Dembski’s conception of ID when he writes:

For the Thomist/Aristotelian, final causation and thus design is everywhere. Fair enough. ID has no beef with this. . . . But even to identify the designer with the Christian God is not to say that any particular instance of design in nature is directly the work of his hands. We humans use surrogate intelligences to do work for us (e.g., computer algorithms). God could likewise use surrogate intelligences (Aristotelian final causes?) to produce the sorts of designs that ID theorists focus on (such as the bacterial flagellum).

Comments
From the Hart quote:
...in the light of traditional theology the argument from irreducible complexity looks irredeemably defective...
Wait a minute, "argument from irreducible complexity"? I never knew that ID was supposed to be a theological argument for the existence of God, the way that Hart is trying to spin it. I could be wrong, but I thought that ID was an observationally-based discipline which shows -- via arguments such as Dembski's design inference and Behe's irreducible complexity -- that many features of the natural world, and most especially of the biological world, can only be accounted for scientifically if they were intelligently designed. Sure ID has theological implications, but so does Darwinism. But doesn't make ID a theology any more than it makes Darwinism a theology. It sounds to me like a dodge on Hart's part, designed (haha) to avoid looking at what the evidence really shows. jstanley01
Oops. The last 3 paragraphs of my previous post should not have been in quotes. Sorry. tjguy
Barry says:
Concerning cosmological ID he argues that we make the same category error that Stephen Hawking makes. Hawking errs when he conceives of (and then dismisses) a God who who mechanistically created the universe at a point in time.
Barry, I don't know for sure, but the God of the gaps argument against cosmological ID seems valid to me. There are a number of fans of Dr. Ross here. Dr. Ross has a lot of calculations that he says show how difficult it would have been to have the Big Bang happen without God's guidance or help or whatever you want to call it. In other words, he argues against the totally naturalistic Big Bang as conceived by cosmologists. IDers interpret these calculations of Dr. Ross as evidence that God must have been involved in the Big Bang or else it would not have happened. That is one possible interpretation of the evidence. However, these calculations that show a totally naturalistic Big Bang is impossible could also be seen as clear evidence that the Big Bang never happened! So perhaps there are other interpretations for the evidence that does seem to support the Big Bang. Both of the above would be possible interpretations of the evidence. It seems that when it comes to biological evolution, more IDers are willing to look at the evidence and reject common descent rather than just add God to the picture to make it work. But it seems to me that these same people then turn around and simply "add God to the picture to make it work" when it comes to cosmological evolution. Hart writes:
By giving the name ‘God’ to whatever as yet unknown agent or property or quality might account for this or that particular appearance of design, they have produced a picture of God that it is conceivable the sciences could some day genuinely make obsolete, because it really is a kind of rival explanation to the explanations the sciences seek .... But the fact is, there is no scientific explanation for many things and no one knows if there ever will be. We're not talking about things such as the cause of thunder or lightning. We're talking about things far more complex and difficult. It's fine to have faith in science and hope that one day these things will be explainable, but that is a position of faith. Believe what you want. That's fine, but don't pretend that your faith is better than my faith simply because the object of your faith is thought to be some natural yet unknown agent, property, or quality. No one knows is such an agent, property, or quality exists. We can give Hart an A+ for his faith and hope that they do exist, but believing in something that may not exist is faith. The same can be said in believers in Ool and SETI. At this point, it is just mere speculation, not science. We all have faith - both materialists and theists.
tjguy
It seems to me that that Dr. Hart is gun-shy - if there is specific identifiable evidence of apparent design and then some diligent Darwinist discovers a material process that explains the apparent design then theism is discredited with the old "God of the gaps" argument (because it depends on the existence of causal discontinuities in the order of nature, ‘gaps’ where natural causality proves inadequate.) After 200 plus years of atheist attacks on the church through naturalistic science, and the church's apparent inability to rebut many (most?) Christians have given up. The argument "that God’s creative power can be seen in the rational coherence of nature as a perfect whole" which could be restated as "even though there is no particular evidence for God's creative power we believe by faith that God created the world." Fideism. But fideism with its feet planted firmly in the air. ID does not (to my mind) attempt to explain every feature in biology, let alone cosmology and physics, but draws upon peculiar instances in the natural world which appear to require design to explain their existence. Yes, the rational coherence of the totality of nature is evidence of God's creative power but that won't rebut the contemptuous dismissal of God by the likes of Dawkins, Meyers, et al, nor will it stem their influence over the minds of impressionable students. In my own case it was the material written by the likes of Wells, Johnson, and Dembski which finally opened my mind to the possibility that Darwinian evolution is false. Prior to that I was so well indoctrinated in evolutionary beliefs that I couldn't imagine it might not be true. I suspect that Dr. Hart may have a similar conceptual problem, "big science" appears unassailable and any attempt to overturn the edifice is doomed to fail. So we surrender the field to materialism in the material world and retire to world of the psyche. I know that I know in my knower... 'nuff said. dgosse
"If you want to seriously object, come up with a good counter-example, not speculations on what is or is not beneath the dignity of God as a candidate designer." Exactly! I'm not good at picking apart arguments. I shall use this example next time I come face to face with this kind of argument; which seems to happen a lot lately. Theological objections to ID on one front and metaphysical objections trumped up as science on the other. Nobody's dealing with the scientific questions here. Jeesh! I guess that's why books like "Darwin's Doubt" have become so popular; because finally somebody is talking science and not ideology when dealing with the Cambrian era; and he just so happesn to be an ID proponent. CannuckianYankee
StephenB, My bad. You were in fact quoting Hart from the first quote in the OP. Something in my mind about Dembski invoking the shipwright analogy misled me. :) Beg pardon. Mung
Mung, I interpret the second half of Hart's first quote as a misguided attempt to make Thomas appear as an advocate of creation by secondary causes alone--sort of like the TE line that God gave nature the power to create itself so that He wouldn't have to intervene or tinker at any level. Like Barry, however, I find the second Hart quote (and, of course, Dembski's) to be more ID friendly and closer to Thomas. StephenB
StephenB: I am pretty sure that last quote in the OP is from Dembski, not Hart. OOPS! Mung
As for the first quote from Hart in the OP, one immediately suspects a false dichotomy, the fallacy of the excluded middle. kf:
It seems to me that the God who in love would... is hardly likely to give tuppence worth of concern over what we think is his dignity.
Well said sir! To debase ourselves in self-giving love is our only hope to touch God at the same level that He touched us. God were that I was less like I am and more like He is. Come Holy Spirit. Mung
Either God is ever present and ever acting in His creation, or He isn't. If he isn't, who or what is "acting" in his stead and does He occasionally interfere in the "normal" course of events? I don't think that this question is unique to ID, but it's certainly relevant to any view in which God is THE DESIGNER. I am sympathetic with Hart, but without further investigation I have to assume that he, like so many others, doesn't accept ID theory as defined by it's proponents. Mung
Hart writes, "For Thomas Aquinas, for instance, God creates the order of nature by infusing the things of the universe with the wonderful power of moving themselves toward determinate ends; he uses the analogy of a shipwright able to endow timbers with the power into develop in to a ship without external intervention. According to the classical arguments, universal rational order – not just this or that particular instance of complexity – is what speaks of the divine mind." If this is true, then perhaps Hart can explain why Aquinas was also a Young-Earth-Creationist and believed that God created every species in completed form. I really do wish that professional writers would be just a little more careful with their research and a little less prone to parroting what Christian Darwinists say. StephenB
It's rather amazing how things have gone full circle. It used to be that it was the materialists who used science as a whip to force the other side into submission. Now it's the other side that is using science to win the battle. LOL. I'm sure the irony and the humor will be lost on them. Mapou
This is why materialists are loath to concede that DNA really is information, that cells really are full of machines. If they do it’s game over and they know it.
And even with that stubborn refusal, they have conceded the argument. When the sky is plainly blue, fervent denial of that plain observable fact does not enhance one's position. I grew up thinking that evolution was a serious scientific theory that would require a solid education and a life-time of study to reconcile with my faith. That its proponents regularly fail to identify basic information system concepts told me all I need to know. SirHamster
Box, KF; #6, #8 This is why materialists are loath to concede that DNA really is information, that cells really are full of machines. If they do it's game over and they know it. Anyone who doesn't get that a self-replicating watch would be a far greater feat of design than a normal watch is deliberately not getting it. englishmaninistanbul
PS: It took a year to get a response to the challenge to address the tree of life, I had to put two different replies together, and the OOL case boiled down to: we have no answer. No roots, nothing beyond! kairosfocus
Box: He needs answers to both. OOL by abiogenesis is the root of the tree of life and no roots, no shoots, branches twigs and leaves. Similarly origin of novel body plans runs into the same origin of FSCO/I challenge, and there simply ois no other empirically warranted answer for its cause than design. But, we are dealing with entrenched ideology here and what is obvious to us is not to those locked into the system. To imagine that a convenient datum line suffices to answer the case! KF kairosfocus
KF #8, KF, that was exactly my argument. His response was: 'now we are talking abiogenesis not evolution'. Box
Box: Your friend needs to re-read Paley, ch 2 (which somehow usually gets omitted when there is an attempt to dismiss the watchmaker inference). There, s/he will see that the origin of a self-replication system is itself strong further evidence of design. KF kairosfocus
I should say that Dworkin had pronounced. He recently died. jerry
Barry, Couple things. Hart cannot be a Christian or a Jew or a Muslim. The God of Abraham is a tinkerer especially the Christian God. What is the Incarnation, Virgin Birth, Resurrection, Holy Spirit, prayer but examples of tinkering. Hart like too many intellectuals believe that they know the mind of God but we are finite and God is infinite so it is only arrogance that would tell God what is best or how He should act. Second, and off topic but not completely unrelated. There is an article about Ronald Dworkin in Real Clear Politics about secularismprogressivism and religion. Dworkin has pronounced the obvious that all the liberal anti ID people deny. Their beliefs are religious. http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2013/10/06/progressivism_as_religion_dworkins_flawed_belief.html Probably should be a thread by you or Denyse jerry
englishmaninistanbul #4, The other day I tested your Martian artefact analogy on an atheist. His response was: "If we found a single, complex spaceship in isolation, and there were no natural ways to explain how it got there, we might suggest a designer. But that isn't analogous to life.." "But if we found progressively more complex spaceships made out of self replicating material, we wouldn't suggest a designer." Box
I would use a version of my Martian artefact analogy. "It is possible that undeniable evidence of an alien intelligence could be found." I think any sane person, indeed any scientist, must accept this proposition. But hidden within it is an acceptance that there is a point beyond which you give up on finding any natural cause, and instead switch to agency as the most logical explanation. Indeed, agency is a kind of "rival explanation" to the kind of explanations materialistic science seeks. But my Martian artefact analogy or indeed any other like it shows that the materialist position on the origin of life is nothing short of doublethink. Its proponents dismiss any possibility of agency when confronted with evidence of it on Earth, but are quite happy to accept it anywhere else. englishmaninistanbul
Off topic, but does anyone know what happened to Joe? Miss seeing his blunt, but informative comments here. equate65
BA: Back to basics. Can we recognise functionally specific complex organisation and/or associated information? Plainly, yes. What is its ONLY empirically warranted and analytically -- needles in haystacks + blind search -- plausible source? Design. So, we are entitled to infer that FSCO/I is a reliable sign of design (on billions of test cases). If you want to seriously object, come up with a good counter-example, not speculations on what is or is not beneath the dignity of God as a candidate designer. KF PS: It seems to me that the God who in love would condescend to be born in a stable and be laid in a feeding-trough, or to help out a poor couple at their wedding by making new wine for them, or would allow a woman of ill repute to weep over his feet and wipe them with her hair, or hang in shameful agony on a cross, die and be laid in a borrowed tomb, then rise with the fearsome wounds yet in him, is hardly likely to give tuppence worth of concern over what we think is his dignity. Reminds me of the man who loudly objected to the notion of a great king playing with dolls, then having to take his words back when he learned that the king was being a good father with his young daughter. kairosfocus
This is just so much wasted verbiage with little importance or consequence. Dismissing the engineering of life on earth as mere "tinkering" must take some nerve, though. Is Hart judging the handiwork of God? I don't get the argument. It's silly. Mapou

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