Intelligent Design theistic evolution

Wayne Rossiter: Revolving the evolving God at BioLogos

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Wayne Rossiter, author of Shadow of Oz: Theistic Evolution and the Absent God, draws our attention to this BioLogos post by British evangelical writer and editor Robin Parry:

God is More Than an Intelligent Designer

The problem with Intelligent Design (ID) is its tendency to look for God (or simply a “designer”) in the gaps of scientific explanations. So-called irreducible complexity, for instance, is seen as evidence of this “designer” because science cannot (in principle, we are told) explain it in terms of natural processes. But if future science did actually explain any alleged instances of irreducible complexity, then such instances would cease to be evidence of the “designer”.

The problem here is that the “designer”—which almost every ID advocate thinks is the biblical God—is pictured as one being among others (albeit a more intelligent and powerful one) acting as a cause in the world in the same manner as other causes act in the world.

The reason that this is a problem, at least for Christians, is that classical theology does not picture God in this manner—as one cause or being among and alongside others. Rather, divine Being is of a fundamentally different kind from creaturely being, and divine causation acts at a different level altogether. God is the one who imparts be-ing to the whole of created reality and who enables all of the powers of causation within creation. So God was the explanation for the whole, but was not to be found in the gaps.More.

Rossiter offers a response at his own blog:

Misrepresenting the arguments

I haven’t blogged in a while, and this one will be brief. I noticed that Robin Parry offered a blog over at BioLogos today. This is kind of funny, given that Robin was my editor for Shadow of Oz (the awkwardness of having a theistic evolutionist edit a book critiquing theistic evolution!). Anyway, I just can’t help but think we should be well beyond the simplistic casting of the argument that guys like Parry seem to be offering. He either doesn’t understand the argument, or is intentionally misrepresenting it.-

“The problem here is that the ‘designer’… is pictured as one being among others (albeit a more intelligent and powerful one) acting as a cause in the world in the same manner as other causes act in the world. The reason that this is a problem, at least for Christians, is that classical theology does not picture God in this manner—as one cause or being among and alongside others. …

I’m not aware of any ID theorist or Christian who rejects the idea that God is immanent throughout His creation and exists as a fundamentally different kind of cause. But, what Christian could possibly deny that the God of the Bible does reveal Himself by directly intervening in the creation as a detectable cause? You would have to toss the Bible away entirely. I take it Parry doesn’t apply such restrictions in God’s action to Christ Jesus, who is both part of the eternal trinity and acted as a cause among causes on earth. To put it bluntly, Parry’s argument is incoherent. Unfortunately, it’s not his argument. He’s simply re-iterating what many theistic evolutionists have already said, and it didn’t work as an argument for them either. It fails entirely. More.

Hmmm. There may be a middle ground between incomprehension and intentional misrepresentation. The Bible, if it matters, is quite clear about God’s “hands-on”-ness in the way the world is made and works.

Theistic evolution, so far as I (O’Leary for News) can see, is a way of getting Christians to accept Darwinism and possibly naturalism (nature is all there is) as compatible with Christian faith. If my interpretation is correct, we could at least understand why so many theistic evolutionists need to debunk whatever evidence they see of design in nature, just as a Darwinian would. If a single instance of design would be fatal to their position, how do they differ from naturalists?

If this is a correct interpretation,  the only way such a project can seem Christian is if the evidence and arguments provided by ID sympathizers are misrepresented—both to theistic evolutionists themselves and to their hearers. It’ not as if they can afford a straightforward analysis.

Thoughts from readers?

A friend says, by the way, that Parry’s post has a curious history: The November 2017 post is a repost of one from March 2016. The 2016 version features flagged comments from “Eddie” (“This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.”) The tipster notes that one can see Eddie’s comments by selecting “View Hidden Content” beneath the warning. Tipster did not find any offensive material there, just stuff like “The article is clearly written, and expressed in a praiseworthy moderate and conversational tone, but it treads well-worn ground. There are no arguments in it which have not been put forward against ID many times before. Let’s look at some of the points made…” Essentially, Eddie said much the same thing as Rossiter does above. But when the article was republished over a year later, Eddie’s comments had been “hidden.” (For some reason, Eddie is not popular at BioLogos or else there is a glitch, because all his posts seem to be hidden.)

But then that may be the best way for BioLogos to deal with actual ID arguments.

See also: Wayne Rossiter: Misuse of statistics at BioLogos?

8 Replies to “Wayne Rossiter: Revolving the evolving God at BioLogos

  1. 1
    Dionisio says:

    It’s not that the ID folks don’t know how certain things appeared, therefore attribute them to ID. It’s that they know that the only reasonably explainable cause is ID, on the basis of theoretical and empirical evidences.

  2. 2
    Mark from CO says:

    Mr. Robin Perry:

    Please read Prof. Edward Feser’s “Five Proofs of the Existence of God’ to start to understand how ridiculous and ignorant your understanding of what the Christian understanding of the Christian God really is. And by the way, this understanding has been the accepted understanding of God for over 2,000 years.

    An understanding I might add that has been challenged by the best and brightest of the ‘brights,’ past and present. Challenges that have not been able to stand the test of time (and that includes you Mr. Hume).

    Or perhaps you don’t dare to challenge these arguments on their merits because you know how precarious your position is. Straw men are so much easier – no resistance at all!

    Best Regards,
    Mark from CO

  3. 3
    J-Lib says:

    So, the “closing gaps” argument again. What gaps (in the naturalistic scheme) have closed? What plausible naturalistic explanations have been offered for the origin of any ordered complexity/ information, new trait, or new species?

  4. 4
    bradkramer says:

    Eddie’s comments have been hidden for quite a while, because he was banned from the Forum for reasons that have nothing to do with his advocacy of ID. The software we use automatically hides comments of those who have been banned. That would not be my preference, but I don’t know how to change it.

  5. 5
    critical rationalist says:

    @Dionisio

    It’s not that the ID folks don’t know how certain things appeared, therefore attribute them to ID. It’s that they know that the only reasonably explainable cause is ID, on the basis of theoretical and empirical evidences.

    The ID folks around here have made claims about intelligence and choice that, when taken seriously for the purpose of criticism, do not survive that criticism.

    IOW, those folks appear to confused about the growth of knowledge in designers, which means they would be confused about their supposedly “reasonably explainable cause”.

    For example, does the medical community not consist of free, intelligent agents? Do they not intend to cure cancer? Then, according to ID, we should have a cure for cancer. Yet we do not.

    So, what gives?

  6. 6
    Dionisio says:

    critical rationalist @5:

    Sorry, my reading comprehension is rather poor.

    I don’t understand what you tried to say in your comment.

    Would you mind to clarify it?

    Or maybe other readers who understood the comment @5 could explain it another way?

    Thanks.

  7. 7
    mike1962 says:

    The problem with Intelligent Design (ID) is its tendency to look for God (or simply a “designer”) in the gaps of scientific explanations. So-called irreducible complexity, for instance, is seen as evidence of this “designer” because science cannot (in principle, we are told) explain it in terms of natural processes. But if future science did actually explain any alleged instances of irreducible complexity, then such instances would cease to be evidence of the “designer”.

    That’s a big “if.” I’m not impressed with such Promissory-Note “Science.” Robin Parry’s argument could be used against forensic science too. Both ID and forensic science look for the inference to the best explanation as the evidence sits today. If science eventually demonstrates that, say, the origin of life, is completely explicable given “blind” natural forces, then, by golly, so be it. (I won’t be holding my breath.) But they haven’t yet- not even close. It remains that inference to the best explanation is intelligence. And the more science learns about it the less likely “blind” natural forces are capable of the task.

  8. 8
    EricMH says:

    The funny thing is theistic evolution is wrong on both counts.

    1. ID is fully consistent with God being responsible for the whole and not involved with the particular events on earth. Its only claim is blind mechanistic processes cannot be ultimately responsible for what we see.

    2. Christianity inherently believes in a hands on God. The conception of Jesus in Mary is God directly placing Himself as man within Mary’s womb. This did not happen by any natural process, and that’s the only reason Jesus can promise us salvation from sin, because He is not descended from man. Then, throughout Jesus ministry there are constant occurrences of miracles, i.e. Divine intervention. Finally, God directly raises Jesus from the dead. Without a hands on God, Christianity is dead. How can an evangelical Christian coherently believe such things?

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