Design inference Intelligent Design theistic evolution

Wayne Rossiter on theistic evolution shell game

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From Wayne Rossiter, at Shadow of Oz blog:

Today, I would like to deal with a couple of classic stances espoused by most theistic evolutionists, and then detail some very specific views and opinions that have come up recently.

Perhaps most important among these items is the apparent shell-game at play when a theistic evolutionist excuses God’s direct intervention by pointing to His immanence as the sustainer of all things. For example, in a recent discussion with Doug Axe, Keith Fox offered an oft-used reason for rejecting the idea that God might directly act in the world:

Fox rejects “a God who finds that things aren’t just the way they should be and has to invent the miraculous, because it couldn’t happen by natural processes.”

First, I want to point out that there is a very subtle trick being pulled in all of these conversations. Fox begins by attempting to claim the theologically normative position (the “standard Christian view”) in the hopes of marginalizing all views that hold God as directly active in creation (presumably, “nonstandard” Christian views). I’ll show this in action again shortly.

Second, this argument is a blatant straw man argument each and every time it’s used. The assumption here is that people like Axe (and those in the ID and creationist camps) hold some non-standard view in which God isn’t immanent and doesn’t sustain all things. To my knowledge, none have ever argued this. So, where does it come from? As Axe immediately responded, “I think it’s a strained view of scripture that would say that, in creating the elements and the basic laws of physics, that God created everything [and] everything else followed from that.”More.

Theistic evolution always sounds better at elite confabs than it does when spelled out plainly. In the confabs, the strength of the argument comes from intimating that one sits far above the rubes who doubt Darwin. Straw men are more than welcome there.

Note: Wayne Rossiter is a Waynesburg biology prof and author of Shadow of Oz: Theistic Evolution and the Absent God

Also: Podcast: Should Christians embrace or reject Theistic Evolution? Wayne Rossiter & Denis Alexander (28 January):

Wayne Rossiter was an atheist biologist who experienced an adult conversion to Christianity. He also changed his mind about evolution and his recent book ‘Shadow of Oz: Theistic Evolution and the Absent God’ argues that those who claim Darwinian evolution is compatible with Christianity are being misleading.

Denis Alexander, emeritus director of The Faraday institute in Cambridge and one of the leading proponents of Theistic Evolution, interacts with Rossiter. More.

See also: Wayne Rossiter on the essentially arbitrary nature of TE distinctions

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10 Replies to “Wayne Rossiter on theistic evolution shell game

  1. 1
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Today’s gospel, EF of the Roman Rite …

    “Jesus saith to them Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then rising up, he commanded the winds and the sea, and there came a great calm. But the men wondered, saying: What manner of man is this, for the winds and the sea obey him?”

    I guess that’s too complicated to understand at face value?

  2. 2
    Jon Garvey says:

    As it happens I posted a piece on The Hump of the Camel yesterday making a similar case to Wayne’s about normative theology on this issue.

  3. 3
    wrossite says:

    Thanks Jon. I just signed up on your site.


  4. 4
    Jon Garvey says:

    I just saw the notification, Wayne. I’ll be pleased to welcome you officially as and when you post there!

  5. 5
    mw says:

    In relation to the Pope and theistic evolutionism, Dr Wayne Rossiter wrote, after some consideration: “But, this is enough to demonstrate the Pope is ignorant of the theory he now espouses.”

    England, at present the dowry of Darwin, eclipses the God of Sinai. Christians, therein, while decreasing in numbers, believe, also as theistic Christians they may save the Bible, original sin, and the public witnessed statement at Sinai, that God created in six days, as such is an embarrassment.

    In apparently similar belief, of the creation, reported is the Pope to have said, ‘God is not a magician.’

    The Holy Eucharist, the central and daily worship of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. A major tenant of faith that is totally against human scientific law and reasoning.

    I also know a few Anglicans who take related scripture literally on the public witness of Jesus. Indeed, many people left Jesus unable to believe his teaching (Jn 6:60). He did not stop them.

    The central tenant of faith in the Catholic Church revolves daily around consecrated bread and wine, which becomes the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ, multiplied as many times as needed. Reported is the multiplication of food by R. Laurentin: “Miracles in El Paso?” (1982).

    Christians believe in the Presence when gathered together two or more in his name (Matt 18:20).

    As an extension, it may be believed, that the Presence rests on the consecrated bread and wine of all Christian believers.

    Be that as it may. It is hoped on day that all Christians will share in each other’s Eucharistic riches.

    Jesus, as bread, is little difference than God being a burning bush at Sinai.

    Therefore, surely, pure faith in the exact word of God is the highest knowledge. We err in not knowing scripture or the power of God, Jesus said (Matt 22:29).

    God is spirit and is what he wills. “I am,” stated Jesus, being before Abraham (Jn 8:58), and hence knowing there was no big bang over billions of years, because he would have been before the theoretical big bang, otherwise, he is the father of lies from the beginning of scripture who Satan is (Jn 8:43-45).

    Satan is a god of this world (2 Cor 4:4), yet, it appears, that Satan was unsure who Jesus really was. It seems, only truly after the crucifixion did Satan know. That paid for justice when Adam and Eve did not fully know that Satan was in another form.

    Today, Satan or the beast 666, same number as man (Rev 13:18), may say: ‘Six days does not really mean six days; use your collective wisdom and science to understand. Knowing how God created from the beginning you will edify God.’

    Hold on a minute, we were gods in the first place (Jn 10:34) and (Ps 82:6), not fallen monkey type, or soulless sub humans, by-passing original sin. And who or from what did Satan evolve? If God can create such a powerful being instantly, why wait? Still, please supply evolutionist or creationist details of how Satan began.

    Groovamos @ 3, posts: :-

    “Yes the Creator planned to have a non-plan so that the accidental advent of human life would be a surprise to everyone, including said Creator, who would then after said accidental advent of humans, surprised Creator would have to get busy and invent souls so that soulless accidental humans would not be soulless for too long except for those humans desiring to be soulless, like the materialists. It was all such a non-planned surprising outcome.”

    I have to smile at that. So, where is the essence of difference, in the long age belief, that God created a soulless sub human god before God could create a human god in God’s own image?

    Has anyone the power to reduce the appearance of 13.8 billion years into six days?

    Yet, it is fine for cosmologist A. Guth to conjure up inflation and eternal inflation theory to get around problems, but it is not ok for God to be able to speed up all things and create in six days.

    Miracles affect data and we do not know how. We have no understanding of miracles, except that they are recorded, but magic they are not.

    Allister Crowley, English occultist, could produce black magic. I remember reading one of his books; he was unsure which was the best means, miracles or magic. However, occult magic revolves around the self and evil spirits.

    Atheists who believe the unseen is unreal may like to have a go with a pentacle etc., but not recommended.

    However, for God, all things are possible, expect when he said he created all human science in six days, and more besides; that really is impossible! Really.

  6. 6
    Granville Sewell says:

    Saying that God created species by sitting back and watching his natural laws do the job is like saying that a famous artist painted his greatest masterpiece by squirting paint onto the canvass. There are two problems with this: 1) it is insulting to the artist and more importantly 2) it just isn’t believable—the laws of nature are indeed very cleverly designed, but not THAT clever.

    Someone on another post asked why theistic evolutionists will admit believing in the resurrection, for which there is no scientific evidence, and balk at intelligent design, for which the scientific evidence is overwhelming. The answer is simple: if they proclaim the resurrection, they know their “educated” friends will just say, whatever, you can believe anything you want for religious reasons. But if they question Darwinism, they know they will get hammered.

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    Dr. Sewell as to this comment of yours:

    “Someone on another post asked why theistic evolutionists will admit believing in the resurrection, for which there is no scientific evidence,”

    Dr. Sewell, although we may not be able to go into the lab and reproduce the resurrection event repeatedly, none-the-less, I hold that we have fairly substantial scientific evidence for the resurrection of Christ via the Shroud of Turin, General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics and Special Relativity.

    First it is important to note that whereas Naturalists have no empirical evidence whatsoever that the extra dimensions of string theory, or the epistemologically self defeating multiverse is real, Theists, on the other hand, have very strong evidence for their belief in a higher heavenly dimension and in a hellish dimension. This evidence comes from two of our strongest, most verified, theories in science. i.e. From Special and General Relativity respectively:

    Special and General Relativity compared to Heavenly and Hellish Near Death Experiences – video

    Moreover, in the quest to unify General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics into the quote unquote ‘Theory of Everything’, it is interesting to point out that special relativity, by ‘brushing infinity under the rug’, has been successfully unified with quantum theory to produce Quantum Electrodynamics,,,

    Theories of the Universe: Quantum Mechanics vs. General Relativity
    Excerpt: The first attempt at unifying relativity and quantum mechanics took place when special relativity was merged with electromagnetism. This created the theory of quantum electrodynamics, or QED. It is an example of what has come to be known as relativistic quantum field theory, or just quantum field theory. QED is considered by most physicists to be the most precise theory of natural phenomena ever developed.
    In the 1960s and ’70s, the success of QED prompted other physicists to try an analogous approach to unifying the weak, the strong, and the gravitational forces. Out of these discoveries came another set of theories that merged the strong and weak forces called quantum chromodynamics, or QCD, and quantum electroweak theory, or simply the electroweak theory, which you’ve already been introduced to.
    If you examine the forces and particles that have been combined in the theories we just covered, you’ll notice that the obvious force missing is that of gravity (i.e. General Relativity).

    THE INFINITY PUZZLE: Quantum Field Theory and the Hunt for an Orderly Universe
    Excerpt: In quantum electrodynamics, which applies quantum mechanics to the electromagnetic field and its interactions with matter, the equations led to infinite results for the self-energy or mass of the electron. After nearly two decades of effort, this problem was solved after World War II by a procedure called renormalization, in which the infinities are rolled up into the electron’s observed mass and charge, and are thereafter conveniently ignored. Richard Feynman, who shared the 1965 Nobel Prize with Julian Schwinger and Sin-Itiro Tomonaga for this breakthrough, referred to this sleight of hand as “brushing infinity under the rug.”

    Double Slit, Quantum-Electrodynamics, and Christian Theism – video

    ,,, And whereas special relativity, by ‘brushing infinity under the rug’, has been successfully unified with quantum theory to produce Quantum Electrodynamics, no such mathematical ‘sleight of hand’ exists for general relativity. General relativity simply refuses to be mathematically unified with quantum mechanics. String theory is one, of several, attempts to, by hook or by crook, mathematically unify the two theories,

    Unified field theory
    Excerpt: Gravity has yet to be successfully included in a theory of everything.
    Simply trying to combine the graviton with the strong and electroweak interactions runs into fundamental difficulties since the resulting theory is not renormalizable. Theoretical physicists have not yet formulated a widely accepted, consistent theory that combines general relativity and quantum mechanics. The incompatibility of the two theories remains an outstanding problem in the field of physics.
    Some theoretical physicists currently believe that a quantum theory of general relativity may require frameworks other than field theory itself, such as string theory or loop quantum gravity.

    Some theoretical physicists have remarked that this failure to mathematically unify Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity is ‘the collapse of physics as we know it’

    Quantum Mechanics & Relativity – Michio Kaku – The Collapse Of Physics As We Know It? – video

    And yet, despite the fact that many brilliant people apparently deeply believe that it follows naturally that there should be a mathematical theory of everything, that simply is not the case. The belief that their should be a mathematical theory of everything simply does not follow from the math, but is a belief that is born solely out of Theistic presuppositions.

    The Limits Of Reason – Gregory Chaitin – 2006
    Excerpt: “what Gödel discovered (in his incompleteness theorem) was just the tip of the iceberg: an infinite number of true mathematical theorems exist that cannot be proved from any finite system of axioms.”

    “So you think of physics in search of a “Grand Unified Theory of Everything”, Why should we even think there is such a thing? Why should we think there is some ultimate level of resolution? Right? It is part, it is a consequence of believing in some kind of design. Right? And there is some sense in which that however multifarious and diverse the phenomena of nature are, they are ultimately unified by the minimal set of laws and principles possible. In so far as science continues to operate with that assumption, there is a presupposition of design that is motivating the scientific process. Because it would be perfectly easy,, to stop the pursuit of science at much lower levels. You know understand a certain range of phenomena in a way that is appropriate to deal with that phenomena and just stop there and not go any deeper or any farther.”,,, You see, there is a sense in which there is design at the ultimate level, the ultimate teleology you might say, which provides the ultimate closure,,”
    Professor of philosophy Steve Fuller discusses intelligent design in Cambridge – Video – quoted at the 17:34 minute mark

    BRUCE GORDON: Hawking’s irrational arguments – October 2010
    Excerpt: ,,, the transcendent reality on which our universe depends must be something that can exhibit agency – a mind that can choose among the infinite variety of mathematical descriptions and bring into existence a reality that corresponds to a consistent subset of them. This is what “breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe.” Anything else invokes random miracles as an explanatory principle and spells the end of scientific rationality.

  8. 8
    bornagain77 says:

    Moreover, if we rightly let the Agent causality of God ‘back’ into the picture of modern physics, as the Christian founders of modern science originally envisioned, (Newton, Maxwell, Faraday, and Planck, among others), then an empirically backed reconciliation between Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity readily pops out for us in Christ’s resurrection from the dead. Specifically, we have evidence that both Gravity and Quantum Mechanics were dealt with in Christ’s resurrection from the dead:

    THE EVENT HORIZON (Space-Time Singularity) OF THE SHROUD OF TURIN. – Isabel Piczek – Particle Physicist
    Excerpt: We have stated before that the images on the Shroud firmly indicate the total absence of Gravity. Yet they also firmly indicate the presence of the Event Horizon. These two seemingly contradict each other and they necessitate the past presence of something more powerful than Gravity that had the capacity to solve the above paradox.

    Turin shroud – (Particle Physicist explains event horizon) – video

    The absorbed energy in the Shroud body image formation appears as contributed by discrete (quantum) values – Giovanni Fazio, Giuseppe Mandaglio – 2008
    Excerpt: This result means that the optical density distribution,, can not be attributed at the absorbed energy described in the framework of the classical physics model. It is, in fact, necessary to hypothesize a absorption by discrete values of the energy where the ‘quantum’ is equal to the one necessary to yellow one fibril.

    Astonishing discovery at Christ’s tomb supports Turin Shroud – NOV 26TH 2016
    Excerpt: The first attempts made to reproduce the face on the Shroud by radiation, used a CO2 laser which produced an image on a linen fabric that is similar at a macroscopic level. However, microscopic analysis showed a coloring that is too deep and many charred linen threads, features that are incompatible with the Shroud image. Instead, the results of ENEA “show that a short and intense burst of VUV directional radiation can color a linen cloth so as to reproduce many of the peculiar characteristics of the body image on the Shroud of Turin, including shades of color, the surface color of the fibrils of the outer linen fabric, and the absence of fluorescence”.
    ‘However, Enea scientists warn, “it should be noted that the total power of VUV radiations required to instantly color the surface of linen that corresponds to a human of average height, body surface area equal to = 2000 MW/cm2 17000 cm2 = 34 thousand billion watts makes it impractical today to reproduce the entire Shroud image using a single laser excimer, since this power cannot be produced by any VUV light source built to date (the most powerful available on the market come to several billion watts )”.
    The ENEA study of the Holy Shroud of Turin concluded that it would take 34 Thousand Billion Watts of VUV radiations to make the image on the shroud. This output of electromagnetic energy remains beyond human technology.

    Verses and Music:

    Colossians 1:15-20
    The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

    Matthew 28:18
    And Jesus came and spoke unto them, saying, “All power is given unto Me in Heaven and on earth.

    “Alive” – W,Lyrics, By Natalie Grant

    Supplemental notes:

    (Centrality Concerns) The Resurrection of Jesus Christ from Death as the “Theory of Everything” – video

    (Entropic Concerns) The Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the Dead is the correct solution for the “Theory of Everything” – video

    Shroud of Turin: From discovery of Photographic Negative, to 3D Information, to Quantum Hologram

  9. 9
    Origenes says:

    Fox rejects “a God who finds that things aren’t just the way they should be and has to invent the miraculous, because it couldn’t happen by natural processes.”

    Before the creation of the universe, God did find that things aren’t just the way they should be. That’s why God created the universe. The universe did not will itself into existence. God created it, because ‘things weren’t just the way they should be’.

    Fox: … actually stepping in to tinker with various bits and pieces. You know, ‘things going on there aren’t good enough so I have to step in and do something to in order to alter what’s already there.’

    Well, that’s what must have happened during the creation of the elements and the basic laws of physics. Or maybe God designed a fully automatic ‘universe-creating-machine’.

    Fox does not want a designing God and to achieve this he pushes design back one level. According to Fox, it is okay for God to design elements and laws during the creation of the universe, but it is forbidden for God to design life forms after the creation of the universe.

  10. 10
    Granville Sewell says:

    The atheistic evolutionist has decided a priori that there can be no design in Nature; the theistic evolutionist has decided a priori that there can be design only in the original laws of Nature. ID proponents argue that we should look at the evidence before deciding where there is design.

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