ID and the Science of God: Part III

 

I have been reflecting on the critical responses to my posts, which I appreciate. They mostly centre on the very need for ID to include theodicy as part of its intellectual orientation.

 

The intuitive basis for theodicy is pretty harmless: The presence of design implies a designing intelligence. Moreover, in order to make sense of the exact nature of the design, you need to make hypotheses about the designing intelligence. These hypotheses need to be tested and may or may not be confirmed in the course of further inquiry. Historians and archaeologists reason this way all the time. However, the theodicist applies the argument to nature itself.

 

At that point, theodicy binds science and theology together inextricably — with potentially explosive consequences. After all, if you take theodicy seriously, you may find yourself saying, once you learn more about the character of nature’s design, that science disconfirms certain accounts of God – but not others. Scientific and religious beliefs rise and fall together because, in the end, they are all about the same reality.

 

This is explosive because we live in a world where (allegedly) false scientific beliefs and false religious beliefs are treated radically differently. The former are a matter of public concern: Stamp them out now before our kids’ minds are contaminated! However, the latter are seen as being of purely private concern: Only the belief’s holder bears the consequences. I suppose this double-standard is what makes us ‘modern’, or at least ‘secular’. We end up tolerating all sorts of religious beliefs – including militant atheism – while even minor deviations from the scientific orthodoxy can lead to ostracism, as when Michael Reiss opened the door to creationist questioning of evolution.

 

Now some people on this blog believe that the safest way out of this minefield is to say that ID makes no hypotheses about the designing intelligence – some even go further to say that in principle the designing intelligence cannot be inferred from design. If you take these policies seriously, you won’t have any science at all. You’ll just have a toolkit of concepts and techniques for reliable design detection. That’s nice, but it doesn’t explain why all these designs should be treated as part of a common object of inquiry. Here you need some underlying laws and principles. This brings you back to proposing hypotheses about how the intelligent designer’s mind works. And then you’ll have science.

 

Even a simple concept like ‘irreducible complexity’ doesn’t really make sense except as a step towards a theory of the intelligence behind the design. Imagine a Darwinist’s knee-jerk dismissal of Behe’s concept: ‘Just because, say, a cell looks like it’s been purpose-built doesn’t mean that you can compare its parts to those of a mousetrap. That’s to take a superficial similarity and read into it way too much meaning. The cell’s apparent design could have been just as easily brought about by a combination of contingencies spread over a long stretch of time. Keep off the mechanistic metaphors, if you really want to understand how life works’.

 

My point here is that the Darwinist’s knee-jerk dismissal, however unjustified, is nevertheless right about one thing – namely, that Behe’s concept is not only about nature’s design but also the designing intelligence. For the Darwinist, to theorize both together begs the question against his position, which holds that the appearance of design need not implicate a designing intelligence. So it’s no surprise that Behe has been led to argue theodicy with Ken Miller. Yes, Behe is religious but his science already builds in the idea of a designing intelligence that we are trying to fathom at the same time we are trying to understand the design features of life.

 

One final thought: When militant Darwinists like Dawkins and Dennett call the teaching of religion ‘brainwashing’ that demands some sort of cerebral hygiene, they are mainly exercised about the claims of religion that explicitly tread on scientific ground. They get most of their rhetorical mileage from targeting Young Earth Creationists but it’s pretty clear that they also have ID in their sights. Perhaps the only virtue of these attacks is that they take the cognitive content of ID sufficiently seriously to realize that it’s incompatible with a strong naturalistic atheism. It would be too bad if avowed defenders of ID did not take the theory as seriously as its staunchest – and perhaps smartest – opponents do.

 

 

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79 Responses to ID and the Science of God: Part III

  1. ID and theodicy.

    Both have an ‘i’ and a ‘d’ in it.

    The first is science. The latter is religion. You understand the difference, right?

  2. Oh here’s something!

    We should include Zen Buddhism as part of the intellectual orientation of ID.

    And ID of course should also include auto repair and business administration.

    Now that I think about it ID should just include the study of everything.

    Thanks for making this clear to me. I guess that’s why you’re a teacher, huh?

  3. Well done Steve!!!
    I signed up just to compliment this piece!

    Also, irony defined: Davescot making Davescot-bannable comments LOL!

  4. Steve – I agree that Behe’s irreducibly complex biomolecular machines raise the possibility of making a correct analogy from design in nature to human intelligence. The idea that design might come from something other than a mind is also a non starter because of the way humans perceive design.

    However, I guess beyond that there remains the problem of the naturalistic fallacy where people try to develop values from facts of nature, or try and read into the mind of God from further facts of nature. Good and bad are present in nature and I believe that in order to make full sense of them requires special revelation.

    There is an argument from Francis Schaefer for special revelation that the order, beauty and given human wisdom, strongly suggests that the designer would seek rational communication with the creation. Why go to the trouble of creating rational beings with the desire for communication with the transcendent and not provide a rational mechanism for that communication? Prayer and special revelation (and general revelation) provide that means of communication.

  5. “Good and bad are present in nature and I believe that in order to make full sense of them requires special revelation”

    Perhaps Darwins special revelation about natural selection and descent with modification might be the answer, at least as far as the method of creation goes.

    Ok, I’m joking just a little bit but an important question is how do you tell a true revelation from a false one? If I started to attend an evangelical church and then proclaimed to have had a revelation I bet the chances of the congregation accepting it as true depended on how closely my revelation matched their own preferences. Put another way, how would it go down if I jumped up and yelled “I’ve seen the light, Allah is the true god!”

  6. —-Steve F: “Scientific and religious beliefs rise and fall together because, in the end, they are all about the same reality.”

    This is well stated and worth some reflection. Unity of truth is a vitally important concept; without it, we fall into intellectual quicksand.

    So, why not allow the different expressions of truth to have their say, each in coordination with the other? Why not allow Theology and Philosophy to bridge the scientific gap on questions about theodicy, at least until ID has more to say.

    In keeping with that point, why not give ID science time to find its own natural development, which may, as it turns out, provide us with a new paradigm that surpasses CSI and IC and, for all we know, tell us more about what the designer had in mind.

    This is not something that can be summoned at will. We will have to wait until fate provides us with another genius–a genius capable of standing of Behe’s and Dembski’s shoulders, building on their contributions, and maybe even correcting an error or two. We must also face that fact that, since science has never been able to provide satisfactory answers about “meaning,” it may always be so limited. One can only do so much with data.

    In any case, scientific trailblazers are not like ordinary scientists, they are extraordinary, which means that they are in the minority; they push science forward while they pull the majority along kicking and screaming. Like it or not, they must submit to the limits of time, culture, and the resources available [or, in this case, ALLOWED].

    These things always happen gradually and incrementally. Even Einstein’s theory of relativity which was prefigured by the contributions of his predecessors. What is called for here is patience. Would you have asked Thomas Edison to invent the computer?

  7. The intuitive basis for theodicy is pretty harmless:

    I suppose that depends on what you mean by “harmless.” The ID project is founded upon the strategic avoidance of speculation about particulars of the designer. To use an obscene phrase, “he/she/it” may be the God of the universe, the dreams of Vishnu, the “little green men” of Francis Crick, or the “universal will to become” of Kurt Vennegut. Speculation about the motivation or ends of the “designer” is not a prerequisite for detecting design. Stonehenge and other neolithic sites are a prime example.

    The intuitive basis for theodicy…

    The “intuitive basis” is not shared by all of those who have hooked their wagons to the design movement, for example David Berlinski, whom I suspect is a much a contrarian as an IDer. I doubt he finds “theodicy” intuitive. He does, however, find the neo-Darwinian Synthesis (or whatever they are calling it now) woefully insufficient as an explanatory filter and is willing to follow the investigations of ID as a secular search for a better explanatory filter. I don’t know how he would react to a “statement of faith.”

    …a theodicy is pretty harmless

    A “theodicy”, by definition, is a statement about the motivation and intent of the “designer”, more specifically a designer that is also a “deity”. Given the efforts of the those within the ID movement to avoid any overt speculation about the designer it could be suggested that your desire for a theodicy is intended to overturn the stated goals of ID, that is, as a secular project to detect design wherever it may be found.

    Having said all this, I, as a theistic Christian, do have a theodicy and hold certain opinions about the designer and his goals. Some of those opinions would never have been formed had there not been an ID movement founded upon the principles it espouses. So I feel a certain “debt of gratitude” to ID and would not wish to see their very successful strategy overturned by an impetuous desire to add theodicy to the mix.

  8. DaveScot, you have resorted to cynicism as evidence. This is not your best work.

    The real question is, “do we learn something about the designer by looking at the design?” Either we do, in which case as ID progresses, so progresses some knowledge of the designer; or we don’t, in which case the chasm between science and religion is absolutely unbreachable.

    Have we learned that the earth, and life, is older than about 6000 years? Some would still argue that we haven’t, but they have a lot of evidence to discount. Further, the best of them use other scientifically gathered evidence as their proof.

    If we have learned that the earth, life, and humanity, is old, we have disproved something about the designer. If we have disproved something about the designer, then the chasm between science and religion is not infinite.

    We see in nature a singularity of thought. The scientific establishment has concluded, and convinced me, that it is because all life spawned from a single universal common ancestor.

    If there is a single ancestor, then that single ancestor was created by no more than a single intelligence*.

    If life on earth was spawned by a single intelligence* then we have learned something very important about the nature of that designer.

    The predominance of physicists believe that there was a single big bang. Again, if there was a single big bang, either the big bang was a chance event, or the product of a single intelligence*.

    Again, we learn something about the very nature of the necessary designer.

    Physicists also contend that time itself, as we understand it, started at the moment of the big bang. If so, then either chance extends beyond time as we know it, or time is the product of a single intelligence*, that the single intelligence* is outside of time as we know it.

    Hence, it becomes clear that we do, of necessity, learn something abou the designer* as soon as we postulate design. The plural, designers is inapproriate*. The designer that we learn something about is vastly more intelligent than we are, and exists outside of time as we know it. These three statements are statements determined by the science, not by a religous filter.

    Do we learn anything else about the designer? Actually, there seems to be a lot that is already inferrable: Contrary to many religous positions, the designer intentionally uses death. Contrary to many religous positions, the designer intentionally uses random chance. Contrary to many religous positions the designer intentionally uses fierce competition. Contrary to many religous positions, the designer intentionally uses calamity. I could go on.

    The bottom line, I see no way of inferring “intelligent design” without immediately discovering that the evidence demands that we infer certain characteristics upon the intelligent agent(s).

    *Possibly a group of intelligences acting in consert.

  9. SimonG @3 inspired me to also register to applaud Dr. Fuller’s series of posts here. I’ve long been bemused by the insistence of many ID proponents that the nature of the designer is off limits for discussion. I believe the whole reason for researching design is to better understand the designer.

    Dr. Fuller is convincing me that it’s probably not even logical to infer design without some minimal concept of the designer. Anthropologists can determine if something is designed because they know how humans design things and what humans use those designed things for. If we refuse to even speculate on the nature of the designer, how can we say that a cell is designed but a rock isn’t? I know the answer is CSI, but that presupposes something about the designer, surely?
    JJ

  10. 10

    These things always happen gradually and incrementally. Even Einstein’s theory of relativity which was prefigured by the contributions of his predecessors. What is called for here is patience. Would you have asked Thomas Edison to invent the computer?

    No, I’d ask Charles Babbage, who did it before Edison was born. ;)

  11. Professor Fuller, Jerry

    I am not sure I understand your implications, namely that the Darwinist theorizes “both” the nature’s design and the designer or intelliegnce together. Isn’t the whole point of Darwinism to sidestep both?

    “My point here is that the Darwinist’s knee-jerk dismissal, however unjustified, is nevertheless right about one thing – namely, that Behe’s concept is not only about nature’s design but also the designing intelligence. For the Darwinist, to theorize both together begs the question against his position, which holds that the appearance of design need not implicate a designing intelligence.”

    Also, to clarify Jerry’s disclaimer in part II, 21

    “Just a disclaimer. I think Darwinian processes account for much of life but not all. Some things are beyond Darwinian processes or whatever else is in the latest synthesis.”

    Jerry, what do you consider these Darwinian processes to be? Is it from Darwin’s point of view (he posited only one mechanism, natural selection, although he supposedly believed in Lamarckism all his life), or do you consider the whole “new synthesis” or neo-darwinism? And if the latter, which processes do think as valid, or accounting for life and why? Would this be a contradiction to what professor Fuller is saying?

    —-

    7, jerry, 01/11/2009, 7:44 pm, Barry, Actually there is a wholesale Darwin of the Gaps mentality in the evolutionary biology community. In one recent book I read, I must have annotated nearly 200 instances where the authors just used the expression “it was selected for” when something came up for which there was no explanation for., I kept on writing BQ in the margins to indicate they were begging the question. In other places I would write JSS for just so stories or imagination for when they made up possible explanations. So to accuse the ID people of God of the Gaps arguments is hypocritical. They probably do not know it when they do it because it is such ingrained behavior. But it is completely accepted.,

    16, DonaldM, 01/12/2009, 7:59 am, GotG arguments are, as far as I can tell, just another way to sneak philosophical naturalism into science. From the perspective of the anti-ID mavins, a ‘gap’ is ‘an observed phenomenon with no known natural explanation but for which we’ll supply one at a later date”., For more on this, read William Dembski’s The Chance of the Gaps.,

    18, jerry, 01/12/2009, 9:11 am, ID does not say that something is intelligently designed only that there is a probability that it is intelligently designed. The amount of the probability increases with the complexity and functional organization of the phenomena but never becomes one. The probability decreases as naturalistic explanations are proffered that have empirical backing and increases as additional research fails to find empirical backing for a naturalistic cause or new organized complexity becomes apparent., Hence it is not a God of the Gaps argument because it never absolutely concludes a God, only the possibility of an intelligent agent. And that probability of an intelligent agent rises and falls as new evidence is discovered., It is the critics of ID that are absolute in their claims. They claim a 100% non intelligent cause for all phenomena as a given. This assumption can not decrease from a probability of one even with new information. While they accuse ID of invoking a God, they invoke an unknown natural cause. They do not make it an option but a requirement if you want to play their game., What is interesting about ID in this regard is that it does not claim to be able to detect flawless design, but simply a high degree of design. That is, ID does not require the claim that the designer is omnipotent and omniscient. It is as compatible with the lesser claim of the Demiurge as it is with the greater claim of the Biblical God. Thus, it leaves wide open the question what kind of God is responsible for the world., Just a disclaimer. I think Darwinian processes account for much of life but not all. Some things are beyond Darwinian processes or whatever else is in the latest synthesis.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....#more-4520

    Michael Behe and Ken Miller have been repeating many of the original 17th century moves of the theodicy debate here. (scroll down to October 2007).

    * Nicole Malebranche, Descartes’ ablest 17th century follower, anticipates Behe’s concept of irreducible complexity in a discussion of the constitution of the heart. It is part of one of the original statements of what biologists call ‘preformationism’, i.e. the idea that at least certain units of life are created ready-made. Here is the passage, taken from a recent (and excellent) book on Malebranche’s subtle but relevant arguments.

    * Malebranche is also of relevance for his concept of ‘vision in God’, which imply that divine and human minds do indeed overlap. And by the way ‘overlap’ is not a clever word for ‘analogy’ but intended in its usual meaning: i.e. ‘partial identity’. (A nod to the (closet?) theistic evolutionist shadowing me.)

    ===

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....#more-4548

    13 January 2009

    ID and the Science of God: Part III

    Steve Fuller

    I have been reflecting on the critical responses to my posts, which I appreciate. They mostly centre on the very need for ID to include theodicy as part of its intellectual orientation.

    The intuitive basis for theodicy is pretty harmless: The presence of design implies a designing intelligence. Moreover, in order to make sense of the exact nature of the design, you need to make hypotheses about the designing intelligence. These hypotheses need to be tested and may or may not be confirmed in the course of further inquiry. Historians and archaeologists reason this way all the time. However, the theodicist applies the argument to nature itself.

    At that point, theodicy binds science and theology together inextricably — with potentially explosive consequences. After all, if you take theodicy seriously, you may find yourself saying, once you learn more about the character of nature’s design, that science disconfirms certain accounts of God – but not others. Scientific and religious beliefs rise and fall together because, in the end, they are all about the same reality.

    This is explosive because we live in a world where (allegedly) false scientific beliefs and false religious beliefs are treated radically differently. The former are a matter of public concern: Stamp them out now before our kids’ minds are contaminated! However, the latter are seen as being of purely private concern: Only the belief’s holder bears the consequences. I suppose this double-standard is what makes us ‘modern’, or at least ‘secular’. We end up tolerating all sorts of religious beliefs – including militant atheism – while even minor deviations from the scientific orthodoxy can lead to ostracism, as when Michael Reiss opened the door to creationist questioning of evolution.

    Now some people on this blog believe that the safest way out of this minefield is to say that ID makes no hypotheses about the designing intelligence – some even go further to say that in principle the designing intelligence cannot be inferred from design. If you take these policies seriously, you won’t have any science at all. You’ll just have a toolkit of concepts and techniques for reliable design detection. That’s nice, but it doesn’t explain why all these designs should be treated as part of a common object of inquiry. Here you need some underlying laws and principles. This brings you back to proposing hypotheses about how the intelligent designer’s mind works. And then you’ll have science.

    Even a simple concept like ‘irreducible complexity’ doesn’t really make sense except as a step towards a theory of the intelligence behind the design. Imagine a Darwinist’s knee-jerk dismissal of Behe’s concept: ‘Just because, say, a cell looks like it’s been purpose-built doesn’t mean that you can compare its parts to those of a mousetrap. That’s to take a superficial similarity and read into it way too much meaning. The cell’s apparent design could have been just as easily brought about by a combination of contingencies spread over a long stretch of time. Keep off the mechanistic metaphors, if you really want to understand how life works’.

    My point here is that the Darwinist’s knee-jerk dismissal, however unjustified, is nevertheless right about one thing – namely, that Behe’s concept is not only about nature’s design but also the designing intelligence. For the Darwinist, to theorize both together begs the question against his position, which holds that the appearance of design need not implicate a designing intelligence. So it’s no surprise that Behe has been led to argue theodicy with Ken Miller. Yes, Behe is religious but his science already builds in the idea of a designing intelligence that we are trying to fathom at the same time we are trying to understand the design features of life.

    One final thought: When militant Darwinists like Dawkins and Dennett call the teaching of religion ‘brainwashing’ that demands some sort of cerebral hygiene, they are mainly exercised about the claims of religion that explicitly tread on scientific ground. They get most of their rhetorical mileage from targeting Young Earth Creationists but it’s pretty clear that they also have ID in their sights. Perhaps the only virtue of these attacks is that they take the cognitive content of ID sufficiently seriously to realize that it’s incompatible with a strong naturalistic atheism. It would be too bad if avowed defenders of ID did not take the theory as seriously as its staunchest – and perhaps smartest – opponents do.

  12. Moderator,

    Sorry about the last post, I made a mess of it, I took some comments to ponder before posting. Please delete eveything that is below the line —–

    —–

    Thanks

  13. Professor Fuller, Jerry

    (Moderator, Here is the post again, please delete the previous two.)

    I am not sure I understand your implications, namely that the Darwinist theorizes “both” the nature’s design and the designer or intelligence together. Isn’t the whole point of Darwinism to sidestep both?

    “My point here is that the Darwinist’s knee-jerk dismissal, however unjustified, is nevertheless right about one thing – namely, that Behe’s concept is not only about nature’s design but also the designing intelligence. For the Darwinist, to theorize both together begs the question against his position, which holds that the appearance of design need not implicate a designing intelligence.”

    Also, to clarify Jerry’s disclaimer in part II, 21

    “Just a disclaimer. I think Darwinian processes account for much of life but not all. Some things are beyond Darwinian processes or whatever else is in the latest synthesis.”

    Jerry, what do you consider these Darwinian processes to be? Is it from Darwin’s point of view (he posited only one mechanism, natural selection, although he supposedly believed in Lamarckism all his life), or do you consider the whole “new synthesis” or neo-darwinism? And if the latter, which processes do think as valid, or accounting for life and why? Would this be a contradiction to what professor Fuller is saying?

  14. GOD(nature+ALL) is quite a card player and doesn`t always like to win so that no one really will know just how good he really is.If he deals some one a good hand on purpose and he loses and the winner wins and gets the credit for a new creation or solving an impossible up until then,would intelligent design be born from self indulged winning and GOD but weaker than the table thinks.GOD sometimes loves to play to lose.He gets to see smiles.*^*

  15. rockyr,

    I accept everything in the Darwinian paradigm in terms of forces or processes which shape offspring (sometimes called the modern synthesis and which is constantly be adjusted). I think there is good enough evidence to accept these. And if one wants to doubt the efficacy or speed of some of these process then that is a separate argument. These processes/forces will lead to changes in the gene pool of a species or to a new gene pool of which its members will be considered a different species if given enough time. This is basic micro evolution and will lead to a wide variety of life on the planet.

    However, what ID disputes and I whole heartedly agree is that there is a limit to what these processes can accomplish. Darwinist do not believe there is a limit and on this and mainly this the debate hangs. This limit Behe called the Edge of Evolution. And while technically some of the new species represent macro evolution according to some definitions of the term there has never been any evidence that these Darwinian processes will generate novel complex capabilities.

    To me this is the essence of the debate and Behe’s conclusions are constantly being reinforced with each new genome being mapped and with each new generation of micro organisms with no new complex capabilities being identified. To me the concept of the Edge of Evolution is key which is why I say there are tons of ID research being conducted as we speak by anti ID researchers. They just don’t realize it.

    I don’t think this relates to what Steve Fuller is saying. I believe the debate should be elsewhere. I have bought his recommended books and have not read any yet so I have little to comment on his approach. I have been vocal on the theodicy argument but no one responds. I think the theodicy argument is a red herring and Professor Fuller thinks it is intricate to the argument. But I have to pass on this at the moment since it not really what I am interested in.

  16. I am not very sure but I believe the Darwinists are very delighted to have Steve Fuller come by to add the “who is the designer” and “how does it think” components to ID. ID should just stick to the real-time facts as always. DaveScot, I agree with you all the way. The Darwinists want to do everything possible to make ID run around in circles, an infinite loop.

    I’d say thanks but no thanks, ID is doing fine without that. I hear Creationism is open to such “scientific” endeavors as Steve Fuller proposes. It seems they have more scientific evidence about the nature of the designer. That is fine, but ID is not open to such extrapolations and/or integrations.

  17. ab @16:
    Would you be kind enough to explain how design can be inferred without understanding at least a little about the nature of the designer? I find bFast’s post @8 compelling.

    JJ

  18. I agree with Stephen B above. There is no warrant to put limits on what we can know, constrain a priori what we cannot know, or insist on a clear cut demarcation between science and philosophy. There is, of course, a continuum, and surely it is wise to publically push what is most easily demonstrated and agree to disagree on the harder stuff.

    I assume Steve Fuller has seen William A. Dembski’s Christian Theodicy in Light of Genesis and Modern Science. You can be sure that ID folks schooled in this area will be speaking out accordingly. But to have an official ID theodicy—I for one wouldn’t like that. I’m for open theism, which I think is Scriptural. So why can’t the ID folks agree to disagree on such issues and keep the Big Tent big?

    Disputing a diversity of ideas, in fact, is the best way to the truth—not dogmatism and exclusion. I’m all for theological disputation, and rooting it in science and the real world. So if this is what Steve Fuller means, how could we disagree?

    When we decry the dichotomy between public knowledge (“science”) and private knowledge (“religion”), what is repugnant is government mandated dogmatism. As a nation we must agree on certain things (such as once upon a time the constitution), and let the First Amendment take care of the rest. So if you want ID to be a comprehensive Theory of Everything, uniting the science with theology, then are you advocating a One World Religion?

    This side of the World to Come, I should think not.

  19. Dr. Time, your comments seem a little like stream of consciousness ramblings. The questions you ask don’t really seem to be real pointed questions, they seem to be more of an internal dialogue you are having with yourself. Are you engaging anyone in particular, or any post in particular?

  20. Here is the formula:

    ID_processes = NOT(chance && luck processes)

    If you can filter out chance and luck as an explanation, you infer design by default and surprisingly, no need to infer the nature of the designer since ID science works within a predefined context and within that context a scope or resolution of parameters that it can investigate. Context is important in ID since IDst are looking for features in biological systems and not for the designers characteristics, entirely different context.

    For all we know the nature of the designer is someone who did the designing out of jealousy and perhaps it was pissed off while it did it.

    I’m a Christian and I don’t like the idea of coupling scientific facts with pseudo-science.

  21. 21

    “Having said all this, I, as a theistic Christian, do have a theodicy and hold certain opinions about the designer and his goals. Some of those opinions would never have been formed had there not been an ID movement founded upon the principles it espouses. So I feel a certain “debt of gratitude” to ID and would not wish to see their very successful strategy overturned by an impetuous desire to add theodicy to the mix.”

  22. ab @20:
    Thanks for the quick response, but I’m afraid I’m still confused by your position. You’re using Dr. Dembski’s Explanatory Filter, but making the term “design” equivalent to “we don’t know.”

    Let me explain how I got to that conclusion. If we look at an object that may be designed, let’s take the bacterial flagellum just to be different, we have two problems with applying the Filter absent any information about a designer. The first is that we have to assert at least the existence of a designer or the possible results become Chance, Known Processes, and Unknown Processes.

    The second problem is that, simply by applying the Filter, we are implying that the designer does not use Chance and Known Processes to design. That is a positive claim about the designer, which contradicts the assertion that we can’t know anything about the designer from observing design.

    bFast’s post @8 remains compelling.

    JJ

  23. If you can filter out chance and luck as an explanation, you infer design by default

    Wrong. Design also has criteria to be met.

    But anyways Dr Time reminds me of Brad Macfall

  24. Clive Hayden:As part of schizophrenia`s dilusional and reality,I can`t tell what is real and real thoughts in my world.The way this cite is set up all questions are posted on side bar on all pages.I am a slow reader and have a bad back to sit very long at a screen.I don`t know anyone personally on these sites for sure,atleast talked to them face to face that I know of.Just trying to find out if any one under stands.No,no one in particular.Don`t know what sites they might suit if any.Felt editorial was doing this.Apologies.Suggestions if I am still welcome to site and if not ask editoritorial to ask me to leave.I have no problem with that either.

  25. Joseph @23:

    If you can filter out chance and luck as an explanation, you infer design by default.

    Wrong. Design also has criteria to be me.

    Which criteria in particular? Would you agree with Dr. Fuller and bFast that this criteria provides information about the nature of the designer?

    JJ

  26. No one is asking you to leave Dr. Time. Comment as you would like.

  27. These responses are very interesting and I will provide a proper post in due course. However, I want to thank Rude for directing me to Dembski’s piece on theodicy, which I didn’t know about. But I’m not surprised. Anyone who takes ID seriously — not only the ‘D’ but also the ‘I’ — will need to confront theodicy at some point.

  28. I looked up “theodicy” in Wikipedia so that I could have a better handle on what this discussion is about. (I’m religious and I follow ID, but I’m not catching on.) It says that theodicy is about reconciling God with evil. (I’m sure that’s a gross oversimplification. Or maybe it’s wrong.) Then it lists a gazillion varying philosophies, all of which seem purely speculative, even for a religious person like myself, and also irrelevant to intelligent design.
    Am I looking in the wrong place? Is there a better starting point?

  29. Dr. Fuller:

    Thanks for your further thoughts above. The third and fourth paragraphs of your post are especially lucid. I agree that the results of scientific inquiry can have a bearing on theology. But this brings me back to the point I raised in response to your your previous column (ID and the Science of God: Part II), a point to which you never replied.

    Theodicy, being the vindication of the justice of God in the face of evil, only comes up for theologies whose God is so understood as to make the existence of evil problematic. If God is supposed to be all-powerful, all-wise, all-loving, etc., then evil is problematic: shouldn’t such a God have been able to make a world in which there was no evil, and wouldn’t such a God have wanted to make a world in which there is no evil? So Christianity, with its huge claims about God (omni-this and omni-that) invites criticisms of God’s justice and thus has to come up with a theodicy.

    But if you believe in something like the Demiurge of Plato’s Timaeus, you require no theodicy. God is not omnipotent, but limited by pre-existent matter. He imposes design upon matter, but cannot realize his designs 100%. Therefore, imperfection and evil will exist. It is not that God does not want a perfect universe, but that he is unable to produce one.

    Now there may be problems which such a theology — it does not explain why there is such a fundamental dualism between the Demiurge and matter — but it has no need for theodicy.

    Now let’s relate this to ID. ID claims to be able to detect design. But at the present stage of scientific knowledge, whether we are talking about biology or physics, our understanding of the design is insufficient to tell us what kind of designer we’ve got, an omnipotent one or one limited by the constraints of matter. So we cannot use ID to say whether the creator was the God of the Bible or the God of the Timaeus or some other kind of God.

    Yet, if I understand you correctly, you are urging ID people to adopt a common notion of God and a common theodicy, as an intellectual support for the project of design detection.

    I don’t understand this. How can we adopt a common notion of the designer, when we are nowhere near a complete understanding of the design? How can we jump to theology when our scientific understanding of nature is so imperfect, and especially at a time like the present, when the whole biological paradigm is undergoing a radical revolution, as classical Darwinism is increasingly recognized as implausible by all the biologists who have the slightest mathematical or philosophical ability? It seems to me that jumping to theology at this point is premature.

    T.

  30. Another question for the demiurge lesser deity argument is that molecular design is dependent upon chemistry, especially of water and carbon. Henderson in 1923 argued that the possibility of life developing on earth was dependent on the improbable properties of water and carbon. L.J. Henderson (1913) The fitness of the environment Gloucester Mass. Smith

    In other words biological amino acid chemistry is not simply developed upon chemical properties, but is dependent upon and interwoven with the chemical properties in the first place. The idea that a demiurge created out of a pre existing chaos is surely a non starter when the creator would have had to have created the laws of physics and chemistry with biological life in mind.

  31. ScottAndrews,
    Here is the info from Merriam Webster’s Dictionary:

    the·od·i·cy
    Pronunciation: \th?-?ä-d?-s?\
    Function: noun
    Inflected Form(s): plural the·od·i·cies
    Etymology: modification of French théodicée, from théo- the- (from Latin theo-) + Greek dik? judgment, right
    Date: 1797
    : defense of God’s goodness and omnipotence in view of the existence of evil

    You’re right about the definition of theodicy being a reconciliation of a good God, or Creator, or Intelligent Design, with evil in the world. It seems relevant to ID when you start to consider Natural Evil, which can be classified as acts of nature that produce evil things, such as Hurricane Katrina. Questions such as “Did the Intelligent Designer set up the forces of nature as such that they produce natural evil?” is, at least, one point at which ID and evil intersect. So the question of theodicy naturally follows. I can imagine that a complaint would be that the Intelligent Designer doesn’t necessarily have to be God, in which case theodicy doesn’t follow. But neither does the complaint of Natural Evil.

  32. 32

    JayM,

    Let me explain how I got to that conclusion. If we look at an object that may be designed, let’s take the bacterial flagellum just to be different, we have two problems with applying the Filter absent any information about a designer. The first is that we have to assert at least the existence of a designer or the possible results become Chance, Known Processes, and Unknown Processes.

    So ‘unknown processes’ are procedurally okay if your conclusions support materialism, but an ‘unknown designer’ is a procedural show stopper for ID? This is common ploy – apply to ID discussions what is not applied to discussions about materialistic science. Of course, the impetus is not to better understand ID, or its methods, or the design, or the designer itself for that matter.

    The goal is to hang up ID’s scientific argument in a circular philosophical debate like the one (unfortunately) unfolding on UD.

  33. To Timaeus,

    Again, my intention here is not to provide a full response. But nothing I’m saying implies that ID people need to agree on a common conception of God before they do science. Rather, ‘God’ should be treated as the name of a class of rather different theories that attempt to explain what all ID people agree as exhibiting design. Then, as one tries to make sense of new evidence in light of these different conceptions of God, some are bound to be better supported and others fall by the wayside. I’m simply imagining how the Rev. Thomas Bayes came up with the most widely used decision-making theorem based on probability theory.

  34. Hi Timeaus: As you probably know, I admire your posts and appreciate the way you interact thoughtfully and courteously with others. Although I am in the Aristotelian camp, I find much to admire in the thought of Plato and celebrate the fact that both thought systems integrate well with the Christian framework.

    It is in that spirit that I ask about one comment that you made which I may well be interpreting the wrong way:
    You wrote:

    —“If God is supposed to be all-powerful, all-wise, all-loving, etc., then evil is problematic: shouldn’t such a God have been able to make a world in which there was no evil, and wouldn’t such a God have wanted to make a world in which there is no evil? So Christianity, with its huge claims about God (omni-this and omni-that) invites criticisms of God’s justice and thus has to come up with a theodicy.”

    I am sure that I am telling you nothing new when I point out that, from the Christian viewpoint, God very well could have chosen to make a world in which there is no evil by simply limiting man’s free will and allowing him only good choices. No doubt you are also aware that, in the same theological context, God chose to extend free to a level that permits humans to commit evil acts. Again, in that context, humans are free to love God or not love God, which, as it turns out, would seem to be the only way a moral universe could be designed. How can the creature love the creator meaningfully without an equal opportunity to pull away? How can the creature love other creatures meaningfully without resisting the capacity to hate them? Or, to put it in proposition terms, “there is no charm in a “yes” unless a “no” is possible.

    Without the free will that has the potential to do harm, there would seem to be no potential for authentic love. If the creature bonds with God with the same necessity that an electron from one molecule bonds with another, morality would be a meaningless concept. On the other hand, if the creature can learn to love the giver of gifts, rather than the gifts themselves, even in spite of suffering (Job), there would seem to be a greater potential for noble behavior. Under the circumstances, God’s omnipotence, God’s justice, God’s mercy, and suffering, could only be judged in terms of what he wants to accomplish given the risks he has chosen to take. In other words, everything would turn on the final result. (Rewards in afterlife etc.)

    So, yes, Christianity does need to provide a rational defense for suffering, but non-Christianity also needs to provide a rational justification for positing another possible meaning in the universe. If, as the Bible suggests, an omnipotent God exists and created a universe of soul-making, which includes free will, suffering, and redemption, that could be one answer to the riddle of existence. That is, God allows bad things to happen because he can create a greater good and still maintain legitimate free will and authentic love. On the other hand, if God doesn’t exist, or is not omnipotent, (a Demiurge) that too requires some rational justification. How can an imperfect God ask for worship, set moral limits, or justify a universe without meaning. Or, if he can’t do those things, why is he even relevant?

    Keep in mind that, according to the Bible, the kind of world that everyone wants is precisely the one that was given. Happiness reigned with no hint of suffering, confusion, or undue toil. Man’s relationship with God was eminently satisfying precisely because the omnipotent God was so splendorous and loving. It seems reasonable that there should be some cost to offending a love so noble, and, that it what is alleged to have happened. Indeed, God himself paid a price for his own generosity and knew in advance that he was going to have to pay it. When does God get credit for that?

  35. Oops, I meant the electron of one “atom” bonds with………

  36. Upright BiPed @32:

    So ‘unknown processes’ are procedurally okay if your conclusions support materialism, but an ‘unknown designer’ is a procedural show stopper for ID?

    That wasn’t my point, allow me to clarify what I meant.

    If ID theory makes no claims about the nature of the designer, then the Explanatory Filter’s result of “Design” is fully equivalent to “Unknown Process.” The meaning of the word “design” cannot be ascribed to the result “Design” in such a case. Therefore, to make the result “Design” meaningful, at a bare minimum the Explanatory Filter, and hence ID theory, must assert that the designer exists.

    In fact, ID theory goes beyond this minimum by concluding “Design” only when no known natural process could have created the object under consideration. From that comes the implicit claim that not only does the designer exist, the designer does not use natural processes when designing.

    The more I think about it, the more it seems that identifying design inherently provides information about the designer, making the nature of the designer a scientific question.

    Claiming that ID theory doesn’t address the nature of the designer is therefore untenable.

    Again, bFast @8 made this argument very well.

    JJ

  37. A pretend story:Before I was reborn and still in Heaven,I asked GOD if I could have the toughest job in all the universe that someone from Heaven could be granted by GOD.GOD said,GEE,no one has ever asked for that before.
    Every one else wants to be on a holiday in the most luxurious place in the universe for the rest of eternity and not even care how it came to bee.
    What makes you bee so opposite?You know I love you.Wouldn`t this wish proove to both of us just how much we both love each other? YES,I guess it would.
    I want to be taken beyond what I am supposed to be designed for,to die so to speak(human word)then be brought back to life,help me heal,then go on to the next hardest below that,and keep doing that until everything after that keeps getting easier and lessand less painful.
    WE will both be going over our limits,won`t we?You have to make me a promise,you have to force me to experience going over all the limits whether I can go on by myself or not until easy enough to do by myself comes along and I might be able to enjoy and understand why you do what you do,only when you want me to of course.
    I want you to give me your best shot.I want you to make all the choices with treats for the difficult times(death).I want to do it in a human form and be a human for all of eternity healthily,happily after difficult and death doesn`t happen to me any more.One more wish if I pass,GOD please let me get married to a woman who has also done the same.
    With that GOD granted this wish for both of them.With that they should know each other and know the truth.Poor them,ha?

  38. 38

    JayM,

    What is central? What ID says about the designer is that the designer can accomplish what chance and neccesity does not accomplish alone. End.

  39. “The first is that we have to assert at least the existence of a designer or the possible results become Chance, Known Processes, and Unknown Processes.”

    To delimit chance and known processes with unknown processes is the point. ID doesn’t start off with the assertion there is at least one designer. If that is the initial point then there is no point since its not science. ID first takes into account known processes (which is in fact mostly chance-based since that is what is taught isn’t it?) as well as known processes about what “intelligence” has produced and produces everyday in terms of complex systems (but this only for putting objects on the table to be examined, since we are more familiar with them at the present ie: such as a bacerial flagellum)

    If known processes are quite incapable then unknown processes are left. As long as the greater unknown is being generated overtime ID is doing its job, which is, it had effectively detected a ‘unknown’ in each circumstance by applying existing known processes that supposedly explain biological functions. That is design detection

    “The second problem is that, simply by applying the Filter, we are implying that the designer does not use Chance and Known Processes to design”

    It is your fault you are putting the designer on ID’s shoulders, not ID’s. There seems to be a demand for the nature of the designer in the general public, it is absolutely ludicrous to think this demand can be supplied. Not to say that it can’t be supplied in a non-scientific language where data is of no importance.

    I can picture drooling Darwinist’s from Wikipedia just waiting until ID posits who the designer is or what it maybe thinking. It will solidify ID more from their perspective, not ID’s.

  40. 40

    I can picture drooling Darwinist’s from Wikipedia just waiting until ID posits who the designer is or what it maybe thinking. It will solidify ID more from their perspective, not ID’s.

    And it is the unbelievably misguided attempts like Dr Fuller’s (now finding support from UD regs) that will provide them what they need. They are cheering. They intend to hang up the evidence ad infinitum.

  41. —- Jay M: “Claiming that ID theory doesn’t address the nature of the designer is therefore untenable.”

    There are two possible claims that can be made:

    [A] ID cannot, in principle, say anything about the designer and never will or

    [B] ID cannot currently say anything about the designer because its methodology is not sufficiently developed.

    I, for one, am arguing for [B] The claim is tenable and demonstrable. Neither CSI nor IR can probe the essence or uncover the identity of the designer.

    Here is the irony: On the one hand, ID’s critics complain because it’s too NARROWLY defined, meaning that it cannot describe the designer’s essence or uncover its identity; on the other hand, they claim that it It is too BROADLY defined, meaning that it cannot adequately measure CSI to their satisfaction. Does anyone else get the joke.

  42. StephenB (#34):

    Yes, in Christian theology, there are copious justifications for the existence of evil, such as the ones you’ve given. I wasn’t denying that such answers have been given; nor was I saying that any particular answer was wrong or inadequate. My point was that such justifications are only needed because, at least on a superficial inspection, it seems as if there is gratuitous evil in the world, given that it was created by an all-powerful, all-wise, all-good being.

    Another way of putting it is: Christianity by its nature invites criticism regarding the existence of evil. However, that doesn’t mean that Christianity is unable to respond effectively to the criticism. So I don’t think we are disagreeing.

    Yes, non-Christians also have to explain the world in terms of their schemes. But evil, as such, is less of a problem, since they haven’t defined God in such a way that evil seems incongruous.

    Someone who believes in something like Plato’s Demiurge, i.e., a less-than-omniopotent divine maker, does not have the problem of theodicy. The justice of a God of limited power would not be impugned by the existence of a certain amount of evil, any more than a judge who could not restrain a mob from trashing the courtroom would be deemed lest just merely because he lacked the power to stop them.

    You mentioned the inability of an “imperfect God” to set moral limits; but a demiurge-like God need not be imperfect in morality, justice, goodness, love, etc. He is imperfect only in power. Why would a shortage of power invalidate standards of conduct proclaimed by (or better, displayed by) such a God?

    As for the question of worship, if you’re asking why a limited God should be worshipped, then the answer seems to me to be: you should worship a limited God for same things that you would worship an unlimited God for, if the limited God does those same things. If the limited God creates an orderly, beautiful universe, if the limited God brings us into existence, if the limited God provides for our sustenance, if the limited God is good and wise and just, and if you deem all of these things worthy of worship in the case of an omnipotent God, then why shouldn’t they be worthy of worship in a limited God? Such a worship would not be idolatry, because idolatry is the worship of things that are made, and the limited God is not a thing which is made, but an intelligent Mind which existed prior to all making. If it should turn out to be the case that a limited God is all that there is, I would think that such a limited God would be eminently worthy of worship.

    T.

  43. JayM:

    In fact, ID theory goes beyond this minimum by concluding “Design” only when no known natural process could have created the object under consideration. From that comes the implicit claim that not only does the designer exist, the designer does not use natural processes when designing.

    No natural process can produce an automobile. That doesn’t mean that no natural processes are used to build automobiles.
    It’s not that the designer can’t use a natural process. The designer just can’t be one.

  44. It is a mistake to say “concluding “Design” when no known natural process could…” Design is concluded when we see an artifact that natural processes are demonstrably incapable of making.

    The first statement implies that the conclusion of Design is a conclusion from ignorance, whereas the traction for the design argument has come from an increase in knowledge.

    ScottAndrews #43 makes the point “No natural process can produce an automobile.” but, in fact, if philosophical materialism is true, then natural process have designed the automobile. It is an incontrovertible fact that, if philosophical naturalism is true, then all events are part of a chain of material causes and subsequent events from beginning to end.

    That Henry Ford built an automobile in the early 20th C says nothing about Henry Ford and everything about the inventiveness of random mutation and natural selection. Given the closed cause and effect nature postualted by philosophical naturalism, Henry Ford could not have not designed an automobile. It is only if humans can step out of the causal chain and act independent of “nature” that they can design anything. therefore, the absurd becomes received wisdom; your automobile is just another example of the incredible ability of nature to create new adaptations.

    But then, if philosophical naturalism is true then I can’t not think and write what I wrote above, we are all just little robots being driven by genes and memes. (Why is there always an implicit exception for the author of such absurdities?)

  45. OK Timeaus, thanks for responding. For my part, I could worship only an omnipotent and omniscient creator.

    If our eternal fate rests in his hands, we are in big trouble if the “omni’s” aren’t there. Unless God understands and factors in all of our thoughts, words, deeds, and intentions, in conjunction with everyone else’s thoughts, words, deeds, and intentions—unless he considers all mitigating factors, including the biological, psychodynamic, environmental, and habitual influences that shaped our personality— and unless he makes the calculation with a full awareness of every possible combination of consequences, we are not going to get a fair hearing.

    If God is not perfect in every way, then he cannot even know what is best for us in our present condition, much less can he temper justice with mercy in the right proportions at the moment of our final judgment. Take away the omni’s and God is not God—he is simply a superhuman with a lot of power that may or may not be used in the right way. For my part, I would resent entrusting my fate to one who was compromised with limited knowledge about what constitutes a reasonable moral test, with limited power to administer that test in a fair way, and with limited capacity to judge the final results.

  46. Steve:Canyouspelleyeseaewearrahh2Beafourtune? nightnight

  47. StephenB (#46):

    You and I have both been trained, by 2,000 years of Christian thought, feeling, and culture to find non-omnipotent Gods inadequate. So I understand where you are coming from. Nonetheless, though I grant that there are theological problems with the notion of a demiurge, I don’t see the problem regarding final judgment that you do.

    First of all, I didn’t take away all the omnis. In fact, I left in place all the omnis except one: omnipotence. (By omnipotence, I mean the ability to create matter out of nothing and determine all its properties so that it will never be able to resist one’s will in the slightest. And I’m distinguishing omnipotence from omniscience, by which I mean knowledge of everything that has happened or will happen, and knowledge of the thoughts and feelings of human beings.) So my hypothetical demiurge is omniscient, and he’s also perfectly just. I don’t understand why God also needs to be omnipotent in order to be omniscient or perfectly just.

    Let us suppose that there is an afterlife, established by God, over which God has complete control, and that God grants or denies this afterlife on the basis of his perfect knowledge of what is in your soul, and his own perfect justice. What does it matter, then, whether God is unable, say, to create cells without simultaneously permitting cancer, due to some fundamental properties of uncreated matter? What does it matter if he was unable, for similar reasons, to stop the appendix from occasionally killing someone? Your spot in heaven would still be guaranteed by his omniscience and his justice.

    If this line of thought doesn’t work for you, try a human analogy. Let’s say you have been charged with a crime of which you are innocent. You are told that your case will be heard by one of two highly respected judges, both of whom you know to be supremely wise, utterly incorruptible, capable of seeing through all sophistical arguments put forward by lawyers from both sides, capable of discerning when witnesses are lying, and just in all their judgments. But one of these judges happens also to be Superman, who can bend steel in his bare hands and leap tall buildings in a single bound, whereas the other is a 98-pound weakling who had sand kicked in his face by all the bullies at school. I don’t think you believe that you would get a fairer judgment from the super-strong judge than from the weakling judge. So would you really care if your case was assigned to the judge who looks like Woody Allen rather than the one who looks like Charles Atlas?

    What I am saying is that a demiurge-like, non-omnipotent God could still be a good judge of all human beings, provided that he was all-wise and completely just. And if he were all-wise and completely just, and if he were also our creator and sustainer (even if he did not create matter itself), would this not be enough to incline us toward worshipping him?

    Of course, this is a side-issue. I’m not advocating that people should stop worshipping the omnipotent God and start worshipping some hypothetical demiurge. (Nor was Plato trying to start up any religion of the Demiurge.) My original point was that the Demiurge, as presented in Plato, is an intelligent designer (not a metaphor for Hesiodic naturalism, as Hume irresponsibly suggested); then I made the additional point that if you believe in a demiurge of some kind, the “problem of evil” disappears, because it is a problem only where there is an apparent logical contradiction, and there is no logical contradiction between the existence of evil and the existence of a non-omnipotent maker of the world. But I did not draw from the latter point the inference that we should abolish the omnipotent God in order to do away with the problem of evil. Belief in a non-omnipotent God poses other philosophical and theological problems, and switching to a demiurge might well turn out, from an intellectual point of view, to be the equivalent of leaping out of the frying pan into the fire. Indeed, I started on the subject of theodicy not to vindicate the idea of a demiurge, but only because Dr. Fuller had raised the connection between ID, theodicy, and varying notions of God, and I wanted clarification about where he was going with it.

    T.

  48. Timeaus, I appreciate the spirit of your original comment, which was, of course, intended to provide a meaningful response to Steve Fuller on a matter that was only peripherally related. to our current discussion. So, I will not belabor the point about omnipotence. Suffice it to say that, from a philosophical perspective, I have several more reasons for insisting on its importance and even its necessity, and I am sure that you can provide excellent counter arguments. But I should leave that for another day and return to the discussion about ID. I just wanted to make sure I understood your point. I suspect that we agree on about 99% of ID related issues anyway.

  49. Bfast – 8

    “If we have learned that the earth, life, and humanity, is old, we have disproved something about the designer.”
    The Designer hasn’t changed. The only thing that’s been disproven is what someone said about the Designer.
    “If there is a single ancestor, then that single ancestor was created by no more than a single intelligence*.”
    There is no reason for that conclusion.
    “Again, if there was a single big bang, either the big bang was a chance event, or the product of a single intelligence*.”
    Again, it doesn’t necessarily follow. Maybe fifty million beings put their minds together and created the big bang.
    I do agree that ” there seems to be a lot that is already inferrable”. I’d like to add a couple, actually, 3 things. Assuming that the Designer is also the Creator, then He is (relatively) infinitely more powerful and intelligent than we are. The third is that there is a gap between God and Man.
    I’d like to end with a thought here: Since mathematics are True, and God is True (the Supreme Reality we are discussing), does it not follow that mathematics derive from the Mind of God? Or man? And if you follow dgosse’s line of reasoning, then plastic is “natural”.

  50. Upright BiPed @38:

    What is central? What ID says about the designer is that the designer can accomplish what chance and neccesity does not accomplish alone.

    That’s all that some ID proponents want to discuss, but it is not all that can be inferred from ID theory. See bFast’s @8 and my @36 for examples of other attributes of the designer that follow directly from ID theory.

    JJ

  51. ab @39:

    The first is that we have to assert at least the existence of a designer or the possible results become Chance, Known Processes, and Unknown Processes.

    To delimit chance and known processes with unknown processes is the point. ID doesn’t start off with the assertion there is at least one designer.

    But it does, in the very name of the theory. The Explanatory Filter doesn’t claim “Unknown Process,” it claims “Design,” with all off the connotations associated with that word.

    If that is the initial point then there is no point since its not science. ID first takes into account known processes (which is in fact mostly chance-based since that is what is taught isn’t it?)

    I’m uncomfortable with the term “chance based.” A lot of chemistry and biochemistry is pretty deterministic (although chemical reactions can go in both directions and do have probability distributions). My understanding of ID theory is that such non-random natural processes are also included in the “non-Design” category.

    as well as known processes about what “intelligence” has produced and produces everyday in terms of complex systems (but this only for putting objects on the table to be examined, since we are more familiar with them at the present ie: such as a bacerial flagellum)

    If known processes are quite incapable then unknown processes are left. As long as the greater unknown is being generated overtime ID is doing its job, which is, it had effectively detected a ‘unknown’ in each circumstance by applying existing known processes that supposedly explain biological functions. That is design detection

    That’s the problem I was trying to point out. The Explanatory Filter’s result of “Design” doesn’t mean what people usually think of when they use the word “design.” It just means “We don’t know.” That’s the same thing the materialist scientists say.

    Now the interesting thing to me is that, as more phenomena like the bacterial flagella and the blood clotting cascade are identified, we can use the scientific tools of observation and logic to possibly identify common characteristics. These characteristics will necessarily give us information about the nature of the designer. That makes understanding the designer a scientific endeavor. I find that exciting.

    JJ

  52. ab @39 (second point):

    The second problem is that, simply by applying the Filter, we are implying that the designer does not use Chance and Known Processes to design

    It is your fault you are putting the designer on ID’s shoulders, not ID’s. There seems to be a demand for the nature of the designer in the general public, it is absolutely ludicrous to think this demand can be supplied.

    Why? Determining that something is designed requires some understanding of the nature of the designer or there is no way to distinguish between designed and undesigned objects. Unless you’re willing to say, as ID theory does, that the designer utilizes CSI, for example, then there is no more reason to consider the flagella to be designed than there is to consider a rock designed. (There is, of course, a good theological argument that both are designed.)

    Not to say that it can’t be supplied in a non-scientific language where data is of no importance.

    I don’t understand this statement.

    I can picture drooling Darwinist’s from Wikipedia just waiting until ID posits who the designer is or what it maybe thinking. It will solidify ID more from their perspective, not ID’s.

    There is a strong argument, part of which has been made by Dr. Fuller and other participants in this thread, that the detection of design inherently reveals something of the nature of the designer. To reject that solely for political reasons is disingenuous. We should be following the evidence where it leads, regardless of what others say.

    JJ

  53. Upright BiPed @40:

    I can picture drooling Darwinist’s from Wikipedia just waiting until ID posits who the designer is or what it maybe thinking. It will solidify ID more from their perspective, not ID’s.

    And it is the unbelievably misguided attempts like Dr Fuller’s (now finding support from UD regs) that will provide them what they need. They are cheering. They intend to hang up the evidence ad infinitum.

    As I just noted in reply to ab, we can’t let fear of what our opponents will say dictate how far we follow the evidence. Detection of design requires and informs knowledge of the nature of the designer. That’s a good thing!

    Arbitrarily limiting the scope of ID theory for political or rhetorical reasons is, frankly, not in alignment with the value system of many of the participants here. Let’s be brutally honest. The truth is the truth.

    JJ

  54. ScottAndrews @43:

    JayM:

    In fact, ID theory goes beyond this minimum by concluding “Design” only when no known natural process could have created the object under consideration. From that comes the implicit claim that not only does the designer exist, the designer does not use natural processes when designing.

    No natural process can produce an automobile. That doesn’t mean that no natural processes are used to build automobiles.

    I’d modify that to be “No non-intelligent process can produce an automobile.” Would you agree with that change?

    It’s not that the designer can’t use a natural process. The designer just can’t be one.

    Again, wouldn’t this be more compatible with ID theory if it were phrased “It’s not that the designer can’t use unintelligent processes. The designer just must be intelligent.”?

    In any case, I like the automobile analogy because it emphasizes the main point I’ve been trying to make in this thread. Detecting design in an automobile tells us an enormous amount about the designers. We can tell their rough size. We can tell that they can manipulate wheels, pedals, levers, and knobs. We can tell that they exist in an environment that permits internal combustion engines to operate. We can even tell that their environment includes a significant amount of relatively flat, smooth surfaces on which the automobile operates.

    Now the nature of the designer becomes a scientific question. We can hypothesize based on our observations of the design, make predictions based on those hypotheses, and test those predictions by, for example, looking for flat, smooth surfaces. Finding roads gives us even more information about the nature of the designer, and the process repeats.

    Why should we ignore these exciting possibilities just because some materialist on a blog somewhere might say something nasty?

    JJ

  55. When they seek to more precisely define God, they always end up limiting God.

    Definers of God also take upon themselves a certain arrogance. Their definitions depend on the ultimate nature of reality, and who are we to know that? When they cast God from time and make him determine all his acts from the beginning, they emasculate God. He is no longer the Hebrew God of history. He cannot change, he cannot act, he cannot learn. It all leads directly to Deism. The God of the theologians becomes more Plato’s God than the God of Scripture.

    We really don’t know that there is a perspective from which all of cosmic time can be viewed. We really don’t know for absolute certain that the universe had a beginning. And we really don’t know for certain whether God is inside or outside of the cosmos he has made. And we really don’t know for sure that there are not things that God has not made.

    But being reductionists par excellance, theologians end up reducing God to Aristotelian “substance”—which is what’s left after they have abstracted away everything that can be named.

    David, in contemplating the transcendence of God, exclaims (Psalms 139:6): “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.”

    So let’s not demean theology—it’s the queen of the sciences. But let’s ask for a little humility, just enough to know that we really don’t know very much.

  56. “It just means “We don’t know.” That’s the same thing the materialist scientists say.”

    You got this one in reverse. “Materialists”(whatever that means) say they do know how it happened, not because they “know”, but because it must have been that way. Behe, Dembski, are both arguing on a material basis, not immaterial. My point was, that they directly prove “unkown” (as in not currently explainable by present knowledge of processes – thus directly challenging darwinian pathways since those are the ones that can supposedly explain x[#] of object/s via RM&NS) while only indirectly make the case for design (or more explicitly the “designer”) since that decision is left in the eyes of the investigator. ie: anything indirect is faith-based

    As I explained in my last comment, as long as the “unknown” is being generated based on the “known” input, ID is performing science, the science of design detection and without directly linking any causal relationships to the designer. Darwinian fantasy, overtime it will run out of “known” processes to explain it, they will be forced to give up and will be forced to confront front-loading hypothesis or perhaps a alternative hypothesis, if not already.

  57. The real issue is that is this or is it not within the context of ID? Design detection does not automatically also mean Designer detection and then maybe even the nature of the Designer detection.
    You think maybe we can draw a line? By Steve Fullers logic (and by the looks of many ID supporters here) we cannot. By ID’s logic, we can.

  58. 58

    JayM,

    Please allow me to clarify. My view regarding what the opponents of design say about Steve Fuller’s subject matter is not based in fear. Rather, it is an acknowledgement of our strategic position; the very thing that Dr Fuller rationalizes away in his comments.

    Frankly, a short trip around the web will demonstrate exactly what our opponents think; apparently they hope Dr Fuller (paraphrasing) “becomes the new face of ID”. In particular, they are tickled with his debating style and are especially pleased that he would willfully expose our flank to their strongest position.

    Thus far, Dr. Fuller hasn’t shown an ounce of understanding toward the strategic position of ID. Our opponents recognize this, and are more than happy to waive at his parade.

    ID is making a frontal assault on one of the (if not the) most widely held, yet still debated, beliefs in modern academia – that all observations made by mankind are explained by the random interactions of particle matter, i.e. design is an illusion. To back up their claim, they have (for all practical purposes) the entire global science and media machines on their side. I know this for a fact, I work there.

    In making an assault on ideological materialism there are a few tidbits of vast historical wisdom that apply, regardless if anyone cares to know them. They are the rules of opposing force. Like most profound tidbits of wisdom, the sentences are short but the depth of meaning is most often understood only after generous reflection. The first little wisdom is the one you unknowingly raise: that is to beware (or be aware) of the defended position. It says to know everything about the defended position, and to treat that knowledge with the utmost rationality.

    It should be obvious; to make a frontal assault, the primary strategic concern is the strength of the defended position (emotion, particularly fear, has nothing to do with it).

    The next tidbit is to attack on a narrow front. This, again, seems to be obvious if you take into account that one force is small while the other is large. Attacking on a narrow front is a conscious decision to balance the offense against the greater strength of the defense. It is a disciplined recognition of reality. Yet here we are, apparently doing our damndest to broaden our attack, and apparently we’re not contented to just ignore what we are doing, but also willing to shoot ourselves in the foot while doing it. The chosen subject matter of this new ID runs completely opposite to one of the load-bearing strengths of the old ID (we attack materialism on material grounds alone).

    The fact that this thread exists at all is because ID sometimes takes the bait.

    It’s completely obvious that materialists instinctively ignore the evidence of design by talking about God? It is after all, their strength (it certainly isn’t the science). So what do we do? We feel we have to explain him. It’s no coincidence.

    Material ideologues don’t make their argument with intricate details of emerging biological complexity; they have a spaghetti monster instead. That’s no coincidence either.

    One final tidbit about making a frontal assault – always attack the weakness inherent in strength. This too is being given away. Does anyone actually believe that the complexity of the God/Man relationship is the weakness in their strength? It’s a fool’s bait, ripe for the taking.

    Just add it up: we ignore the position against us, so we attack our opponents at their strongest position, and we sell out our own strength in the process. Just perfect.

    May I also add an apology to Dr Fuller for sounding stern, he is certainly more intelligent that I, and far more trained (as are most of the participants on this site), but this strategic lapse of reason is just a head-shaker.

    – - – -

    By the way, you infer a kind of dishonesty among ID proponents by their “arbitrarily limiting the scope of ID theory for political or rhetorical reasons”. I disagree completely. ID is not limited for political reasons, that’s just another bite of the bait. ID is limited because that limitation is appropriate to the physical evidence. No one is saying that the evidence of design tells us nothing whatsoever about the designer. ID simply (and appropriately) says that this knowledge is extremely limited in a physical sense. We know when – apparently sometime after the beginning of the Universe. We know where – at the very least, on Earth. We argue over “how” and can only infer as to “why”.

    We can’t get to the “how” (where the design is) because our opponents want to tie us up on the “why” where the pickins’ are easy – and getting easier.

    Again, it’s no coincidence.

  59. Really, this is a great post from Upright BiPed (59).

    The best strategic model that comes to mind for undermining a paradigm is Kant, who lived in an age that was just as rapturously infatuated with Rationalism as we “moderns” are with Nihilism.

    Naturally there’s a problem with Rationalism. The antithesis of Scholasticism, it uses pure intellect in an attempt to create a new kind of science and heal all of the world’s ills. But pure intellect cannot be true science because it mitigates the senses. The “science” that came into the world under the spell of Descartes is rigid (as in his analytic geometry), theoretical (as in his theory of the affections), and, in the natural sciences, almost entirely based upon differences (observation based purely upon outward form, not experimentation; see Foucault).

    Understand, the white heat that led to Kant’s most effective rhetorical efforts was generated by the fact that he was actually on the scene when Hume was formulating his paradoxical “empiricism,” which is not science at all but philosophy, and in fact no less hostile to true empirical science than Plato. Hume’s Rationalism was the equivalent of Neo-Darwinism today. It was the paradigm in science as well as philosophy.

    As much as Kant loathed Rationalism, he was not able simply to attack it head-on. That would have been like attempting to row a butter boat against the tide. So he adopted a clever offensive-defensive strategy. First, he did not allow his hostility to Rationalism to be evident. He went out of his way to make himself sound like a conciliator and a friend of the critique of empirical methods that Rationalism represents.

    And then he did something extremely clever. He granted Descartes his cogito proposition. He did not attempt to resist Rationalism and its love of pure intellect directly; instead he agreed that the transcendent is pure intellect—and then claimed that for this very reason it was necessary to “set aside” the transcendent in order to reach any tangible conclusions about what is of value.

    Kant’s argument was that the transcendent cannot be known in the way Descartes proposed to know it for the very reason that it is transcendent. Any attempt to know it directly leads to nothingness, or the divide between sense and intellect seen in Scientific Rationalism. The only way to obtain substantive knowledge of the transcendent (according to him) was to set it aside and look for “transcendental” inductions in the goodness of the sensuous universe.

    Kant won the argument and changed Western culture by not attacking his ideological foes head-on; by employing an offensive-defensive strategy that plundered the rhetorical resources of his antagonists and put them on their heels. It is a strategy based on a thorough understanding of intellectual history and a knowledge of the weakness of one’s own position in the face of the prevailing paradigm.

    No such strategic genius is on display in the ill-fated attempt to resurrect “theodicy” as a rhetorical weapon against Naihilism. It is not possible to move forward in philosophy—and that is what this is—by attempting to return to the strategies of the past. Theodicy is no longer current because we already know what our ideological foes are going to say in response to it. Hume’s arguments are there for all to see—and they are devastating.

  60. Kant’s argument was that the transcendent cannot be known in the way Descartes proposed to know it for the very reason that it is transcendent.

    I guess that’s fine in itself but Western Civilization is founded on the premise that God chose not to make Himself transcendent hence allowing Him to be known.

  61. ab @57:

    It just means “We don’t know.” That’s the same thing the materialist scientists say.

    You got this one in reverse. “Materialists”(whatever that means) say they do know how it happened, not because they “know”, but because it must have been that way.

    I was using the term “materialist” as a shorthand for “proponent of methodological naturalism.” I don’t think I’ve got the situation reversed — both ID theory and Modern Evolutionary Theory (MET) result in the same answer: We don’t know the mechanism at this time. MET says that the answer, when found, will have a natural explanation, ID theory says that other explanations are possible.

    Behe, Dembski, are both arguing on a material basis, not immaterial. My point was, that they directly prove “unkown” (as in not currently explainable by present knowledge of processes – thus directly challenging darwinian pathways since those are the ones that can supposedly explain x[#] of object/s via RM&NS) while only indirectly make the case for design (or more explicitly the “designer”) since that decision is left in the eyes of the investigator. ie: anything indirect is faith-based

    I don’t follow that last conclusion. Just because the process is unknown doesn’t mean that it isn’t natural. X-rays are a classic example of a new natural explanation for previously unexplainable observations.

    This actually gets to the core of my point in this regard. The Explanatory Filter’s conclusion of “Design” does not mean that the observed phenomena is a product of design, it seems to be just another way of saying “Currently Unknown.”

    If, on the other hand, ID theorists follow Dr. Fuller’s lead and recognize that detection of design does provide information about the nature of the designer, the possible discoveries are much more exciting.

    JJ

  62. ab @58:

    The real issue is that is this or is it not within the context of ID? Design detection does not automatically also mean Designer detection and then maybe even the nature of the Designer detection.
    You think maybe we can draw a line? By Steve Fullers logic (and by the looks of many ID supporters here) we cannot. By ID’s logic, we can.

    That’s the logic I’m trying to understand. It seems that both Dr. Fuller and bFast have, in this very thread, demonstrated that knowledge of the nature of the designer is inherently derived from the detection of design. It simply can’t be otherwise.

    Why should we shy away from the ability to learn as much as possible about the nature of the designer? How is failing to follow the evidence where it leads good science?

    JJ

  63. Upright BiPed @59:
    Thanks for the detailed response. I, too, have read SunTzu and find his wisdom applicable across more domains than military strategy and tactics. However, I’m not convinced that the military metaphor you use is entirely appropriate.

    For better or worse, methodological naturalism is one of the defining characteristics of modern science. The practice of modern science involves peer review. While I admire those in the ID movement who are trying to open up this process, for the foreseeable future any progress of ID theory (outside the ID theorists themselves) must take place within it.

    One consequence of this is that ID proponents do not have strict control over the scope of investigations of ID theory. As Dr. Fuller points out, knowledge of the designer can be inferred from the type of design that is detected. That observation is quickly made by anyone considering the issue, as is shown by the comments in this thread. There is no way to prevent ID opponents from making that observation, so ID theorists need to address it.

    Please allow me to clarify. My view regarding what the opponents of design say about Steve Fuller’s subject matter is not based in fear. Rather, it is an acknowledgement of our strategic position; the very thing that Dr Fuller rationalizes away in his comments.

    Our strategic position is that we need to address the nature of the designer, as well as can be determined from the designs we detect, because opponents of ID will do so whether we do or not.

    Personally, I think this is a very good thing. Detecting design is well and good, but learning more about the designer is positively exciting.

    Frankly, a short trip around the web will demonstrate exactly what our opponents think; apparently they hope Dr Fuller (paraphrasing) “becomes the new face of ID”. In particular, they are tickled with his debating style and are especially pleased that he would willfully expose our flank to their strongest position.

    If being able to learn not only that design exists but also something about the nature of the designer is our weakness, our strengths must be formidable!

    I don’t mean to disregard your concerns, I simply don’t understand them. How exactly will Dr. Fuller’s recommendations harm the ID movement? None of the evolutionary biologists who oppose ID are going to abide by rules set by ID theorists to not consider the nature of the designer. Even if they would, they’d still be implacably opposed to ID theory. Limiting the theory arbitrarily doesn’t achieve any goal that I can see.

    It’s completely obvious that materialists instinctively ignore the evidence of design by talking about God? It is after all, their strength (it certainly isn’t the science). So what do we do? We feel we have to explain him. It’s no coincidence.

    My understanding of Dr. Fuller’s position isn’t that we have to explain God, but that detection of design by its very nature provides information about the designer. There is no logical, scientific reason not to pursue that knowledge in conjunction with design detection. Obviously God is the most likely candidate for the designer, but the evidence might show otherwise.

    Refusing to follow the evidence where it leads makes us look much less credible than being willing to consider non-natural explanations. The truth is what it is.

    By the way, you infer a kind of dishonesty among ID proponents by their “arbitrarily limiting the scope of ID theory for political or rhetorical reasons”. I disagree completely. ID is not limited for political reasons, that’s just another bite of the bait. ID is limited because that limitation is appropriate to the physical evidence. No one is saying that the evidence of design tells us nothing whatsoever about the designer. ID simply (and appropriately) says that this knowledge is extremely limited in a physical sense. We know when – apparently sometime after the beginning of the Universe. We know where – at the very least, on Earth. We argue over “how” and can only infer as to “why”.

    We can’t get to the “how” (where the design is) because our opponents want to tie us up on the “why” where the pickins’ are easy – and getting easier.

    Again, it’s no coincidence.

    I do disagree about the amount of information we can obtain about the designer. As more and more examples of design such as the flagella and the blood clotting cascade are identified, ID theorists will be able to create testable hypotheses based on the patterns they find. This is how science leads to ever more knowledge.

    While you may not be attempting to limit the scope of ID theory for political or rhetorical reasons, I do get the impression that many of Dr. Fuller’s detractors here are. As you detected, I am very uncomfortable with this approach — I believe we need to be painfully forthright and the truth will out.

    Your explanation of how the nature of the designer can become a distraction is insightful. However, the only people who can distract ID theorists from researching the questions you detail are the researchers themselves. Let the ID opponents make all the noise they want. Results trump hot air.

    JJ

  64. —–allanius: “Kant won the argument and changed Western culture by not attacking his ideological foes head-on; by employing an offensive-defensive strategy that plundered the rhetorical resources of his antagonists and put them on their heels. It is a strategy based on a thorough understanding of intellectual history and a knowledge of the weakness of one?s own position in the face of the prevailing paradigm.”

    As Reid evidently understood, agnostics had been waiting for a pretext–any pretext for rejecting reason’s testimony. I get it routinely from the agnostics on this blog who try to use some variation of Kantian skepticism as a means of evading reasoned arguments. Each time I point them to Adler’s explanation about where Kant went wrong, they stop posting on the thread, pop up on new one, and recyle the same error.

  65. Phillip Johnson,

    Just look at your enduring influence on the ID movement (32):

    So ‘unknown processes’ are procedurally okay if your conclusions support materialism, but an ‘unknown designer’ is a procedural show stopper for ID? This is common ploy – apply to ID discussions what is not applied to discussions about materialistic science.

    A common ploy is to put naturalism on trial as a conclusion of science, when it is in fact a working assumption, and then object rhetorically to arguments that scientists do not offer. Mainstream evolutionary theory is a body of naturalistic explanations. It supports naturalism no more than the top of a table supports the legs.

    The syntactic parallelism in “unknown processes” and “unknown designer” is rhetorically very clever. It encourages the reader to jump to the conclusion that the referents of the two phrases are as similar as the phrases themselves, when they are anything but.

    In mainstream science, the “laws of nature” are inferred relations on empirical observations. They are essentially “unknown processes” that “connect” antecedent and consequent events, and methodological naturalists never arrive at final acceptance of them. Methodological naturalists assume that the “gaps” between antecedent and consequent events can be “reduced” through further empirical observation. The heuristic value of this is that it keeps scientists looking, as opposed to claiming that there’s nothing more to be seen.

    In intelligent design theory, the “designer” in “unknown designer” is non-material intelligence, an empirically unobservable entity granted physical reality, and not the material entity, if any, with which the intelligence is associated. The working assumptions of ID theory are so radically different from those of mainstream science that to refer to ID theory as “science” is to equivocate. If ID theory is scientific, then it is a theory within an alternative science, not an alternative theory within the science that includes Darwinian theory.

    In contrast to the methodological naturalist, the IDist explains some empirical observations by saying that unobservable intelligence accounts for them. This puts an end to empirical observation. The IDists says that some “gaps” cannot be “reduced” with further empirical investigation.

    What I find refreshing in Steve Fuller’s remarks is that he confronts, without invoking the term, the “God of the Gaps” in ID. A design inference is intrinsically a claim that something we cannot observe empirically exists, has certain anthropomorphic properties, and manifests itself in what we do observe. Eschewing semantic contortions, an unobservable, goal-directed intelligence is supernatural, be it the intelligence of God or a God-like intelligence created by God.

  66. Sal Gal:67
    Prayers do get answered sometimes,don`t they?
    Double checking that could prove intelligence>< without a doubt.
    Nice.

  67. Let’s reduce both arguments to their simplest essence.

    On the one hand, Upright Biped illuminates the following fact: ID’s greatest strength is its capacity to refute the adversary on its own terms, materialistic science unaided by religion’s testimony. If we introduce religion into the paradigm, the “unaided” component is thus invalidated and the adversary wins by default. So, they say, “Aha, we knew all along that you were bootlegging your religion into your science and now we have proof.”

    On the other hand, Steve Fuller challenges this argument by saying that ID must not obsess over this scientific gambit. Otherwise, one gathers, it will never become a comprehensive theory with explanatory power similar to what the Darwinists claim to have. So, he pleads with us, “You can’t avoid the God question forever, so you might as well immerse yourself in it now.”

    I submit that Upright Biped has the better of the argument for two reasons.

    [a] If we stay the course and continue to insist on the limited ID paradigm, we lose nothing. If ID was meant to become more expansive in its outlook, a possible development that Upright Biped and Dave Scot seem to discount, it will happen not because our adversaries or our misguided friends prompt us from the outside but because some ID genius makes it possible from the inside. That kind of growth cannot be summoned at will, especially in the current hostile environment that the Darwinists have created.

    [b] If we change direction and try to determine the identity and character of the designer without first perfecting the art of analyzing his handiwork, we lose our sense of order and perspective. Look at it this way: We can’t even convince Darwinists of the elementary-school level observation that a DNA molecule was designed. Shouldn’t we get some kind of agreement from them on the basics before take them (and ourselves) to graduate school and speculate about what the designer had in mind when he did it? Wouldn’t that be the equivalent of trying to identify the perpetrator of a crime without first proving that a crime was committed?

    Translation—first things first.

  68. 68

    Sal Gal…I appreciate the sentiments in 66.

    But ID brings the philosophy down to earth. You’re a biochemist, you sequence DNA, and you find Hamlet embedded within. Where do you go from there?

    You’d be a fool to rule out design. Rigidly abiding by the dogma of methodological naturalism might well lead you astray. Let’s cut through the dogma and, as Feynman said, “find things out”.

  69. Davem(49):

    “If we have learned that the earth, life, and humanity, is old, we have disproved something about the designer.”
    The Designer hasn’t changed. The only thing that’s been disproven is what someone said about the Designer.

    Of course. However, if anything that has been proposed about the nature of God has been disproved by science, then stuff proposed about the nature of God is “falsifiable”. If it is falsifiable, it is valid as scientific hypothesis.

    “If there is a single ancestor, then that single ancestor was created by no more than a single intelligence*.”
    There is no reason for that conclusion.
    “Again, if there was a single big bang, either the big bang was a chance event, or the product of a single intelligence*.”
    Again, it doesn’t necessarily follow. Maybe fifty million beings put their minds together and created the big bang.

    Please check out the * at the bottom of my post. I had already explicitly acknowledged the possibility of a group of minds acting in consert.

    However, the Greeks and Romans hypothesized a bunch of feuding gods. The big bang, and first life, were not the product of a bunch of feuding gods. Agains, conjectures about the nature of “gods” has been falsified — by science.

    Assuming that the Designer is also the Creator, then He is (relatively) infinitely more powerful and intelligent than we are.

    In post 8, I said: :The designer that we learn something about is vastly more intelligent than we are.” Pretty much the same thing, yes?

    The third is that there is a gap between God and Man.

    Isn’t this what you have just said?

    Since mathematics are True, and God is True (the Supreme Reality we are discussing), does it not follow that mathematics derive from the Mind of God? Or man?

    I am convinced that mathematics was not derived from the mind of man. If we were to find alien intelligences at the same general level that we are at, we would discover that most of our mathematics would be the same. They may have not considered esoteric concepts like “imaginary number”, they may well not be bent towards base 10. They would likely show our mathemeticians a thing or two. But math is discovered, not invented.

    Did God invent mathematics? I don’t know. It could be that mathematics is just an inherent necessity.

    A physicist I know shares the following thought:
    A biologist fancies himself to be a chemist.
    A chemist fancies himself to be a physicist.
    A physicist fancies himself to be God.
    And God fancies himself to be a mathemetician.

    Just a thought.

  70. StephenB @68:

    Let’s reduce both arguments to their simplest essence.

    Before I note a couple of disagreements with you, let me say that you summarized this very nicely.

    On the one hand, Upright Biped illuminates the following fact: ID’s greatest strength is its capacity to refute the adversary on its own terms, materialistic science unaided by religion’s testimony. If we introduce religion into the paradigm, the “unaided” component is thus invalidated and the adversary wins by default. So, they say, “Aha, we knew all along that you were bootlegging your religion into your science and now we have proof.”

    You are absolutely correct that testifying cannot have a role in the science. If there are ID proponents who recommend identifying the designer as God, I share your resistance to that idea.

    My view is slightly different. I don’t see how we can avoid learning about the designer when identifying design. We are going to learn a great deal, in fact, and we shouldn’t ignore that knowledge. While many of us believe the designer to be God, that is not an a priori assumption of ID theory. Therefore, the concerns about injecting religion are unfounded.

    Only those who assert that the designer must be God have to worry about knowledge of the designer being religious. It may turn out that God designed the designer. I don’t think it will, but we have to follow the evidence to know.

    Cutting a bit in the interests of brevity brings me to:

    [a] If we stay the course and continue to insist on the limited ID paradigm, we lose nothing.

    We lose a great deal! We lose all the knowledge of the designer that we perforce ignore by focusing only on identifying design (more on this below). We also cripple ourselves intellectually because we cannot avoid learning about the nature of the designer when identifying design.

    Again I get the distinct impression that avoiding criticism from the methodological naturalists is too big a concern among ID proponents. They are never going to stop criticizing us, so there is no reason not to follow the evidence where it leads. We get no benefit from being less than forthright.

    After another little skip:

    [b] If we change direction and try to determine the identity and character of the designer without first perfecting the art of analyzing his handiwork, we lose our sense of order and perspective. Look at it this way: We can’t even convince Darwinists of the elementary-school level observation that a DNA molecule was designed. Shouldn’t we get some kind of agreement from them on the basics before take them (and ourselves) to graduate school and speculate about what the designer had in mind when he did it? Wouldn’t that be the equivalent of trying to identify the perpetrator of a crime without first proving that a crime was committed?

    This brings us to the flip side of the coin. Not only can we not identify design without learning about the designer, without knowing something (or making assumptions) about the designer, we cannot detect design.

    As I noted earlier in this thread, ID theory uses CSI to identify design. That implicitly assumes that the designer imparts CSI to designed objects. Without that assumption, there is no reason to consider a flagella designed but a rock not designed.

    When crimes are committed, the perpetrator is assumed to be human (outside of X-Files reruns) and that provides a huge amount of information. The same holds for archaeology and paleontology. It is simply impossible to infer design without some knowledge of the nature of the designer.

    JJ

  71. JayM, well said.

    We lose a great deal! We lose all the knowledge of the designer that we perforce ignore by focusing only on identifying design

    That said, I would cautiously disagree with you when you said,

    Not only can we not identify design without learning about the designer, without knowing something (or making assumptions) about the designer, we cannot detect design.

    We needed no assumption about a designer to determine that a big bang happend, or that life originated from a single ancestor. In fact these were determined within the context of a committment to an “no designer” hypothesis.

    Further, without ever hypothesizing a designer, we can bump into the reality that life contains a quality (IRC) that cannot be reasonably explained by natural causes.

    From that point, we need only hypothesize designer(s), placing no qualities on the nature of the designer, and a bunch of qualities pop out in the evidence. (See post #8).

    ID certainly needs to avoid extracting properties for a designer from religious texts and perspectives — especially so in light of the critical eye we ar getting by the materialists. Yet the evidence still calls to have some meat placed upon the nature of the designer. We need to allow that meat to be built up. Which, of course is the root of what you are saying.

  72. Jay,

    bfast

    Steve

    Sal Gal

    After reading your comments, (with due care I hope) my main point still seems to hold. The question is not, it seems to me, whether ID will morph into something else. It may or it may not. The question is this: When and by whom does this transformation take place? It’s not something that a “movement” can do; it requires an individual trailblazer. There is no reason for ID to change what it is at this time, because no one has provided the necessary light. If some new genius fashions a more expansive paradigm, then that’s great. Let the transformation begin.

    Meanwhile, that is, until that noble trailblazer comes along, It does no good for anyone else to say, “Hey, ID community, how about doing some trailblazing and extend the work of Dembski and Behe. The obvious answer to that challenge is, “If you want it done, do it yourself. We’re not there yet, and may never be.”

    This clarian call for innovation reminds of the creative-minded mouse who once reassured his colleagues that they would never again have to fear the house cat. All that was needed was a little forward thinking. If someone would simply place a bell on the cat’s neck, all the mice would we warned that he is coming and they would be safe from that point on. All was well until someone asked the question, “Who bells the cat.” That was the end of that dialogue. So, I say to all those who would transform ID into something that is not, go for it. Bell the cat.

  73. Oops, I meant, “clarion call.”

  74. StephenB @73:
    We seem to be approaching violent agreement. I don’t think that ID researchers have identified the answer yet, but I do think that the question of the nature of the designer is a valid one, and properly part of ID theory. “I don’t know” is a perfectly acceptable answer. “We’re not considering that question” is not.

    JJ

  75. WeaselSpotting,

    No free premise.

    You’re a biochemist, you sequence DNA, and you find Hamlet embedded within. Where do you go from there?

    Not that it’s appropriate in this thread, but you should try to describe precisely how someone not looking for Hamlet specifically might find Hamlet “embedded” within a long sequence of letters from a four-letter alphabet. A related thought experiment is to consider how someone who is bent on extracting Hamlet from the sequence would go about selecting a decoding algorithm.

    I am not being contentious here. I have pointed you to some fundamental problems in design detection. And I have not done so with “down to earth” philosophy, but with a theoretical understanding of coding, language, and computation.

  76. —-JayM: “We seem to be approaching violent agreement. I don’t think that ID researchers have identified the answer yet, but I do think that the question of the nature of the designer is a valid one, and properly part of ID theory. “I don’t know” is a perfectly acceptable answer. “We’re not considering that question” is not.”

    Well, no, my friend, not exactly. You seem to misunderstand my position. The question about a designer is off limits until the researcher says differently. “Not yet” means, “No, I’ll let you know if and when I ever change my mind.” The scientist makes the call— not the Darwinists, not the scientists friends, and certainly not impatient critics kibbitzing from the sidelines. My position is basically the same as that of Upright Biped, with the possible exception of allowing for future contingencies.

  77. 77

    JayM,

    Thanks for the detailed response. I, too, have read SunTzu and find his wisdom applicable across more domains than military strategy and tactics. However, I’m not convinced that the military metaphor you use is entirely appropriate.

    I wasn’t really attempting a military metaphor. What Sun Tzu and others described is no more about military maneuver than gravity is about Newton’s falling fruit. A mother trying to get her son out of the neighbor’s tree faces the same issues of opposing force as a damselfish surviving on a coral reef. Anytime forces meet in opposition the rules apply. Beyond the words used, there is no metaphor; the actual issues remain. Either the defended position matters or it doesn’t. Either attacking the weakness inherent in strength is wise, or it is not. Either broadening your forces against a superior opponent weakens your attack, or it doesn’t. Which is it?

    I think there are those who should answer the question.

    - – - – - –

    allanius, thank you.

    - – - – - –

    Sal,

    I enjoy reading your posts, even when I don’t agree with you. I especially appreciate your comments about a “utilitarian” approach to naturalism. I say this despite you finding it appropriate to accuse me of “unChristian subterfuge” if I don’t proceed as you on other matters. You also seam to think I have been influenced by Mr. Johnson, a man whose conquests I have never followed and whose writings I have never read. I am more likely influenced by Denton and Behe in ID and perhaps Berlinski in opinion.

    As for your post at #65, you are certainly correct that I was being rhetorical, but I am less sure of the remainder of your comments.

    I have no particular desire to put naturalism on trial. What I would like is for science and its outbound conclusions to demonstrate some level of integrity in what it does and does not know, the method of discovery is trivial by comparison.

    In mainstream science, the “laws of nature” are inferred relations on empirical observations. They are essentially “unknown processes” that “connect” antecedent and consequent events, and methodological naturalists never arrive at final acceptance of them.

    A fine textbook description. Unfortunately, materialist ideologues have very much arrived at their conclusions and have made every attempt to have their conclusions codified into all public thought on the matter. To think otherwise is simply blind.

    You apparently don’t need my help in jumping to conclusions; it seams you’ve done that yourself. The evidence presented by nucleic sequencing is that it requires agency to accomplish it. Chance and necessity have virtually nothing to recommend them in the bringing of the original nucleic sequence into order. This observation is purely agnostic. Despite your own assumptions otherwise, it provides nothing that says this agency is either outside of the laws of nature, or not.

    This is the issue at hand. Science is to serve mankind. If the scientific establishment, as well as its public relations vehicles and the broader media in general, were saying that science has proceeded to a point where chance and necessity were no more of an explanation for Life than agency, then at least some semblance of honesty would have returned to the issue. But that is not the case. The opposite is demonstrably true in more ways than can be counted.

    Of course, people will continue to promote that it is not science but ID being dishonest. What else could be expected – humility from those held up as the wisest among us?

  78. StephenB @76:

    We seem to be approaching violent agreement. I don’t think that ID researchers have identified the answer yet, but I do think that the question of the nature of the designer is a valid one, and properly part of ID theory. “I don’t know” is a perfectly acceptable answer. “We’re not considering that question” is not.

    Well, no, my friend, not exactly.

    Darn it, I thought this might be the first time two people ever reached agreement in public on the web. We could have been famous!

    You seem to misunderstand my position. The question about a designer is off limits until the researcher says differently.

    I find this position untenable, for the reasons posted by myself and others previously in this thread. To summarize:

    1) Detection of design provides information about the designer. At a minimum we determine that a designer exists, but the knowledge gain inherent in the process of researching design provides far more information than this. Each new discovery adds to this knowledge.

    2) Design cannot be detected without making some working assumptions about the nature of the designer. By using CSI as an indicator of design, ID theorists are making some very strong claims about the designer, not least that it has an intelligence similar to that of, or recognizable by, humans.

    3) Given 1 and 2, there is no logical, scientific reason to exclude consideration of the nature of the designer. In fact, doing so is unscientific in that it arbitrarily restricts where researchers may follow the evidence.

    “Not yet” means, “No, I’ll let you know if and when I ever change my mind.” The scientist makes the call— not the Darwinists, not the scientists friends, and certainly not impatient critics kibbitzing from the sidelines.

    All objections to investigating the nature of the designer seem to be based on political and rhetorical considerations. This is actually far more damning to the ID cause than openly and honestly discussing what ID researchers have learned about the designer. I ask you this: Why is investigating the designer considered non-scientific if ID theory doesn’t assume, explicitly or implicitly, that the designer is God?

    This charade is ethically questionable, scientifically indefensible, and politically useless. We should take the moral high ground and follow the evidence where it leads.

    JJ

  79. Upright BiPed,

    I did not direct the “un-Christian subterfuge” remark at your virtual identity. Behe strikes me as entirely honest. I do not consider Denton a leader of the ID movement. Johnson and Dembski have published honest and admirable discussion of ID in out-of-the-way places. I have wondered for years how those two Christians could in good conscience propagandize as their adversaries do in the “cultural war.” Kierkegaard’s “teleological suspension of the ethical” has come to mind many times. Clearly I have not demonized Johnson and Dembski, though their methods sometimes disgust me.

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