Intelligent Design Philosophy

Why Thomists Should Support Intelligent Design, Part 2

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In part 1 of this series, I laid out what I see as some key differences between Thomism and ID. In this post I want to focus on why Thomists should nevertheless support ID – even while granting some or all of the most common criticisms Thomists have of ID.

In order to do that, though, I’m going to have to be a little hair-splitting – particularly, I want to explain just what I mean by “support ID”. I think there’s a few ways this “support” can manifest – some easier to achieve than others, and some harder.

1. Supporting criticisms of Darwinism as a scientific theory

In this, I think ID proponents and (some, perhaps most) Thomists can more easily find common ground, and I don’t think this is appreciated enough. When I say “Darwinism”, I mean the claims that evolution..

* Proceeds exclusively or near-exclusively according to the process of natural selection.
* Is shown by science to be an utterly unguided process, devoid of intrinsic or even extrinsic goals.
* Provides adequate and detailed explanation for all or even most of what we see in biology at this time.

You don’t need to be an ID proponent to contest any or all of these things, as examples such as The Altenberg 16 or What Darwin Got Wrong shows. However, I think it’s fair to say that the inadequacies or inaccuracies of Darwinism-so-defined are of paramount concern to ID proponents, and that one can hold these criticisms and still not be criticizing anything central to Aristotilean or Thomistic metaphysics.

Now, this doesn’t mean that any given Thomist will automatically be onboard with these criticisms (save for the second bullet point, obviously, though the ‘how’ will likely differ from ID conceptions of goals and guidance.) But it does mean that a Thomist would not see questions or objections on these points as impossible given their metaphysics. In other words, even a Thomist who thought natural selection really was, all on its own, capable of producing so much of what we see in biology would have to admit that what was keeping them from other points of view was something other than Thomism itself.

I actually doubt, however, that most Thomists would have such a strong view of natural selection, or the adequacy of the detail or explanations Darwinism currently offers for what we see in biology. But I’m trying to be thorough here – and in the interest of that thoroughness, I move on to the second point I think Thomists should be supportive of.

2. Opposing religious discrimination based wholly on dissent from Darwinism

In a way, I doubt I even have to bring this up – because I think most Thomists would be opposed to the sort of antics seen in the recent Martin Gaskell case. But like I said, I’m being thorough – and this is an issue of major importance. We’ve hit a point now where mere suspicion that a scientist is anything other than what amounts to an NCSE hack can lead to discrimination in the workplace and academia. Even if that scientist is in an unrelated field and has stellar qualifications.

I think this is particularly worth noting for philosophers like Ed Feser, who in one of his books argued persuasively that some philosophical views have risen to prominence not due to superior argument but a combination of historical accident and the social/political utility of the views in question. Again, I doubt Ed is anything but appalled by Gaskell’s treatment, and no doubt others, but I want to sharpen this point: This is how such “historical accident”s gain steam.

Now, as I said, even though ID proponents concern themselves strongly with criticisms along these lines, having such criticisms doesn’t suffice to make one an ID proponent. These are things ID proponents and Thomists can agree on, find common ground on – very important, I think.

But there’s still one way I think Thomists should more directly support ID.

Time for more hairsplitting. I said in my previous post that there are reasons for Thomists to support ID, even while granting those deep differences between ID and Thomism. Even while accepting, for the sake of argument, that ID does as a matter of fact presuppose a mechanistic view of nature. Now, I’m not convinced that ID does require presupposing such a view – but I’m going to grant it here all the same, if only to make this argument easier.

3. Conditionally supporting the arguments and inferences of Intelligent Design to illustrate the possibilities those with a mechanistic, even naturalistic, view of nature nevertheless avail themselves to.

This will take some explaining.

Previously I made reference to Feser’s (I’m making heavy reference to him, because I think he’s been the most outspoken of the Thomists on this subject) posts The Trouble with William Paley and Greek Atomists and the God of Paley. What I find interesting, but most overlooked, about those entries is that Feser grants that if you have a mechanistic view of nature, then ID arguments are possible. They won’t get one even an inch closer to the God of classical theism (presumably they can get one a little bit closer to the God of the theistic personalists), but they could easily get one closer to some powerful, even supreme mind, that which would be called a god in just about any other context, etc.

Now, you’ll notice right away that Ed’s take on ID is actually ID’s take on ID for the most part. ID at most identifies a design and therefore a designer – and this can be anything from aliens to a powerful civilization to demiurges to gods to a computer simulation to, etc. The key point where ID and Thomism differs by his reasoning is that the God of classical theism isn’t included among the spread of possibilities, given how ID goes about making inferences of design. Again, I wonder about this – in fact, I suspect it’s entirely possible for one to make an inference about a mind or intervention in a way which is for all purposes identical to the ID method, yet while accepting a non-mechanistic metaphysics.

But the key here is this: The Thomist criticism I’m outlining here also comes with a built in acknowledgment that these sorts of inferences, within a mechanistic framework, can be valid. Obviously it also depends on the evidence and arguments in question, but the point is that – granting such a view of nature from the outset – there’s nothing in principle stopping a person from making valid inferences of this sort.

The Thomist, therefore, should stand against the naturalists who oppose ID and say, “No. If ID proponents were attempting to infer the design of the God of classical theism through ID, we’d agree that ID is a non-starter. But insofar as they embrace the same mechanistic view of nature you yourselves embrace, and given the sorts of minds they could conceivably be inferring the design of in their arguments, their arguments are valid and must be answered rather than dismissed. Cries of methodological naturalism* are empty normally, but they’re particularly empty when the inferences, arguments, and possibilities being raised are themselves naturalistic.”

In other words, if Ed and other Thomists are serious in their claims that ID is, at the end of the day, mechanistic – and therefore naturalistic – metaphysics, inference and investigation, then they should demand that ID be treated as any other mechanistic, naturalistic claim about the world. The ID proponents are right after all, and inferring design in the cell or the body is really no different from inferring design in Mount Rushmore. It may not be mainstream science, it may not be consensus science, but it’s science all the same – and thus, if someone defines science so as only to include mechanistic or ‘naturalistic’ inferences, they’ve defined science in a way the includes ID.

I want to note, by the way, that I’m under no illusions anyone is going to be perfectly happy with the argument I’m presenting here. I can certainly see ID proponents as objecting to the idea that ID is necessarily naturalistic, or only points in the direction of naturalistic entities. And I can imagine some Thomists complaining that they have enough work to do communicating their ideas to an already-confused public (and even academic world) without leading people to think about ‘designers’ like this.

But I think, at the end of the day – and even while acknowledging that some of what I accepted for the sake of argument here can be disputed by both sides – what I outline here is a good way for Thomists to support ID, and that it is support that ID proponents (were it to manifest) should consider accepting, however conditionally.

(* I’ve written before about the emptiness of the word ‘naturalism’, even ‘materialism’. I stand by that. But I use the word here since Ed himself regarded the list of possible designers in ID as a spread of naturalistic possibilities – which sharpens my point here.)

12 Replies to “Why Thomists Should Support Intelligent Design, Part 2

  1. 1
    Graham says:

    Is all this important ?

    It sounds like angels and pinheads.

  2. 2
    nullasalus says:

    I’d say it is, at least for anyone interested in either ID or Thomism. For those who aren’t, probably not.

  3. 3
    Timaeus says:

    Hello, nullasalus.

    Thanks for continuing with this series.

    I think your points 1 and 2 are incontestable, and I’d like to hear more from the Thomists along these lines.

    Regarding point 3, it’s a brave attempt, but from what I’ve read in Feser’s blogs and replies to commenters –I haven’t had time to read his books yet — I’m guessing he would say that any God less than the God of classical theism is not worth defending, and that even the modest concession you are asking the Thomists to make — a hypothetical acceptance of the wrong kind of God (understood merely as a stratagem for combating materialists within their erroneous world view, not as a form of Christian apologetic) would be too much for him. I think he would say that the putative gains — bashing the atheists on their own mechanistic turf — would not be worth the loss — confusing the reader by speaking in a misleading way about the nature of God. In other words, it might do some good against atheism, but only at the cost of doing harm to “true” Christianity, i.e., Thomist Christianity.

    Am I misreading Feser? Have you flown this idea by him on his blog?

    I note in passing that Dembski appears to have proposed something similar, i.e., a two-pronged attack on atheism/materialism, with ID people criticizing materialism from within its own presuppositions, while the Thomists attack it metaphysically. I remember one column where Feser essentially mocked Dembski’s notion as logically incoherent. So I’m sympathetic with your idea, but I wonder if you will fare any better than did Dembski.

    T.

  4. 4
    nullasalus says:

    T,

    Thanks for the comments.

    I think he would say that the putative gains — bashing the atheists on their own mechanistic turf — would not be worth the loss — confusing the reader by speaking in a misleading way about the nature of God. In other words, it might do some good against atheism, but only at the cost of doing harm to “true” Christianity, i.e., Thomist Christianity.

    Possibly. Really, I recognize that the route I’m taking here is one of finding agreement that is very, very broad – I’m intentionally putting aside any attempt to convince Thomists that ID and Thomism is utterly compatible, in the hope of finding the least contestable common ground the two sides can share. And of course the result is that ID proponents don’t get the whole-hearted commitment they seem to want from Thomists (Say, Feser and company endorsing ID as able to infer intelligence, as scientific, etc) and Thomists, at most, get to harass atheists and naturalists (fun, but many seem content to simply stay on their own ‘turf’ so to speak.)

    But hey, I’ve got to give it a try.

    One problem I have is that I think it’s a mistake to view ID as an attack on ‘materialism’. Not just because the word hardly means anything anymore, but superficially materialists can fit in fine in the ID camp. (Say, via the simulation argument, or alien design, etc. It would be materialism utterly unlike what we know of it, but it’s a materialism materialists are willing to dive for when desperate. More on that in another post.) Oddly enough, I think that’s a strength – as I said in my post, if Feser and company consider ID ‘naturalistic’, so be it. Then it’s worth remembering just what ‘naturalism’ is capable of – and I’m willing to bet it’s a naturalism that can give many naturalists pause.

    Dembski did offer something similar to what I’m saying here in the past, if I recall right. But in the end, I think what I outline here at the least is a starting point, a way for ID proponents and Thomists to at least have something to talk about and even cooperate on to some extent. As you said, I suspect points 1 and 2 are incontestable (but I’m not naive enough to think some won’t contest it anyway, for social/political reasons), and I think 3 is valid but underappreciated by Thomists. Really, in a way it’s even underappreciated by some ID proponents.

    Am I misreading Feser? Have you flown this idea by him on his blog?

    Somewhat. Really, Feser flew this idea by himself – his post about the greek atomists was partial inspiration here, since he himself was making the point that ID conceivably can infer this or that, but it just won’t (at least on ID’s metaphysics) be the God of classical theism. Again, I wonder if something similar to an ID argument can’t be used to infer said God – but the accent would be on the ‘similar’.

    Actually, perhaps that’s one good way to illustrate the difference between a Thomist approach to God, and an ID approach. A Thomist can infer miracles – but in part they infer it because they have (on their metaphysics) established God exists to begin with. An ID approach technically starts with no beliefs about God, and infers an intelligence that can be (among other things) God. Maybe some common ground can be worked out there too, but I avoided the consideration in this post. Maybe in another.

  5. 5
    StephenB says:

    Null, St. Thomas’ philosophy of nature, or, for that matter, his teaching on Divine causality, does not, in any way, conflict with the ID approach. The point is made obvious enough by simply reflecting on the fact that St. Thomas believed that God created the first man and woman in finished form. As far as I know, none of these so-called “Thomists” have ever acknowledged the point, causing me to question their intellectual honesty.

    In keeping with that point, plenty of Thomists are on board with intelligent design, including Father Thomas Dubay, Bishop Donald Wuerl, Scott Hahn, Benjamin Wiker, and George Weigel, just to name a few. What do the anti-ID Thomists have to say about that? Nothing! Would intellectually honest “Thomists” pretend that all Thomists agree with them? I think not.

    Intellectually honest or not, Feser and Co are simply barking up the wrong tree. St. Thomas proved the existence of God through the use of unaided reason; ID infers the existence of a designer using scientific paradigms. The two approaches are perfectly compatible, and neither invalidates, threatens, or trivializes the other.

  6. 6
    nullasalus says:

    StephenB,

    The point is made obvious enough by simply reflecting on the fact that St. Thomas believed that God created the first man and woman in finished form. As far as I know, none of these so-called “Thomists” have ever acknowledged the point, causing me to question their intellectual honesty.

    This one I have trouble believing. You really think the Thomists are trying to keep it secret that Aquinas believed Adam and Eve didn’t evolve? They may argue evolution by natural selection is moot with regards to their (Neo-Thomistic/Aristotilean) views, but they’re not making that move.

    What’s more, Aquinas’ belief on that point, if I recall right, wasn’t one of ID inference – and he wasn’t using Adam and Eve to infer God’s existence. I imagine, say… Kierkegaard believed the same thing. He sure didn’t get to that belief by an ID argument.

    What do the anti-ID Thomists have to say about that? Nothing! Would intellectually honest “Thomists” pretend that all Thomists agree with them? I think not.

    I haven’t seen this sort of pretending. Feser himself ran multiple posts talking about the varieties of modern Thomistic thought, etc. Granted, he doesn’t go around talking about ‘those Thomists who believe in ID’, but neither he nor the ones I read up on spend much time talking about ID, period. Usually they don’t have a word to say about it unless people nag them to. (Beckwith seemed to go out of his way to get into it at Biologos, which I already acknowledged as ridiculous.)

    St. Thomas proved the existence of God through the use of unaided reason; ID infers the existence of a designer using scientific paradigms. The two approaches are perfectly compatible, and neither invalidates, threatens, or trivializes the other.

    Perhaps. That’s a question I’m putting to the side right now since I think there’s other useful ground to cover before touching on it, so I grant it for the sake of argument. Then again, that also does explain some of the Thomist apathy towards ID – by their arguments they think they’ve established God exists. So along comes the ID argument and establishes.. what, a designer of the bacterial flagellum has a reasonable probability of existing, when properly qualified?

    Put questions of compatibility aside. From the Thomist perspective, I think it’s at least clear why it wouldn’t be as interesting. It’s like someone from 1400s Spain talking about how, based on some reasonable estimations of the size of the globe and an analysis of historical ship routes, there are strong reasons to infer the likelihood of heretofore undiscovered continents. Except they’re making this argument to Christopher Columbus, fresh off the boat.

    So I’d suspect that even Thomists who accept ID arguments and inferences may not be approaching the question in quite the same way as non-Thomist ID proponents. Since for the Thomist, this isn’t going to be about ‘proving God’s existence’ (even by ID standards), while for ID proponents it at the least gets ‘mind’, and possibly God’s mind, in the running.

  7. 7
    nullasalus says:

    Let me add on: Even with the differences I see between ID and Thomism, I think ID proponents in general do tend to have a firmer grasp of one thing: They see, highlight, and argue against attempts to cast nature as lacking design (in any way whatsoever – extrinsic or intrinsic), or as unguided, purposeless, etc.

    Thomists, for whatever reason, do have a tendency to largely ignore that except in the most vulgar cases (“Science has proven God doesn’t exist / is unnecessary!”) Rather insular. Though, Feser’s an exception here since he actually went ahead and wrote an aggressive book that did a great job of communicating Thomism to the layman, which counts as an answer of sorts.

    What I’d really like to see out of Thomists – and what I think may ultimately be the best way to ‘link’ Thomism and ID, even if they have disagreements – is a greater interest in, attention to, and commentary on natural science. Really, I’d like to see the same things out of TEs as well. I’d be a huge Biologos cheerleader (if still ID sympathetic) if Biologos candidly claimed nature was designed, that evolution was designed and guided, and at least made inferential arguments about why we could regard it as such.

    Then again, maybe I should be doing more of that myself.

  8. 8
    StephenB says:

    –Null: “This one I have trouble believing. You really think the Thomists are trying to keep it secret that Aquinas believed Adam and Eve didn’t evolve? They may argue evolution by natural selection is moot with regards to their (Neo-Thomistic/Aristotilean) views, but they’re not making that move.”

    Yes, I think they are trying to keep it a secret. What most, perhaps not all, of these “neo-Thomists” are trying to say is that ID would be a problem for Aquinas because, in their judgment, he taught that God creates solely through secondary causes–that to do it any other way would disrupt the notion of functional integrity. That interpretation cannot be reconciled with Aquinas’s account of Adam and Eve, so they just don’t mention it.

    —“What’s more, Aquinas’ belief on that point, if I recall right, wasn’t one of ID inference – and he wasn’t using Adam and Eve to infer God’s existence. I imagine, say… Kierkegaard believed the same thing. He sure didn’t get to that belief by an ID argument.”

    The point is that if Aquinas believed that God created Adam and Eve in finished form, then the neo-Thomists cannot claim that ID violates his teaching on Divine causality, which, in my judgment, is their main argument.

    —“I haven’t seen this sort of pretending. Feser himself ran multiple posts talking about the varieties of modern Thomistic thought, etc. Granted, he doesn’t go around talking about ‘those Thomists who believe in ID’,…..”

    You bet he doesn’t talk about Thomists who believe in ID. To speak about multiple varieties of Thomism in a general sense doesn’t address the issue. On the other hand, To acknowledge that many Thomists are pro-ID would raise serious questions about his claim that Thomistic metaphysics conflicts with ID science, or that the latter compromises or trivializes Aquinas’ metaphysical arguments.

    —“but neither he nor the ones I read up on spend much time talking about ID, period.”

    When they do talk about ID, they attack it on the grounds that it compromises Aquinas’ metaphysical proofs. They do not, from what I have read, address the scientific paradigms on their own merit. What is their to fear if truth is their objective?

    —“Usually they don’t have a word to say about it unless people nag them to. (Beckwith seemed to go out of his way to get into it at Biologos, which I already acknowledged as ridiculous.)”

    When F. Beckwith was here, I put the question to him directly. How is it, I inquired, that ID science violates Aquinas’ metaphysics if so many other Thomists find no such conflict? Rather than confront the question, he responded this way: “I don’t know, you will have to ask them.” What an incredible cop out.

    —“Then again, that also does explain some of the Thomist apathy towards ID – by their arguments they think they’ve established God exists.”

    So they have.

    —“So along comes the ID argument and establishes.. what, a designer of the bacterial flagellum has a reasonable probability of existing, when properly qualified?”

    Granted, St. Thomas has the better argument. I often argue on his behalf. However, in a dumbed down culture such as ours, we have to take people from where they are. Witness the number of bloggers on this site who have never even heard of reason’s rules. For them, the magic word is “scientific evidence” and that is what ID purports to offer. While the badly educated among us may not be able grasp such notions as “intrinsic and extrinsic causality,” they can easily relate to the idea of a cell that functions like a factory.

    Further, ID arguments are becoming famous and, from that atheists point of view, are the most threatening to their entrenched world view. Darwinists and atheists know their enemies and they know where the danger lies. That is why ID scientists have been taken to court, discredited, and slandered. Neo-Thomists are not so treated because, at present, they are not perceived to constitute a similar threat to secularists or the dumbed down culture that they rule.

  9. 9
    nullasalus says:

    StephenB,

    What most, perhaps not all, of these “neo-Thomists” are trying to say is that ID would be a problem for Aquinas because, in their judgment, he taught that God creates solely through secondary causes–that to do it any other way would disrupt the notion of functional integrity. That interpretation cannot be reconciled with Aquinas’s account of Adam and Eve, so they just don’t mention it.

    I’ve never seen a Thomist say that Aquinas taught God works only through secondary causes. Now, I think I’ve seen them say that God *can* work through secondary causes, or maybe even that God could guarantee the arrival of humanity and animals, etc, entirely through secondary causes. But on this point, the idea of passing off Aquinas himself as saying God only worked through secondary causes, I just haven’t seen it.

    When they do talk about ID, they attack it on the grounds that it compromises Aquinas’ metaphysical proofs. They do not, from what I have read, address the scientific paradigms on their own merit. What is their to fear if truth is their objective?

    If I understand the Thomists in question correctly, they object specifically to using ID as ‘evidence for the God of classical theism’ – who they think is established anyway through their arguments and proofs. If that’s granted for the sake of argument, as I granted here, what’s to argue about? The scientific arguments, if they inferred anything, would be inferring something other than God. Reasonably so, perhaps, but still outside of the usual Thomist sphere of interest.

    Witness the number of bloggers on this site who have never even heard of reason’s rules. or them, the magic word is “scientific evidence” and that is what ID purports to offer.

    Yeah, witness the number of bloggers on here who flat out reject reason’s rules and embrace inanity explicitly too. Witness how many of them don’t seem to be ‘people convinced by science’ so much as ‘people who have anti-theist axes to grind, and will throw science – or whatever else they can – at the problem’. I think people in general not only need ID considerations, but also to learn what is and is not ‘science’. Specifically, just because a guy in a lab coat says something, doesn’t make it ‘science’.

    I agree that discussing science, examining science, commenting on science – either through ID’s methods, or other ways – is something more thomists, more theists in general need to do. And to ID’s credit, to this site’s credit, there’s been a lot of that sort of grappling. But I do think this gets into a ‘is it the disease or a symptom’ issue when it comes to the issue of ‘some people won’t listen to anything but what they think is science’.

  10. 10
    StephenB says:

    —Null: “I’ve never seen a Thomist say that Now, I think I’ve seen them say that God *can* work through secondary causes…”

    —“But on this point, the idea of passing off Aquinas himself as saying God only worked through secondary causes, I just haven’t seen it.”

    Well, they often argue for the proposition that God “must” create that way on the grounds that Aquinas said that God “can” create that way. A non sequitur? You bet. It’s all done in a very subtle fashion. Watch for it, and you will notice it.

    The broader point, though, is that this alleged chasm between Thomism, the philosophy and ID, is grossly exaggerated. If you get a chance to read Father Thomas Dubay, a Thomist, you may be intrigued by his argumnet that science, philosophy, and theology are starting to converge. Distinct? Yes. Totally separate? No.

    Here is a shocker from anti-ID Stephen Barr, in his book, “Modern Physics and Ancient Faith” (Watch for all the pro-ID arguments [unwittingly advanced?])

    “This idea of God as cosmic lawgiver was from very early times central to Jewish and Christian thinking. It is the basis of the so-called Argument from Design for the existence of God. An early statement of this argument can be found, for example, in the works of the Latin Christian writer Minucius Felix near the beginning of the third century:

    ”If upon entering some home you saw that everything there was well-tended, neat, and decorative, you would believe that some master was in charge of it, and that he himself was superior to those good things. So too in the home of this world, when you see providence, order, and law in the heavens and on earth, believe there is a Lord and Author of the universe, more beautiful than the stars themselves and the various parts of the whole world.”
    … The old Argument from Design is based on the commonsense idea that if something is arranged then somebody arranged it. The reasonableness of this idea can be seen from an everyday example. If one were to enter a hall and find hundreds of folding chairs neatly set up in evenly spaced ranks and files, one would feel quite justified in inferring that someone had arranged the chairs that way.”

    A Creator even more beautiful than his creation? [“The things that are not seen are made evident by the things that are seen” Romans 1:20].

    A master in charge of a well-ordered house?

    [It sounds like perceptible design to me]

    Someone must have arranged the chairs in a purposeful arrangement for a specific function?

    [Can you say “specified complexity?”]

    If something is arranged, someone arranged it?

    [If we can do it with chairs, why not with molecules?]

    Those are ID arguments plain and simple. Here we have an anti-ID physicist, you know, one of those guys who, at other times, misquotes Aquinas and tells us that God creates solely through secondary causes, slipping up and giving away the store by saying, in effect, that if it appears designed, it was likely designed.

    Nothing there about design being hidden or “inherent in the evolutionary process.” Nothing there about the unduly mechanistic nature of those functions. Oh no. That is for another day–and perhaps another audience.

  11. 11
    StephenB says:

    By the way, here is what St. Thomas has to say about it:

    Summa Theologica (On the Government of Things in General (q 103, article 1):

    “Certain ancient philosophers denied the government of the world, saying that all things happened by chance. But such an opinion can be refuted as impossible in two ways.

    First, by observation of things themselves: for we observe that in nature things happen always or nearly always for the best; which would not be the case unless some sort of providence directed nature towards good as an end; which is to govern. Wherefore the unfailing order we observe in things is a sign of their being governed; for instance, if we enter a well-ordered house we gather therefrom the intention of him that put it in order, as Tullius says (De Nat. Deorum ii), quoting Aristotle [Cleanthes].

    Secondly, this is clear from a consideration of Divine goodness, which, as we have said above (44, 4; 65, 2), was the cause of the production of things in existence. For as “it belongs to the best to produce the best,” it is not fitting that the supreme goodness of God should produce things without giving them their perfection. Now a thing’s ultimate perfection consists in the attainment of its end. Therefore it belongs to the Divine goodness, as it brought things into existence, so to lead them to their end: and this is to govern.”

    So, where does this leave us.

    St Thomas:

    If it is well-ordered, it is governed.

    ID:

    If it is functional, it is designed.

    Big difference? Nope. Compatible? Yep. Worth fussing about? Nope.

  12. 12
    nullasalus says:

    StephenB,

    Well, they often argue for the proposition that God “must” create that way on the grounds that Aquinas said that God “can” create that way. A non sequitur? You bet. It’s all done in a very subtle fashion. Watch for it, and you will notice it.

    If you say so. Again, just not something I’ve encountered, but perhaps I’ve missed it. I remember lots of ‘coulds’, never a must – but hey, my memory is imperfect.

    Those are ID arguments plain and simple. Here we have an anti-ID physicist, you know, one of those guys who, at other times, misquotes Aquinas and tells us that God creates solely through secondary causes, slipping up and giving away the store by saying, in effect, that if it appears designed, it was likely designed.

    I’ve not read Barr’s book, though are they still ID arguments even if Barr considers them philosophical arguments rather than scientific? And I’m not sure, based on that passage, he’s making mention of ‘specified complexity’ as opposed to the orderliness of nature itself (which would subsume even ‘non-specified-complexity’ examples).

    Either way, I agree that ID offers something that the TEs and Thomists tend to ignore, and ignore at their own peril. And as I said, I’m not convinced ID-style arguments are incompatible with Thomism (I’ll explore that deeper another time – I think the main issue there may be that for a Thomist, it wouldn’t be ‘design’ but ‘miracle’, and thus would be considered and approached in different ways.)

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