Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Intelligent Design as a form of special agent intention


The writer, philosopher and home-maker Lydia McGrew makes some very sensible points about Intelligent Design arguments in a recent post on her blog, titled, Special agent intention as an explanation (May 12, 2014), which cogently rebuts the claim (made by some critics) that ID rejects the notion of God as the necessary Cause of created things. She writes:

All Christians believe that God made the universe and sustains the universe. All Christians also believe that God sometimes does things that in some sense “go beyond” making and sustaining the universe. We usually call those miracles. Some have argued that, if a particular “going beyond” was “front-loaded” into the initial conditions of the Big Bang, it shouldn’t be considered a miracle. I’m rather against front-loading talk, because I’m inclined to think that it would look like an intervention whenever it came up anyway… But either way, Christians are committed to believing that there are things that God does by special intention that goes beyond, “God continually sustains everything at every moment” or “God made the whole world, somehow.”

Dr. McGrew proceeds to illustrate her point for the benefit of her Christian readers:

This is why all Christians that I know of have some notion of the natural order or of what are usually called secondary causes. There is some sense in which it is true to say that the weather in my town today is probably not the result of special divine intention but rather of the secondary causes according to which God has built the world but that the voice from the sky at Jesus’ baptism was definitely the result of special divine intention.

Intelligent Design, argues Dr. McGrew, is purely concerned with special agent intention, and therefore has nothing to do with God’s act of continually sustaining everything in being:

When someone promoting an ID argument says that it is probable that such-and-such a particular phenomenon (say, the visual biochemical cascade in some animals) was the result of intelligent design, … he is saying … that it is probable that this particular phenomenon (not everything in the universe indiscriminately) was the result of special agent intention…. An ID argument involves postulating that we can examine probabilistically whether some given phenomenon is the result of special agent intention–which, if God is in fact the Agent in question, means special divine intention. What is being treated as merely probable is not God’s relationship to Everything That Is but some agent’s (or Agent’s) special intention, and acting to bring about that special intention, with regard to this particular arrangement or event.

And whatever one believes about God as the Necessary First Cause and so forth, one is completely free to regard it as merely probable that some given phenomenon in the world is a result of God’s special intention and special act to bring about that intention…

…[F]rom a metaphysical point of view, I think it is enlightening to hold that in some sense special agent intention and action constitute the merely probable explanation in ID arguments. This should lay to rest any objection that ID is rejecting a God who necessarily is the Cause of all things.

While acts of Intelligent Design need not be construed as miracles, it is nevertheless true that acts of Intelligent Design, like miracles, are instances of special agent intention. Dr. McGrew maintains that the same kind of probabilistic argumentation that is used by apologists to argue for the likelihood of some miracle having happened in the past can also be used to demonstrate that some pattern in Nature is the result of Intelligent Design:

Our conclusions about whether some animal or aspect of biological life is a result of special divine intention should be drawn on the basis of all available evidence, and in many cases (as discussed in the voice in the sky example in the previous post) that evidence will be similar in kind to the evidence that allows us to conclude special divine intention and action in the case of miracles within human history.

Lydia McGrew’s article is well worth reading in its entirety. Comments are welcome.

StephenB @ 12
In all the years I have been active on the internet, I have never encountered anyone else who can even come close to doing what bornagain 77 does. His ability to internalize the elements of all his research and summon them at will is miraculous. In the past, I have referred to his skill as a preternatural gift of some kind. I especially like the way that he subordinates his rhetoric to the evidence, which he usually provides in sufficient abundance to close the case and render all further comments to the status of footnotes. Too many authors lead with their egos; bornagain77 leads with the facts. I wish there were more writers like him who prefer to put the truth on display even when it puts them in the background.
Yes. Thanks. Dionisio
Barry Arrington @ 11
here at UD we regard BA77 as a priceless resource. The information he has amassed is astounding. That he would share it with us here on these pages day after day is amazing. If you don’t like his posts that is your loss. But let me suggest that you just skip them rather than placing your lack of curiosity on display.
Agree. Thanks. Dionisio
Literally definitive findings, since within the field of the definitive, physical paradigm: quantum mechanics - itself one such finding relayed to us by courtesy of BA.. Axel
I thought most of BA's posts cited flawless, mathematically-based, quantum-mechanical research findings. Axel
Don't get me wrong. I don't have a problem with the way BA77 comments under most circumstances, but I am asking a question that cannot be answered with multiple references because all these references can be are opinion. All they prove is that there are others that have the same opinion as he does. In this instance BA77 is trying to claim that his opinion is fact. Yet, rather than choosing to discuss it as an adult he simply resorts to the equivalent of putting his fingers in his ears and shouting "I can't hear you". Acartia_bogart
Acardia Bogart, In all the years I have been active on the internet, I have never encountered anyone else who can even come close to doing what bornagain 77 does. His ability to internalize the elements of all his research and summon them at will is miraculous. In the past, I have referred to his skill as a preternatural gift of some kind. I especially like the way that he subordinates his rhetoric to the evidence, which he usually provides in sufficient abundance to close the case and render all further comments to the status of footnotes. Too many authors lead with their egos; bornagain77 leads with the facts. I wish there were more writers like him who prefer to put the truth on display even when it puts them in the background. StephenB
AB, here at UD we regard BA77 as a priceless resource. The information he has amassed is astounding. That he would share it with us here on these pages day after day is amazing. If you don't like his posts that is your loss. But let me suggest that you just skip them rather than placing your lack of curiosity on display. Barry Arrington
BA77, who is dragging it off topic? All I have asked you to do is to voice your opinion in your own words. Acartia_bogart
AB, I respect Dr. Torley too much to drag his threads off topic. I suggest that you show the same respect. Good night young man. bornagain77
BA77, since you can't respond accept in someone else's words, is it fair to say that you couldn't pass the Turing test? Acartia_bogart
Acartia_bogart, if I made imaginary claims that have no empirical support, as Darwinists do, perhaps I could. Seeing as I don't and ain't then I suppose I can't. bornagain77
BA77, but can you say this in two sentences? Two sentences that contain all of your own words? Acartia_bogart
VJT: Interesting post. I think Dr. McGrew makes some good points. I continue to be amazed at how many people misunderstand ID. While I don't necessarily share Dr. McGrew's focus on what ID means for Christianity, I understand the context in which she was discussing ID, and there is much of merit in her comments as she seeks to respond to one of the absurd and silly complaints against ID. It is reminiscent of one of the significant problems with the multiverse postulate to "explain" the existence of life. Namely, even if we accept that a multiverse somehow produced the laws of chemistry and physics we see in our universe, that would in no way whatsoever explain how, say, life came about. Indeed, we approach the origin of life question with the understanding and the assumption that the laws of chemistry and physics are what they are. The question of OOL (or any other ID inquiry in biology) can be addressed completely separately from the question of the Big Bang, or the multiverse, or whether some God sustains all matter and energy, etc. Similarly, as Dr. McGrew points out, in order for a believer to even have a meaningful concept like "miracles," they have to accept that much (indeed, the vast majority) of events are not the result of intentional intervention. ----- Mung: The most miraculous thing about this post from VJT is that it was so short. :) Eric Anderson
of supplemental note to 'miracles', Eric Metaxas has, what looks to be, a very interesting book coming out this fall:
Miracles: What They Are, Why They Happen, and How They Can Change Your Life Hardcover – October 28, 2014 by Eric Metaxas excerpt description: What Heaven is for Real did for near-death experiences, Miracles does for the miraculous—provides undeniably compelling evidence that there’s something real to be reckoned with, whatever one has thought of this topic before. Miracles provides a wide range of real stories of the miraculous and will engage the reader in the serious discussion that this fascinating and rich subject deserves. Miracles is in some ways a more personal, anecdotal, and updated version of C. S. Lewis’s 1947 book on the subject. Metaxas’s Miracles is an exhortation to view miracles as not only possible, but as far more widespread than most of us had ever imagined. http://www.amazon.com/Miracles-What-They-Happen-Change/dp/0525954422/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1403100127&sr=1-1&keywords=miracles+metaxas
along that line:
(GodWinks) SQuire Rushnell & daughter of Emmett Kelly on FOX & FRIENDS 6/16/13 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvdkCJgRzEk&list=UUhhpzDrOSynYa9xPfNtbrqw Dr. Janis Amatuzio author of FOREVER OURS - video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtnywJHLrLY
Of related note, Quotes like the two I highlighted from Professor Zeilinger mesh perfectly with the centuries old 'first mover' argument of Theists:
"The ‘First Mover’ is necessary for change occurring at each moment." Michael Egnor – Aquinas’ First Way http://www.evolutionnews.org/2009/09/jerry_coyne_and_aquinas_first.html Aquinas’ First Way – (The First Mover – Unmoved Mover) - video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qmpw0_w27As Aquinas’ First Way 1) Change in nature is elevation of potency to act. 2) Potency cannot actualize itself, because it does not exist actually. 3) Potency must be actualized by another, which is itself in act. 4) Essentially ordered series of causes (elevations of potency to act) exist in nature. 5) An essentially ordered series of elevations from potency to act cannot be in infinite regress, because the series must be actualized by something that is itself in act without the need for elevation from potency. 6) The ground of an essentially ordered series of elevations from potency to act must be pure act with respect to the casual series. 7) This Pure Act– Prime Mover– is what we call God. http://egnorance.blogspot.com/2011/08/aquinas-first-way.html
This following video is also very helpful in understanding the "First Mover" argument:
The Laws of Nature (Have Never ‘Caused’ Anything) by C.S. Lewis – doodle video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_20yiBQAIlk
Moreover, quantum entanglement, perhaps the 'spookiest' of quantum mysteries,,,
Special Relativity and Quantum Entanglement Reflect Some Characteristics Of God – video https://vimeo.com/93104676
,,,is now found in life on a massive scale. In every DNA and protein molecule,,,
Quantum Information/Entanglement In DNA - short video https://vimeo.com/92405752 Coherent Intrachain energy migration at room temperature - Elisabetta Collini and Gregory Scholes - University of Toronto - Science, 323, (2009), pp. 369-73 Excerpt: The authors conducted an experiment to observe quantum coherence dynamics in relation to energy transfer. The experiment, conducted at room temperature, examined chain conformations, such as those found in the proteins of living cells. Neighbouring molecules along the backbone of a protein chain were seen to have coherent energy transfer. Where this happens quantum decoherence (the underlying tendency to loss of coherence due to interaction with the environment) is able to be resisted, and the evolution of the system remains entangled as a single quantum state. http://www.scimednet.org/quantum-coherence-living-cells-and-protein/ etc.. etc..
It is very interesting that quantum entanglement, which conclusively demonstrates that ‘information’ in its pure 'quantum form' is completely transcendent of any time and space constraints (Bell, Aspect, Leggett, Zeilinger), should be found in molecular biology on such a massive scale, for how can the quantum entanglement 'effect' in biology possibly be explained by a material (matter/energy) 'cause' when the quantum entanglement 'effect' falsified material particles as its own 'causation' in the first place? (A. Aspect, A. Zeilinger) Appealing to the probability of various configurations of material particles, as Darwinism does, simply will not help since a timeless/spaceless cause must be supplied which is beyond the capacity of the material particles themselves to supply! To give a coherent explanation for an effect that is shown to be completely independent of any time and space constraints one is forced to appeal to a cause that is itself not limited to time and space! i.e. Put more simply, you cannot explain a effect by a cause that has been falsified by the very same effect you are seeking to explain! Improbability arguments of various 'special' configurations of material particles, which have been a staple of the arguments against neo-Darwinism, simply do not apply since the cause is not within the material particles in the first place! Yet it is also very interesting to note, in Darwinism's inability to explain this 'transcendent quantum effect' adequately, that Theism has always postulated a transcendent component to man that is not constrained by time and space. i.e. Theism has always postulated a 'living soul' for man that lives past the death of the body. Verses and music:
Genesis 2:7 "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." Acts 17:28 For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.' Sidewalk Prophets - You Love Me Anyway https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8BBCYFAYRI
From the 'Look Ma, No hands!' department of empirical support,,
'Look Ma, No hands!' - picture http://www.alan927.com/Streetbike%20Stunts/slides/Pfeiffer%20Look%20Ma%20No%20Hands.jpg
Comes this piece of evidence, from Princeton University no less, showing that conscious intention has a physical effect on material objects:
Dean Radin - Random Number Generators correlate to intention - video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFULrlxTFsA Correlations of Random Binary Sequences with Pre-Stated Operator Intention: A Review of a 12-Year Program - 1997 Abstract: Strong correlations between output distribution means of a variety of random binary processes and pre-stated intentions of some 100 individual human operators have been established over a 12-year experimental program. More than 1000 experimental series, employing four different categories of random devices and several distinctive protocols, show comparable magnitudes of anomalous mean shifts from chance expectation, with similar distribution structures. Although the absolute effect sizes are quite small, of the order of 10–4 bits deviation per bit processed, over the huge databases accumulated the composite effect exceeds 7 ?( p approx.= 3.5 × 10 –13). These data display significant disparities between female and male operator performances, and consistent serial position effects in individual and collective results. Data generated by operators far removed from the machines and exerting their efforts at times other than those of machine operation show similar effect sizes and structural details to those of the local, on-time experiments. Most other secondary parameters tested are found to have little effect on the scale and character of the results, with one important exception: studies performed using fully deterministic pseudorandom sources, either hard-wired or algorithmic, yield null overall mean shifts, and display no other anomalous feature. http://www.princeton.edu/~pear/pdfs/1997-correlations-random-binary-sequences-12-year-review.pdf
Here are some of the studies to go with the preceding video and article;
Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research - Scientific Study of Consciousness-Related Physical Phenomena - publications http://www.princeton.edu/~pear/publications.html
I once asked a evolutionist, after showing him the preceding experiments, "Since you ultimately believe that the 'god of random chance' produced everything we see around us, what in blue blazes is my mind doing pushing your god around?" The empirical evidence that God sustains this universe, as the Theists have always held,,,
Hebrews 1:3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature, sustaining all things by His powerful word.,,,
,,,has been forthcoming from quantum mechanics. Quantum Mechanics has now been extended to falsify local realism (the idea that the universe is not dependent on any beyond space and time causes) without even using quantum entanglement to do it:
‘Quantum Magic’ Without Any ‘Spooky Action at a Distance’ – June 2011 Excerpt: A team of researchers led by Anton Zeilinger at the University of Vienna and the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information of the Austrian Academy of Sciences used a system which does not allow for entanglement, and still found results which cannot be interpreted classically. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110624111942.htm
Moreover, not only has quantum mechanics shown that material particles are not the self sustaining entities that materialists had presupposed they were, but quantum mechanics even shows us that reductive materialism cannot account for how a particle moves through space. In this following video,,
Quantum Mechanics – Double Slit Experiment. Is anything real? (Prof. Anton Zeilinger) – video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ayvbKafw2g0
Prof. Zeilinger makes this rather startling statement,,
“The path taken by the photon is not an element of reality. We are not allowed to talk about the photon passing through this or this slit. Neither are we allowed to say the photon passes through both slits. All this kind of language is not applicable.” Anton Zeilinger
If that was not enough to get his point across, at the 4:12 minute mark in this following video,,,
Double Slit Experiment – Explained By Prof Anton Zeilinger – video http://www.metacafe.com/watch/6101627/
Professor Zeilinger states,,,
"We know what the particle is doing at the source when it is created. We know what it is doing at the detector when it is registered. But we do not know what it is doing in-between." Anton Zeilinger
Also of note, Dean Radin, whose work on consciousness at Princeton I've already listed, has also recently shown that consciousness is integral to the double slit experiment:
Consciousness and the double-slit interference pattern: six experiments - Radin - 2012 Abstract: A double-slit optical system was used to test the possible role of consciousness in the collapse of the quantum wavefunction. The ratio of the interference pattern’s double-slit spectral power to its single-slit spectral power was predicted to decrease when attention was focused toward the double slit as compared to away from it. Each test session consisted of 40 counterbalanced attention-toward and attention-away epochs, where each epoch lasted between 15 and 30 s(seconds). Data contributed by 137 people in six experiments, involving a total of 250 test sessions, indicate that on average the spectral ratio decreased as predicted (z = -4:36, p = 6•10^-6). Another 250 control sessions conducted without observers present tested hardware, software, and analytical procedures for potential artifacts; none were identified (z = 0:43, p = 0:67). Variables including temperature, vibration, and signal drift were also tested, and no spurious influences were identified. By contrast, factors associated with consciousness, such as meditation experience, electrocortical markers of focused attention, and psychological factors including openness and absorption, significantly correlated in predicted ways with perturbations in the double-slit interference pattern. The results appear to be consistent with a consciousness-related interpretation of the quantum measurement problem. http://www.deanradin.com/papers/Physics%20Essays%20Radin%20final.pdf
Another intelligently designed miraculous post from VJT! Mung

Leave a Reply