Intelligent Design

The BioLogos Project: A program of unwarranted assumptions and irrational claims.

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As everyone knows, the BioLogos Community is on a passionate mission to Darwinize the Christian world. Oddly, though, the zeal that drives that mission is not the product of a disinterested search for the truth. Unlike ID proponents, who begin with rational principles and follow the evidence where it leads, BioLogos members begin with a faith commitment and lead the evidence in that direction.

Rather than sit at the feet of nature and learn her secrets, they try to remake her in the image of their faith commitment. For them, there is one apriori truth that must never be denied: God used the random mechanism of Darwinian evolution to produce His intended outcome of homo-sapiens. This absurd proposition, which defines the entire BioLogos project, is a direct assault on reason itself. Only a designed or purposeful process can produce a specified outcome; a random process can produce only indeterminate outcomes (surprises).

A practical example should make the point clear:

[a] Designed process: I load the dice such that the number 7 will appear with every roll.. In other words, when I throw the dice, I can guarantee the outcome because it is the only one that is possible—all others have been closed off. If I had not closed them off, I could not guarantee the result.

[b] Random process: I use fair dice, in which case there are eleven possible outcomes. This is an open ended process that will allow any number from 2 to 12, including 7, to appear. On any given roll of the dice, I cannot guarantee that I will get 7 because I did not close off all of the other possibilities.

It is, therefore, logically impossible for any Creator, human or divine, to guarantee an outcome using a non-interventional, random process. In effect, Theistic Evolutionists violate the law of non-contradiction by trying to have it both ways: When they speak of God’s providence, they claim that evolution is purposeful, but when they speak of the process itself, evolution is random.

The broader point is that they have a firm and non-negotiable starting point. An omnipotent God, we are told, would never design nature by progressive stages since He could easily program nature to “create itself.” Thus, ID’s scientific evidence, which allows for a tweak or two, is inadmissible because it makes God busier than He needs to be.

This is nonsense because any world view is equally vulnerable to these kinds of speculations. One could just as easily argue that evolution is false because an all-powerful God doesn’t need to wait billions of years to achieve His goal. Note, also, that God spoke to the BioLogos Community about this matter many years ago: “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if you have understanding.”—Job 38:4

Still, it is the unfailing faith in Darwin’s random mechanism that drives the BioLogos project. Occasionally, someone in the that camp will begin to sense the absurdity of it all and search for ways to bridge the gap between chance and purpose, following the lead of “divine action” theologians.

Yes, they say, the evolutionary process is random, but perhaps God provides the needed direction by tweaking it behind the scenes through trillions upon trillions of quantum events. Remarkable! They rejected ID’s hypothesis because it allows for a small number of tweaks, and now they have God tweaking every nanosecond. Already, they have forgotten about their impertinent command to God: Thou shalt use secondary causality and nothing else.

They have also forgotten something even more important. If God must tweak or steer a “random” process to keep it on course, then God, not the process, is calling the shots; the process has merely come along for the ride and plays no role in the outcome. But according to Neo-Darwinism, it is the natural mechanism, acting alone, that determines the outcome. That is why BioLogos members refer to the “science” of evolution and rhapsodize over the “beauty” and “creative wonders” of natural selection.

Clearly, the BioLogos project is a program of unjustified assumptions and irrational claims. Whether their mixed messages are intentional or not, the facts remain: They use the language of design, teleology and purpose, but they argue for chance, randomness and chaos. I encourage everyone, Christians and non-Christians alike, to reject this unprecedented assault on reason and common sense.

 

48 Replies to “The BioLogos Project: A program of unwarranted assumptions and irrational claims.

  1. 1
    mikeenders says:

    I’m afraid someone else beat you to the punch in describing what Biologos is about and did it more succinctly

    “having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof”

    Biologos is content to even rewrite the Bible if it gets them to a non supernatural God. Why?

    Because its more palatable to a materialistic world. A “God” that is limited to acting by random natural means is a weak enough to not ruffle feathers. The problem is – he is also weak enough to no longer be considered “God” but a bystander.

    Same source agrees with you though

    “From such turn way”

  2. 2
    buffalo says:

    My favorite two questions:

    1. Did God know what Adam would look like?

    2. Did Adam look as God had planned?

  3. 3
  4. 4
    StephenB says:

    mike @1,

    Among other things, I was hoping to stimulate a theistic evolutionist to enter into a substantive discussion. That they are terrified at the prospect of being scrutinized suggests to me that their confidence does not match their enthusiasm.

  5. 5
    StephenB says:

    buffalo @2,

    Those are, indeed, good questions. Alas, it appears that our friends at BioLogos are not willing to address them.

  6. 6
    StephenB says:

    UB,

    Greetings. I appreciate hearing from you.

  7. 7
    Mung says:

    God: Heads I win. Tails you lose.

  8. 8
    buffalo says:

    StephenB@5

    I ask this question over and over. Most answer 1. No one answers 2.

  9. 9
    aap says:

    Thanks Stephen you have hit the nail on the head with respect to BioLogos community and all theistic evolutionists. Their thinking process is based on the worship of scientific materialism with all of is false assumptions and therefore fallacious conclusions. Tragically as it is written “Although they claimed to be wise, they have become fools”. It is mind boggling that they cannot recognize why it is irrational to believe that any process cannot be both random and directed simultaneously. TEs for the sake of pride and acceptance into the club of the self-ordained intellectual elite, have divested themselves of rational thinking, and when confronted with both the logical and theological absurdity of their position usually run and hide. However, I would suggest that many of the IDers who hold to the old earth position aren’t that far behind TEs. While the old earth IDers aren’t willing to sell 100% of the store to the materialistic evolutionists, many are willing to give them 99.9%, believing that random evolution will account for most of the assumed three billion year evolutionary process. There is no scientific evidence, known mechanism or theory that can explain even the most basic aspect of the transformation of a one celled organism into a functioning reproducible two celled organism, not to mention a 50-100 trillion celled human. All observable and experimental scientific data declares unequivocally that every kind of creature can only reproduce after its own kind, with variations based on the genetic information already present and epigenetic changes resulting from the interaction with the environment. The irreducible complexity of every aspect of life of every kind of creature requires GOD’S direct control through His infinite knowledge. Humanity cannot create a single product that has the ability to reproduce itself and neither can any chance processes. I believe many in the ID community have been deceived by the false assumptions and therefore fallacious conclusions used in the dating game played by those who hold to scientific materialism. It is time for IDers to reconsider the assumptions and conclusions of the whole dating scheme. Of course, then you will be called creationists, but Christians have and are being called much worse.

  10. 10
    MatSpirit says:

    “Unlike ID proponents, who begin with rational principles and follow the evidence where it leads, BioLogos members begin with a faith commitment and lead the evidence in that direction.”

    Matthew 7:3

  11. 11

    I would suggest that many of the IDers who hold to the old earth position aren’t that far behind TEs.

    Excuse me…

  12. 12

    aap, ID proponents believe that an act of intelligence can be detected in nature. TE’s at Biologos do not believe so. I’ve argued with them about it. They are terrified of the idea. I think there may be more distance between old-earth IDers and TEs than your estimate would suggest.

    cheers

  13. 13
    hnorman5 says:

    So God used natural selection to create biological complexity? The closest we could get to that would be to say that God used differential survival rates. Does anyone believe that natural selection is differential survival rates? Did Huxley say “Differential survival rates! How stupid of me not to have thought of it.”? No. Darwin’s golden insight — such as it was — was not that differential survival rates exist but that they can double for the creative act of selection. In a case where God intervenes, the survival rate may be natural but the selection would be supernatural. The whole point of Darwin’s crucial premise is that natural selection eliminates the need for teleology. That is an inference from atheism.

  14. 14
    Barry Arrington says:

    MatSpirit

    Habakkuk 2:4

    The game is throwing out random Bible verses that have nothing to do with this post or the comment string, right?

  15. 15
    StephenB says:

    MatSpirit @10

    Matthew 7:3

    Titus 3:10

    Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.

    Roman’s 16:17

    Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.

    Galations 6:1

    Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.

    2 Thessaloinns 3: 15

    Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

    2 Timothy 3:16-17

    All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

  16. 16
    kairosfocus says:

    SB, great to see you in action. KF

  17. 17
    Origenes says:

    StephenB

    StephenB: Random process: I use fair dice, in which case there are eleven possible outcomes. This is an open ended process that will allow any number from 2 to 12, including 7, to appear. On any given roll of the dice, I cannot guarantee that I will get 7 because I did not close off all of the other possibilities.

    It is, therefore, logically impossible for any Creator, human or divine, to guarantee an outcome using a non-interventional, random process. In effect, Theistic Evolutionists violate the law of non-contradiction by trying to have it both ways: When they speak of God’s providence, they claim that evolution is purposeful, but when they speak of the process itself, evolution is random.

    How do you respond to TE’s who argue that the law of non-contradiction is not violated given the omniscience of God? Arguably an all-knowing God knows the outcome of any “non-interventional, random process”, and, if He happens to like its result, allow it to run its course.

  18. 18
    kairosfocus says:

    HN5, the problem is that differential reproductive success is actually an information subtracter. The only source of actual new information in the Darwinist framework has to be the chance variation. Of course, it is imagined that there is a wide, smoothly ascending functional space, so that chance variation and differential success leads to hill climbing/ descent with essentially unlimited modification across a branching tree of life. The problem is, starting with molecular level, we have in fact got deeply isolated islands of function and the evidence also points to high roughness in fitness landscapes. Variation from non-function to non-function is pointless. Variation within an island may explain adaptations of existing body plans but it does not explain body plans. And complete metamorphosis points to multiple body plans on the same genetic code in the same individual life form. There is no good empirically warranted reason to infer that under realistic circumstances, we have any credible hope of the incremental creation of novel coherently functional body plans (useless additional wings will not do), and there is even less hope for poof-magic emergence through things such as variation in non-functional DNA that then is somehow switched on when enough just right change has happened. And that is ignoring the biggest gap of all, getting to an alphabetic, algorithmic code using von Neumann self replicator coupled tightly to a metabolic automaton in a living cell, starting with physics, chemistry and thermodynamics in some warm little pond or the like pre-biotic environment. KF

  19. 19
    hnorman5 says:

    Kairosfocus –

    I think we’re agreed. Darwin equated differential survival rates with the creative act of selection — I didn’t intend to. You described quite well why it cannot be so. Differential survival rates can only sign on the bottom line after numerous contingent structures have been brought together. I was trying to show the incoherence of saying that God uses natural selection. If God weeds out then you may speak of it as using differential survival rates. But it’s intelligent selection with foresight. Or intelligent design.

  20. 20
    StephenB says:

    Origenes

    How do you respond to TE’s who argue that the law of non-contradiction is not violated given the omniscience of God? Arguably an all-knowing God knows the outcome of any “non-interventional, random process”, and, if He happens to like its result, allow it to run its course.

    An excellent question. We can answer the point in several ways.

    God may happen to like the result of a random process, but then again he may not. He cannot guarantee the outcome He wants if He uses a process that may produce an outcome that He doesn’t want.

    Put another way, it is impossible for God to know that fair dice can guarantee a seven for the simple reason that fair dice cannot guarantee a seven. God cannot know something to be true if it is false.

    Or again, it is impossible for God to know that a random evolutionary process can produce a specified outcome for the simple reason that a random evolutionary process cannot produce a specified outcome.

    Put yet another way, God’s omniscience has nothing to do with it. The issue is what God caused to happen, now what God knows.

    Should I elaborate further?

  21. 21
    kairosfocus says:

    SB, I think I read you as in effect saying the simulation of a world involving a random process and yielding a given outcome is no guarantee that if the world is implemented for real, the random processes will go where they will, or the world is not in fact using random processes. Is that in effect part of the point? If so, the answer is, random means random. KF

  22. 22
    Origenes says:

    StephenB #20

    SB: God may happen to like the result of a random process, but then again he may not.

    If God doesn’t like the result of random process A, he will not allow it to start. Instead He may like the result of random process B (evolution as it took place on earth) and allow random process B to start and proceed.

    SB: He cannot guarantee the outcome He wants if He uses a process that may produce an outcome that He doesn’t want.

    The idea is that God knows the result of random processes, so he can guarantee the outcome.

    The problem is that random processes, if they exist at all, are (arguably) not unpredictable for God. So, the question is: can a process be random AND predictable (to God)? I am not convinced that this is logically impossible.

    SB: Put another way, it is impossible for God to know that fair dice can guarantee a seven for the simple reason that fair dice cannot guarantee a seven.

    Arguably God knows all things, independent from time, and knows that the fair dice will produce a seven.

    SB: God cannot know something to be true if it is false.

    I agree, but that’s not the argument.

    SB: Or again, it is impossible for God to know that a random evolutionary process can produce a specified outcome for the simple reason that a random evolutionary process cannot produce a specified outcome.

    1. A random process produces an outcome.
    2. God knows all things.
    3. God knows the outcome of any random process.

    Which premise do you reject?

  23. 23
    News says:

    Could there be a simpler way of understanding BioLogos? They thought Darwinism would win. No, they really did.

    It’s one thing to try to accommodate one’s community to an overwhelmingly powerful idea. But to a stale-dated idea? Because that is what really happened.

  24. 24
    StephenB says:

    Origenes

    If God doesn’t like the result of random process A, he will not allow it to start. Instead He may like the result of random process B (evolution as it took place on earth) and allow random process B to start and proceed.

    The idea is that God knows the result of random processes, so he can guarantee the outcome.

    If a purposeful God likes the result of process B, and if it is also a process that He (not someone else) put in place, then it can only be because He designed it to produce that result, in which case it is not random. A random process has no purpose and *a purposeful God does not put a purposeless process in place.*

    The problem is that random processes, if they exist at all, are (arguably) not unpredictable for God. So, the question is: can a process be random AND predictable (to God)? I am not convinced that this is logically impossible.

    I am not arguing against that point at all. I agree that a process can be random and predictable for God. How could it not be?

    However, I don’t agree that God can put a random process in place to get the precise outcome he wants, since a random process, by definition, allows for outcomes that he doesn’t want. I think we are dealing with a logical/definitional problem here.

    Remember, that God not only knows what the outcome of His process will be, He also knows why he designed it and put it into place. If he designed it for a purpose, then it isn’t random, And again, I would argue that a purposeful God does not put purposeless processes in place.

  25. 25
    StephenB says:

    News

    Could there be a simpler way of understanding BioLogos? They thought Darwinism would win. No, they really did.

    It’s one thing to try to accommodate one’s community to an overwhelmingly powerful idea. But to a stale-dated idea? Because that is what really happened.

    Sure. That works for me.

    Still, stale ideas don’t die just because they are stale, especially when leftists keep pushing them. Communism is a stale idea, but here we go again. Global cooling, global warming, global everything is a stale idea, but they won’t let it go. Leftist tyrants don’t produce fresh ideas. They keep doing the same thing over and over again.

  26. 26
    StephenB says:

    KF @21

    I simply point out that Darwinian evolution is a claim about the real world and must be judged on that basis. Hence, if the NeoDarwinist says that the evolutionary process really is random (not designed) then the God of the real world could not have used such a process to get the one and only outcome he wanted. The process cannot be open to many possible outcomes and, at the same time, be counted on to produce the one and only desired outcome.

  27. 27
    StephenB says:

    KF @16,

    Thank you.

  28. 28
    Origenes says:

    StephenB @24

    SB: If a purposeful God likes the result of process B, and if it is also a process that He (not someone else) put in place, then it can only be because He designed it to produce that result …

    If God knows that a particular fair dice will have ‘5’ as an outcome, does it follow that the fair dice is designed to produce that specific result and is therefore not random?

    SB: I agree that a process can be random and predictable for God. How could it not be?

    Then you must also agree with this:
    – – – – –
    1. Process A is random.
    2. God knows that random process A will have outcome X.
    3. If God wants outcome X He can put random process A in place to get the precise outcome he wants.
    – – – – –
    But you do not:

    SB: However, I don’t agree that God can put a random process in place to get the precise outcome he wants, since a random process, by definition, allows for outcomes that he doesn’t want.

    You have stated that a process “can be random and predictable for God”. So, if God can predict a random process perfectly, if God knows the outcome with absolute certainty, why is it that the possibility of “outcomes that he doesn’t want” remains on the table?

    … a random process, by definition, allows for outcomes that he doesn’t want …

    Given that God knows with absolute certainty the outcome of a random process, I do not see how this definition can hold with regard to God.

  29. 29
    Barry Arrington says:

    News @ 23.

    We learned everything we need to know about BioLogos’ motives in elementary school. If you want to sit with the cool kids at lunch, you have to do and say what they want.

    In the academic world, the cool kids all push Darwinism, and the price of sitting at their table is pushing Darwinism too, a price the TEs at BioLogos are more than willing to pay.

    The irony, as you point out, is they are doing this at the very moment when the Darwinian account is beginning to unravel.

  30. 30
    StephenB says:

    Origenes @28

    I think that a process can be random from our standpoint [epistemological randomness) and predictable for God, but I don’t think God’s creative mechanism (process) can be random in the real world (ontological randomness)if it is the one He uses to produce the specific outcome He wants. In other words, I don’t think the same process that will infallibly produce that one and only desired outcome can also be a random process that is open to other outcomes. Recall that the Darwinian hypothesis posits ontological, not epistemological randomness.

  31. 31
    Origenes says:

    StephenB @30

    Can an ontologically random process X — open in the truest sense to outcome A and outcome B — result in outcome A?
    If yes, can God know ‘in advance’ that process X will have outcome A as a result? Not because outcome A is the result by necessity, but because outcome A is seen by God to be the result, even though outcome B could have equally well have been the result.
    If yes, can God put in place process X in order to get outcome A?

  32. 32
    kairosfocus says:

    Origenes (attn SB):

    I think we need to distinguish a world in concept from a world in fact. Particularly, if God has in mind a possible world — and indeed all possible worlds [he is infinite mind] — that is not the same as an actualised world. And if a process in mind is truly random, it is random. That is, beyond a distribution across possible outcomes, if it is to be random, its outcome cannot be predetermined.

    So, if an actual world is created then the random processes must be free to run per stochastic distributions. Cases where outcomes of otherwise random processes are fixed in fact would count as interventions, minor miracles. The ancient hebraic practice of seeking guidance by lots and by what urim and thummin seemed to be would fit with this. BTW, at a lower level, a mind-brain “interface” pivoting on some species of quantum influence of outcomes would count as interventionist also.

    Coming back, I think we are looking at an implicit concept of a world of life with built-in types, so that it will produce life forms of more or less a specified type, with some room for adaptability through whatever evolutionary process is in view. To bring this out, in effect there would be statistically dominant clusters of possibilities that channel what is random up to some relevant distribution, as is a commonplace of statistical thermodynamics etc. Where, I see no good reason to dismiss that molecular behaviour follows statistical laws that can be so reliable that diffusion, osmosis, respiration etc in cell based organiisms are built on in practice pretty certain outcomes.

    To use a Sci Fi type explanation, this would point to any reasonably similar sol system to ours producing life based on similar cellular and molecular patterns, and multicellular organisms emerging then unfolding into ecosystems that would run to channels and tree-like patterns not grossly dissimilar to ours. In which case, some sort of humanoid would be a predictable outcome. At an extreme, this means separate streams of development led to emergence of sufficiently similar hominins that interbreeding to produce the varieties we see resulted. At a further extreme, this would lead to interfertile races across different solar systems . . . not coincidentally, a theme of a lot of Sci Fi, including Star Trek. Mr Spock is half-Vulcan, half-human. BTW, this opens a yawning door to racism of a peculiar pseudo-scientific character that I definitely see signs of out there. E.g. IQ patterns and thus fitness/worth are stamped in the “races” genetically, thence, Hitler’s point that race mixing dilutes the Aryan and renders him dangerously unfit for the future struggle for life and women.

    I am trying to understand in some sort of coherent way, this is by no means an endorsement. Hints of reductio ad absurdum are there.

    I actually have no problem with a very activist, interventionist God who is involved in all sorts of things. For, I also think that rational, responsible freedom is real, and is necessary for the life of the mind. It is most importantly a condition for ability to love, so a world in which evils can and do occur may be a condition of soul-making. Which points to an ultimate destination which breaks into our world by the power of C S Lewis’ longing for a surprising joy, the hunger for eternity that lurks in our hearts. Sehnsucht, in the shadowlands of Eternity.

    So, we ought not to try to resolve the accounts on an unfinished course, blaming our Creator when in fact without him there is no ground for the good that is so much a part of that eternity that lies in our hearts. Boethius in his Consolation of Philosophy has yet many things to teach us. Perhaps, we need to go back to Sophia, our teacher of old, never mind her now somewhat tattered and darned dress.

    We have, after all, severely neglected her.

    One thing is sure to me, evolutionary materialistic scientism is an incoherent, self-falsifying non-starter. Like unto this, we must reckon with the roots of a world in which creatures like ourselves are actual: responsibly and rationally free and under moral government, with eternity in our hearts.

    That balance is needed just to have a serious reasoned dialogue, but it constrains worldview options in ways that will unpleasantly surprise an age steeped in evolutionary materialistic scientism and linked radically secularist humanism.

    KF

  33. 33
    StephenB says:

    Origenes

    Can an ontologically random process X — open in the truest sense to outcome A and outcome B — result in outcome A?

    [a] I would argue that nothing like ontological randomness existed during the formation of the world. (I am not sure that anything like that exists even now).

    [b] But even if it Did, the God of the Bible would not *use* such a process because it isn’t detectable. God only uses processes that provide evidence of his handiwork.

    [c] I don’t think the God of the Bible used secondary processes to create Adam. I think He created him *directly* from the dust of the earth, as Genesis says..

    [d] I don’t think God *could* use such a process to create Adam body and soul because an immaterial immortal soul *cannot emerge* from a material evolutionary process.

    [e] Relative to [d], to create a man as a *composite* of body and soul requires that God create both together in direct fashion because the latter is the life principle of the former.

  34. 34
    Granville Sewell says:

    “Theistic Evolution Explained” (From an ENV post in Sept 2013):

    https://evolutionnews.org/2013/09/theistic_evolut/

    Three geologists stand at the foot of Mt. Rushmore. The first geologist says, “This mountain depicts perfectly the faces of four U.S. Presidents, it must be the work of a master sculptor.” The second says, “You are a geologist, you should know that all mountains were created by natural forces, such as volcanoes and plate movements, the details were then sculpted by erosion from water and wind. How could you possibly think this was the work of an intelligent sculptor? Only a person completely ignorant of geophysics could think those faces were designed.”

    The third geologist says to himself, “I don’t want to be seen as ignorant, but the faces in this mountain sure do look like they were designed.” So he thinks a moment and says to the second geologist, “Of course you are right, these faces were sculpted by natural forces such as erosion. Only an ignorant person would think they were designed.” Then he turns to the first and says, “But what a magnificent result, there obviously must have been a master sculptor standing by and watching.”

  35. 35
    awstar says:

    BA #29 and News #23

    The irony, as you point out, is they are doing this at the very moment when the Darwinian account is beginning to unravel.

    As I enjoy telling my TE friends (who may very well be my brothers and sisters in Christ):

    Not only did you bet on the wrong horse. You bet on a dead horse.

  36. 36
    Origenes says:

    KF: I think we need to distinguish a world in concept from a world in fact. Particularly, if God has in mind a possible world — and indeed all possible worlds [he is infinite mind] — that is not the same as an actualised world.

    Point taken. It seems to me that, unlike an actualized random process, a conceptual random process cannot have one outcome. “A conceptual random process with one outcome” is an incoherent (self-defeating) idea, while “an actualized random process with one outcome” is not.
    Given this chasm — between multiple outcomes and one outcome — it is logically impossible for God to use a conceptual random process in order to predict (or see) the outcome of an actualized one.

    KF: And if a process in mind is truly random, it is random. That is, beyond a distribution across possible outcomes, if it is to be random, its outcome cannot be predetermined.

    I agree. I would say that a conceptual random process cannot have one single defined outcome.
    The question is: would it be (logically) impossible for God to run a perfect simulation of what the actualization of random process X would look like, without actualizing it?
    The situation is this: God knows of a conceptual random process X — open to outcome A and outcome B — which means that conceptual random process X has 2 outcomes for eternity. Process X can be actualized and have outcome A — that is 1 outcome. Is it logically impossible for God to know (or ‘see’) what the outcome of an actualized process X would be, without actualizing process X?
    I do think it is impossible: In order to do that God must be able to make two outcomes into one outcome. It is logically impossible to make ‘2’ to be ‘1’. God cannot perform what is logically impossible. God cannot put in place a random process and be certain of a specific outcome.
    So, God must actualize random processes in order to see what their outcomes will be. That leaves TE with only this option:
    God knows of a conceptual random process X which is open to outcome A and outcome B. God wants outcome A, but must first actualize process X before He can see if outcome A will obtain. So, He must ‘roll the dice’. He must actualize process X, perhaps a few times. In the very first moment of each actualization he will immediately after the start be able to tell what the outcome will be and if it makes sense to allow it to proceed.

    KF: For, I also think that rational, responsible freedom is real, and is necessary for the life of the mind.

    I agree, absolutely necessary. And this TE concept depends on some very weird determinism, doesn’t it? A random process that collapses in a specific outcome that God intended. Very weird. But like all forms of determinism I don’t see how it could allow for rational, responsible freedom.

    KF: Perhaps, we need to go back to Sophia, our teacher of old, never mind her now somewhat tattered and darned dress.
    We have, after all, severely neglected her.
    One thing is sure to me, evolutionary materialistic scientism is an incoherent, self-falsifying non-starter.

    Hear! Hear!
    – – – –
    Granville Sewell @ 34 LOL

  37. 37
    Origenes says:

    StephenB @33

    I agree with all the points you offer, except, perhaps, point e, since I hold that we are pure spiritual beings and not a composite of body and soul.
    Regarding the logical impossibility for God to use random processes in order to get a specific result, KF forced me on the retreat (see #32 and #36). In my defense of TE against logical impossibility I see no other option than to resort to arguing that God must have ‘rolled the dice’ (quite) a few times (see #36).
    Perhaps you wish to comment on that.

  38. 38
    kairosfocus says:

    Origines, yes a process that is random in concept must have multiple possible outcomes though of course given sim runs may have particular outcomes, as would setting up the world in fact. But the problem is, setting up a world in fact means here setting up a radically contingent random process, so “pinning” it to a single outcome does not seem consistent with it being actually random; an evident contradiction in the suggestion of a world that is random then God picks a particular thread to run in actuality (or is it picks a multiverse of all threads and we are one particular one?). And, given say the situation with molecular thermodynamic behaviour, we are looking at an effective infinity of possible worlds here. this looks more and more problematic. KF

  39. 39
    Jon Garvey says:

    God cannot put in place a random process and be certain of a specific outcome.

    Agree. But all this follows merely from definitions of ontological randomness. If it means “unpredictable”, then God couldn’t predict it, because he was the only being around at the beginning to whom the word “unpredictable” would apply.

    If it means “ontologically causeless”, then God can’t be its cause, in which case it isn’t being created, so how can it exist?

    If it means “ontologically undetermined”, then God can’t “use” it to produce a determined effect.

    And if it means something God sees in “potential worlds” that has alternative outcomes, but chooses to create outcome A, that’s called “necessity”, not “randomness”.

    Deb Haarsma in debate with Stephen Meyer demonstrated the incoherence of “purpose from chance” by using the analogy of a coin toss to start a football match – in which the whole aim of the coin toss is to avoid affecting the outcome, which of course is also unknown.

    Incidentally, coin tosses are a bad example in that case and on this thread, because coin tosses, barring divine action, are entirely determined by physical causes – all of which, uncontroversially, God knows intimately.

    When I debated this on BioLogos recently I pointed out that the whole thing is pretty academic, since nobody could name any process believed by science to be truly random that is also known to affect evolution. How can you build a theology of nature on “chance” when, apart from the metaphysical and theological problems, you can’t actually pinpoint ontological randomness in the science you espouse?

  40. 40
    Dean_from_Ohio says:

    I tell my applied probability and statistics students that the concept of randomness is just an admission of ignorance. I tell them if we were God and had perfect knowledge, we would not need probability or statistics.

    That perhaps is part of the point here:

    Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:8-13, ESV

    I’m told that quantum mechanics is inherently more random, or indeterminate, than a Brownian process (or Weiner process, if you will), which is the basis of classical probability as it is applied in practice today. I’ll defer to physicists and mathematicians to confirm or deny that. But whatever the most random thing in the universe is, it still holds still for God’s inspection.

    For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable. – Hebrews 4:11-12, New Living Translation

  41. 41
    Origenes says:

    KF @38

    … this looks more and more problematic …

    I agree. You ably pointing out the distinction between conceptual and actual send my feeble defense of TE from logical impossibility spinning.
    Time for an actualized theistic evolutionist to take up the defense.

    Where are they?

  42. 42
    Dean_from_Ohio says:

    P.S. True story. In a demonstration of randomness in my applied probability and statistics class—the theme of which is managing short term uncertainty using long term predictability—I defined two events as the two possible outcomes of a coin toss: Heads and Tails. In a subsequent flip of the coin onto the carpet, the coin bounced and rolled and came to rest on its edge, leaning on the leg of a desk.

    Needless to say, the weakness of the experimenter’s definition of the possible outcomes came to light.

  43. 43
    Jon Garvey says:

    Needless to say, the weakness of the experimenter’s definition of the possible outcomes came to light.

    I referred to just such an accident in a piece I wrote on chance a couple of years ago.

    I’ve been wondering whether one could work out a probability for the coin landing on edge, but in fact your example only occurred by redesigning the system, adding a desk leg that (to a tiny degree)offered the possibility of a non-binary outcome.

    To you it was a rare chance event. To the laws of physics and, more relevantly, to God, there was no randomness involved at any stage.

  44. 44
    StephenB says:

    Jon, I like your own definition and discussion of epistemological chance, which I agree with. In keeping with that point, do you think that the term “epistemological chance” can be used interchangeably with the term “epistemological randomness” and do you agree that the latter term is meaningful even if the answer to the question is no?

  45. 45
    Jon Garvey says:

    StephenB

    I’m no expert on probability, but it seems to me that both those terms are colloquial and overlap to a large extent, if they don’t in fact mean exactly the seem. They both mean, simply, of unknown cause, so are probably interchangeable.

    What matters in the question of theistic evolution is, like the meaning of evolution itself, to insist on clarity, and ideally scientific clarity. So “randomness” at least sounds more scientific.

    However, the only legitimate definition of randomness in science is also “of unknown cause”. “Randomness” acquires a little more meaning if it forms a particular probability distribution (thus demonstrating that its unknown causes are nevertheless intelligible). TEs are sometimes careless though, in saying that random causes are governed by a probability distribution. That’s as nonsensical as saying that a ruler determines how tall you are.

    As William Briggs (statistician) says, it’s instructive to substitute “unknown causes” wherever you use “chance” or “randomness” in a sentence. “Random variation” simply means you don’t know why it varies. “Random with respect to fitness” simply means you don’t know any of the causes, or how many types of cause there are, but you (magically?) know that none of them are directed towards the organism’s good. And that’s superstition, not science.

    This leads to my definition of Neodarwinian evolution, in all its precision and utility: “Once unknown mechanisms create new variations in life-forms, those that survive best reproduce more.”

  46. 46
    StephenB says:

    Jon, I agree that the two terms mean basically the same thing, and to note, as you do, that “randomness” sounds more scientific than “chance.”

    The former term also allows one to describe a process, such as to “constrain randomness,” or even to euphemize another concept, such randomness as “purposelessness.”

  47. 47
    Nonlin.org says:

    First hand experience: Biologos will block users that pose too much of an intelectual challenge to their Darwinist dogma.

  48. 48
    StephenB says:

    Nonlin.org,

    I am not surprised. Inasmuch as they fear the intellectual scrutiny from those at this website, it makes sense that they would bully those who take it to them at their house.

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