Intelligent Design

[quote mine] Ken Miller: “much of the problem lies with atheists”

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In the fine tradition of quote mining (just kidding), I’d like to periodically dig up a provocative quote and observe the reaction on the net.


Genesis 1:26 tells us something very different. We are assured that our efforts to understand nature are valid, because our hearts and minds are fashioned in the likeness of God. Our senses, the ultimate sources of scientific knowledge, are imperfect, but they are not deceitful. Nature does not give up her secrets easily, and our first explanations are not always correct. Nonetheless, if we persist, if we apply the tools of reason and the power of the human mind, the world will yield its secrets; and so it has. The God in whom believers put their trust may surpass our understanding, but the assurance that we are made in His image means that He and His world are accessible to our best efforts.

In the minds of many, evolution remains a dangerous idea. For biology educators, it is a source of never-ending strife.
I believe much of the problem lies with atheists in the scientific community who routinely enlist the material findings of evolutionary biology in support of their own philosophical pronouncements

grace is as real as the presence of God Himself….I would argue that any scientist who believes in God possesses the faith that we were given our unique imaginative powers not only to find God, but also to discover as much of His universe as we could. In other words, to a religious person, science can be a pathway towards God, not away from Him, an additional and sometimes even an amzing source of grace.”

Ken Miller page 275-281, Finding Darwin’s God

The passage in Genesis which Miller references:

Genesis 1:26:

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;”

28 Replies to “[quote mine] Ken Miller: “much of the problem lies with atheists”

  1. 1
    Benjii says:

    And your point is?

  2. 2
    scordova says:

    Benji,

    Good question.

    The point is, why doesn’t miller get flak for attacking atheism? Some of his writings would almost put him up there with the wedge conspiracy.

    If any ID proponent used those words, he would never hear the end of it.

    It seems when someone follows the party line on evolution, their religious beliefs are hardly a factor. The moment someone crticizes Darwin, he’s suddenly a biased religious individual, incapable of objectivity.

    Salvador

  3. 3
    Scott says:

    Sal, isn’t it convenient how you are only a quote-miner when the legitimate quote is ill-received by our Darwinian Fundamentalist friends? 😉

  4. 4
    scordova says:

    Just to set the record straight, I have many atheist friends, and I don’t mean to sound like I’m attacking atheists.

    But the point of my post was not to attack atheists, but to point out that as long as one follows the pro-Darwin line, one will not be hassled by the Darwinists about their religious views. One can even blame atheists as the cause of the widespread non-acceptance of Darwinian evolution and get away with it so long as one gives proper homage to Darwin.

    The only taboo, is to say Darwin was wrong.

    Salvador

  5. 5
    Red Reader says:

    Unfortunately, Ken Miller was being dishonest in the passage.
    And the reason he isn’t attacked is because pro-Darwinists KNOW he’s being dishonest.

    Successful dishonesty always contains a grain of truth.

    What Dr. Miller says in this passage about science would be a beautiful and reverent point if its intent were holy. Reread his statement: “…we were given our unique imaginative powers not only to find God, but also to discover as much of His universe as we could. In other words, to a religious person, science can be a pathway towards God, not away from Him….”

    Unfortunately, the intent of this passage is to lead people away from real scientific discovery onto a path which leads ultimately TO THE VERY atheism he so piously decries.

    Here is a passage that perfectly parallels Ken Miller’s logic, tone and connection to theological truth (not to mention the consequences of its effectiveness):
    ….
    Genesis 3:4-5 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
    ….

    For more on subtle half-truth employed to unholy ends, see also: Mt. 4:1-11.

    IMO KM Darwinists believe the bible is metaphoric truth and science is literal truth. Still, it must be a bitter pill to swallow when the two disagree for the bible is the one that gets twisted to fit the often mistaken conclusions of science. I don’t really see how KMDs sleep at night knowing they’re doing that. -ds

  6. 6
    jacktone says:

    A man’s gotta stand on somethin’. Don’t seem too much like “science” is quite firm enough for that. Leastwise, there ain’t too much agreement on what exactly “science” actually is.

  7. 7
    Mercury says:

    IMO KM Darwinists believe the bible is metaphoric truth and science is literal truth.

    It’s interesting that many ID advocates on this board, as well as Drs. Behe and Dembski, meet DaveScot’s definition here of “Ken Miller Darwinists”. They believe (as far as I can tell) that literature — including inspired literature — can express truth through many genres, and that a figurative interpretation of the Genesis creation texts is most appropriate. They also believe that creation itself is incapable of speaking metaphorically, though of course it can be used to create metaphors.

    And, on those issues, I agree with them.

    I didn’t define KM Darwinists. I cited what I thought was one attribute of a KM Darwinist. Here’s another revelation. KM Darwinists are humans. I’m a human. Wow. Heavy, huh? -ds

  8. 8
    Mercury says:

    Hi Dave,

    I didn’t define KM Darwinists. I cited what I thought was one attribute of a KM Darwinist.

    The irony is that you cited an attribute that is apparently shared by the owner of this blog and many other ID advocates who post here. Do you also wonder how they sleep at night?

    No, I don’t wonder because unlike Ken Miller they aren’t orthodox Darwinists. What I’m wondering is if there’s any good reason why this shouldn’t be the last snide comment I see from you on this blog. -ds

  9. 9
    Red Reader says:

    Mercury wrote:
    “….many ID advocates on this board, as well as Drs. Behe and Dembski, meet DaveScot’s definition here of “Ken Miller Darwinists”.”

    Sorry you are not up to speed, Mercury. (get it? speed, Mercury? OK, I’ll drop it.)

    Dave Scott isn’t the author of the definition of a KM Darwinist; Wm Dembski is.
    “The Kenneth Miller Darwinist (abbreviated KM Darwinist), who is a traditional Judeo-
    Christian believer, holds that God has acted miraculously in salvation history (with such
    miracles as the parting of the Red Sea, the resurrection of Christ, the Virgin Birth, etc.)
    but denies that God’s activity in natural history is scientifically detectable. The Kenneth
    Miller Darwinist is an orthodox religious believer and an orthodox Darwinist. He is the
    poster child for the Eugenie Scott Darwinist.”

    See: http://www.designinference.com.....rategy.pdf

    You don’t really have know what you are talking about to post here, but it helps.

  10. 10
    Paul Brand says:

    DaveScot,

    I’m not sure how an old earth intelligent design theorist would necessarily differ from KM Darwinist on whether the early Genesis chapters are methaphorical/figurative or literal truth. From my ovservation, there are some orthodox Darwinists who take the passages literally (e.g. Glenn Morton), and there are old earth intelligent design theorists who don’t take those chapters figuratively, of whom I would have thought Behe and Dembski were included. Anyway, since the Bible doesn’t mention evolution, I don’t know see how a KM Darwinist would necessarily conflict with an ID theorist approach to Scripture. Could you clarify?

    Sure. The gist of it is that if you aren’t a philosophical materialist then materialist prognostications don’t threaten your worldview. I’m a philosophical skeptic and believe that there is no other logically tenable position. But of course as a philosophical skeptic I must concede that I could be wrong. My take is that Dembski and Behe are essentially philosophical skeptics too – especially Dembski as I can’t really pin him down on any other particular philosophy. KM Darwinists are committed to materialist explanations of evolution and believe that whatever materialist inquiry concludes is simply how God did it i.e. materialism trumps scripture. -ds

  11. 11
    scordova says:

    What I intend to write on is the difference between a pro-ID evolutionist like say, John Davison (who to my knowledge believes in a non-Christian God), and someone like Ken Miller who professes belief in the Bible is that, well, Miller kisses up to Darwin. All is forgive if one burns insense to Charles. Miller actually wrote a very ID friendly book (which I will demonstrate in subsequent weblogs), the main thing is he ended his book with the magic words:

    “What kind of God do I believe in? I believe in Darwin’s God.”

    But the interesting thing is various Darwin scholar’s point to the fact that Darwin’s references to the Creator were additions made for political expediency in the subsequent editions, and perhaps to appease his Christian wife. If that’s the case, the Miller’s God, like Darwin’s God would be one of political expediency. Does Ken Miller want to ascent to that?

    Salvador

  12. 12
    tinabrewer says:

    Paul Brand, it is interesting to me to see both you and Mercury weighing in on this thread! I think Mercury is correct that there are many ID sympathizers (myself definitely included) who take the Genesis account of creation to be an allegorical/spiritual account and not a literal attempt to describe how the earth and its life forms came to be. To me, the issues of biblical literalism and evolution are completely separate. The reason they are separate is because they deal with completely different realities. It is, in my opinion, simply grossly obtuse for twenty-first century people, steeped in centuries of scientific thinking about the world, to look back into the earliest history of our traditions and expect that those people also thought in a scientific manner about the world. It is frankly ludicrous. The saddest part, for me, is that this literalist attitude does severe damage to the spiritual understanding that is conveyed in the Genesis text: the fact is that metaphorical or allegorical truths are TRUTH with a Capital T, whereas literal truths are much smaller and less compelling. For example, the warning “Beware of the wolf in sheeps clothing” This is an incredibly powerful and insightful warning WHEN TAKEN METAPHORICALLY. We sense that someone could intend evil towards us while wearing the most innocent of masks. It is nothing less than a warning to be intuitively perceptive about the real essence of a person/thing and not be fooled by the appearances! How much more powerful and informative that if this statement is taken literally: a wolf dressed up as a sheep could certainly pose some dangers, but the idea is so preposterous and unlikely that a serious-minded person would dismiss it altogether and risk missing the deeper intent of the warning.

    To me, this example perfectly illustrates the problem with Biblical literalism. It strikes against the sense of reality which most people experience in this age (archaeology, carbon dating, etc.) and many react to this by rejecting the real and necessary insights conveyed in the bible. In my opinion this does a tremendous disservice to the human spirit which needs HIGHER INSIGHT far more than it needs FACTUAL KNOWLEDGE. Higher insight is of the eternal spiritual. Factual knowledge is limited to space and time and matter. Which should lead?

    On the issue of Ken Miller Darwinism, I think the Quote which Red reader shared sums it up without, however, cutting to the deepest level of why this is a conflict for ID supporters. You may have followed on earlier threads where Mercury and I went around and around about the true meaning of random and the question of materialism. I am convinced that the view ostensibly held by yourself and Mercury is up against a logical wall on that question. I asked you in the last thread ‘is soul or spirit an emergent property of matter’, because as TEs, you believe that matter and its laws are the way that God creates without the infusion of matter with a higher substance or intelligence. That seems to be the point of departure between materialist Darwinists and TEs. The Materialists say “its all just random unguided processes and there is no intent or purpose” whereas the TEs say “it all appears random and unguided but I believe there is purpose and meaning”. That sounds flippant, but I don’t mean it that way. It is at this exact point that the TE and ID positions differ. Id is saying “It is possible to detect in an objective manner that guidance and intelligence are the most probable explanation” or something like that! What Mercury and I eventually came to was his (I think its a him) sense that ID is about the notion that only in specific highly complex instances does the designing intelligence intervene, but that the rest just goes on as science describes, resulting in a diminishing ‘God of the gaps’ I had to eventually admit that unfortunately many ID sympathisers may think in this way, but that this is definitely NOT an intrinsic part of ID theory. ID theory is just design detection. If scientific probabalistic methods are to be used, then it makes sense to focus for the purpose of illustration, on the most complex systems. That does not at the same time say ‘all these simpler things came about naturalistically’. Dave Scot said it somewhere on one of these threads. Everything appears designed. Some things are so overwhelmingly obviously the result of intelligent agency that they lend themselves to objective assessment in this light.

    There is always the critical necessity to separate rigorously what a theory says and what the implications of that theory are. The first is a very small thing, the second a ‘big tent’ which can include all manner of interpretations.

  13. 13
    Paul Brand says:

    Salvador,

    I’ve read a fair bit from the Dover trial transcripts including Kenneth Miller’s testimony. You can correct me if I’m wrong, but I think he does acknowledge that the book title “Finding Darwin’s God”, was a late addition to the book’s content, and was suggested by the publisher to make it a better seller (which appears to me to be an effective strategy). His closing remarks in the book were probably related to this change, so that the book’s title wasn’t too foreign to the book’s content. So, I’m not sure that he really is kissing up to Darwin, but I think the motivation is a combination of satisfying the publisher, and that he found some common ground with the theology of Darwin’s writings (which may or may not differ with Darwin’s theology).

    I do have a few questions to consider:

    Given your assertion about Darwin is correct, do you think Miller was aware of it? How would you know?

    Also, if we criticize a scientific finding based on the originator’s belief system, what does that prove?

    Personally, I might be considered a KM Darwinist to some extent. I don’t share all the same theology as he does, and I’m unsure what to make of his evolutionary applications of quantum mechanics (I’m still pondering this after reading the book a few weeks ago), and his opinion that God didn’t have foreknowledge of the end result (which seems to contradict an eternal or timeless concept of God, but anywho). Having said that, I’m still somewhat sympathetic to ID. If I am a KM Darwinist, I haven’t been one for very long (perhaps a few months). I’m in favor of intelligent design work in cosmology, and the effects of design and fine-tuning in my opinion are evident in our evolutionary development.

    KM mentioned fine-tuning favorably in his book as well, so I guess I agree with him there. You mentioned that KM had some pro-ID things to say, so that’s what came to mind when you said that, but I’d be interested in hearing what other pro-ID things he has said.

  14. 14
    Paul Brand says:

    “Unfortunately, the intent of this passage is to lead people away from real scientific discovery onto a path which leads ultimately TO THE VERY atheism he so piously decries.”

    Red Reader, can you clarify how you drew this deduction from KM’s quote, I can’t figure out the connection. How does it lead to atheism? Why not to cosmological design, which KM endorses? Thanks.

  15. 15
    Paul Brand says:

    Tina,

    I mentioned in that other thread that I do not know how to explain the soul. If it is immaterial, then there is no philosphical requirement for a TE to explain it in scientific terms. Also, theistic evolutionists do often beleive that God intervenes in history, but this seems to be usually limited to His relationship with humankind. Prior to the human race that is made in God’s image, I’m not so sure that God had that kind of relationship with his creation, but I wouldn’t know for sure. But, I would contend that it wouldn’t be necessary for God to intervene in nature, when nature is itself designed to do God’s will.

    By the way, I do agree that the methodology of some of Dembski’s theorems do seem reasonable, and I am an intelligent design advocate when it is broadly defined. I’m not yet convinced that his theory has been successfully and consistently applied in biology.

  16. 16
    tinabrewer says:

    Paul Brand, why do theistic evolutionists believe that God intervenes in human history? If the material laws of creation are adequate to make everything come about as pre-planned by God, then could not also the relational events between mankind and God be pre-destined or pre-ordained? The problem with the TE position (insofar as it stands in opposition to ID) seems to me to be that there is no concievable mechanism by which God could intervene, since nature and all that which falls under that rubric (gravity, energy, etc.) is seen as complete and seemless in its foreordained state. This leaves the TE to simply assert, on faith, that ‘God can do whatever He wished in the world since he made it’ which sounds very similar to the position held by some that specific instances of design are miraculous interventions, a position strongly caricaturized and criticized by TEs at every turn.

    With regard to the soul, you say that if it is immaterial, then there is no philosophical necessity for a TE to explain it in scientific terms. I would agree with that; however, it dodges the living reality of science as it is today: ALL things are explained in scientific terms, including every single attribute or quality of living things, attributes which religious believers have always rightly associated with the immaterial aspect of humans. This is not just a few radicals who take the naturalism of Darwinism too far. THis is a development which is a completely logical outgrowth of Darwinian evolutionary theory: if all of life came about as a result of purposeless and unguided processes, then this purposelessness also gave birth to the very things we think have the greatest meaning: art, literature, love, worship altruism, etc. These things are all explained as being the result of RM+NS. I have a little bit of a problem with the attitude of avoidance of these implications which seems to be taken by TEs. In my own extensive discussion with Mercury, he simply totally avoided these modern extensions of Darwinian theory (evolutionary psychology, Dennett’s call to study religion from the perspective of evolution, etc.) by saying, essentially ‘I am not interested in those subjects’. While it is perfectly fine to be personally uninterested, it is not fine to pretend that such lack of interest means that such developments are mere distractions from the main theory, rather than being perfectly natural logical extentions. This goes directly to the question of the soul. If it is immaterial/immortal/created, then while it is true that a TE need not explain it scientifically, it is also far MORE true that he should heed with great interest the fact that the very science he defends is happily defining it into oblivion for him!

  17. 17
    scordova says:

    Paul,

    Thank you for your comments.

    You asked: “Given your assertion about Darwin is correct, do you think Miller was aware of it? How would you know?”

    I do not know if Miller is aware of it. My point was rhetorhical, in that “Darwin’s God” might be no God at all or certainly not a Christian God, and that the reality of history might not be in agreement with Miller’s rose colored version. If Miller was not aware of these things, then that’s a mark against his scholarship, and if he is, then deliberately he’s playing the politician….

    The following link might be informative:
    http://www.atheistsunited.org/.....arwin.html

    If I seem negative on Miller, it’s because of his misrepresentation and his underhanded debate tactics when he deals with mainline IDists. I’m not out there to attack atheist or Darwinists, but when someone is misrepresenting ID and conducting themselves in a manner that I consider somewhat underhanded, that’s where I draw the line.

    I actually am very positive of a lot of what he wrote in his book. His support of cosmological ID is compelling.

    But as you can tell, I’m not very high on Miller otherwise.

    Salvador

  18. 18
    Paul Brand says:

    Tina,

    Just to be clear, I’m speaking for myself here. Also note, that my understanding of the philosphical/theological implications of evolution are still in formation, which makes the sorts of questions you ask good to ponder. Meanwhile, Mercury has a few more years than I do as a TE.

    I should also note, that I don’t have any a priori philosphical objections to God’s intervention in history, including our evolutionary development.

    I think some of the skepticism regarding ID claims in biology is rooted in unsuccessful predictions by design advocates throughout history. When a person says “science can’t explain” this or that, a few decades later or maybe centuries later, science does explain it. The question is, whether ID does this today. Does it say, “science cannot explain”? Such a phrasing of reality is not considered credible. Perhaps the flagellum is a modern day example of something that seems too complex to have occurred naturally. Now, before I make more claims than I can defend, I’m not a biologist, and I’m in no position to make a claim that science could fully explain the flagellum.

    I’m going on memory when Behe made certain claims that not only is such and such not explained by science, but it is fundamentally impossible for a natural explanation to exist. What I hear next from the scientific community is that such and such has an explanation, or at least an explanation that starts to answer the question. We discover that such and such a component of the flagellum is useful in something else in nature. So, me not being a biologist has to make a decision as to who do I believe. I have a mathematics training, but no post-secondary biological training. My intuition tells me that it is rather difficult to prove something could not happen, particularly when you are dealing with sophisticated evolutionary mechanisms at work that can fail thousands of times before a success, but still be overall successful.

    We might not have an explanation as to what intermediary evolutionary steps may have taken place, but we do know that similar questions have been answered in the past. It is with this track record that I have become skeptical when new claims surface that suggest there are no natural explanations. Sometimes I think these evolutionary questions are different because they have such strong theological implications, but as I have said previously, the theory that God designed the properties of the universe to be sufficiently complex and fine-tuned to produce great things such as the bacterial flagellum, is a compelling theory that strongly supports a loving, creator God. (On the other hand, it also happens to be complex enough to produce apparently irreducibly complex rabies virus. What are the theological implications of that? I haven’t fully sorted through that one, there’s always something to chew on.)

    —-

    Tina wrote: “The problem with the TE position (insofar as it stands in opposition to ID) seems to me to be that there is no concievable mechanism by which God could intervene, since nature and all that which falls under that rubric (gravity, energy, etc.) is seen as complete and seemless in its foreordained state.”

    I don’t think this is entirely true, at least not in my own view. As a Christian, I believe that God has intervened miraculously in certain points in history, as a demonstration of his power, and that God is not limited by the natural forces we are limited by. But, when it comes to natural things, God shows his power through nature itself, and its vast sophistication and complexity and fine-tuning. Another theory is that God shows his power by intervening with nature, which is valid theory in my opinion, but not the only valid theory. Either theory works, perhaps one better than the other, but regardless, I don’t feel theologically threatened by evolution, and I think I have good reason not to be. I am also not threatened by biological design theory. There are some anti-ID theists who think biological design is an insult to God. Though I somewhat see where they are coming from, I tend to disagree. There are certain theodicity problems with biological design theory that may not necessarily exist with an evolutionary compatible view, but these apparent problems exist on both sides. For exmaple, I’m starting to realize how cruel natural selection can be. It’s difficult to come to grips with, and I don’t think I have fully yet. But, it is reality, and it exists even today with many species where infanticide produces evolutionary advantages.

    —-

    Tina wrote: “ALL things are explained in scientific terms, including every single attribute or quality of living things, attributes which religious believers have always rightly associated with the immaterial aspect of humans. This is not just a few radicals who take the naturalism of Darwinism too far. THis is a development which is a completely logical outgrowth of Darwinian evolutionary theory: if all of life came about as a result of purposeless and unguided processes, then this purposelessness also gave birth to the very things we think have the greatest meaning: art, literature, love, worship altruism, etc. These things are all explained as being the result of RM+NS.”

    I don’t think science can explain everything. Science observes nature, but how do we explain the origin of nature without nature itself? This is where I get stuck everytime I try to comtemplate whether atheistic materialism is valid. Nature has consistently offered an explanation for what occurs in nature. But this track record is useless when it comes to the question of absolute origins, where nature does not exist a priori.

    I would answer the purposeless and undirected point by referring to design in cosmological fine-tuning. I think there is purpose and direction. My observation may differ from philosophical naturalists, but science isn’t contingent on the premise of philosophical naturalism.

    Regarding altruism, it apparently doesn’t exist in our genes! I’ve been reading an article on talk origins http://www.talkorigins.org/faq.....ology.html that suggests this (i.e. genes are inherently selfish, and this results in natural selection). But, altruism does exist in humanity, and it seems to me that altrusim is very connected with religion. For example, Christ’s death on the cross was an altruistic action. I think Christ had our best interests at heart in his action, and was not intended to fulfill any of his own selfish desires. Other religions also have some sense of altruism, where we offer ourselves sacrificially for something other than preserving our genes through our descendents. Even many atheists act altruistically, but I have to say that they might do that deep down because they are religiously aware (though perhaps this occurs subconsciously). If altruism exists, it is a detrement to evolutionary development. Altruism exists in spite of evolution, and we need to be able to explain why this exists in society. Is it a virus? Will altruism be selected out of nature? I should also clarify what is meant when the article uses the term “altruism”. A kind gesture to another person is not necessarily altruistic, if such actions prove to be beneficial to the self in the long-run. I think this is also religiously acceptable. A kind action that results in personal gain is not love. It’s not necessarily immoral, but it is not true love.

    Anyway Tina, I realize I’ve been going off on rabbit-trails in responding to your points. That’s the way my mind sometimes works. It’s been nice chatting, and it’s been good to chew on your comments and questions. Also, DS said goodbye to Mercury, which means you won’t be seeing him around here anymore.

  19. 19
    tinabrewer says:

    Hi Paul. I am sorry to hear that Mercury will not be around anymore. Anyway, you wrote “Altruism exists in spite of evolution and we need to be able to explain why this exists in society” It is interesting that you say this, because I cannot count on my hands and feet the number of times I have had personal face-to-face discussions with committed Darwinists who have explained to me, using the patient diction one employs when speaking to the mentally challenged, how altruism is understood to have been generated through random mutation and natural selection. It just won’t do to avoid the fact that the theory AS IS, without embellishment, is being used in all seriousness to explain these things.

    On the question of purposelessness in nature, you point to the cosmological fine-tuning argument. I have to confess that I have only the most general knowledge about this aspect of design theory. I have read about it in secondary type sources but never read the argument fleshed out fully. However, the cosmological fine-tuning, if I am not mistaken, refers specifically to the material laws. This is perhaps why it is so attractive to TE, who seem to be very comfortable with detecting design anywhere BUT in the life sciences! I am genuinely puzzled by this approach. Really baffled. I am not being snide here, please trust me on that. I just always end up shaking my head and going “I don’t get it, I really don’t.” when TEs in all sincerity argue that Yes, they believe in God, and YEs, God created everything, and Yes God intervenes in the universe whenever and wherever he wishes and further that Yes, it is obvious from the cosmological fine-tuning of the universe that it was designed, but suddenly (and quite vehemently) NO WAY CAN ONE DETECT DESIGN IN THE COMPLEXITY OF LIFE ON EARTH!!!

    I have a thought on the question of natural selection. I think it is true that there is tremendous apparent cruelty in the natural world, and that the design argument has certain theodicy difficulties. I think Judeo-Christian religion in general has this problem. And of course “the fall” is given as the catch-all answer to why such unbearable suffering is meted out without regard to any sense of justice or mercy. I find this explanation compelling when taken in a broad, or metaphorical sense, but utterly vicious when taken literally. I mean that if ADAM means mankind, and all of mankind fell into sin and therefore earned the suffering of the world, then okay so far as this is useful. But if it is taken to mean that there once was a guy named ADAM who made a really bad choice to eat a piece of fruit which he was virtually GOADED INTO doing by Eve, and that as a result of that, there are rapists and murderers and grotesquely disfiguring diseases, etc. then that just appalls me. Just a personal view, but from a logical perspective, the question has to be 1)If the allegorical view is correct, then that still leaves us with the question of where all these people called ‘mankind’ were when this original fall took place? Did they exist before incarnation on earth? If so, how does that sit with traditional Christianity? I am not sure, but I am definitely convinced that this is becoming a rabbit-trail. sorry.

    One further comment: You wrote “I don’t think science can explain everything” I think that the problem TE have is that they defend a theory which purports to do just that. Without modification or extrapolation. The Darwinistic account of the origin of life makes truth claims which are philosophical. When we say that something is “purposeless and unguided” we are saying just that. It doesn’t secretly mean “Quite possibly guided by an invisible hand” or “Maybe designed to LOOK purposeless while actually being purposeful” It means purposeless. This truth claim is metaphysical, not natural. It makes an untestable claim about the metaphysical aspect of reality. Imagine, as a thought experiment, the chagrin which would greet the proposal to change the wording of “random mutation plus natural selection” to “cleverly intentional mutations plus carefully sculpted natural selection”. The outrage would never cease, because to the NDEs, this statement is making an untestable metaphysical claim. Notice, though, how the previous, widely accepted statement is by definition also doing so, since the statements are opposites.

  20. 20
    Paul Brand says:

    Hi Salvador,

    I read the link you provided. It suggested that there was material in Darwin’s autobiography that was removed by family before publication, material that would suggest that Darwin was leaning against Christianity and theism in general. I couldn’t find reference regarding family members adding to his writings positive references to a Creator in the Origins of Species (presumably written before), such as the quote at the end of Miller’s book. Could you reference me a link or a source that information was added? Also, do you know if Darwin’s theory of descent with modification was formulated before or after his fall from Christianity? Thanks.

    —-

    Regarding the blog thread, I was wondering if you were taking issue with Miller’s understanding of the Genesis passage, or if you merely cited that as context to the bolded atheism remarks (which would be a lot of context, perhaps enough that people won’t accuse you of quote mining). There’s more context to the Genesis passage on p.274. It’s thought-provoking, but that may not have been your focus.

  21. 21
    Karen says:

    “Unfortunately, the intent of this passage is to lead people away from real scientific discovery onto a path which leads ultimately TO THE VERY atheism he so piously decries.”

    How does this lead people away from real scientific discovery? I don’t get it. Dr. Miller is a cell biologist and a researcher, and he publishes papers in scientific journals. What is it that you don’t like about his research?

  22. 22
    Paul Brand says:

    Tina,

    “I cannot count on my hands and feet the number of times I have had personal face-to-face discussions with committed Darwinists who have explained to me, using the patient diction one employs when speaking to the mentally challenged, how altruism is understood to have been generated through random mutation and natural selection”

    I think in responding to these people, you should reference the selfish gene theory! I think a couple of distinctions need to be made. One distinction is that being nice is not necessarily altruistic. Altruism goes beyond what is beneficial to one’s genes. If it is beneficial to yourself, it is not sacrificial, and love without sacrifice, though not immoral, is a more shallow standard of love. Demonstrate that there are people who sacrifice their resources, their time, money, even their lives, for people who are very distantly related to them (hence less genetic similarity). This type of sacrifice is not beneficial to the preservation of one’s genes, which is the motivating force behind evolution.

    The other distinction is a normative vs positive one. The normative is “what ought to be”, and the positive is “what is”. If someone says to you that atheists can be moral because of their evolutionary development, ask them to connect the dots between what is and what ought to be. It’s not easy, but many atheists I have spoken with are a little hazy on their understanding of this distinction. BTW, I’m not saying atheists are immoral, just that evolution doesn’t dictate what morality is. If they think evolution does dictate what is moral, they would find themselves to be in favor of infanticide, particularly when infanticide helps the natural selection process.

    —-

    “NO WAY CAN ONE DETECT DESIGN IN THE COMPLEXITY OF LIFE ON EARTH!!!”

    To clarify again, I do think life is designed, just that the design for life exists in the initial conditions of the universe. Theologically speaking, it doesn’t make that much difference in my opinion.

    The reason why I place my bets on the initial conditions is because I think the evidence appears to be a lot better in that field. I really think cosmological design is an underrated field. I think this may be the case because an old earth and Big Bang cosmology is assumed in the formulation of the argument. As you know, a lot of Christians in North America reject these assumptions, and tend to prefer what the Big Tent of biological ID has to offer, which doesn’t itself reject young earth presuppositions.

    Regarding theodicity issues, it appears we are on the same page.

    Regarding “purposeless and unguidedness”, that is not my position, as I have explained in previous correspondence.

    —-

  23. 23
    scordova says:

    Hi Paul,

    “I couldn’t find reference regarding family members adding to his writings positive references to a Creator in the Origins of Species.”

    To clarify the family members did not add the phrase, Darwin did before he died. It has been speculated it was a marketing ploy. What is evident to me however, speculations aside, is Darwin’s God was not a Christian God.

    Thank you for your comments, and I’m sorry I must depart from this thread as there are lots of other things I intend to post.

    Welcome, by the way, to our weblog.

    Salvador

  24. 24
    MAB7686 says:

    The only real problem I have with this quote of Miller is where he says
    “Nonetheless, if we persist, if we apply the tools of reason and the power of the human mind, the world will yield its secrets; and so it has.”

    I agree that the tools of reason allow us to uncover ‘secrets’ of how reality is made and in the case of biology, how certain aspects of biological activity happen. However, there is always some aspect (or aspects) that goes beyond our comprehension and is never completely understood at any one time. No matter how far we delve into
    any particular biological phenomenon, it seems there is something beyond. Reason does allow us understand something, but it also allows us to understand that there is an aspect of reality that resists total comprehension. I don’t beleive that it is just a game of cat and mouse and that someday we will catch up with the ‘mouse’ and know everything.

    This idea that reason will eventually allow us to know everything, which is emphasized today by the only truely valued form of reason, scientific reason, brainwashes people into believing that the only thing I can trust is science.
    The other forms of knowledge learned by reason, such as trust in a friend or family member or even coworker, are no longer gained. The sorry state that human relationships are in these days in my opinion is at least an indirect consequence of this mentatlity.

  25. 25
    Paul Brand says:

    Salvador,

    Thanks for the clarification.

  26. 26
    aldo30127 says:

    What is evident to me however, speculations aside, is Darwin’s God was not a Christian God.

    It’s been awhile since I read Miller’s book, but I don’t think he meant “the God that Darwin personally believed in” when he said “I believe in Darwin’s God.” Remember Miller is Catholic and fairly orthodox, so unless you are one of those people who thinks that Catholics aren’t Christian, it’s safe to say that he probably has a christian God in mind. That said, what I think Miller meant is that, since Darwin was right about evolution, God must be operating through evolution. Hence, Darwin’s God = a god that created the world to behave in the way that Darwin described.

  27. 27
    j says:

    Paul Brand: “I couldn’t find reference regarding family members adding to his writings positive references to a Creator in the Origins of Species.”

    Salvador: “To clarify the family members did not add the phrase, Darwin did before he died. It has been speculated it was a marketing ploy.”

    Ronald W. Clark, in the biography, The Survival of Charles Darwin:

    [Darwin] dodged the issue as long as he could and felt it possible to claim of The Origin with almost Jesuitical casuistry that it need not offend religious feelings. And it is significant what while the first edition of The Origin ended with the words: “There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one…” he made an addition in the second edition that was very soon required. After “breathed” there now came the words “by the Creator.” If politics is the art of the possible, Darwin knew the art of survival consisted in not offending more readers than was absolutely necessary.

  28. 28
    Karen says:

    “Hence, Darwin’s God = a god that created the world to behave in the way that Darwin described.”

    aldo30127,

    You are right. Dr. Ken Miller is a Roman Catholic in good standing with his church. He is talking about a God who could set in motion the astounding natural processes we see in the universe.

    I’ll be seeing Dr. Miller Thursday evening at the American Museum of Natural History in NYC. He and several others — mostly scientists– will be taking part in a panel on Science and Faith. It should be really interesting!

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