Intelligent Design Philosophy Religion

The error of anthropomorphism

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Some oppose a design conception of the cosmos only because they consider bizarre a “Designer” of the cosmos. This way they show to have an anthropomorphic, wrong idea of the Designer. So I think it is useful to dedicate a post to counter the error of anthropomorphism.

Specifically anthropomorphism is the error of attributing to God the human form and properties. On the contrary, the supreme Being not only transcends any human, even transcends any specific particular “being”, even transcends any “form” whatsoever.

There is no reason why one should conceive the universal Intelligence, symbolically called “Designer”, from which the cosmos fully gets its existence and design, as something limited by a form, human or whatever.

To my knowledge, in English, the suffix “er”, when applied to a verb or noun, transforms it into the cause of the verb / noun. Nowhere it is said that this X-er cause must be a specific “being”, let alone a “human”, let alone an “individual”.

So, when we apply the “er” operator to the verb / noun “design” we get the cause of the design, its intelligent cause. When the design is the entire universe, then its intelligent cause is the supreme Being itself, and for this reason, we call it “Design-er” (with the uppercase “D”).

Unfortunately not only some evolutionists / atheists are anthropomorphist. Also some Neo-Thomists oppose ID for similar reasons. For example, Neo-Thomist philosopher Edwar Feser in his post about Thomism versus the design argument quotes the following passage from Christopher F. J. Martin:

The argument from design had its heyday between the time of Newton and the time of Darwin, say, a time in which most people apparently came to see the world as a minutely designed piece of craftsmanship, like a clock. It is no coincidence that the most famous presentation of the argument from design actually compares the world to a clock: it is known by the name of Paley’s watch… The Being whose existence is revealed to us by the argument from design is not God but the Great Architect of the Deists and Freemasons, an impostor disguised as God, a stern, kindly, and immensely clever old English gentleman, equipped with apron, trowel, square and compasses. Blake has a famous picture of this figure to be seen on the walls of a thousand student bedrooms during the nineteen-seventies: the strong wind which is apparently blowing in the picture has blown away the apron, trowel and set-square but left him his beard and compasses. Ironies of history have meant that this picture of Blake’s is often taken to be a picture of God the Creator, while in fact Blake drew it as a picture of Urizen, a being who shares some of the attributes of the Great Architect and some of those of Satan. The Great Architect is not God because he is just someone like us but a lot older, cleverer and more skilful. He decides what he wants to do and therefore sets about doing the things he needs to do to achieve it. God is not like that. (C. F. J. Martin, “Thomas Aquinas: God and Explanations”, pp. 180-182)

I cited it in extenso because it is exemplar of an anti-ID position based on the equivoque of anthropomorphism. Feser’s endorsement and the above Martin’s affirmations are particularly meaningful because allow us to understand one of the reasons why some modern Neo-Thomist thinkers hate so much Intelligent Design to even go preferring Darwinism. In short they wrongly argue something like this: Intelligent Design recalls a Designer, a Designer recalls the Great Architect, the Great Architect recalls Masonry, Masonry recalls a position enemy of Catholicism. Ergo a Neo-Thomist should be contra Intelligent Design in principle.

I have not at all lost hope that Neo-Thomists and IDers (or at least, some of them) could finally arrive to an agreement in the future. For this motive I reply without the least intention of polemics, rather only to defend the truth (as I always try to honestly do). To the goal I have to clear some serious misunderstandings in the above Martin’s quote, and explain why their reasoning is not correct from several points of view.

(1) Whoever has studied the traditions, knows that the Great Architect of Masonry is not at all “an impostor disguised as God, a stern, kindly, and immensely clever old English gentleman… someone like us but a lot older, cleverer and more skilful”, as Martin believes. The Great Architect is a symbol of the universal Intellect, the Spirit of the universal Construction, the supreme Being. An orthodox Freemason is not at all Deist, and the correct metaphysical conception of the Great Architect is infinitely distant from any anthropomorphism.

(2) The conception of a “divine Constructor” is shared by all orthodox traditions (then, not only Masonry). For example, in Hinduism they call it “Wishwakarma” = “the Great Carpenter”. In Islam the very name “Allah” means also “the Great Architect” (even some letters of the term are symbolically linked to the universal design tools, square and compass). In Christianity and Judaism, the Bible is filled with design conceptions and, last but not least, Jesus, the “son of God”, was also “the son of the carpenter” and in turn a “carpenter” himself. Jesus was effectively and symbolically identified to the Great Carpenter of the cosmos, his “Father”. This fundamental characteristic of Jesus is a thing that some Christians tend to easily forget, nevertheless, for who knows that all in the life and mission of a divine descent (as Jesus was) is symbolic and has to be universalized, that attribute has meaning in connection with a design worldview, as Christianity is.

(3) About the ludicrous attempt by Martin of even equating the Great Designer / Architect with Satan, I have only to suggest him to search for Satan where he actually is, surely very far from any design conception of the world.

(4) Whatever have been the historical and political conflicts between some representatives of Masonry and Catholicism, these two traditions, in their roots, at different levels, and under different symbolic forms and expressions, share the identical metaphysical background of the supreme Being. The former underlines more its aspect of Designer while maybe the latter more other aspects, nevertheless the ultimate metaphysics is unique. (In a previous UD post myself dealt with the equivalence Being = Designer, and there I inserted indeed the Blake’s picture that scandalizes so much Martin and his likes).

At the very end, in its extreme generality, anthropomorphism is to attribute to the infinite Being the limits and forms of the infinitesimal beings. Therefore whoever IDer tries to assume a design worldview of the cosmos should avoid this error in all its forms, because the Great Designer of the universe is such unlimited Being. This way the design conception of the cosmos, and its Designer, can be defended from whoever equivocally uses the anthropomorphic pretest to badly deny the former and the latter.

69 Replies to “The error of anthropomorphism

  1. 1
    Acartia_bogart says:

    I don’t think the ID theory is viable simply because it kicks the problem upstairs. Even if it is proven beyond reasonable doubt that the universe and everything in it was created by a designer, a ridiculous proposition in my opinion, it still leaves a big question unanswered. What is the origin of the creator? Arguing that it always existed is not an answer, it is just a cop-out.

    If life on earth is too complex to have developed through natural processes then, surely, the very existence of a creator, who must be infinitely complex, is far more improbable.

  2. 2
    niwrad says:

    Acartia_bogart,

    Thanks to be the first commenter!
    You are a nice and honest boy. Unfortunately you seem actually incapable to grasp that such infinite and eternal Being is a priori. As someone said: “He was and nothing with Him, He is now as He was”. 50 years ago I was unable exactly as you. So, don’t worry. The important thing is to continue to try. If you are a sincere seeker (and I bet $10 you are, otherwise you wouldn’t be an UD reader) you too will arrive to understand such ultimate intelligent Cause, from which all things and beings come.

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    I’ll take that 10$ bet! 🙂

    Who Created God? John Lennox at The Veritas Forum at UCLA – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=UIknACeeS0g#t=163

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    Dr. William Lane Craig refutes Richard Dawkins – Is God a simple entity? (ft. John Lennox) – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLwVIo93XXc

  5. 5
    velikovskys says:

    Specifically anthropomorphism is the error of attributing to God the human form and properties.

    The only example of intelligent design is human intelligent design. Two major parameters of human design are limited knowledge and economy neither applicable to a transcendent being. What are the qualities of design by a non anthropomorphic transcendent being ? Thanks

  6. 6
    niwrad says:

    velikovskys,

    Thanks for the interesting question. Maybe yourself answered your own question. If “limited knowledge and economy” are the properties of human design, then indeed “unlimited knowledge and richness” are the properties of the transcendent Designer’s design. You can see the signs of both outside you and inside you.

    bornagain77,

    Thanks, as always you are priceless.

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    AB, from Feser no less

    Not Understanding Nothing – A review of A Universe from Nothing – Edward Feser – June 2012
    Excerpt: A critic might reasonably question the arguments for a divine first cause of the cosmos. But to ask “What caused God?” misses the whole reason classical philosophers thought his existence necessary in the first place. So when physicist Lawrence Krauss begins his new book by suggesting that to ask “Who created the creator?” suffices to dispatch traditional philosophical theology, we know it isn’t going to end well. ,,,
    ,,, But Krauss simply can’t see the “difference between arguing in favor of an eternally existing creator versus an eternally existing universe without one.” The difference, as the reader of Aristotle or Aquinas knows, is that the universe changes while the unmoved mover does not, or, as the Neoplatonist can tell you, that the universe is made up of parts while its source is absolutely one; or, as Leibniz could tell you, that the universe is contingent and God absolutely necessary. There is thus a principled reason for regarding God rather than the universe as the terminus of explanation.
    http://www.firstthings.com/art.....ng-nothing

  8. 8
    phoodoo says:

    Arcatia,

    It seems like you just heard someone say sometime (probably Dawkins) that if a God created the universe who created God, and thought, yea, that’s the question we would need to answer.

    Its such a facile question, as if this is what we must be able to determine before we can make a conclusion about the world we see.

    We don’t see the world of Gods. Our inability to see that world doesn’t stop our conversation in its tracks, and say, until we see that world, nothing in this world could be created. That is just plain ridiculous.

    By that reasoning, even if a giant cloud suddenly formed into the shape of a God with a giant megaphone shaped like a trumpet, and spoke in a loud and clear voice, “I am the God that created all we see and then disappeared in a ball of fire!” you would say, well, that God must also be a result of natural causes because we don’t know what created it. See everything is natural.

  9. 9
    Acartia_bogart says:

    Phoodoo, I don’t see how it is a pointless question. If ID posits an intelligent designer, and that the designer does not necessitate a god, then the origin of the non-god designer is an appropriate question. But if the designer must be god then ID is nothing but creationism.

  10. 10
    phoodoo says:

    Arcatia,

    So what if it is a God? Why do we need to answer the question of its existence before we can make any conclusions about the world we see?

    If the God comes out of the clouds and says directly to you, he is the God, do you still need to confirm who created him?

  11. 11
    dgw says:

    Design in nature leads to the conclusion that there is a Designer. Who is the designer? Anthropomorphisms fail to provide sufficient description, yet he can be known. Do you know him?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzqTFNfeDnE

  12. 12
    Acartia_bogart says:

    “If the God comes out of the clouds and says directly to you, he is the God, do you still need to confirm who created him?”

    Actually, yes. Or, more accurately, I would want proof of his claim that he was god. Just as I wouldn’t blindly accept the claim by a televangelist that god speaks directly to him.

  13. 13
    velikovskys says:

    niwrad,
    then indeed “unlimited knowledge and richness” are the properties of the transcendent Designer’s design.

    For example?

  14. 14
    HeKS says:

    Acartia (#9)

    You said:

    Phoodoo, I don’t see how it is a pointless question. If ID posits an intelligent designer, and that the designer does not necessitate a god, then the origin of the non-god designer is an appropriate question. But if the designer must be god then ID is nothing but creationism.

    Let’s suppose for a second that the question “Who created God?” is not incoherent when properly understood. And, in fact, let’s suppose the answer is “his parents” and they all live in some higher level universe above ours and are part of a race that evolved through some naturalistic process on a livable planet over the course of many millions of billions of years. The fact of the matter is that none of that would be remotely relevant to the issues considered by ID in our universe. If there is evidence in our universe that both it and the life within it were designed by some intelligent designer that transcends our own universe, then that is sufficient to conclude that such a designer exists, no matter how that designer came to exist.

    In order for an explanation to be considered best, you don’t need to first be able to further explain that explanation, since that would result in the need for an infinite regress of explanations, preventing us from ever explaining anything.

    If you find a sculpture buried in the sand in the middle of the desert, you are warranted in concluding it had its source in an intelligent designer without first having to know what cultural group the designer belonged to or the specific identity of the individual who did the sculpting. You certainly would not need to first know who his or her parents were before you could conclude that the sculpture was the product of intelligence. However interesting those questions might be, they are quite obviously second order questions.

    The approach you seem to be advocating would be analogous to telling a police detective investigating a suspicious death that, in spite of all the evidence pointing to foul play, he or she cannot proceed with the investigation of the death as though it were a murder until first the murderer is identified, and until that point they must instead proceed as though it were an accident. This is obviously to get things exactly backwards, since different investigative techniques would be employed when dealing with a murder vs. an accident. Any police investigator who ignored large amounts of evidence pointing to murder and declared it an accident only because the identity and personal history and ancestry of the murderer had not yet been uncovered would be declared incompetent. What, then, are we to make of scientists, academics and random internet atheists who suggest we should ignore evidence of design in nature and label it a happy accident only because we can’t yet say who the designer is or how he might have come about (if, indeed, he came about at all)?

    A murder remains a murder even if the murderer and his origins are never identified. Likewise, something that was designed remains designed even if the designer and his origins are never identified. If a bullet from a sniper rifle rips a hole through someone’s heart, it doesn’t get relabeled as an accident just because the physical evidence doesn’t enable the investigators to identify the shooter and uncover his origins. Likewise, if there are aspects of the material universe that give evidence of having been designed by an intelligent agent, they cannot reasonably be relabeled as natural accidents just because that evidence does’t reveal the specific identity and origin of the designer.

    Take care,
    HeKS

  15. 15
    Acartia_bogart says:

    HekS, this OP is about the risk of anthropomorphism, yet your analogies, and everyone that I have seen from ID, are completely anthropometric. Everything is compared to human design.

  16. 16
    Axel says:

    Like so many atheists, A_b is terrified of where he knows I D points. Never mind that it’s irrelevant to the question at issue.

  17. 17
    Acartia_bogart says:

    I am constantly amazed at how the ID crowd claim that they know my motivation and psyche. Maybe you have all missed your calling.

  18. 18
    Mapou says:

    bogart, nobody’s stupid here. You’re here precisely because you got a chip on your shoulders. You have a beef against religion, especially fundamentalist Christianity.

  19. 19
    Acartia_bogart says:

    “bogart, nobody’s stupid here. You’re here precisely because you got a chip on your shoulders. You have a beef against religion, especially fundamentalist Christianity.”

    Thank you for proving my point that the ID crowd think, erroneously, that they understand the motivations of people who disagree with them.

  20. 20
    Mapou says:

    bogart:

    Thank you for proving my point that the ID crowd think, erroneously, that they understand the motivations of people who disagree with them.

    You’re not fooling anybody. The Darwinist crowd is not nearly as smart as they think they are.

  21. 21
    velikovskys says:

    The Darwinist crowd is not nearly as smart as they think they are.

    You don’t have to run faster than the bear, just faster than the slower guy.

  22. 22
    phoodoo says:

    Arcatia,

    When you say:

    “Actually, yes. Or, more accurately, I would want proof of his claim that he was god. Just as I wouldn’t blindly accept the claim by a televangelist that god speaks directly to him.”

    You have just contradicted yourself and made my point. It would no longer be necessary for you to know what created this God, simply that it was a God. So the burden of your acceptance of the reality of the situation simply becomes is the proof sufficient for you.

    Instead of saying one must know what made a designer to accept a designer, one simply needs proof of the designer.

    Everyone’s level of proof is different. But your philosophy of who created the God is refuted.

  23. 23
    Eric Anderson says:

    niwrad:

    At the very end, in its extreme generality, anthropomorphism is to attribute to the infinite Being the limits and forms of the infinitesimal beings. Therefore whoever IDer tries to assume a design worldview of the cosmos should avoid this error in all its forms, because the Great Designer of the universe is such unlimited Being. This way the design conception of the cosmos, and its Designer, can be defended from whoever equivocally uses the anthropomorphic pretest to badly deny the former and the latter.

    Yet, the Divine Being voluntarily took upon Himself certain attributes and forms of those infinitesimal beings. Furthermore, the Divine Being specifically said man is made in His image (whether we view that as referring to physical image, per to the plain language, or (based on philosophical aversion to the foregoing) as an indirect reference to other attributes of the Divine Being).

    Additionally, an IDer who concludes that, say, life was designed need not even get into who the designer was. If the IDer does so, they certainly do so on the basis of their philosophical/religious viewpoint (not ID per se), and thus, it doesn’t follow to say that they should, as a matter of principle, follow the approach you have outlined. Unless, of course, your point was simply to make a theological statement about what you personally think the Designer is like.

    In sum, you have written a post to counter the “error” of anthropomorphism. However, even if we accept your definition, it is not necessarily an “error.”

    What you might say, instead of imposing a correction on this alleged “error” is rather that “ID does not necessarily imply or require anthropomorphism of the designer.” That would be correct.

  24. 24
    Moose Dr says:

    Acartia_bogart: “HekS, this OP is about the risk of anthropomorphism, yet your analogies, and everyone that I have seen from ID, are completely anthropometric. Everything is compared to human design.”

    Logical error, A_B. Nature contains designs that are strikingly like human designs (code separate from output, processor that parses the code in a generally linear fashion, etc.) To say, “hey, this stuff is like our stuff” is not anthropomorphising.

    A_B (9) “… if the designer must be god then ID is nothing but creationism.” This implies creationism = error. If creationism is correct, then creationism is what should be concluded.

    However — all design equations involving life on earth could conceivably be caused by a universe-centric designer (ie, alien, not necessarily god.) The design characteristics of the universe, however, by necessity require an extra-universal designer. The call of “this looks awfully like the g word” is not the fault of the IDer, it is the fault of the data. Show me a universe that doesn’t appear designed, and I’ll show you a universe that doesn’t scream for a g.. hypothesis.

  25. 25
    HeKS says:

    Acartia (#15)

    You said:

    HekS, this OP is about the risk of anthropomorphism, yet your analogies, and everyone that I have seen from ID, are completely anthropometric. Everything is compared to human design.

    I do not necessarily agree with everything said by the author of the OP. I was responding to your comments in post 9. What you said there was:

    If ID posits an intelligent designer, and that the designer does not necessitate a god, then the origin of the non-god designer is an appropriate question. But if the designer must be god then ID is nothing but creationism.

    I explained why the question of the origin of the designer is not vital to concluding that design has taken place, whether the designer was God or not. Furthermore, where ID would suggest that the Designer is God would be at the level of detecting design in the initial conditions of the universe itself, calling for a Designer that transcends our physical universe and therefore would seem to necessarily meet many of the attributes typically assigned to God. This is not “Creationism”, which is a very particular literal reading of Genesis (and not the only literal one available). Rather, it is simply common sense and an inference to the best explanation.

    In your reply to me you seem to try to suggest that some comparison to human design is problematic, but you have not explained why. If we find evidence of design in nature that is analogous in many ways to the type of design work carried out by humans but we know that the design in nature could not have come from humans, what ought we to conclude? Are you trying to claim that an inference to design is logically impossible if the design could not have come from humans, which would therefore mean that it is logically impossible that there exists any intelligence other than or greater than human intelligence?

    What would happen if the Mars Rover suddenly stumbled upon a fully-functional, self-sustaining production plant on that planet that was producing technology unknown to humans? Would any reasonable person claim that it must be there by way of freak accident because even though it seems designed it couldn’t be, because it couldn’t have come from humans? Of course not. They would reasonably infer that it was the product of some alien intelligence. The SETI program would be satisfied that they had found signs of alien intelligent design on the basis of much less. Should we be barred from inferring the existence of extra terrestrials if we ever find convincing evidence of them until we know exactly who those aliens are and where they came from simply because the only intelligence we are intimately familiar with at the present time is human intelligence? Perhaps we should be barred from inferring the presence of subatomic particles we can’t see, no matter what the evidence is for them, on the simple basis that we haven’t seen them yet, and that things we haven’t seen yet can’t possibly exist.

    Is that what you’re suggesting?

    HeKS

  26. 26
    niwrad says:

    velikovskys,

    Outside us, a sign of a rich designer is the prodigious varieties of forms and solutions in the living beings.

    Inside us, a sign of an unlimited knowledge designer is the indefinite creative potentiality of our mind. If the potentiality of the effect is so great, its Cause, which is necessarily higher and where such potentiality is actual, must be infinite.

  27. 27
    niwrad says:

    Acartia_bogart #15

    …this OP is about the risk of anthropomorphism, yet your analogies, and everyone that I have seen from ID, are completely anthropometric. Everything is compared to human design.

    That is not at all a contradiction. When we have to deal with a reality higher than our own, we are forced necessarily to use analogies, symbolisms, metaphors, comparisons taken from our world. In this sense we have for example to interpret the affirmation that “man is made in image of God”. Here the error of anthropomorphism is to equate a symbolic representation with a photograph.

  28. 28
    niwrad says:

    Eric Anderson #23

    In sum, you have written a post to counter the “error” of anthropomorphism. However, even if we accept your definition, it is not necessarily an “error.”

    My general definition was: “anthropomorphism is to attribute to the infinite Being the limits and forms of the infinitesimal beings”. As such, anthropomorphism is somehow a mathematical error, infinite = zero.

    Yes, “the Divine Being voluntarily took upon Himself certain attributes and forms of those infinitesimal beings” but He never said “I am that specific being”, rather “I am Who is” (Bible). An actor voluntarily takes upon himself certain attributes of many personages, but he is none of those personages.

  29. 29
    DavidD says:

    A.B. – “HekS, this OP is about the risk of anthropomorphism, yet your analogies, and everyone that I have seen from ID, are completely anthropometric. Everything is compared to human design.”

    Wow, not only another purposed non-answer, but one shows the ignorance and stupidity of the one suggesting such idiocy. Almost everything humans have ever invented has been plagiarized by the designs found in nature. Hence the only way in which humans are capable of understanding anything when it comes to Nature is the observation of it’s design. Take away these often times ridiculous poop throwing contests on origins and you still have design in Nature. The problem with those who claim non-religion (which is a lie to begin with), is that the very rules for which their faith demands to begin with were created by their own holyman Darwin who insisted that intelligence was not requirement for life. But never once have any of these Cult Followers ever attempted an explanation as to how blind undirected, unguided forces of chemicals and physics accomplished anything miraculously complex and sophisticated. No human being presently alive or from the past has ever experienced design by dice tossing. There is simply no experience. But we never get a satisfying answer from real world experience as to how such comes about without purpose or guidance.

    Having listened to and read many of the desperate ignoramus explanations proposed which have never once been proven, there has always been an underlying familiarity in the sound of such proposals. Eastern religious concepts borrowed from Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, etc, but cleaned up enough with sophisticated modern intellectual terminology to give it the appearance of legitimacy, though still lacking. First off rules are changed. Real world historical definitions of words terms must be redefined. No so much as a different rule of what’s black and white, but rather made gray, fuzzy, muddled and murky. And they literally prefer, love and thrive in a world such as this.

    In so many ways this evolutionary infection has tainted science in the way it operates and the solutions they invent for innovation. One of the major destructive arguments which has disrupted science are those dumb stupid religious “Bad Designer” strategies. Not surprising though since Darwin’s beginning had zero to do with science and more with his beef against God. But bad designer arguments have actually backfired on Nature itself. There is no respect for Nature as a good designer, not when it’s promoted as flawed, imperfect and chaotic. Most of the problems with climate break down, deforestation, even the gmo technologies all stem from nature being a bad designer and modern day genius of Darwinists know better how to fix those flaws, even though they’ve never proven any of this. For example, the Junk DNA dogma. No respect for the informational content of genetic information, even though it is far more complex, and brilliant than any language or communication brought about by human designers.

    Don’t hold your breath for any satisfying answers as to how blind unguided forces accomplish anything in building and creating. Count on the ongoing burden shifting, name calling, derogatory language which is their only fall back. This is why they attempt to highjack and insert teleology and other concepts and practices normally associated with intelligence, but then deny they are doing this. They know full well that their no intelligence position makes them come off as bigger fools than they already are if they even remotely attempt to fabricate or concoct some mythical scenario to explain their religious position backed by nothing more than faith affirmations. It could and hasn’t even been able to be experimented with and if claimed so, could never be proven through independent replication by anybody. Their entire faith based belief system actually hinges on their feeling comfortable that they have the consensus numbers behind them in the science world which accepts without question their version of truth. That has never worked throughout history.

    Exodus 23:2 New International Reader’s Version (NIRV)

    2 “Do not follow the crowd when they do what is wrong. When you are a witness in court, do not turn what is right into wrong. Do not go along with the crowd.”

    Another replacement term for ‘Crowd’ could be “Consensus”, which as with scientific consensus has done more hurt to the natural world more than ever aided in it’s recovery.

  30. 30
    Ho-De-Ho says:

    Hello Niwrad, a good thought provoking post.

    It got me to thinking about something which I don’t believe I have seen here before. It pertains to the ‘Designer’ being transcendent in comparison to humans and Acartia Bogart’s comment about a creator being more complex than us. Here it is.

    A purely material naturalist, as far as I have understood, requires a procession from simple to more complex. Starting with ‘nothing’ we get sub atomic things then atoms – chemistry – molecules – self-replicating molecules – proteins/enzymes/dna – single cells – multicellular organisms from sponges all the way progressing to mammals and mind.

    It is a easy and seductive line of reasoning.
    On the other hand the Designer perspective would to a large degree expect that complex designs can only come from something equal or more complex than themselves.
    What do we see in day to day life?

    I haven’t thought about this much but at first blush our experience does tend to seeing things from going from complex to simpler.

    A birds nest is made up of simpler individual twigs and bits. However the twigs do not make the nest but a bird does, which is more complex than the nest.

    A car is produced at a production line. Which is more complex, the car or the production line.

    An electric screwdriver is more complex than the screw and hole which it is associated with.

    A snowflake looks more complex than a droplet of water, but is actually chemically the same thing under different temperature conditions and so one comes from something equivalent not simpler or more complex.

    Of course this is essentially stating top down development, but I don’t think I have seen it stated like this before (although it is bound to have been thought of by others).

    In short it’s the old observation of “You cannot give what you do not have.”

    This just occurred to me after reading your post. What do you think? Or anybody else. What exceptions do we find of complex coming from something simpler?

  31. 31
    niwrad says:

    Ho-De-Ho #30

    What exceptions do we find of complex coming from something simpler?

    Thanks for your question. Answer: none.

    When “complexity” is meant in its higher qualitative sense, nowhere a higher, superior thing can come from a lower, inferior thing. More does not come from less. The giant error of evolutionism is indeed to believe that more can come from less.

    The top-down hierarchy of causation is good, because when we see an inferior thing we know with certainty that its cause is higher. If in turn we consider such cause, we know that its parent cause is higher and so on… until converging to a first Cause, which is necessarily infinite. This is a way that can lead us, step by step, from the things of creation to its intelligent transcendent Source.

  32. 32
    Silver Asiatic says:

    What exceptions do we find of complex coming from something simpler?

    A circle is something simple. The calculation of the circumference of that simple object yields an infinitely complex number.

    In classical western theology, God is purely simple. He is One – not made of parts, not divisible into anything. Fullness of being, not lacking any aspect of being.

  33. 33
    Silver Asiatic says:

    An electric screwdriver is more complex than the screw and hole which it is associated with.

    Paint and brushes are simpler than the ceiling of the Sistene Chapel. Paper, ink and symbols are simpler than any of Mozart’s symphonies.

    It can then be argued that these works came from intelligence, not the materials – and the intelligence is more complex.

    However, those artistic works didn’t come from the brain, as if it was a mechanism producing art.

    Those masterpieces and many other similar things come from “inspiration” – which is a “flash of insight”, or an “eureka moment”.

    Mozart, for example, wrote most of his symphonies in one sitting. Much of his artistic brilliance came at once in his head – not reducible to a “complex process”.

    That simple flash of brilliance is an example of how something very simple and non-complex, occuring in an instant — can produce immensely complex works of genius.

    The idea that “the designer must be more complex than the design” is what materialist reductionism must conclude. It can’t take account of the simplicity of an intellectual insight which appears fully complete in a flash. That kind of insight is utterly simple but produces work of great complexity.

    Complexity in itself is not a measure of advancemment anyway. We know from human design that simplicity (a Lexus has a single button to push for ignition vs a Model T Ford which required 12 steps to start) towards a complex function is evidence of sophisticated design.

    A pile of rocks is a complex object. It can be produced by the simple action of gravity.

  34. 34
    Silver Asiatic says:

    The giant error of evolutionism is indeed to believe that more can come from less.

    The top-down hierarchy of causation is good, because when we see an inferior thing we know with certainty that its cause is higher.

    Right – it’s not a question of complexity but of power. The power cited by evolutionary theory (blind natural process) is not adequate to explain the design. To say that the designer must be more complex than the design assumes that complexity is a measure of greatness. It should be that “the designer must have more power than what is present in the design”.

    If the problem that people have with that, apparently, is that they’re looking at an infinite regress — but that is solved logically by the fact that any string of currently existing causes must have had a beginning – and therefore a first cause.

  35. 35
    velikovskys says:

    niwrad,
    velikovskys,

    Outside us, a sign of a rich designer is the prodigious varieties of forms and solutions in the living beings.

    Curious answer, optimization is not a transcendental goal then? A designer which ,thru speculated omniscience,chooses designs which are less optimal for survival of the living being.

    Inside us, a sign of an unlimited knowledge designer is the indefinite creative potentiality of our mind.

    Perhaps that is a Freudian slip.

    If the potentiality of the effect is so great, its Cause, which is necessarily higher and where such potentiality is actual, must be infinite.

    So basically an unprovable premise is proof that if another unproved premise is true, then a conclusion is true. The Designer does not seem to want to leave any unequivocal proof does He?

  36. 36
    velikovskys says:

    The top-down hierarchy of causation is good, because when we see an inferior thing we know with certainty that its cause is higher.

    So DNA is a higher cause than the human brain?

  37. 37
    Eric Anderson says:

    niwrad @27:

    My general definition was: “anthropomorphism is to attribute to the infinite Being the limits and forms of the infinitesimal beings”. As such, anthropomorphism is somehow a mathematical error, infinite = zero.

    Well, your argument then, essentially, is that if we view the designer as infinite (which cannot be ascertained from the design itself — certainly at least not in the case of living systems — but is an assumed quality), then we should not say the designer is less than infinite. So yes, if an IDer believes that the designer is infinite then that IDer should be consistent and not say the designer is less than infinite. Trivially true, but not very helpful from a standpoint of thinking about ID.

    In this sense we have for example to interpret the affirmation that “man is made in image of God”. Here the error of anthropomorphism is to equate a symbolic representation with a photograph.

    Unless of course the text is not just symbolic but was meant in a more literal sense. We are dealing with a question of exegesis, not logic or right reasoning.

    So, again, we are dealing with someone’s personal understanding of the Bible, someone’s personal philosophy about God, etc. I don’t begrudge anyone their religious/philosophical beliefs in that regard. But there is no warrant to assign those understandings and philosophies to IDers in general or to argue that all IDers should adhere to them.

  38. 38
    Joe says:

    velikovskys @ 36, unguided/blind watchmaker evolution can’t even explain DNA.

  39. 39
    niwrad says:

    velikovskys #35

    Optimization is not a transcendental goal then?

    If with “optimization” you mean a cosmos populated with a single standard kind of being, then your “optimized” cosmos would really be a poor cosmos, or even not a cosmos at all.

    The Designer does not seem to want to leave any unequivocal proof does He?

    The Designer left enough signs / proofs that a sincere seeker could find Him. But He didn’t leave too many signs / proofs that who do not want to find Him could find Him.

  40. 40
    Acartia_bogart says:

    A crystal is a more complex structure that arises from more simple structure by completely natural processes.

  41. 41
    DavidD says:

    A.B. – “A crystal is a more complex structure that arises from more simple structure by completely natural processes.”

    Many an evolutionist belong to new age cults where talking to Crystals as sentient beings is perfectly acceptable. Never underestimate the power of animist Faith. Guess we’ll all have to join that annual Pilgrimage to the Crystal Cathedral down in Naica, Mexico.

  42. 42
    Silver Asiatic says:

    The natural processes that produce crystals are far more sophisticated and powerful than what they produce.

  43. 43
    Acartia_bogart says:

    DavidD, tactic number 4 from the ID playbook: if you can’t argue logically, ridicule.

    But I will still accept an explanation for crystals which occur through natural processes and are more complex than the component parts. If that is too tough for you, try a snowflake, or a sheet of ice on a pond, or water, or lead. All are more complex than their precursors, and they all are formed through natural processes.

  44. 44
    DavidD says:

    A.B. – “DavidD, tactic number 4 from the ID playbook: if you can’t argue logically, ridicule.”

    Wow, if that isn’t the ‘Lee Allan Croteau’ (Zachriel) calling someone else bankrupt

    A.B. – “But I will still accept an explanation for crystals which occur through natural processes and are more complex than the component parts. If that is too tough for you, try a snowflake, or a sheet of ice on a pond, or water, or lead. All are more complex than their precursors, and they all are formed through natural processes.”

    This is so easy a child gets it. None of these so-called examples mentioned have any instructions encoded within any of their molecules for the blueprints of the items you’ve listed. These are the usual failed atheist dreamland examples which radically miss the mark of what constitutes living things and the way biological life operates through information. This is almost as irresponsible as Michael Ruse’s Crystal Sermon

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TUetJ3umTWU

  45. 45
    niwrad says:

    Acartia_bogart #40

    A crystal is a more complex structure that arises from more simple structure by completely natural processes.

    Crystals natural formation is not at all an example of more-from-less.

    The natural laws acting on certain materials imply, just from the beginning, a potentiality of formation of some ordered structures. Call this potentiality P. The complexity of crystals is not a form of organization, rather a simple form of low level order. Call this order O.

    In the hierarchy of qualitative complexity O stays far below P. We can write, based on this hierarchal ordering, P > O. Therefore crystals formation is an example of less-from-more, a universal paradigm, true everywhere, with no counter-example.

  46. 46
    velikovskys says:

    niwrad,
    If with “optimization” you mean a cosmos populated with a single standard kind of being, then your “optimized” cosmos would really be a poor cosmos, or even not a cosmos at all.

    Not really, though that would be a more persuasive evidence for artificial design. You are theorizing a designer who is omniscient and omnipotent, do you consider the human body to be beyond improvement? As humans we are constantly modifying the design.

    Since there is no necessity for any body plan, the choice of the present plan seems puzzling from a design view if a optimal design was a criterion.

    The Designer leaved enough signs / proofs that a sincere seeker could find Him. But He didn’t leave too many signs / proofs that who do not want to find Him could find Him.

    But it is not finding Him that is the issue, it is whether He is the primary causation of the design of life on earth. Many sincere theists believe that He is not. Thanks for the info

  47. 47
    StephenB says:

    Silver Asiatic

    Right – it’s not a question of complexity but of power. The power cited by evolutionary theory (blind natural process) is not adequate to explain the design. To say that the designer must be more complex than the design assumes that complexity is a measure of greatness. It should be that “the designer must have more power than what is present in the design”.

    Excellent! Thank you. It is an issue of power: The cause must always have more power than the effect. At the same time, the cause cannot give what it does not have to give.

    Yes, God is infinitely greater than us and has attributes that transcend our own. As Niwrad points out, we cannot conclude that the designer of the universe has human-like limitations. Nothing in ID science would prompt us to deny that fact. Of course, it doesn’t follow from there that humans have nothing at all in common with God and I don’t think that niwrad is saying that.

    We do, after all, possess a scaled down version of some of God’s attributes, among which is our capacity to be causal agents. That is a large chunk of what it means to be made in His image.

    So, what else does it mean? Well, we are back to Silver Asiatic”s point, or perhaps a corollary to his point. Some causes have more power than other causes. It requires more causal power to bring time/matter/space into being than it does to rearrange matter into a design. So, we are nothing at all like God in the first context, and a little like Him in the second context, save our human limitations and faults. We can, after all, “think (some of) God’s thoughts after him,” albeit in an imperfect way.

    The two great errors, then, are to say that we have very much in common with God, which is presumptuous and naive, or to say that we have nothing at all in common with God, which misses the point that we are made in His image. In other words, God’s causal power is infinite; our causal power is finite.

    The natural processes that produce crystals are far more sophisticated and powerful than what they produce.

    Precisely. The cause is always nobler than the effect. Darwinists seek to make the effect nobler than the cause.

  48. 48
    StephenB says:

    niwrad

    Unfortunately not only some evolutionists / atheists are anthropomorphist. Also some Neo-Thomists oppose ID for similar reasons.

    niwrad, you are wise to point this out. Alas, if the “Neo-Thomists” were really Thomists, there would be no conflict. The Angelic Doctor would never have taken their position. It is a scandal what they are doing to his name. They are just using his reputation as a misleading and despicable act of arguing from authority instead of arguing from reason.

  49. 49
    Eric Anderson says:

    Complexity is not the issue. Mere complexity is meaningless. If two rocks in space collide the resulting trajectories of all the pieces will be more complex than the two original trajectories.

    The question is capability of producing the artifact in question, not whether the artifact is “complex”.

  50. 50
    StephenB says:

    niwrad

    Therefore crystals formation is an example of less-from-more,

    Yes. Thank you.

  51. 51
    Mapou says:

    At the very end, in its extreme generality, anthropomorphism is to attribute to the infinite Being the limits and forms of the infinitesimal beings.

    Infinity is crackpottery, IMO.

  52. 52
    niwrad says:

    mapou #51

    To claim that the Being is not unlimited is to deny also His omnipotence and omniscience. In fact if something is outside Him, it is a limit for Him, then He is not omnipotent. Moreover, an external thing implies also non-omniscience, because perfect knowledge is identification of the knower with the known. A Being limited and finite, is — according to my general definition — pure anthropomorphism. At this point the Designer could become even that “clever old English gentleman” that Martin says. This anthropomorphic caricature of the Designer is exactly what ID opponents are happy to state, to ridicule ID and IDers. I don’t know you, but I have no intention to be ridiculed so easily by them.

  53. 53
    Eric Anderson says:

    niwrad @52:

    To claim that the Being is not unlimited is to deny also His omnipotence and omniscience. In fact if something is outside Him, it is a limit for Him, then He is not omnipotent. Moreover, an external thing implies also non-omniscience, because perfect knowledge is identification of the knower with the known. A Being limited and finite, is — according to my general definition — pure anthropomorphism.

    Let’s assume you are right about the foregoing — I’m happy to let the religious views fall where they may. But that has no bearing on ID per se.

    ID is not engaged in identifying a designer, so I would certainly hope that any IDer who is making statements about the nature of the designer is being very clear to his listeners that such statements are personal religious/philosophical views that do not flow from ID itself.

    To even allow a discussion of the merits of ID to get bogged down in the question of omnipotence or perfection or omniscience or infinite beings is a distraction, and a disservice, to the design argument.

    I agree with you that for ID there is a danger of anthropomorphism creeping into a discussion of the designer’s attributes. That is a fair point. But it is precisely the same danger that would result from allowing a claim of omnipotence/omniscience/infinite Being to creep into the discussion. Namely, in both cases the speaker is making claims that cannot be ascertained from the evidence itself — claims that go beyond what ID can determine.

  54. 54
    Mapou says:

    Niwrad, I’m a Christian and I see nothing in the scriptures to indicate that Yahweh has infinite knowledge, power, etc. In fact, I see the exact opposite. In Genesis, we see a Yahweh who regrets having done certain things (such as creating man), for example. We see a Yahweh who declares that his creation of life on earth was very good, not perfect. There is even a suggestion that there were previous creations of living creatures that either became extinct or were destroyed by Yahweh. I have never seen any claim by Yahweh about his infinite knowledge and power. All the omniscience attributions I have seen come from humans, like yourself.

    I reject the concept of infinity because it is illogical. If infinity existed, then any finite value would be infinitely smaller than infinity. This is illogical on the face of it because it calls for the existence of a value to be both finite and infinitesimal at the same time.

    Furthermore, if you know everything past and future, you become impotent because you cannot change your mind. The whole idea of omniscience is pure unmitigated crackpottery. Just my opinion, of course.

  55. 55
    niwrad says:

    mapou #54

    I see nothing in the scriptures to indicate that Yahweh has infinite knowledge, power, etc.

    Psalm 147,5: “Great our Lord, and of great power: his understanding infinite.”

    Revelation 19,6: “And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.”

  56. 56
    niwrad says:

    Eric Anderson #53

    [A] To even allow a discussion of the merits of ID to get bogged down in the question of omnipotence or perfection or omniscience or infinite beings is a distraction, and a disservice, to the design argument.

    [B] I agree with you that for ID there is a danger of anthropomorphism creeping into a discussion of the designer’s attributes. That is a fair point.

    Please decide for A or B, they self-contradict. I don’t understand if my post about anthropomorphism is “a distraction, and a disservice, to the design argument” or is “a fair point”.

  57. 57
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Excellent! Thank you. It is an issue of power: The cause must always have more power than the effect. At the same time, the cause cannot give what it does not have to give.

    Thanks StephenB. Yes, as you said – the cause must be nobler than the effect. The first cause must have all possible powers and capabilities because they can’t come from anywhere else.

    As humans, our capabilities for design are limited – but they point to something greater. It’s not anthropomorphic to recognize that design in nature mirrors human design and therefore it’s reasonable to assume that nature’s designer uses something like human thought.

  58. 58
    Eric Anderson says:

    niwrad @56:

    What I said in [A] is in reference to having a discussion with ID’s critics, which is what you listed @52.

    When having a conversation with an ID critic, it is fruitless to try to defend ID or explain ID or help people understand ID by talking about the identity of the designer or getting into a debate about omniscience, omnipotence, infinite capabilities, etc. ID does not and cannot go there. It is not up to the task.

    As I said, one can certainly have such a discussion, but it needs to be clear that it is based on one’s religious/philosophical views, not based on ID. To not make this explicit — to tie the two together, even implicitly or by silence — is a disservice to ID.

    [B] is not a contradiction of that at all. It is a restatement of the same point. Allowing anthropomorphism to creep into a discussion — a discussion which, by definition in that case, must be talking about the designer’s attributes — is a risk. Just like talking about omniscience, omnipotence, infinity, etc.

    Bottom line:

    The issue is not, contra your OP, what kind of designer IDers should be proposing when debating with ID critics. The issue is that ID proponents should not be proposing any particular designer when debating with ID critics.

  59. 59
    Mapou says:

    niwrad, quoting the Bible:

    Psalm 147,5: “Great our Lord, and of great power: his understanding infinite.”

    Revelation 19,6: “And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.”

    First off, you conveniently and sheepishly ignored my arguments that a God who knows everything cannot have any regrets and that infinity leads to a logical contradiction. Second, other translators have “his understanding is infinite” as “there is no measure to his wisdom”. Third, David’s opinion about God’s understanding cannot be construed as coming from God himself. David was simply writing lyrics for his songs of praise. Unlike the Pope (and some others), David is not infallible. Fourth, the word ‘omnipotent’ is usually translated ‘almighty’ and really means ‘exceedingly powerful’ or ‘the most powerful’.

    There are even passages in the Bible where God’s angels report to him to let him know what is occurring on earth. If one knows everything, one does not need reports. I could go on and on. Let me repeat my original position. Infinity is crackpottery.

  60. 60
    niwrad says:

    mapou #59

    First off, you conveniently and sheepishly ignored my arguments that a God who knows everything cannot have any regrets and that infinity leads to a logical contradiction.

    A God with “regrets” is simply ridiculous, why not human sentiments, sensations, emotions… 🙂 … and, mind you, some complain that my post about anthropomorphism is useless!

    Your argument “that infinity leads to a logical contradiction”?
    It is the negation of the Total Possibility (= Metaphysical Infinite), which has nothing to do with the mathematical “infinite”, to be really contradictory. Maybe you confuse the former with the latter.

    We had just other discussions about this topic. I already suggested you where you can learn these concepts. Evidently you disdained my suggestion because you continue to define “crackpottery” what you haven’t studied.

  61. 61
    niwrad says:

    Eric Anderson #58

    If in a discussion an atheist says:

    “By ID you have convinced me that the universe is designed. What’s its designer?”

    You: “For ID any designer is ok”.

    Atheist: “Well, its designer is the “Flying Spaghetti Monster”!”

    you reply nothing?

    It is like a guy asks me “who is your mother?”

    Me: “I don’t know”.

    Guy: “Your mother is a bitch”.

    and I don’t reply.

  62. 62
    Mapou says:

    niwrad, this is the last time I will debate anything with you. See you around, amigo.

  63. 63
    Eric Anderson says:

    niwrad @58:

    If in a discussion an atheist says:

    “By ID you have convinced me that the universe is designed. What’s its designer?”

    One appropriate answer might be:

    “Intelligent design does not seek to, nor indeed can it, identify the designer. We can learn certain things about the designer’s capabilities by studying the designed artifacts. But we cannot necessarily identify, from the artifact itself, who the designer is nor all the designer’s attributes and motives.

    “Those are interesting philosophical and religious questions that people have been seeking to answer for millennia. I personally believe the designer is ____, but that is based on my religious/philosophical experiences and understandings, not based on the design inference.”

    That would provide a relatively fulsome explanation that any listener should be able to comprehend. A shorter elevator-pitch version of the answer might be:

    “Who knows? Intelligent design does not seek to and has never claimed to be able to identify the designer. Personally, I think the designer is _____, but that is based on my personal religious/philosophical views, not on ID.”

    Even “Who knows?” would be a better response than delving into some discussion about the nature of deity, the infinite versus the finite, etc.

    ID is better served by acknowledging that ID does not address some questions, than by pretending that it does and that it is up to the task.

    —–

    BTW, your mother example is off base. You presumably know, by firsthand, repeated, physical, tangible, reproducible, verifiable, documented evidence — evidence that would be acceptable to any court — who your mother is.

  64. 64
    niwrad says:

    Eric Anderson,

    Our disagreement is about the interface of ID with metaphysics / theology — in a single word — with God. You are for a total decoupling between them. Differently, I am for a strict relation (W. Dembski even calls ID “the bridge between science and theology”, indeed in the title of one of his books).

    You want to destroy such “bridge”. Science is here, and — eventually — God is there, separated by an abyss. Scientism is more important. On the contrary, the vision I adhere to, is one where all sciences are ancilla of theology, where the latter is hierarchical higher than the former. In this traditional perspective sciences are sort of “staircase”, supports to help men to finally know God, the true goal of life. What is more important, the Designer or the design, after all?

    The destruction of the bridge is unfortunately the elimination of an important opportunity for modern men to search for God, perhaps the last chance for them, so intoxicated with the countless, lethal illusions of this atheist world. Some atheists / evolutionists found the Designer / God indeed by means of a meditation on the design argument.

    Of course I respect your opinion, but I think that you assume a serious responsibility by speaking and working in the ID movement for the destruction of the bridge. A responsibility from which I totally dissociate.

  65. 65
    jstanley01 says:

    Sorry to have to step on toes. But in my book it is niwrad, and evidently Dembski, who are the ones that — via the bridge metaphor — appear to be dangerously close to suggesting that ID take on an untoward responsibility.

    If the Bible is right, the abyss between the natural man and God is real:

    I Corinthians 2:14 (AV)
    But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

    Likewise, what the bridge is which spans that chasm is clear; or I should say who the bridge is:

    I Timothy 2:5
    For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.

    John 14:6
    Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

    In light of which, I would urge a sober reflection upon the following:

    John 10:1-18 (NIV)
    “I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber.

    The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep.

    The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

    When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.

    But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”

    Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them.

    Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.

    All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.

    I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.

    The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

    “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

    The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it.

    The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

    “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me–

    just as the Father knows me and I know the Father–and I lay down my life for the sheep.

    I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.

    The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life–only to take it up again.

    No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

    The sheep know the Shepherd’s voice, whether modern man or ancient. Those who don’t recognize it are not sheep. It’s a pretty simple evangel; too simple for some I guess.

    Thinking that ID ought to hire on — so to speak — as if the cogitations of its adherents would be better at Christ’s job than Christ and his Word are — laying aside the implied egotism (given our sin nature, it’s a slippery slope for everyone) — I would call that a responsibility which is dissociative of spiritual reality.

    As Eric stated, ID is not up to the task. To which I would add, “To say the least.”

  66. 66
    Eric Anderson says:

    niwrad:

    First of all, let me say that I respect your personal religious and philosophical views and am not demanding that you or anyone else who is interested in ID abandon their views. But we must recognize the difference between what intelligent design can say as an evidence-based inquiry and those personal views.

    True, an affirmative answer to the question of whether the universe and life were designed has important metaphysical implications. Those metaphysical implications are powerful and should be sufficient to cause any careful observer to ask sincere questions about the designer and what it all might mean for their life. Such implications should be sufficient to prompt any intellectually-honest atheist or agnostic to at least reconsider their position in light of the evidence for a designer. Though few and far between, this has in fact been the case for some, including well-known individuals like Flew and Stroebel.

    I am not suggesting that such implications should be ignored. I am not calling for any “bridge” to be burned.

    What I am calling for is that we keep very clear what intelligent design — the design inference as an objective, observational, evidence-based enterprise — can and cannot say. I am interested in complete and full clarity and honesty with respect to what we can and cannot confirm with ID.

    Bill Dembski is certainly free to write any book he wants about science and theology. He is also free to express his personal opinion about who the designer(s) might be. We should note, however, that Dembski and Behe and Meyer and other prominent ID proponents have taken great pains and extreme care and go to great lengths to make it very clear that any opinion they have about who the designer(s) might be are their own, individual, personal opinions, based on their religious/philosophical preferences, and not something that flows from ID itself.

    The tenor of the evolution/design debate is such that it is extremely important to ensure that this is very clear. One of the primary attacks, probably the primary attack, on intelligent design is the false claim that ID is just another religious-based argument, “creationism in a cheap tuxedo.” This is false. ID is an evidence-based, observationally-sound inquiry. One that, yes, has metaphysical implications; but those implications are logically separate from and only come after the design inference itself.

    The prominent ID proponents have spilled much ink and made tremendous effort over the years to ensure that people understand this distinction, to make it clear that intelligent design is not another form of creationism, to make sure people understand that intelligent design has merit in its own right as a form of scientific inquiry and is not just some evangelising tool to bring people to God, etc.

    Anytime we are less than clear in our language, anytime we imply that intelligent design is about “knowing God,” anytime we fail to clearly demark the boundaries between the design inference as a fact-based scientific inquiry and our own personal metaphysical preferences, we sow confusion rather than clarity and do a disservice to intelligent design and to the tremendous efforts that Dembski, Behe, Meyer and others have put in over the years.

  67. 67
    niwrad says:

    jstanley01 #65

    There is a misunderstanding about the “bridge”, which is a term that can be metaphorically used to mean any link.

    That Jesus is the bridge, the mediator between Earth and Heaven, between man and God, is true, and surely I am not me who denies that.

    That there is an abyss between man and God is again true, like there is between finite vs. infinite. Indeed my post wanted to underline that anthropomorphism is a form of the general error of collapsing the two. Surely you cannot accuse me of this error.

    Nobody wants to make ID a religion, that would be nonsense. If that is what you fear, don’t worry. Simply you have misunderstood my thought (causa my defective English), when I spoke of a “bridge” between science and theology. Eric rightly says that “ID has important powerful metaphysical implications”. Dembski and I call “bridge” those “implications”. Therefore this internal diatribe among IDers is more about terms than substance, after all.

    That said, that the cosmos is a giant symbolic theophany strongly pointing to God is the conception that any ancient traditional thinker of any orthodox tradition knew to have the responsibility of attesting. As one of those thinkers said, “in any thing there is a sign that shows that God is unique”. The “design argument”, based on these countless signs, was at the core of any traditional, religious worldview.

    Unfortunately nowadays the modern ID movement (about the intellectual honesty of its members I have no doubt) is forced to stay “under the radar” to escape the persecutions of the atheist establishment, like the ancient Christians were forced to hidden in the catacombs to escape the persecutions of Romans. But this is a de facto situation, not de principio.

  68. 68
    Eric Anderson says:

    Unfortunately nowadays the modern ID movement (about the intellectual honesty of its members I have no doubt) is forced to stay “under the radar” to escape the persecutions of the atheist establishment, like the ancient Christians were forced to hidden in the catacombs to escape the persecutions of Romans. But this is a de facto situation, not de principio.

    We need to be careful about this kind of statement.

    That is very similar to the claim that anti-IDer’s have been making all along: namely that ID is really about God, but that ID proponents are sneakily flying “under the radar” by pretending that ID is about science. This is exactly the “creationism in a cheap tuxedo” anti-ID talking point.

    And it is precisely the (false) claim that the primary ID proponents have been trying so hard to counter over the years. There are many people who are interested in ID because of the scientific aspects, because of the logical and evidentiary questions it raises, not because they have any motivation about finding God.

    Yes, it is true, individuals have their individual motivations. No doubt some ID adherents are interested in ID because it is compatible with, and seems to support, their religious/philosophical preferences about God. The same is true about naturalistic evolution — many adherents are interested in it because it is compatible with and supports their religious/philosophical preferences about no God. But in both cases those religious/philosophical conclusions do not logically follow from the evidence itself.

    Again, those personal motivations must be kept carefully distinct from what ID itself constitutes. ID is about identifying signs of intelligence and inferring the presence of design. It is not about identifying who the designer is; it is not about sneaking religion into the classroom; it is not about building a bridge to God. That is not a de facto situation; it is the situation de principio.

    —–

    Well, anyway, probably enough on that for this thread. I think I understand where you’re coming from; I’m merely trying to sound a note of caution and precision.

    I appreciate that the inference to design in the cosmos and life has metaphysical implications. I understand that such an inference is, if not a proof of, then at least consistent with the idea of Deity. Furthermore, I would say that a careful examination of living organisms provides objective, observable, science-based evidence for the existence of a creator — indeed, a creator with incredible skill, astonishing intellect, and massive capabilities. That much I think can be demonstrated.

    As a result, the design inference can be an important tool in the theologian’s belt, as you describe. That is fine as far as it goes.

    But let’s be careful when using the tool. Let’s be clear about what it can and cannot accomplish. Let’s be upfront with our listeners and specifically make it clear when we have holstered the ID tool (the scientific inference to design) and pulled out another tool (the second-order religious/philosophical arguments about the designer’s identity, personality, motivations, etc.).

    —–

    Thanks again for an interesting post. These are good issues and nuances to think through.

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    niwrad says:

    Thanks Eric and all for your very polite and reasoned participation to this debate about a topic that I knew spiny just from the beginning. Good weekend.

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