Home » Christian Darwinism » Thoughts on Stephen Barr’s theistic Darwinism: If God can load the dice so cleverly that no evidence would reveal it …

Thoughts on Stephen Barr’s theistic Darwinism: If God can load the dice so cleverly that no evidence would reveal it …

Omphalos: An Attempt to Untie the Geological Knot

… why couldn’t he have just created the fossils all at once, to fool us or test our faith?

In “How TEs Are Like YECs or the Explanation of the Illusion is Itself an Illusion” (Uncommon Descent, May 9), Barry Arrington comments, discussing the views of a physicist, Stephen Barr, who maintains that God creates via random Darwinian evolution but that

God, has loaded the dice so that they rolled “life,” however improbable that might have been (like a thousand 7′s in a row with real dice), and God’s dice loading is so clever that the “fix” can never be detected empirically.

Barr’s view is quite similar to that of nineteenth century biologist Philip Gosse, who argued that God had created Earth instantly, with the appearance of age In that case, as in Barr’s approach, God’s handiwork “is so clever that the ‘fix’ can never be detected empirically.” Both proponents have ruled falsification by contrary evidence off the table, insisting that the real action takes place in a realm inaccessible to human investigation.

The old Earth proponent could not convince Gosse by fossil evidence from, say, the Cambrian era because he would respond that God had simply created it instantly in that state. Likewise, the ID proponent can make no headway with Barr by observing that current claims for Darwinian processes do not meet the standards of probability – because God, after all, can load the dice in an unseen world.

But mark what follows: Theistic evolutionists who follow Barr’s lead can then – legitimately, in their own view – accuse ID theorists of having a lesser conception of God. The ID theorist does not think that God, however you define him, is above the demands of evidence.

And if theirs is a lower conception of God, it’s worth noting that it is the one clearly taught in the Bible. Nowhere better encapsulated than in the “Venite” or Psalm 95, very familiar to anyone who has spent much time in an Anglican/Episcopalian church:

3 For the Lord is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
4 In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
5 The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.

[ ... ]

Today, if only you would hear his voice,
8 “Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah,[a]
as you did that day at Massah[b] in the wilderness,
9 where your ancestors tested me;
they tried me, though they had seen what I did.
10 For forty years I was angry with that generation;
I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray,
and they have not known my ways.’
11 So I declared on oath in my anger,
‘They shall never enter my rest.’”

The gravamen of God’s charge against the Israelites in the wilderness was not that they refused to believe in unseen forces but that they did not heed the evidence of his work that he had put before them, plainly and unambiguously.

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10 Responses to Thoughts on Stephen Barr’s theistic Darwinism: If God can load the dice so cleverly that no evidence would reveal it …

  1. God, has loaded the dice so that they rolled “life,” however improbable that might have been (like a thousand 7?s in a row with real dice), and God’s dice loading is so clever that the “fix” can never be detected empirically.

    Well, I would prefer to believe what God Himself tells us in His Word as opposed to what Mr. Barr thinks.

    19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. ROMANS 1:19-20.

    So here we have God telling us that He holds all men responsible for for their knowledge of God because the fact of His existence is able to be “clearly perceived” through His creation. Hmm. Doesn’t fit what Mr. Barr seems to be saying!

    The ID theorist does not think that God, however you define him, is above the demands of evidence

    Exactly! Well spoken! Kind of exposes the foolishness of the theistic evolutionist stance, doesn’t it?

  2. Ante-up, Unholy Rollers!
    Place your bets on Chance and Time!
    Odds are good there’s no real purpose…
    In this natural double-bind.

  3. If God truly reveals himself in nature, and wants to reveal himself in nature, then it should be obvious that He would communicate to us in a language that was meant to be understood by everyone–common man, philosopher, and scientist

    Which language seems more accessible to all observers?

    [a] The DNA molecule is so intricately designed that it looks like a factory

    or

    [b] Evolution was crafted in such as way as to fool us into thinking that the DNA molecule was designed.

  4. If God truly reveals himself in nature, and wants to reveal himself in nature, then it should be obvious that He would communicate to us in a language that was meant to be understood by everyone–common man, philosopher, and scientist…

    Good point! And if God wants to reveal Himself in nature, that revelation would of necessity be limited. We could not for instance find out much about Him except that He is powerful and all wise. We see both His love and we see cruelty in nature so it is a confusing message at times. We need more than just nature to really understand God. That is why He gave us His Word. The Bible settles that cruelty vs love problem by telling us how suffering, disease, and death came into the world. In the Bible we learn things about who He is, why He made us, what happens when we die, how to prepare for the afterlife, how to live in this life, etc etc. Nature is powerful revelation that reaches every person no matter where they may live. It is wonderful as far as it goes, but God has more to tell us than just the fact that He is there and created the world. The Bible is full of these treasures and important truths. I’m thankful not only for the revelation of Himself we see through nature, but for the revelation of Himself that we have in His word and through His Son Jesus!

  5. tjguy @4: By all means, I agree.

  6. tephen …Barr, who maintains that God creates via random Darwinian evolution but that…

    And how did God create prior to the onset of the sort of life that could be subjected to Darwinism?

    Are you sure you’re reading Barr correctly?

  7. “God creates via random Darwinian evolution”

    The God of the Scriptures creates everything by His Word, not by some spurious Darwinian rubbish.

  8. Eugene- the question would then be “God creates/ created what via (random) Darwinian evolution?”

  9. Joe,

    I don’t believe at all in the creative power of any evo mechanism (drift, mutations or whatever else they can discover can only lead to reuse of the same information in a different way or dissipation of information). Mutations are just plain noise. Maximum what mutations can demonstrably do is things like size/colour/etc adaptational variations. To attribute creative capabilities to noise is asking too much, in my opinion. A real creative potential lies only with choice contingent causality, i.e. rules and careful choice of initial conditions, not laws or randomness. As we know, rules are specified exclusively by intelligence on top of physicality. Information makes sense only in contexts involving intelligent actors.

    And God created everything through His Son and Co-Eternal Word in the Holy Spirit. I don’t think that for this He needed to employ any mechanism at all and the Darwinian mechanism least of all. The act of creation is mysterious and is over and above science.

    I think that mutations as well as any other “noise” could have been a consequence of the fall (but this is my personal guess well beyond the demarcation line).

  10. Bingo- if diseases and broken things are creations….

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