Intelligent Design

My “Glorious Wild Things” essay on design and evil is now on line

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My Touchstone piece “Glorious Wild Things”is here (scroll down):

We will never understand creation if we insist on separating glory and design from suffering, loss, and waste, because, bound in finite time and space, creation is full of suffering, loss, and waste as well. All must be taken together or put aside together, in a final decision for meaning or nihilism.

The modern debate has decayed in part because that vision of the inseparability of the horror from the glory has been lost. Of course, Stephen Jay Gould was merely being tendentious when he dismissed our deep-seated fears of monsters as commercial hype. As a paleontologist, he well knew that, before humans ever walked the earth, there were terrible beasts on land and sea—far more so than today.

But his evolutionary-psychologist opponents are even more off the track. Any human who is gifted with the mere capacity to imagine fears the serpent’s sudden fang and the ghost’s spectral finger. That’s simply what imagination is; it bodies forth the shape of things unknown. Imagination, not some complex survival calculus, is our true inheritance from our ancestors.

Also, at the Post-Darwinist,
Dawinism and popular culture: Sister Eugenie explains it all for you

Human evolution: The mystery solved! Why humans walked upright … well, maybe …

Also, the plot thickens here, re a non-Darwinian evolution theory, sponsored by a friend of the late Steve Gould. See the Update material.

and at the Mindful Hack,

Theodore Dalrymple takes on materialist cognitive scientist Steve Pinker on language

Richard Dawkins on the need to curb religious liberty. Plus new site yawns at Dawkins’ pretensions.

2 Replies to “My “Glorious Wild Things” essay on design and evil is now on line

  1. 1
    Rude says:

    There is good and there is evil—why?

    Because agency is the foundation of reality, that’s why! The Creator creates creators and not robots, and therefore there is the possibility of evil, and where possibility exists reality inevitably ensues.

    But it’s not just repairing the damage done in the dim past … there will always be evil! How do I know this? Well I don’t—I’m like you—I’m imagining. But how else would you extrapolate from Isaiah 9:7, “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end …”? “Sounds like a Democrat!” my friend retorts. And he’s right if all it means is bureaucracy—all of which collapses some day—but the Messianic Kingdom expands forever—ultimately, let me speculate, on into the stars and out into Guillermo Gonzalez’ cosmos that is designed for discovery.

    And the job demands character from us creators which, let me suggest, comes only through struggle. Evil exists because freedom is extended to agents, which then means that some agents fail while others succeed by overcoming the evil within themselves and that provided by others.

    And just think—without evil there is no literature. Maybe dangerous beasts ignite interest in little boys because they were created to overcome evil. Where would Intelligent Design be were there no Darwin or Dawkins or deception? The heroes of ID like all heroes are heroes in a great struggle. If every path was easy there would be only flab and there would be no history and no great stories to tell.

    Yes, the Designer promises to dry all tears, to make it up to those who suffer. But that doesn’t mean that creation ends there and conquest ceases and no more creators are created. “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end …” That says to me that not only will evil arise in eternity, it says also that peace will prevail.

    But why natural evil? My son came in from the mountains and removed a giant tick from his dog. What diabolical design! Our theology must be tempered by nature, by science, by the reality that confronts us. Did God create ticks to make the life of forest deer miserable? Or were fallen beings involved in the creation? You’ll have to solve that one for me.

    How do you terrafirm a planet? Maybe geologic history says something about that. But must it take that long? Perhaps. But then maybe eternity provides the time.

    Anyway when optimists view the natural world they see great beauty and potential in the over all. Yes, there are ticks on the deer and maybe liver flukes lurk in the stream, but the beauty is exilerating and we creators see potential. Call it what you will—repairing the damage or tikkun olam, but maybe this is just the beginning. The Judeo-Christian documents alone gave us the idea of progress. It’s not just repairing the damage—it’s progress beyond what’s ever been before!

    Fascinating article in Touchstone. Makes you think!

  2. 2
    mommsen22 says:

    I think more of a discussion can be made on the character of the designing agent. One must concede of course that this is theological and not scientific, but it should be honestly and vigorously done.

    Prof. Behe mentioned that the designer made malaria, and this most unpleasant conclusion should justly give us pause. I suppose one could ask if the original purpose of this creation was to bring it to its present state of virulent parasitism.

    As I have examined the malarial issue at greater depth, I also find that HIV, Ebola, and perhaps many other deadly organisms must also be researched and explained (in regards to theodicy) as fully as seems possible. I know that these questions are immensely difficult to both ponder and answer.

    I hesitate to ascribe malicious intent in their creation to the creator. Malaria is present in subtropical regions mainly, and of the many hundreds of millions infected with the organism, fewer than several million die of it. Their deaths of course result from poverty, malnutrition, and the general environmental conditions in the regions where they live. If the purpose of the designer was to ensure death with this parasite, would he not have made it a far more potent and deadly disease? Can we now claim that He is bad at designing badly too? Furthermore, the method of delivery by mosquitoes, who adapt to their environments in these areas more efficiently, seems to me arbitrary and most ineffective for the purpose that many atheists suppose the designer had for this agent of destruction. The intelligent design community will find it very difficult to argue with the Darwinians, who remain convinced that “bad design” is proof of a blind watchmaker, if they do not commence a very lengthy discussion of the consequences of their findings. A watchmaker created a watch to record time; the rusting, breaking, or general deterioration of the watch itself is to be expected with the presence of the machine in nature.

    I realize this design argument can be extended further. The designer made it possible for tornados, earthquakes, hurricanes, and tsunamis to arise in our world. He created nature to possess features of predation, parasitism, and general cruelty. These considerations can certainly lead many to regard the Creator as evil, but that seems to contrast sharply with the character of Jesus in the gospels. I should note that my aunt was recently diagnosed with cancer. She was in complete remission within a week. Surely the design of the human body to adapt or even fight such a disease bespeaks the goodness of the creator. When we observe nature we see its hideous beauty and its, at times, marvellous docility. Many people can live with HIV for a record number of years. My grandfather had liver cancer for 4 years before he died. Shall we declare that the body was made, if nothing else is lacking or has gone wrong, to fight these terrors of nature?

    I always return to the words of Jesus who declared that only God is good. The Lord must design us so we could discern His work in nature and declare that his divine power lies therein. If we have a truly malicious and murderous God, would such things as I detail above be possible.

    My neighbour is blind, yet her sense of the spatial relations among objects is greater than my own. When I look at the world in all its horrendous beauty, I search at all times for the good that must exist in it. Animals do indeed engage in predation, but they can also be loving, caring, and gentle. Do you think some of these qualities are from the Creator?

    The Theistic Darwinians are not necessarily immune to this argument. They too must consider why God would allow the formation of predation and parasitism without any direct involvement in aiding or hindering it. We all seem to be part of the peculiar life and death cycle. The same cycle which God himself partook in to demonstrate His own amazing attributes. I fear that the argument for bad design will become increasingly more popular with the Darwinian establishment, especially if we refuse to avoid the theological implications of it. The scientific and theological arguments should both be acquired together, so that we may then debate with greater success and wisdom.

    Vive la revolution!

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