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Theistic Evolutionists – How Do You See (Intelligent) Design?

Recently, I made a post regarding what I thought was an encouraging moment at Biologos, where a guest writer frankly speculated about how God could work through evolution. In the comments section, some discussion was had about just how rare or common such views are among  TEs.

Since I’ve already made the call for non-theists and agnostics who are ID sympathetic to speak up on here (and was very happy to see the resident ID proponents respond positively to that), I’d like to introduce a similar opportunity.

I’d like any theistic evolutionists who are reading this to speak up and share their views. In particular, I’m interested in…

* How you think design is reflected in the natural world, in as much general detail as you can offer. The key here is detail: Does God play a role in variation or even selection in your view? Is God omniscient and omnipotent?
* How you see your views in comparison to Intelligent Design. Compatible? Incompatible? Unsure?
* I want to stress, this isn’t limited to Christians. Muslims, hindus, deists, anything else – while I admit I’m very curious about Christian TEs, I’m casting the net broad here.
* I’d also like to hear your views on how evolution is popularly communicated. Do you think “science defenders” (ranging from the NCSE to the Cult of Gnu) help or hinder communicating evolutionary theory accurately?
* Finally, a particular question: Have you ever heard of Michael Dowd, and what’s your opinion of his approach on this topic? (In the interests of being open, I admit: I have a very low opinion of the man’s thoughts.)

Same rules apply as last time, really: Be respectful. Stay on topic. Let’s keep hostilities to a minimum.

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166 Responses to Theistic Evolutionists – How Do You See (Intelligent) Design?

  1. I see my beliefs of theistic evolution as requiring two epistemologies. Faith is the belief in something for which there is no empirical evidence.

    Whereas, empirical knowledge requires no belief. All it requires is a recognition that a particular hypothesis has accumulated a superior record for accurate falsifiable prediction. (This being the criteria for accepting a scientific theory).

    So, as a Christian, I accept as articles of faith that God is the author of all things, including the natural processes we observe in the universe.

    And I also believe as an article of faith that natural processes in the universe are understandable through the discipline of science. But I also have empirical evidence that this is true because it works. In other words, the investigation of natuaral processes through science produces astonishingly useful results.

    Obviously, there is a gap in understanding between the notion that God is creator and that we can characterize the universe scientifically without reference to God. That gap should not surprise a Christian, however, in that it is consistent with the strong if not overwhelming theme of Kenosis in the Bible.

    So I don’t know exactly how God influenced the creation and the subsequent diversification of life on the planet, but neither does anyone else.

    As there is no evidence that it was required, we religious people are such with the mystery.

  2. Sorry, correction in the last sentence of my last post:

    “… we religious people are stuck with the myster.”

  3. As for how rare or common TE is, I submit that the formal doctrine of the Christian denominations that include about 90% of all Christians worldwide accepts the findings and theories of modern science on the same epistemology that science does.

    I would include Roman Catholicism, Anglican/Episcopalians, United Methodists, UCC Congregationalists, Presbyterians, ELCA Lutherans, and even the Nazarenes (as of late).

    They all have official social statements that are similar to this one:

    http://www.episcopalchurch.org.....NG_HTM.htm

  4. So how does my TE beliefs compare to Intelligent Design?

    Here I quote Sir Francis Bacon. “A little science estranges a man from God. A lot of science brings him back.”

    The more I come to understand the universe through the discipline of science, the more I feel instinctively that it was created by God who continues to work in it creatively. But that instinctive feeling does not come directly from the empirical fruits we have gained from science, but rather as my personal reaction to the beauty and elegance that those fruits create in me.

    So this makes me very interested in finding empirical evidence for design in nature, or for the requirement for design in nature.
    However, my standard for empirical evidence is that such evidence come as falsifiable findings. Or that it leads to hypotheses that generate falsifiable predictions that can be independently tested by any number of investigators.

    So I am an ardent follower of ID investigation, but so far I still believe that we are not at the point where we have generated falsifiable hypotheses.

    So both my TE and my ID are sustained by hope.

  5. Regarding the quality of defense of Evolution Theory:

    I find that the biggest impediment in the understanding of science by the American public is that they do not seem to understand the epistemology of science.

    Until one gains that understanding, one is without criteria for distinguishing between what looks to them like simply carefully studied opinions.

    So any organization that promotes a scientific notion has an uphill battle.

  6. Oddly enough, it seems I have not heard of Michael Dowd. On looking at his website, it appears my TE credentials might be in doubt.

  7. 7

    I’ve never heard of Michael Dowd before. Having a look at his website, some of his ideas seem interesting. I would agree with his statement in the FAQ that “The main problem, as I see it, with ID is that it trivializes God and dishonors science.” I agree with the “trivialising” sentiment in that it appears to me that the God of ID supporters is a very limited tinkerer or engineer filling in a few gaps in natural processes. I’m sure that’s not a conception of God held by all ID proponents; however, the lack of specifics in the ID position on exactly how or when ID actually occurred doesn’t allow me a clearer idea.

  8. I don’t think I’d ever heard of Michael Dowd before a posting here on UD mentioned him. I read authors like Peacocke and Polkinghorne, Russell and Ward.

    As the NCSE, I don’t think the ral agenda is any true concern for science, it’s something else. For popular presentation it’s hard to beat Gould, imo.

    Now here’s an idea, we in the ID community need to develop science writers who can write for the general public. Two great examples include Denton’s A Theory in Crisis and Wells’ Icons of Evolution, not to mention Darwins Black Box and The Privileged Planet.

    But these books would be light on arguments for ID but still present science in an “ID friendly” way.

    Let’s get us some textbook authors too, but keep ID out of it.

    Clearly I see my views as compatible with ID in most respects.

    But I believe that design is found both in the randomness and in the regularities, and not just in “specified complexity.” To me, design infuses the cosmos. So I have to be very careful about making it seem like I am saying design here, design not there.

    It’s design all the way down baby!

    I think the cosmos has developed over time. I think God was preparing it to be inhabited.

    I also think the earth has developed over time. I think God was also preparing it to be inhabited.

    Why did he take so long? You got me. I could speculate, but won’t at this time.

    Our best evidence seems to indicate though that life appeared about as early as possible on the earth.

    The biosphere needed to be developed. Like preparing a dwelling place, you don’t move in before the roof is on.

    I believe that man is the pinnacle. In that sense we ought to be able to order life as a progression.

    This is, of course, anathema to Darwinists. As such, I fail to see how a Christian can be a Darwinist.

    It’s difficult to see how God would work through Darwinian nutation and selection, not because that’s somehow incompatible with his character, but because for every new beneficial trait it must be spread through the population, and that takes time.

  9. Thanks for the replies so far. Some scattered comments.

    Chiefley,

    Faith is the belief in something for which there is no empirical evidence.

    I’d disagree with that. Though more than that, I’d ask the following.

    Could the hypothesis “Evolutionary processes are determined by a mind” have empirical evidence in favor of it? Let’s say we test to see if humans are capable of implementing design through simulated evolutionary processes, and the test is successful.

  10. Even if both sides (ID advocates and theistic evolutionists) agree that God is the author of the physical laws of the Universe as the fine tuning arguments suggest, the question still remains whether those laws alone are sufficient to account for the creation and progression of life as we have observed it.

    The intelligent design argument asserts that those laws are not sufficient and the history of life can only be explained by intelligent agency.

    Evolutionists say that the laws of nature are sufficient and invoke random processes as a necessary consequence of that hypothesis.

    It seems to me that theistic evolutionists are looking for a third alternative, albeit one that doesn’t exist.

    In the referenced article, it is posited that the random variations of evolutionary theory could be due to God’s activity through natural laws (e.g. genetic copying, cosmic rays) or God’s supernatural activity.

    What does that mean exactly? I see a distinction without a difference.

    In the example of the roll of a dice that turned up a six because God influenced the outcome how is that not a supernatural intervention?

    Natural laws left alone tell us that a six would come up one in every six rolls. If a six comes up every time and we know the dice is perfect, we can no longer assume that only natural laws are involved. Did God influence this outcome or was this result of God’s supernatural activity?

    In the supposedly random mutation that resulted in a new functional protein because God influenced the outcome, how is that not a supernatural intervention? Or is it merely that God influenced the outcome? How do we tell the difference?

  11. NeilBJ,

    In the example of the roll of a dice that turned up a six because God influenced the outcome how is that not a supernatural intervention?

    Bishop doesn’t deny that that is a supernatural intervention. In fact he flat out calls God intervening in the evolutionary process, even subtly, supernatural.

    Natural laws left alone tell us that a six would come up one in every six rolls. If a six comes up every time and we know the dice is perfect, we can no longer assume that only natural laws are involved. Did God influence this outcome or was this result of God’s supernatural activity?

    I imagine Bishop could reply that if God is influencing something, then the supernatural is at work. This counts even if the die appears to be ‘working as normal’ – you don’t need a string of unlikely 6s for it to qualify as supernatural.

  12. With a background in Judaism I don’t fit many followers of ID. I was an agnostic after medical school. At around age 40 I began to read books om particle physics and cosmology, just out of interest. It didn’t take me long to find that there was brisk evidence of design and there had to be an designer. Having one book published on politics when I retired, the publisher asked me about my feelings on science and religion. A sort of autobiographic book followed, after I went back and studied Darwin seriously and found it was a theory that resembled swiss cheese.
    Based on studies of science alone, absolutely never the bible, I concluded there is a designer, religions call God. There is a universal intelligence both within and without the universe. I am, therefore, a panentheist. We are made in the image of God in our intellectual capacities, which concept does fit the Bible.
    I believe God coded DNA and the rest of the genome, from the beginning, to progress to Homo sapiens. I believe our consciousness/intelligence are part of the universal intelligence (UI).
    I believe the Big Bang is a creation by the UI.

    Darwinism accounts in large part for microevolution and adaptation. Epigenetic changes that are Lamarkian show God’s work in programming the genome as I have proposed.

    I am very aacquainted with ID books by Behe, Dembski, as they have helped form my beliefs. I’ve met both at a conference I attended. References to ID proposals and quotes in my book take a prime role.

    As a secular Jew I’ve not run into Michael Dowd, whom I presume is a Christian of some sort. But I certainly read many books by Christians, Polkinghorne, as an example.

    I consider myself a ‘third way thinker’. I do not presume to define God as a special person as Adler does. God will always remain concealed, as Stefan Einhorn has written. I believe in First Cause, as Edward Feser does, making me a Thomist in some sense.

    I do pray to my concept and have a very deep faith in it, because it makes me feel good,the goal of religious folk. But i do not accept organized religion, because I do not believe any thinking human has any more knowledge of God than I do.
    I do not consider my postion as presumptuous, just logical.

  13. 13

    That’s funny. I was just thinking your position was illogical.

  14. turell,

    Thanks for the input – very interesting.

    There is a universal intelligence both within and without the universe. I am, therefore, a panentheist.

    I find panentheism (and actual theistic pantheisms) interesting, particularly since the eastern orthodox are said to adhere to such a concept, or at least something very similar.

    Feel free to share what books you’ve written on the subject, or not. Not sure how much anonymity you care for.

  15. 15

    Yes turell, tell us how you came to the conclusion that all religious people only have faith in God to feel good.

    This is UD. We welcome arrogant idiots here.

  16. While I disagree with turell’s comment on that front, like I said, let’s keep the hostilities squashed here. I actually want TEs to show up and say where they’re coming from, and I made sure to include even more esoteric theists in that mix purposefully.

    There’s always plenty of time for heated arguments in other threads.

  17. 17

    Fair enough, but you’re wasting your time with self-styled mystics.

    I’m still waiting for Ted Davis to respond on the other thread. Was I too heated?

    My question is this:

    Ted Davis, could an IDer and TE agree 100% on absolutely every physical event that ever occurred in the history of the universe, including the complete set of causes for all events, and still disagree on what those events mean? Could an IDer and a TE look at the same evidence and come to different conclusions because of philosophical and/or theological differences about what can be demonstrated from physical evidence and what cannot be?

  18. Prof FXGumby (7):

    You wrote:

    “The main problem, as I see it, with ID is that it trivializes God and dishonors science.” I agree with the “trivialising” sentiment in that it appears to me that the God of ID supporters is a very limited tinkerer or engineer filling in a few gaps in natural processes. I’m sure that’s not a conception of God held by all ID proponents; however, the lack of specifics in the ID position on exactly how or when ID actually occurred doesn’t allow me a clearer idea.”

    A few points:

    First, ID has nothing to do with gaps in natural processes. It is compatible with the existence of such gaps, but in itself doesn’t require them. Behe and Dembksi have made this clear, but their detractors continue to ignore what they have written and continue to talk about “gaps.”

    Second, the God of ID isn’t regarded as a very limited tinkerer by any ID proponent known to me. The God of most ID proponents is in fact a Calvinist-Biblical God of deep mystery and many-sidedness. The God of most of the remaining ID proponents is a Catholic or Jewish God of deep mystery and many-sidedness. But all that the methods of ID can detect is the indications that God has chosen to leave of his intellect in the world of nature. Obviously this will give an incomplete idea of God, but it will indicate something true about God. There is no trivialization in this.

    Third, ID is not clear about how things happened because ID, when it understands itself properly, is not a theory of historical origins, but a theory of design detection. I can tell that my toaster is designed without having a clue what company made it or what year it was manufacture or what year the metal in it was mined. Regardless of how it was actually assembled, I know that its parts weren’t thrown together by a tornado.

    It is unfortunate that ID proponents have from time to time confused these two things, an account of origins and a proof of design. The latter does not require the former. What is “scientific” about ID is not that it provides an alternate history of nature to that of Darwinism; what is scientific about it is that it shows that living systems as we know them could not be produced by unguided processes alone but require the input of intelligence. Until certain ID writers grasp this, ID writing will always be liable to misconstruction by its readers and critics, and will generate unnecessary confusion and rejection.

    Fourth, if you compare ID with TE, you will find that TEs are every bit as vague about how and when God is involved in creation. Generally speaking they simply assert that God creates everything, but also that natural causes do everything, and then cover up the redundancy with various sophistical devices which a sophomore philosophy student can see through with ease.

    T.

  19. turell:

    I haven’t enough wisdom to comment on how you should relate your designing God to your personal faith as a secular Jew, but I’m very glad to see Jewish persons posting here, and I wish we had many more of them, running the gamut from secular to orthodox. There is nothing in ID that should make Jews feel excluded. Despite the strong interest of Christians in ID, the theory is, when properly understood, religion-neutral. There is no difference between Christian and Jewish methods of design detection.

  20. The God of most ID proponents is in fact a … God of deep mystery and many-sidedness.

    I’m a Jewish-Catholic-Calvinist.

    I don’t think science will ever explicate all the mysteries of the cosmos, nor will theology ever explicate all the mysteries of God.

    There’s a certain majesty in mystery. I hope that’s not too mystical for ya’ll.

  21. Mung @ 20
    Amen.
    I’m a Christian who finds himself increasingly drawn to being more Torah observant.
    And the God of mystery and bewildering transcendence can never be nailed down by mere theological word games.
    nor can His universe ever be “explained away”.
    Any way sorry for not staying on topic!

  22. Btw.. an addition to my last post.
    I’m still a big fan of theology and science.
    ;)

  23. As For tragic mishap, settle down. I wrote a whole book on the subject of my conversion from agnosticism, and had to give a few brief comments here. Does religion make folks feel bad? When practicing I felt good. Our backgrounds are different. Please take that into account.

    Nullasalus, thank you for your kind comment. Finding ID was one of the convincing elements of my studies. Since you gave permission, my book is: “Science vs. Religion: The 500-Hundred Year War Finding God in the Heat of the Battle”, 2004. It still sells on Amazon. I also am an invited regular commentator on the website: Agnosticweb.com as a resident theist of sorts.

    Do I think I have all the answers? Not at all, but neither do any of the participants here. I don’t prosyletize actively,(it is not in Jeewish tradition) but I do present my approach to stimulate thought as you (N) have done with this question.

  24. tragicmishap:

    I can’t speak for Ted Davis, but I will give you my answer to your question.

    For at least some ID proponents, e.g., Behe, it is theoretically possible that a microscopic analysis of all events would reveal no breaks in the causal nexus. In other words, the description of the history of the universe could be identical for Behe and for Collins or Giberson. The difference would be this: the TEs would insist that the design of nature cannot be inferred from the facts of nature, and that all talk of design is a sheer “leap of faith” which Christians project onto nature even though science gives no ground for it. Behe would say, no, the inference of design comes not from faith but from reason, because the design is inherent in nature, not merely a projection of religious faith onto it. So there is a major theoretical difference.

    Historically speaking, Newton would be on the ID side, since he makes clear in his General Scholium that one can infer design from the facts of nature. This is the sort of remark by a great scientist that you will never see mentioned on Biologos, or by any TE. You won’t see them quoting the passage in Calvin’s *Institutio* where he affirms the legitimacy of design inferences, either. They prefer to quote Barth or Pascal. And this shows that lying behind many contemporary formulations of TE there is a fideistic theology. And with a name like mine, you should be able to guess where I stand on fideistic theology.

    T.

  25. T,

    The difference would be this: the TEs would insist that the design of nature cannot be inferred from the facts of nature, and that all talk of design is a sheer “leap of faith” which Christians project onto nature even though science gives no ground for it.

    I don’t think all TEs would agree with that. I certainly don’t, insofar as my leanings are TE. It seems to me one could infer from the facts of nature (physical law, stability, just what has developed in our universe regardless of how) that there is real design and a real designer responsible, while still maintaining these inferences are not themselves scientific.

    I’m not sure Pascal would rightly be called fideistic either, he may take the position that ultimately what’s going to push a person in one direction or the other is not reason. The evidence exists but is not conclusive for Pascal, I think.

    turell,

    Thank you. Interesting book summary on that page as well.

  26. 26

    Timaeus:

    The difference would be this: the TEs would insist that the design of nature cannot be inferred from the facts of nature, and that all talk of design is a sheer “leap of faith” which Christians project onto nature even though science gives no ground for it.

    Then TEs are prohibited from using scientific arguments to argue for the existence of God, and I see no such sensitivity to that when TEs are not commenting specifically on ID (see for instance the fine-tuning argument). In other words, this is an ad-hoc argument they only use against ID and don’t actually adhere to. That’s a double standard.

    null:

    I don’t think all TEs would agree with that. I certainly don’t, insofar as my leanings are TE. It seems to me one could infer from the facts of nature (physical law, stability, just what has developed in our universe regardless of how) that there is real design and a real designer responsible, while still maintaining these inferences are not themselves scientific.

    This depends on a definition of science that I have never heard argued clearly. No one that I have seen in the TE camp has dealt seriously with Ratzsch or Meyer on this issue. Besides, what this means is that ID and TE agree on everything except a definition of science. It’s arguing about words (2 Tim 2:4). No one will care or even remember their objections in a hundred years because this type of argument is pointless. I hope they enjoy marginalizing themselves. I apologize for my tone but it’s quite infuriating.

  27. tragic mishap,

    This depends on a definition of science that I have never heard argued clearly.

    I’ll immediately cop to the definition of ‘science’ being dicey. And I’ll be the first to say that there’s hypocrisy in play – people who say “evolution is unguided!” don’t get called on the carpet nearly as bad as people who say “evolution is guided!” (or ‘There is design in nature!’ or anything else) despite both beings claims that would typically count as ‘non-scientific’ or beyond science.

    No one will care or even remember their objections in a hundred years because this type of argument is pointless. I hope they enjoy marginalizing themselves. I apologize for my tone but it’s quite infuriating.

    I just want TEs to feel reasonably welcome here in airing their views. And some TEs I think take a stance that at least intellectually really is very close to ID, quibbling about science aside.

    At the same time, I also would agree that some TEs seem to confuse ‘being pro-science’ with ‘getting a pat on the head from their atheist or secular colleagues’. That’s the impression I get. But not all TEs are like that, myself included – hence me asking other TEs to speak up for themselves and say where they’re coming from.

  28. 28
    CannuckianYankee

    turell at 12,

    “I do pray to my concept and have a very deep faith in it, because it makes me feel good,the goal of religious folk. But i do not accept organized religion, because I do not believe any thinking human has any more knowledge of God than I do.
    I do not consider my postion as presumptuous, just logical.”

    Interesting statement. Forgive me if I’m misreading you, but on the linked page to your name is a sort of synopsis of your book, where you state:

    “In the book, you will learn that I have found multiple scientific findings that lead logically to accepting God.”

    Then you state:

    “Science Vs. Religion shows that I have discovered that the scientific findings of the past 150 years prove God beyond a reasonable doubt.”

    This would indicate that you have certainty for God’s existence, but in your first statement, you indicate that you don’t believe other people’s certainty of who that god is could be any greater than your own. This doesn’t quite make sense to me. After all, at one time, you indicate that you had less certainty for God’s existence, which would mean that others who believed in God at that time had more certainty at least of His existence than you. Why couldn’t others have more certainty of His identity and purpose, as well as an ability to justify that certainty logically more than you are able to do as you presently believe? You appear to be saying that God is only what you presently accept Him to be rather than who He is regardless of what you believe about Him. Could you please explain?

  29. C. Yankee: Easy to explain. As I stated God is concealed and always will be. My theory as to what form He takes is as good as your form. I do not follow the Bible. I use science to reach my conclusions. I know that your conclusions may be as good as mine. but I am convinced, asd are the IDers that there is a greater power who has created this universe with its very finely tuned parameters, 20 extremely important and 100 of minor importance. This universe allows life. I don’t buy multiverses, unproveable, and a copout for atheistic theoretical physicists and cosmologists. The origin of life is totally unexplained after 60 years of research. It is as dead a line of reasearch as string/membrane theory. There has to be a greater power, we call God who is in control of all this. Others may have more certainty about who God is, but it is all faith, belief not certainty. I have my own belief with which I am comfortable. You certainly may have your belief. You have a right to it, and I will not argue with it. Tell me, who is right? I admit I don’t know. But you cannnot demand that I accept your belief, which is fine for you but not for me. The word is tolerance for all of us.

  30. nullasalus:

    Thanks for engaging. Of course “TE” can mean many things to many people. If it means merely “theistic evolutionist” in the natural sense of the terms, i.e., a theist who believes that species, including human beings, arose through a macroevolutionary process, then of course there can be overlap between ID and TE, and I welcome all TE people who will acknowledge and explore that overlap. But in practice, for better or worse, due to what I consider to be a usurpation of a good set of initials by a certain group of individuals (mostly Protestants with a strong fideistic streak), “TE” has come to mean something narrower than that. It seems to mean, if I may be a bit smart-alecky, Christians who believe in evolution but are adamantly opposed to ID. More objectively put, it seems to mean Christians who have rejected the notion that science could ever, even in principle, prove the existence of God, or even provide decisive information which would then allow the general, reasoning mind to reliably infer the existence of God. TEs in this sense include: Francis Collins, George Murphy, Randy Isaac, most of the contributors the volume *Perspectives on and Evolving Creation*, Ken Miller, Darrel Falk, Karl Giberson, most of the contributors to Biologos, etc. I know that you are not among this group of TEs, but I’m using the term as it’s commonly used, including by these people themselves.

    I recognize a group on the edge of TE, a group whose members might be said to have ID sympathies, but who make a distinction between philosophy and science, and who think that ID inferences are legitimate in philosophy, and not opposed to Christian theology. In this group I would put Ted Davis, John Polkinghorne, and Stephen Barr. There is also another group, the Thomists, Feser and Beckwith prominently, who could be included as a subdivision of this group, though they have their own peculiar characteristics and should probably be considered separately.

    As for Pascal, I confess to not knowing his thought well enough to securely class him as “fideist,” though he is often classed as such by scholars of Christianity, and in any case, in the ID/TE debates, he is certainly treated by the TEs I’m referring to as if he is a fideist.

    Regarding fideism, I think it’s no accident that so many Protestant TEs subscribe effectively to Gould’s NOMA view of knowledge: “science” pertains to empirically demonstrable “facts,”, and evolution by Darwinian mechanisms has allegedly been proved to be a “fact”; theology deals with “values” or “ultimate purposes,” and whether or not there is design in nature deals with values or ultimate purposes. But I deny Gould’s distinction at its root; I repudiate NOMA; I reject the suffocatingly narrow understanding of “science” upon which it is based; I think that such a compartmentalized view of reality into “faith” and “science” is destructive and shallow, and is at the root of the chaos of modern civilization. TE (as defined above), in its fideism, in its NOMA, is just another symptom of the fragmentation of the West, brought about by thinkers from Bacon through to Kant. It’s a child of the Enlightenment and of Romanticism, and inconceivable without those movements. What ID at its best has the potential of doing is destroying this NOMA compartmentalization, by showing that “nature” can display “purpose” in a certain limited sense, not, to be sure “the purpose of life,” but purpose in the Greek sense of *telos*, a sense which TEs (except for the Thomists) deny. Newton believed that we could know — in a strong sense of “know” — something of God from his effects in nature. That’s where most Christian proponents of ID are at, and that’s where Collins etc. are not at.

    Of course, there is ambiguity here, because Collins and some other TEs have granted that maybe we can know of design in nature through “fine-tuning” arguments, i.e., maybe we can detect design in physics. Why not, then, in biology? Nature is a seamless whole, as Denton shows. The artificial stopping of design detection at the boundary of biology hasn’t a philosophical leg to stand on, and indeed, the real motivation for it is to defend Darwinism, which insists that there is no teleology in the origin of species. The TEs, especially the biologist-TEs, are simply incapable of imagining that the anti-teleology of Darwinism could ever be wrong. That’s how strongly their reigning paradigm controls their scientific and philosophical imaginations. That’s positively unhealthy. It’s also outdated, as the loyalty to Darwinian biology is crumbling, bit by bit, even within biology itself. We have Margulis; we have the Altenberg 16; etc.

    What I’d like to see is a revival of the original idea of “theistic evolution” — a broad-based attempt to put together theism and evolution which isn’t committed to all the things that most modern TEs are committed to. It needs to drop its absolute and unwavering commitment to particular means of evolution (random mutations plus natural selection, for example), and consider both deterministic and interventionist possibilities; it needs to become open to the possibility of design detection; it needs to be open to natural theology (something which many current TEs despise and repudiate); but most of all, TEs need to expand their imaginations by reading a good deal more history and philosophy than they normally read. Keeping up with lab genetics while reading the odd evangelical book on evolution and faith will not produce a sound Christian theology of evolution. TEs need to immerse themselves in the history of science (as told in non-evangelical academic works), and to study philosophy of biology (from Bergson through Ratzsch) in a big way. They also need to read some general philosophy, become familiar with the primary texts of Plato and Descartes and Kant and so on. As things stand now, TE is mostly a Protestant movement with very little intellectual substance; it’s mostly just Darwinian biology layered over with Methodist-Wesleyan piety, and to the extent that it has Catholic supporters (I’m not speaking here of you or of the Thomists), they are Catholics who basically think like Protestants, i.e., who are striving to bring Catholicism into the mainstream of modern science and philosophy, rather than to maintain a distinctively Catholic science or philosophy. But theistic evolution, in the true sense, could be much, much more, and could be very compatible with ID insights. The world is still waiting for a philosophically competent leader to emerge and bring TEs out of the intellectual wilderness. I for one will applaud any theistic evolutionist who can bring the ramshackle TE house into order.

    T.

  31. –nullasalus: “How you think design is reflected in the natural world, in as much general detail as you can offer. The key here is detail: Does God play a role in variation or even selection in your view? Is God omniscient and omnipotent?”

    I really like this question since its obvious intent is to illuminate the discussion and get people to call things by their right name. In the spirit of your exercise, I would also like to ask this question of theistic evolutionists: Did God intentionally, purposefully, and infallibly provide for the final outcome of the evolutionary process?–did He get exactly what he wanted and nothing else?–or, as Stephen Covey would say, did He begin with the end in mind?

  32. T,

    Alright. In that case, let me ask you something else: What did you think of Bishop’s views on evolution, as linked to in the other thread? I know we’ve touched on that lightly, but expand on it here if you feel up to it. Do you agree with me that his recognition that ‘variation’ (And, I add, selection itself) could well be guided and purposeful, is a very promising stance for a TE to take?

    If so, one worry I have with ID is that I get the impression such speculation isn’t welcome, or is ‘not enough’ for many ID proponents. Or that the TE inference of design in that sense absolutely must be considered science and be reached through some kind of ‘design filter’ way to be considered valid – and if the TE doesn’t think their inference is science, or rejects the application of some kind of strict filter formula, then the inference for all practical purposes does not exist, or gets viewed as some kind of trick.

    Now, maybe I’m wrong about that. But it’s the impression I get, so there it is. And I worry in part because it seems to cede territory to people who deny design in nature, effectively saying ‘Well, if it evolved, then it wasn’t designed.’ – which is clearly ridiculous, since humans themselves demonstrably use evolutionary processes for our own designs, in way after way.

  33. Timaeus, your post @30 is one of the best that you have ever written–and that is saying something. You have argued impressively on behalf of the unity of truth and against the proposition that a rational God would come out of his heaven to reveal Himself in the cosmological realm only to go back into hiding in the biological realm.

  34. 34

    Timaeus @18,

    ID in its efforts to detect design has to distinguish between design and not-design. Otherwise, how can design be inferred? The approach thus far has been to look at a protein, a flagella, a Golgi apparatus, or whatever, and say that this is too complicated, therefore design.

    We also have examples of features that have clearly evolved naturally. We’ve witnessed cases of what you could call “microevolution”. This leads to the situation where if there were a designer, he/she has designed some biological features but not others. If the designer is God, then this conception of God is limited to Him tinkering with some things and not others.

    A few comments have been made, like Mung’s “it’s design all the way down” or that design could also make use of evolutionary processes. This way of thinking doesn’t limit God to the role of a mad scientist. However, I’m not aware of any scientific approach from the ID camp or others to detecting this sort of universal design.

    You say

    ID is not clear about how things happened because ID, when it understands itself properly, is not a theory of historical origins, but a theory of design detection. I can tell that my toaster is designed without having a clue what company made it or what year it was manufacture or what year the metal in it was mined.

    You can tell your toaster is designed because it’s similar to other tools that humans make. This makes use of information about the designer. You can also even tell whether it was made in the past 5 years or so or more than 40 years ago based on knowledge about human designs over time. In all cases when we successfully infer design, it’s because we know something about the designer. This is why investigating theories on how and when design occurred is necessary.

    TEs are every bit as vague about how and when God is involved in creation.

    Yes. Because I don’t know. My God is a God of deep mystery and many-sidedness.

  35. Prof FX Gumby:

    Thank you for your reply. Unfortunately, you are in the position of someone defending the existence of the ether who hasn’t heard of the Michelson-Morley experiment. All your objections have been refuted many times, on the Discovery web site, on the ASA web site, here at UD, on the Biologos web site, in the books and articles of ID proponents, etc. So I’ll give only the briefest sketch reply.

    1. I could tell a toaster was designed even if I had never seen a toaster before. I could tell that of any moderately complex artifact at all, even an alien artifact on a strange planet who purpose I did not understand. The inference would come from the well-orchestrated working-together of parts for a common function. If I see that a button pushes a lever which causes a gear to turn, which in turn activates a number of other gears, which causes some pointer on a dial to turn, I don’t have to know anything at all about what the device is for in order to know that it is designed. It could be a clock, it could be a kid’s toy, it could be an astronomical instrument. It doesn’t matter; I know it’s designed. Further, I would need to know absolutely nothing about the designer of the alien object in order to be sure that the alien object was designed, and not a product of blind natural forces. Whether the aliens who built it had arms or tentacles; whether they were cannibalistic or vegetarian, what planet they came from; I would need to know absolutely none of this. Intelligence is inferrable from its products, without any prior knowledge of the beings possessing the intelligence. That’s clear.

    2. Your argument about God designing some things and not others has been dealt with many times. See Bill Dembski on the design filter and how it can show false negatives. It is indeed possible that there is design all the way down, but that design can only be demonstrated in a few cases. Further, it is easily imaginable that a limited role for the chance outcomes of Darwinian processes could be built into a bigger design plan, as turell has suggested above.

    3. If you are not aware of any scientific effort to detect design “all the way down” then you obviously have not read *Nature’s Destiny* by Michael Denton, a work which has been praised by ID theorist Michael Behe. I suggest you go out and buy Denton’s book right away, and start reading it.

    4. I don’t blame you for not being able to explain how God controls evolution; but TEs have no business complaining about ID’s vagueness regarding the input of design when they have nothing but vacuities to offer when asked how God uses an intrinsically non-directed process to achieve definite and specified ends. When any TE can offer a coherent theory of how God directs a Darwinian process, then and only then will TE be in a position to lecture ID people on intellectual coherence.

    By the way, how is Pokey doing these days?

    T.

  36. nullasalus:

    I think that some of the resistance you sense in ID people to anything written by any TE comes from the fact that some ID people (a significant number) are against not merely purely chance-driven explanations for evolution, but against the very notion of evolution itself. That sort of ID person customarily says black whenever a TE person says white. But as you know, I’m not that kind of ID person. I’m completely comfortable with the idea of evolution; God could have chosen to use a cosmic developmental process lasting billions of years instead of creating everything in six literal days.

    The part of TE that irks me is not the E part; it’s the T part. I think many TEs give orthodox conceptions of God and Creation very short shrift, and try to shoe-horn the creative activity of God into an un-Biblical, un-traditional naturalistic paradigm, and further, are repulsed by the notion of detectable design in nature for very inadequate theological reasons. (Which not surprising, since almost to a person, TEs are very inadequate theologians.)

    Now you ask me about Bishop. I haven’t read his article. But if he says that maybe the mutations were specifically guided by God, that’s perfectly compatible with Christian orthodoxy, as far as I’m concerned, and, since we can never recover the past history of mutations in anything like complete detail, it’s perfectly compatible with all the empirical evidence that we are ever likely to have. So I have nothing against Bishop’s suggestion. However, I note that most of the regular columnists on Biologos would very likely scorn such a suggestion as involving “intervention” or “miracles” or “God of the gaps.” That’s what they have always done when any ID proponent has made any similar suggestion. (In fact, they accuse ID people of asserting a “God of the gaps” even when ID people *don’t* make that suggestion.) Wouldn’t you agree that Bishop is in a minority position among the TEs on this one? And that, until his view is more widely acknowledged by the TE leaders as a legitimate TE position, ID people are not likely to pay much attention to it, but to concentrate on the more prominent TE writers, who seem to endorse a dogmatic naturalism regarding origins?

    I don’t demand that all design inferences make use of Dembski’s filter, and I don’t think that deep down Dembski does, either. I think it’s a useful conceptual tool, and helpful for dealing with atheistic blockheads like Dawkins and Dennett, who worship things that look mathematical and scientfic more than they respect common sense, but I don’t think it’s necessary to be constantly applying the filter in some formal way for ID work to proceed.

    Regarding whether the detection of design is science or philosophy or something else, I have no dogma on that. I think ID people put a great deal of emphasis on the scientific character of ID in part because the courts have given them only two options: ID is religion, or ID is science. The Dover judge bought into this polarization, which the NCSE witnesses for the plaintiff unscrupulously promoted. But in fact ID could well be a philosophical sort of inference, based on empirical science, rather than a scientific inference pure and simple; that wouldn’t to me undermine the validity of design inferences, as I don’t share this modern view that only science reveals certain truth, and that philosophy is unreliable. In fact, in some respects I think philosophical reasoning is sounder and surer than scientific reasoning, which is decisively based on questionable and revisable assumptions at all points.

    So, while I think that ID is very much science-informed, you won’t find me pushing the “ID is science” claim here. ID is certainly compatible with the best avaialable science, and contradicts none of it; and that to me makes it legitimate as an interpretation of nature.

    As for “if it evolved, then it wasn’t designed,” that would certainly be true for Darwinian evolution (and Darwin intended it so, and so did all the builders of the modern synthesis, and so did Gould, etc.), but I think it’s false for evolution overall. People like Denton and Sternberg and Conway Morris have suggested ways in which an evolutionary process might be designed so as to drive in the direction of certain desirable results, even though the processes all along the way are blind and wholly natural.

    In sum, I distinguish sharply between ID and “creationism” (in the narrow sense employed in American discourse, implying God separately creating the yellow-throated hummingbird and the Indian rhinoceros). ID is compatible with the general Christian doctrine of creation, but it does not need to endorse creationism. Nor should it. If individual ID proponents want to argue for YEC (which is compatible with ID), that is their business, and I won’t interfere; but the moment ID as a movement ever requires a creationist “creed” that excludes even the possibility of evolution, I’m out of here.

    T.

  37. 37

    Hello Mr Turrell,

    I was very interested to read your post and certainly agree with all that is important about your approach to this question (though without your considerable experience). By comparison to typical theistic evolutionists, your concession to evolution (non-lamarkian microevolution and adaptation) is one that most of us who have chosen Design over Chance would make. I find it bizarre that typical theistic evolutionists want to fully embrace a neo-darwinian account of life. Ultimately, the most important question is: is life a meaningless accident or is there some amazing plan behind it all? All theistic evolutionists should believe the latter (much to the annoyance of atheists) but yet so many seem so keen to side with those who maintain that life is a meaningless accident. Do they really think that this will be looked upon favourably in the final reckoning?

    I’m intrigued by your description of yourself a “secular Jew” who does “not accept organized religion”. I certainly have a lot of sympathy with your objections to organized religion: when I look at the way the big three monotheistic faiths are practiced, especially institutionalised, around the world these days, I can only feel deep disappointment. Nonetheless, I believe the truth is in all their scriptures so while I recognise that the gap between practice and theory is probably larger than it has ever been (and this is unacceptable), I still maintain that the Book of Scripture (by that I mean a canon that takes the best of Judaism, Christianity and Islam) is of fundamental importance, giving us the all-important instruction manual for human existence. Furthermore, there are countless masses of people from all of these faiths (and others) who are quietly going about their lives, often struggling with their burdens but striving to lead a morally good life and this is, surely, mainly due to religious instruction. I’d be interested to know whether or not you agree with this and what value you place on the Book of Scripture (particularly what the Jew part of ‘secular Jew’ means in practice).

  38. Prof. FX Gumby @34

    ID in its efforts to detect design has to distinguish between design and not-design.

    Actually, no, that is not the case.

    ID can be phrased as a level of confidence.

    If I come across some simple arrangement, say of scrabble letters, and I detect that three letters in an apparent sequence spell the word cat, I can think that arrangement might have been intentional, but how sure an I be?

    What if I spy a sequence that spells cataphract? My confidence level increases.

    And If I find that sequence in place on a scrabble board aligned perfectly with the scrabble squares and integrated with other words on the board?

    So I don’t have to decide that the “cat” sequence was not designed, nor do I have to decide that the “cataphract” sequence was not designed, in order to infer that the “cataphract” sequence on the scrabble board ought to be ascribed to intelligent agency.

    All ID says is that there is a certain level at which our level of confidence ought to be reliable enough that an inference ought to be accepted as the best possible explanation.

    It certainly does not rule out design for those things for which we cannot ascribe the same level of confidence, and there is no requirement that anything be ruled out as not-design.

    As one who has accepted the “design all the way down – it’s all design” perspective, this is something I’ve needed to think about. How to make ID compatible with that view.

  39. 39

    Timaeus @35,

    1. I’ll accept your toaster detection expertise at face value. But what about Star Trek-esque information storage devices that look like crystals? Would you be able to detect design without knowledge of Vulcan technology? For that matter, what about man-made synthetic crystals? What about man-made ecosystems, like created wetlands or natural forests? These are designed, but could someone tell that they were without knowing about the sort of processes and motivations involved?

    2. My point about design vs. not-design was that such a perspective necessarily limits God.

    3. Perhaps you can sketch for me the general thrust of the research programme and some of the key findings? The book budget is a bit short at the moment.

    4.

    but TEs have no business complaining about ID’s vagueness regarding the input of design when they have nothing but vacuities to offer when asked how God uses an intrinsically non-directed process to achieve definite and specified ends. When any TE can offer a coherent theory of how God directs a Darwinian process, then and only then will TE be in a position to lecture ID people on intellectual coherence.

    (bolding mine)
    You see, that’s part of the problem right there. I make none of those claims. ID does and claims that God’s direction is detectable. Until more details (and evidence!) are provided by the ID movement, then it is simply an assertion that somebody, somewhere, somehow designed something. This undermines your later opinion that “ID is certainly compatible with the best avaialable science, and contradicts none of it”.

  40. 40

    Mung @38

    Let me clarify. What I meant was that to detect design (with whatever level of confidence), a conceptual distinction has to be made between designed stuff and not-designed stuff.

    For example, if we want to detect blue, there has to be non-blue to compare it with. Even if we conclude that the lovely shade of mauve we’re looking at is only 15% blue.

  41. Prof. FX, I have just shown how it is not necessary to make a conceptual distinction between designed and not designed. Where is the flaw in my argument?

    It is a fallacy to assert that “blue” is in the same category as “design.”

    A thing is not more designed or less designed in the same way that a thing is more or less blue.

  42. In my previous example I spoke of a simple sequence of characters on scrabble pieces.

    But what if I take a box of scrabble pieces and arranged the pieces in a specific way, say in a way in which no three contiguous pieces spelled any word in the English language.

    Would someone who came along later and saw the scrabble pieces think with any level of confidence that the pieces had been arranged that way on purpose?

    Again we see that we don’t need to have separate categories of design and not design. We can say we cannot detect design according to the degree that we require to be confident of design, but that does not rule out the presence of design.

  43. StephenB @ 33,

    You have argued impressively [..] that a rational God would come out of his heaven to reveal Himself in the cosmological realm only to go back into hiding in the biological realm.

    Imho God did not come out of his heaven to reveal Himself in the cosmological realm. He set the whole thing in motion with the big bang and watched for the first nine billion years the universe evolving according to the apparently finely tuned laws of nature without any intervention.
    It would only have been after nine billion years that, as an implication of the ID claim that the laws of nature are insufficient to produce life, God came out of heaven to then start to intervene personally.

  44. # 37 Chris: My opposition to Darwin is not just a concession. I think the epigenetic mechanisms, starting with Reznick’s studies with South American guppies in the earlier 1990′s shows how rapidly organisms can adapt to new and present danger. Lamark is back into consideration. Those mechanisms are all through the genome according to present studies. All levels of organisms have them, from simple protozoa to the most complex. It is obvious to me that rapid adaptive tools were availabled to life when life first started. How did life survive 3.6 billion years ago in the hostile environment on Earth right after the bombardment of planetismals, etc.? This throws the synthesis of Neo-Darwinism out the window. It is why the Altenberg-16 conference took place.

    The start of living matter, organic from inorganic is at the level of a miracle. 60 years of research and we have only learned negatives. Robert Shapiro is one of the best skeptics to read in this area, since he believes science will find an answer. James Shapiro (no relation) is another valuable skeptic.

    ‘Secular Jew’ is my best description of me. I went to Sunday School. I had a bar Mitzvah. I married a Jewish lady and we saw that our three kids had Jewish teachings. I did not like going to services, found them boring and meaningless. Became agnostic in medical school. Stopped going to Temple when my first wife died, not because of her death, but I was relieved of my obligation to go with her. But I believed in an afterlife at the time she died, and could not convince her she was going there.

    I agree with you that religions teach morality and how to live properly. I have spent 40 years in the study of whether there is a greater power, and it only took the first few years to convince me. The remaining years have only served to strenghten my convictions. But I have not used the Bible, although I have read parts of the Old and New Testaments, I am convinced by my studies in science, and the materials presented in ID. I am a firm ID believer. I am firmly a theistic evolutionist.

    DNA/RNA is a fantastic efficient coding system. Only an extremely superior intelligence could have created a code of that complexity and efficiency. Chance cannot do it. That is so obvious. Antony Flew is absolutely correct in changing his mind.

  45. 45

    …just a quick “thanks” to turrell for his visit to UD. Interesting posts.

    By all means, enjoy your corner of the tent.

  46. 46

    I looked in the mirror this morning and I almost made the mistake of thinking I had a nose. Unfortunately that would imply there are some with no noses. Even if they exist, that would be terrible and anyway I haven’t ever seen them. So I resolved to remain agnostic on the issue.

  47. Prof FX Gumby:

    Thanks for your rejoinder.

    1. Regarding alien crystals etc. These are poor examples. They are examples of things which *look undesigned* but are really designed. Failure to detect design in such things is entirely compatible with ID theory. Dembski explicitly allows for false negatives. (Didn’t I already say that in my previous remarks to you?) What you need to do is show that all the examples which *look designed*, yield false positives: e.g., the cardiovascular system in the human body, the bat’s combination of wings and sonar, the avian lung. Or at the most basic level, the functioning of a living cell. Have you looked at Behe’s discussion of the flagellar transport system (not the flagellum, the flagellar transport system) in *The Edge of Evolution*? Doesn’t it look designed to you? Do you have any idea how such an elaborate, integrated system could have evolved by chance plus natural selection? If not, why would you believe that it did?

    Remember, ID theory isn’t required to establish design for *everything*. If it can do so in even one case, classical Darwinism is done for, since (according to Darwin himself) the theory must be able to explain everything without intelligent input, or it is entirely worthless.

    2. You wrote:

    “My point about design vs. not-design was that such a perspective necessarily limits God.”

    And *my* point was that it *doesn’t*. And I gave my reasons. What you have done here is simply repeat your claim, without even addressing my reasons. And a repetition is not a refutation.

    3. Regarding Denton’s book, you don’t have to spend any money to read it. In this internet age, people often forget that there is this old-fashioned but great institution called the public library. If you live in a largish town with a largish library, the book will almost certainly be there. And if you live in a little town with only a small library, there is a system of interlibrary lending through which your local library can get just about any book for you.

    4. You wrote:

    “You see, that’s part of the problem right there. I make none of those claims.”

    Perhaps not, but you were agreeing with a conclusion of many TEs who do make those claims, and who base the conclusion you were endorsing directly upon them. However, I am perhaps assuming too much acquaintance with TE arguments and TE literature on your part. You may be arguing on a different basis. If so, you’ll have to state your own understanding of God more clearly, and show me how God-as-designer is somehow an unacceptable concept for whatever form of theistic religion it is that you affirm.

    5. Re your last paragraph on “what ID claims”: ID claims to be able, without relying on any theological assumptions, to arrive at the conclusion of a designer; then, those IDers who happen to be Christian *privately* (not in their capacity as ID theorists) choose to identify that designer with the Christian God, and so on for Jewish ID proponents, Muslim ID proponents, etc. That’s the sum total of ID’s entanglement with theology.

    Now, compare that with TE. TEs *assume* the existence of a Christian God (I know of no Muslim, Jewish or Hindu TEs), as a matter of faith, and many of them *assume*, also as a matter of faith, that this Christian God would never make his design detectable by human reason; and they further *assume*, as an irrefutable result of science, not only the fact of evolution, but that evolution proceeded primarily via Darwinian mechanisms (an assumption which Lynn Margulis and many other cutting-edge evolutionary theorists now seriously question); and then they baldly assert, without proof or explanation, that even though Darwinian mechanisms are inherently unguided, and even though God never intervenes in the creative process (another *assumption* made by the majority of leading TEs), that nonetheless God can guarantee that these unguided mechanisms will produce the results he wants. This paradoxical conclusion is thus built upon a number of debatable theological and scientific assumptions.

    Note that the debatable starting assumptions made by the leading TEs are much more numerous than the starting assumptions made by IDers, who do not even presume the existence of God within their arguments, and who have no a priori commitment to evolution or any of its purported mechanisms. ID thus comes out as the most cautious, least presumptuous approach to explaining the apparent design in nature, whereas TE comes out as laden with presuppositions.

    Of course, there are thoughtful TEs or TE-leaning people — nullasalus among them — who do not rest their position on a set of arbitrary assumptions. If all TEs were like nullasalus, rather than Ken Miller or Karl Giberson, there would be much more constructive dialogue between ID and TE. And I think that’s what nullasalus is up to in this column — getting beyond the culture-war vendettas which have generated so much bad behavior from both sides, and getting a genuine dialogue going, to explore possible common ground. I support this intention unreservedly.

    T.

  48. …and getting a genuine dialogue going, to explore possible common ground.

    As long as it’s not made of jello.

  49. Prof FX Gumby:

    You wrote @ 40:

    “What I meant was that to detect design (with whatever level of confidence), a conceptual distinction has to be made between designed stuff and not-designed stuff.”

    Yes, they must be distinguished *conceptually*. That does not entail that one would need the physical presence of some undesigned objects in order to detect designed ones, and hence that there must be some undesigned objects in the universe.

    If I carved portions of the Greek text of Homer into every tree in the world, would you argue that we could not be sure that the inscriptions were designed, on the grounds that we have no tree without Homer on it for comparison? Would you argue that, for all we know, trees just naturally grow with coherent portions of the Iliad carved into them, and so the inference that someone externally inflicted the marks was unsound? And then, if the next morning, there sprouted up a sapling with no Homer on it, would all of those ten million design inferences, which yesterday were totally invalid, suddenly become valid, because of the existence of an unmarked tree? That is the logic of your argument.

    What you fail to see is that we do not detect design by comparing some objects with others. We detect design by comparing theoretical expectations with the empirical data before us. This can be done object by object, without any reference to other actual objects. And there is no limit on the number of designed objects that may exist. Perhaps there are no designed objects; perhaps all objects are designed. It is not a zero-sum game.

    Where the reality of one thing is only relative to another (lighter/darker, small/large, fast/slow, etc.) it is true that we must compare one object to another, in order to form valid conclusions. But where the reality of a thing is absolute, no physical comparison is necessary. A watch’s design is absolute, and the concept of a bunch of metal parts lying loosely in trash bin allows us to see that. Even if there were no loose metal parts in trash bins anywhere in the universe, we could know for a certainty that every watch in the universe was designed, because when we look at the parts in the context of the watch, we can imagine them outside the context of the watch, and, based on our knowledge of natural laws, infer that they could not have formed the watch without intelligent guidance.

    In sum, your argument is fallacious. And it has been refuted before, in other venues. But we ID proponents find that bad arguments are like the mythical hydra; you chop off one head, and two more of the same spring up to face you. Either the people we encounter on these web sites are all novices who have never before tried out these arguments on any other web site (where they would have been refuted, and therefore learned not to offer the faulty argument again), or they are seasoned debaters who know perfectly well that their arguments are invalid, but keep moving them to new web sites, in hopes of finding someone more gullible on the newer web sites than they were able to find on the old. So which is it in your case, “Professor Gumby”? Is this the first time you’ve offered this argument, or the umpteenth?

    T.

  50. turell,

    you tell us you went to med school.

    Why did you bother? did you assume anyone there really knew more about medicine than you when you got there? I’d have presumed, based on what you’ve told us about other areas of knowledge, that you would have just read a little of 1 or 2 books, on your own, then certainly no one could know any more than you.

    yet you tell us:

    But i do not accept organized religion, because I do not believe any thinking human has any more knowledge of God than I do.

    You tell us you’ve read some bible. Have you read rashi, rambam, ramban, ramchal, the tenaim, amoraim, savaraim, geonim, rishonim, acharonim, etc?

    Are you really *sure* none of them know more about G-d than you?

    Oh, I’m sorry, you said you don’t *believe* anyone could.

    Is it *possible* you could be mistaken?

  51. And then, if the next morning, there sprouted up a sapling with no Homer on it, would all of those ten million design inferences, which yesterday were totally invalid, suddenly become valid, because of the existence of an unmarked tree?

    No. We would first need to examine every tree to see precisely at which age of a tree, at which moment in tree development, Homeric text might be expected to appear.

    We need to rule out all conceivable non-design explanations. Perhaps what we are looking at is not a tree after all, for all trees have a Homeric inscription.

  52. ES 58: Your sarcasm is very sophomoric. I don’t hide behind pseudonyms, and give an honest appraisal of what my thinking has been and who I am. You take on faith that the Torah is entirely true and all of the commentaries are valid. I have no Yeshivabrucher background. I started from a position of a Jewish childhood and then agnosticism. I needed logic, not religious faith in writings taken initially on faith. I had to build faith from what science offered. I have met Gerald Schroeder and read all of his books. I’ve read Lee Spetner’s Not by Chance. Both are Orthodox Jews, with some of the religious background you think I should have. Other books in the area you are discussing include Rabbi David Nelson’s, “Judaism, Physics, and God”. Also the new interpretation of Genesis: “In the beginning of”, by Judah Landa.

    From my point of view, your argument with me starts from a losing position. God is concealed. We know Him from His works. Those works can be studied scientifically and make a very strong case that there is a God. That is what I needed. That is what I have. I don’t resent or despise your faith. Everyone has the right to his own mode of interpretation. Your faith is no less than mine, not worse than mine, nor is it better than mine. We are all equal in this. Further, no religion is better than any other.

  53. T,

    And I think that’s what nullasalus is up to in this column — getting beyond the culture-war vendettas which have generated so much bad behavior from both sides, and getting a genuine dialogue going, to explore possible common ground. I support this intention unreservedly.

    There is that part of it. There’s also a healthy dose of simple curiosity – wanting to see just where some self-described TEs are coming from, how they approach these questions and what they really think. I admit, some of what I wanted here was meant to be in part provocative – I want a TE to tell me just what he thinks God does in the world, or lacking that, how God could be at work in the world in his view. I don’t like the tendency of some TEs to say “God and evolution are compatible”, and then refuse to expand on it – knowing that either the compatibility will gain the ire of some people (if for non-scientific reasons), or that their ‘compatibility’ is hardly that (approaching something like a bizarre Ruse-ish concoction.)

    Anyway, your earlier response deserves some replies! Sorry for taking so long to get to that.

    Wouldn’t you agree that Bishop is in a minority position among the TEs on this one? And that, until his view is more widely acknowledged by the TE leaders as a legitimate TE position, ID people are not likely to pay much attention to it, but to concentrate on the more prominent TE writers, who seem to endorse a dogmatic naturalism regarding origins?

    Well, I said right in my post that I thought Bishop’s attitude was refreshing and a good sign for someone at Biologos – so I agree absolutely that at least at Biologos, yeah, his view is something of an outlier. And since I regard Biologos as in-essence TE Central, and while some TEs have more fleshed out and respectable views (Barr is one, Ted Davis is another, Polkinghorne yet another), they are currently being swamped out by the murkier variety of TE.

    So, while I think that ID is very much science-informed, you won’t find me pushing the “ID is science” claim here. ID is certainly compatible with the best avaialable science, and contradicts none of it; and that to me makes it legitimate as an interpretation of nature.

    Well, I appreciate your approach, and I’m hoping that the Design Question, as distinct from Intelligent Design, can serve as a way to get TEs and IDs talking more, and broadly too. Of course, I also think the Design Question – I have to flesh this out in an upcoming post – is also a way to get ID proponents talking with agnostics and others as well, which I take was a hope many theists had with ID. As you said, communicating to people who may think “Well, science shows there’s no design” uncritically.

    As for “if it evolved, then it wasn’t designed,” that would certainly be true for Darwinian evolution (and Darwin intended it so, and so did all the builders of the modern synthesis, and so did Gould, etc.), but I think it’s false for evolution overall.

    I agree. And I also think that’s arguably the touchiest area between TEs and ID proponents, since the usual TE line is “Denounce YEC and embrace evolution, and maybe we’ll have something to talk about.” Which I think is an inane demand. But at the same time, one doesn’t have to denounce anything to support the idea that yes, one can believe in evolution and design. Maybe not Darwin’s evolution, but evolution all the same. And my view of “Darwin’s evolution” is that what makes it “Darwin’s” is a philosophical, not a scientific, core – the positive declaration that variation and selection are unguided, period. Which is another reason why Bishop’s position intrigues me.

    Anyway, thanks for the feedback. Considering some of the comments these threads have gotten, I consider them to be a success. Maybe more agnostics and non-theists will appreciate a design perspective or even an ID approach. And maybe there’s more common ground to be had between many TEs and ID proponents than most usually think.

  54. Divine Action in the Framework of Scientific Thinking: From Quantum Theory to Divine Action

    Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action

    Divine Action and Natural Selection: Science, Faith and Evolution

    Divine Action – amazon

    Considering the relationship between the natural sciences and the concept of God acting in the world, this study examines the Biblical motivations for asserting a continuing belief in divine action. It is a radical critique of current attempts to reconcile special divine action with quantum theory, chaos theory and quantum chaos. The book concludes that a satisfactory account of how God might act in a manner that agrees with modern science is still lacking.

    Divine Action and Modern Science

  55. Truell,

    Yes the sarcasm was very sophomoric.
    I apologize for that.

    But, do you really think it’s not presumptuous to *assert* that no one can have a better understanding of G-d than you? Why can’t you entertain such a thought?

  56. 56
    CannuckianYankee

    Mr. turell @ 29,

    I apologize for responding so late, and I thank you for your response to my question.

    While I agree with perhaps 90% of what you stated, and I think your position is quite admirable, the 10% that I disagree with (and this is perhaps off topic, but I wanted to address it nonetheless) is:

    I sense your belief is that everything we hold as true must be empirically verifiable. If this is your position, I disagree. In fact the very notion that truth must be empirically verifiable is itself not empirically verifiable.

    I believe that there are certain truths, for example, which are self-evident, and not open to verification, but must nonetheless be true in order for us to come to any meaningful conclusions about any other allegedly truthful proposition. Many of us consider these as first principles of reason.

    I think therefore, that it IS possible to come to terms with who God is beyond merely acknowledging his existence and without any empirical considerations; just sound reason based on first principles. In fact, I would also assert that scripture itself can be justifiably held true or not true, without resort to empirical verification, but following first principles of reason.

    I’m going to assume that you are quite aware of these principles and how they are applied. In fact, it would come as a surprise to me if you did not apply these principles in coming to your conclusion that God does in fact exist. I simply believe that one can go further than just that; therefore it is quite possible in my thinking that perhaps all religions are false, or that one might be true, and we could know through reason which one that might be, if any. This might appear to be an arrogant position, but it would be no more arrogant than asserting that no one could know these things. I personally do not believe either position is necessarily arrogant, but both must appeal to first principles of reason for their justification. Do you not agree?

    But as you suggested, and I agree with you; we are quite free to believe as we feel justified.

    One last question if you don’t mind: In your book, do you consider any of the many arguments for God’s existence other than design arguments?

  57. 57

    Hello again Mr Turrell,

    Thank-you for your kind response, and the very personal insights you had to offer.
    When I think of theistic evolutionists, I think of people like Kenneth Miller. I don’t think you have much in common with him. Nonetheless you are a firm theistic evolutionist which is fair enough. Given the strong, virtually inseparable connotations that neo-darwinism has to evolution for me I have neglected works on directed evolution. Also, as soon as you introduce concepts of Intelligent Design to the subject that’s the end of Darwin, Dawkins, Miller and co. Maybe I should read your book!
    ES58’s first response to you was out of order and I’m glad he apologised for it. The only dividing line that truly matters is that between Chance or Design. I’m glad you and I are on the same side. The sooner people like ES58 appreciate this fact, the stronger the ID movement will become.

  58. 58

    Timaeus,

    Rather than question your good faith in this discussion as you have done mine, I’ll simply point out that some of the arguments that you believe have been adequately addressed by the pro-ID side have in fact not been addressed to the satisfaction of most.

    You’ve missed my point about crystals and toasters. We know a toaster is designed because we know something about the designer. Whether or not this troubles ID theory, this is a significant problem in actual design detection. I’m not aware of any analytical tool that can successfully detect design without reference to what we know about human design.

    You are correct that if (non-human) design were to be established for a single biological feature, then it would be a significant challenge to evolutionary theory. I eagerly anticipate such a discovery.

  59. 59

    Timaeus,

    Assumption! You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    Your characterisation of the assumptions that TEs make is itself one long assumption! Or perhaps better to say a groundless assertion. I can’t speak for other TEs – and perhaps this is part of your frustration, that there are many TE viewpoints – but let me respond myself to your accusations.

    TEs *assume* the existence of a Christian God (I know of no Muslim, Jewish or Hindu TEs), as a matter of faith,

    Yes, I believe in God as a matter of faith and I am a Christian. I wouldn’t characterise my faith (or anyone else’s for that matter) as “taking for granted.”

    and many of them *assume*, also as a matter of faith, that this Christian God would never make his design detectable by human reason;

    I don’t assume that. I simply observe that we have not empirically detected his design thus far.

    and they further *assume*, as an irrefutable result of science, not only the fact of evolution, but that evolution proceeded primarily via Darwinian mechanisms…

    My acceptance of both the facts and the theory of evolution is the product of years of learning. Not an assumption.

    and then they baldly assert, without proof or explanation, that even though Darwinian mechanisms are inherently unguided, and even though God never intervenes in the creative process (another *assumption* made by the majority of leading TEs)

    I don’t assume that. I simply observe that we have not detected empirically any interventions thus far.

    that nonetheless God can guarantee that these unguided mechanisms will produce the results he wants.

    I have no doubt of this. God is, well, God. However, I’m not bold enough to presume to know what his desired results are.

  60. 60

    PFX Gumby says: “I’m not aware of any analytical tool that can successfully detect design without reference to what we know about human design.”

    Does he agree that we can detect design in termite nests? Human design is not a feature of those and we can eliminate any prospect that a termite nest could make itself by accident.

    What about Stonehenge? Humans probably made it… but we cannot be certain. Once again, we can detect design in that structure simply because we can be absolutely certain that it did not build itself.

  61. Prof. FX Gumby:

    I’m not aware of any analytical tool that can successfully detect design without reference to what we know about human design.

    Yes, design detection requires knowledge- the knowledge of cause and effect relationships. And yes our knowledge of human activities is part of that.

    You are correct that if (non-human) design were to be established for a single biological feature, then it would be a significant challenge to evolutionary theory.

    And that exact thing has been done. Go figure… (living organisms them selves; ribosomes, ATP synthase, flagella, cilium, etc., etc., etc.)

  62. Prof FX Gumby:

    Having been “played” by internet TEs and atheists dozens of times over the past few years, I tend to be on the suspicious side about their motivations. However, I don’t know you well enough (unless you are someone else I’ve debated with, using a different pseudonym than previously) to impute mischievous motives to you, so I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.

    Let me concentrate on the substance. You have repeated, without proof, your claim that we know a toaster is designed on the basis of our prior knowledge of the designer. I disagree with that entirely, and have given my reasons. You have not responded to my reasons, but have merely repeated your assertion.

    Assuming that we discovered a toaster on some other planet, with a plug capable of insertion into one of our own power sources or some outlet that we could manufacture, we could observe that the toaster has parts which perform a certain function — heating an element and, after a certain period of time, making the lever spring up. Even if we had never heard of toast and could not imagine what the device was for, its designed character could be inferred, from any number of features, including the refined metals (which are not found in nature), the use of the bimetallic bar (in older toasters, anyway), and the coordinated action of numerous well-formed parts (which are neither found in nature, nor, were they found in nature, would they arrange themselves for such coordinated action, not even if a million tornadoes blew through a million junkyards to stir up the parts). The inference to design would be as certain as anything short of Euclidean geometry or formal logic.

    If you cannot see that this is the case, if you think we would need to know something about the physiology, origin, motives or intentions of the race which built the toaster, you will have to specify exactly what you think it is that we would need to know about the designer before the design inference was legitimate. You have not done so, or even tried to do so. Until you do, I consider my position as demonstrated.

    As for crystals, no ID proponent claims that crystals can be shown to have been constructed by an intelligent agent. They form due to the blind action of the natural laws of physics and chemistry. That is well explained by Dembski. Of course, if one assumes that God constructed natural laws in the expectation that they would lead to crystal formation, then in an indirect sense crystals would be designed. But in the case of crystals, the methods of ID cannot establish that anything beyond natural laws are involved, whereas, in the case of a toaster, they can. The interesting question of course, concerns the complex systems found in the organic world, which are, prima facie, much more like toasters than like crystals. ID proponents believe that at least in some cases design can be demonstrated.

    I notice that you have not responded to my refutation of your “design implies that some things must be non-designed” argument. Until I hear back from you, I will take it that my refutation has convinced you.

    Let me know when you have read Behe’s description of the flagellar transport system, and tell me whether or not you think that system was designed, and if not, why not.

    T.

  63. Prof FX Gumby:

    I realize that I must not make you responsible for all TEs. At the same time, it is hardly an adequate refutation of my characterization of many TEs that you do not share the views of those TEs.

    I have been offering a characterization of the views of the leading TEs. I have admitted that many rank and file TEs — thousands of people would would describe themselves as TEs but are relatively unknown and uncelebrated, in comparison with Collins, Miller, Murphy, Giberson, Falk, Isaac, etc. — may not share all the views of their movement’s most vocal representatives. That does not invalidate my characterization of the people of whom I am speaking.

    Having read thousands of pages of TE books, articles, blogs and e-mails now, and having debated with TEs major and minor, I think I know the range of leading TE opinion quite well. I don’t know whether or not you can say the same.

    My point about the TE assumption of the Christian God is not that it is wrong for Christians to assume that the Christian God exists. My point is that ID reaches God — and merely a generic God at that — only at the *end* of its investigation into nature, whereas TE assumes God — and specifically a Christian God (usually a post-Enlightenment Protestant God) — as the *starting-point* of its reflections upon nature. Many TEs have explicitly stated that they look for design in nature only because they already believe in God through faith, and have stressed that this is different from ID people who believe that one can conclude God from nature without the help of the eyes of faith.

    You miss my point about the assumption of Darwinian mechanisms. I am not denying that for some individuals the acceptance of Darwinian mechanisms is something that proceeds from long study of biological detail. But the vast majority of people living on this planet who claim to believe in Darwinian evolution could not talk for more than five minutes about the specific mechanisms, and in those five minutes would give only standard examples — finch beaks, giraffe necks, antibiotic resistance. If you actually press most people, even most scientists, for a detailed explanation of Darwinian pathways, you quickly find that their “knowledge” of whale evolution, bird evolution, human evolution, etc., is ultimately faith that some biologist at some university somewhere has shown how bats’ wings evolved, how the lung evolved, etc. It is just assumed, without proof, that Darwinian mechanisms are capable of creating virtually anything. This assumption has been challenged by some biologists who are specialists in evolutionary biology, e.g., Lynn Margulis, and a number of leading theorists from the recent conference at Altenberg (none of whom, by the way, are sympathetic with ID). If you are unaware of such challenges to Darwinism from within evolutionary biology, this raises doubts about your claim to learning in the field.

    As for the rest, I repeat my original point: I’m not really concerned with whether or not a pseudonymous poster on UD endorses all the contradictions and muddles of TE leaders. If you don’t make all the foolish claims that some TEs do, more power to you. That will not stop me from repeatedly challenging those claims whenever the natural occasion arises. TE, in the form I am criticizing, is seriously flawed in its account both of the nature of science and of Christian theology, yet has the gall to lecture ID people in both those areas. I don’t intend to take such intellectual arrogance lying down.

    If you wish to state your own version of TE, I’m quite willing to listen to what you have to say. But if you get caught defending one side in a shooting war that you didn’t begin, don’t complain if you get hit with some fire from the ID side.

    If I may suggest a constructive approach: instead of merely attacking ID (with arguments which are frequently used by the TEs I’m speaking of), why don’t you state positively what you affirm as a TE, about God, nature, science, etc.? About evolution and its mechanisms? About how divine action and natural causes are connected? Then I could assess better where you stand vis-a-vis the leading TEs that are my main concern.

    T.

  64. Timaeus @ 49 (or whatever number it ends up being):

    You said :

    “What you fail to see is that we do not detect design by comparing some objects with others.”

    Actually, you do compare objects with others. From the moment you’re born you’re exposed to designed objects and you are taught to recognize, understand, and use designed objects. You may even be taught to design and build objects.

    Even if no designed objects are in your possession or presence when you’re examining an object to see if it shows evidence of design, you’re still referencing a lifetime of exposure to designed objects to make comparisons to the object you’re currently examining.

    Your mind is filled with images and at least some understanding of designed objects. You cannot help but reference and apply those images and understanding when you’re examining an object and trying to determine if it shows signs of design.

    You are making comparisons, whether you realize it or not. You’re always referencing other objects; the designed objects that you’ve been exposed to all your life and have stored as references in your brain.

  65. 65

    Timaeus,

    If I understand correctly, you seem to be saying that ID proponents can establish design for complex objects and systems, but not apparently simple ones. Here, you’re making reference to what we as humans understand as complex and simple. If we were to come across an artifact of a very, very advanced alien civilisation that appeared very simple to us, such as a synthetic crystal designed to store data or act as a power source in some way we were completely unfamiliar with, would we know that it had been designed? Without further knowledge of the designer’s technology, life history, society, etc.? Unlikely. However, as we’re not likely to come across any such evidence to test in the next while

    You then liken complex organic objects and systems to toasters and consider that it’s more likely they were designed than evolved naturally. I didn’t refer to this in your earlier post, as this is simply arguing from analogy and from incredulity.

    You note that “ID proponents believe that at least in some cases design can be demonstrated”. Well, this is very much the point, isn’t it? Or rather the lack of such belief among the wider scientific community. Design has not yet been demonstrated to the degree of rigour required by the scientific community. As I said above [edited for Chris Doyle's benefit]: I’m not aware of any analytical tool that can successfully detect design without reference to what we know about human, [termite, beaver or other biological organism] design.

  66. 66

    Timaeus @63,

    Your comments in 47 above on the assumptions of TEs were directed in a comment to me and weren’t qualified in any way. So I thought to disabuse you of the idea that all TEs share your list of assumptions. You think you know the range of leading opinion quite well, but if you ascribe the facile assumptions to all TEs, as you did in comment 47, then I suggest you don’t know their opinions as well as you think. However, I’m not interested in defending anyone else’s TE position.

    My position is simple to outline. I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth, of all that is seen and unseen.

    I accept the empirical evidence that evolution has in fact occurred in the past and continues to occur at present. I consider that current evolutionary theory explains well our observations about biology. Of course, there is still plenty of room for reevaluating and revising evolutionary theory in the light of new observations and new theoretical developments.

    I don’t think that these two positions are in any way contradictory. I don’t believe that God has directly intervened in the evolutionary process; however, there is no evidence either way to prove or disprove this. If evidence of interventions were to arise, I’d consider it carefully.

  67. 67

    Timaeus @62 (and Mung @41),

    I notice that you have not responded to my refutation of your “design implies that some things must be non-designed” argument. Until I hear back from you, I will take it that my refutation has convinced you.

    No, I simply hadn’t gotten around to it. I’m apparently not making myself clear, so I’ll try again.

    The typical ID argument runs along the lines of “organelle X or system Y is complex, therefore it must have been designed”. (Yes I know I’m simplifying, but I’m trying to be brief as well.) Yet there have been observed instances of evolution in action (finch beaks, speciation by polyploidy, etc.). This would appear to suggest that these (less complex) things were not designed. If this position is taken, that some things were designed but others weren’t, then in my opinion, this limits God to the role of a tinkerer who pulls out his cosmic AutoCAD to produce blueprints for flagella, Golgi apparatuses, and so forth.

    If the position is taken that it’s all designed, then it’s necessary to give a bit more detail on exactly what is meant. Does God directly, consciously intervene in every single cell division and (apparent) mutation? Or is the process of biological change subsumed under a grand design process? If so, how is this different in operation from standard evolutionary theory?

  68. 68

    Thank-you for your response, PFX Gumby, in which you expand design detection beyond reference to mere human design. You now encompass reference to design by “biological organism”. I wonder, if you had never seen a termite, but came across an old, preserved termite nest – still exhibiting vast amounts of dFSCI – would you ever consider that what you were seeing was a product of purely natural processes? And what about Stonehenge? Or even Crop Circles? We strongly suspect that these are the result of human activity but we don’t really know that for sure. When you behold any of these things, you don’t think to yourself, “Ah, this is the result of a biological organism”. You just think, “No way did they make themselves as a result of purely natural processes.”

    Yes, opening the door for “biological organisms” in design detection means that you are opening the door to detecting design without knowing anything significant about the designer. And, assuming you are a Christian, then you must believe that Jesus – the Son of God, part of the all-important Trinity that created everything – was a “biological organism” at some point…

    A final double question if I may: as a theistic evolutionist I presume you do not believe that the arrival of mankind was an unplanned, purely accidental event. If the Creator was not surprised by our arrival, were the random mutations not random after all? How can this be reconciled with neo-darwinism?

  69. 69

    “The typical ID argument runs along the lines of “organelle X or system Y is complex, therefore it must have been designed”… “

    It is incomprehensible that someone wishing to be taken seriously could come to UD and use this old line.

    It carries the same intellectual horsepower as the Darwin doubter who says that “if we evolved, then why are there still apes”.

  70. Timaeus, you said:

    it is easily imaginable that a limited role for the chance outcomes of Darwinian processes could be built into a bigger design plan

    So you accept the notion that God could have designed what we consider to be random. Then why is it so dificult to imagine that God planned evolution. ID, by definition must limit God, by implying that God could not have designed a system that we observe as random.

  71. The first sentence of the definition of Intelligent Design according to this blog:

    The theory of intelligent design (ID) holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as natural selection.

    Certain features? I thought everything in the universe was designed. Perhaps you should change the definition to this:

    The theory of intelligent design (ID) holds that every feature of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as natural selection. But some features are more designed than others.

  72. 72

    lastyear,

    Perhaps the most significant reason not to change to your revised definition of ID is that what you state as a definition is incorrect. ID Theory does not say that everything in the Universe was designed, nor does it claim a method of detecting design in all things in the Universe. The DNA argument doesn’t get you there, the IC argument doesn’t get you there, the Semiotic argument doesn’t get you there, the FSCI arguement doesn’t get you there, the physiological argument doesn’t get you there. Not even the fine tuning argument gets you there.

    There is a theological argument that might get you there, but ID is not a theological arguement.

  73. Prof. FX Gumby,

    My position is simple to outline. I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth, of all that is seen and unseen.

    I accept the empirical evidence that evolution has in fact occurred in the past and continues to occur at present. I consider that current evolutionary theory explains well our observations about biology. Of course, there is still plenty of room for reevaluating and revising evolutionary theory in the light of new observations and new theoretical developments.

    I don’t think that these two positions are in any way contradictory. I don’t believe that God has directly intervened in the evolutionary process; however, there is no evidence either way to prove or disprove this. If evidence of interventions were to arise, I’d consider it carefully.

    Then what is God’s relation to evolution? You say you don’t believe God intervenes or intervened directly in evolution, but you say God is the Creator of all on your view. Then did God foresee and preordain all that occurs in nature? Did God foresee the variation as well as the selection?

    As I said in the OP, the key here is detail.

    Yet there have been observed instances of evolution in action (finch beaks, speciation by polyploidy, etc.). This would appear to suggest that these (less complex) things were not designed.

    What it would suggest is that those observed instances of evolution do not qualify as design given a particular, arguably reasonable standard of investigation.

    Let me give you a practical example. Let’s say I have a room of artworks. I’m trying to find which pieces were made by ArtistX. How can I do that? Well, there’s one obvious way: Take each piece and look for an ArtistX signature. Let’s say I do this, and I find that 25% of the pieces have a ArtistX signature. The rest have no signature. Is it therefore the case that only 25% of the pieces in the room are by ArtistX?

    Well, no. ArtistX, based on the information I gave here, could have made every piece in the room – an artist doesn’t have to sign every piece he makes. However, I employed one reasonable standard of identification. Maybe there are other standards (particular styles of design, traces of documented ownership, etc) that I could use. Maybe I’m unaware of those standards, and maybe not.

    I think ID proponents are employing a similar approach. It’s admitted that, in principle, everything in the universe can be designed. What’s being focused on is one particular way to infer design. If said way doesn’t detect design in this or that artifact, it does not add up to a claim that the artifact was not designed.

  74. Nullasalus, you said:

    It’s admitted that, in principle, everything in the universe can be designed. What’s being focused on is one particular way to infer design.

    You’re missing the point of Prof. Gumby’s argument.
    What’s the only method to infer that an object was designed when we don’t know anything about the designer? It’s by comparing that object to known examples of design. ID theorists repeat over and over that we infer a certain biological system was designed because we know that designed objects exhibit certain characteristics, and we find those characteristics in the biological system.
    By saying that everything was designed, you completely nullify that entire line of reasoning. There are no longer any specific characteristics that distinguish design from non-design. Everything was designed!

  75. lastyearon,

    By saying that everything was designed, you completely nullify that entire line of reasoning.

    Not really, since you can have multiple varieties of design – just as you can have multiple ways to determine (with varying degrees of confidence) just which work of art was or wasn’t done by ArtistX. You can be unaware of or even question every way but the signature method – you’ll still have the signature method. It’s a question of what context you’re working in, what assumptions you’re granting – if only for the sake of argument – and so on.

    In the example I gave, every piece of art in the room could have conceivably be made by ArtistX. But a given method may only reasonably identify 25% of the art as being made by ArtistX. But if every piece of art in the room was made by ArtistX, that would not mean that the signature method was therefore invalid.

    Surely you see this?

  76. By saying that everything was designed, you completely nullify that entire line of reasoning. There are no longer any specific characteristics that distinguish design from non-design. Everything was designed!

    This argument has repeatedly been refuted and those posts have yet to be responded to.

    Two examples are here and here.

    Also, your argument isn’t even logical. I feel like I’ll be wasting my breath, but here it is.

    What’s the only method to infer that an object was designed when we don’t know anything about the designer? It’s by comparing that object to known examples of design.

    Step 1. Compare to known design.

    ID theorists repeat over and over that we infer a certain biological system was designed because we know that designed objects exhibit certain characteristics, and we find those characteristics in the biological system.

    We know that some designed objects exhibit certain characteristics.

    We do not know whether all designed objects share those characteristics.

    In fact, it could be argued that we do know that all designed objects do not share those characteristics.

    By saying that everything was designed, you completely nullify that entire line of reasoning.

    This is simply not true, for that line of reasoning isn’t even present. To wit:

    There are no longer any specific characteristics that distinguish design from non-design.

    There is no non-design in the above argument.

    There is known design, and there is unknown.

    We never compare things to things we know are not designed in order to make the design argument.

    You and the prof are just both wrong because you fail to grasp this distinction, or even admit that it exists.

    Unknown does not equal NOT DESIGN.

  77. Prof FX Gumby (64):

    Thank you for your replies.

    I understood your example of the advanced alien crystal the first time you gave it. I already explained why it was not to the point. Yes, it is possible that at any given stage of scientific knowledge, methods of design detection might fail to detect design where it actually is. That is what Dembksi calls a “false negative.” In his books and in many other places (including on this site, in response to the criticism of Francis Beckwith) he has acknowledge that ID might produce false negatives. However, that does not undermine ID as a project, unless you think that false negatives automatically nullify the false positives in any scientific testing method.

    Would you throw out all *positive* pregnancy test results on the grounds that on very rare occasions such tests show false *negatives*? Would you throw out all positive DNA identifications used in forensic science on the grounds that occasionally DNA testing produces a false negative? What you have to show us here is that ID could never even in principle produce a valid positive result; or at the very least, you have to refute those claims for positive results (e.g., the bacterial flagellum, treated mathematically in *No Free Lunch*) which ID has already produced.

    You say that inferring design in the case of, say, the flagellar transport system, is arguing from incredulity. Well, I say that inferring that such a system could have arisen through Darwinian means is an argument from credulity. Why should anyone believe it? There is no empirical documentation for it. Why should the onus be put on the Darwin-doubters? Why shouldn’t Darwinists have to provide the details, at least hypothetical, plausible details, before their account is accepted? Interestingly enough, the criticism of Behe’s *Edge of Evolution* book has focused mainly on his remarks about “two mutations” and a figure he got from the mainstream scientific literature; I haven’t yet seen a response, in any of the literature critical of that book, which explains how the flagellar transport system arose via Darwinian means. You can be sure that if there was a Darwinian explanation for that system, the anti-ID gang would have trotted it out. Nearly four years later, the embarrassed silence of the Darwinians still lingers in the air. But of course, when you are bluffing about your ability to explain something (as Darwinians almost always are), what can you do but remain silent when your bluff is called?

    T.

  78. There are no longer any specific characteristics that distinguish design from non-design.

    There never were any specific characteristics that distinguish design from non-design.

    Do you have a way to tell that something wasn’t designed? I’d be glad to hear it.

    You’re thinking of “Non-Intelligent Non-Design Theory.” That’s not us. We are “Intelligent Design Theory.”

    Do you think Darwin’s theory tells us which features of living organisms were not designed?

    Or is it a theory of how you can get design without a designer?

  79. Mung, you said:

    There is known design, and there is unknown.

    Maybe to you there is. But not to those who believe the entire universe was designed.

    My argument is with those who believe that everything is designed, yet also maintain that we can detect specific instances of design.

  80. Prof Gumby re 65:

    You wrote:

    “Your comments in 47 above on the assumptions of TEs were directed in a comment to me and weren’t qualified in any way.”

    Yes, the comment was to you, but it wasn’t about you; I was trying to inform you of what many people from your camp have asserted, since you seemed unaware of many of the arguments that have come out of it.

    As for “weren’t qualified in any way,” I think you read my comments too quickly. For example, I wrote:

    ” … many of them *assume*, also as a matter of faith, that this Christian God would never make his design detectable by human reason; and they further *assume*, as an irrefutable result of science, not only the fact of evolution, but that evolution proceeded primarily via Darwinian mechanisms (an assumption which Lynn Margulis and many other cutting-edge evolutionary theorists now seriously question); and then they baldly assert …”

    Now notice that this passage opens with the qualifying adjective “many.” Notice also that in the continuation, it is perfectly reasonable to expect a reader to apply the word “many” to qualify the occurrences of “they” which follow; it is not required in English prose to continue repeating an element within the same sentence, if the writer may reasonably be supposed to be talking about the same thing throughout the sentence. Admittedly, I could have nailed it down more precisely by repeating “many” in every section of the sentence, but I think that now that I have explained my intentions, you will see that the qualification was there explicitly at the beginning, and implicitly throughout.

    Note the further qualification in the next part:

    ” … without proof or explanation, that even though Darwinian mechanisms are inherently unguided, and even though God never intervenes in the creative process (another *assumption* made by the majority of leading TEs), that nonetheless God can guarantee that these unguided mechanisms will produce the results he wants.”

    Did you catch it? The assumption is made by “the majority” (not “all”) of “leading TEs” (not rank-and-file TEs). A double qualification! How much more can you ask for?

    Generally speaking, you will find that I qualify things much more frequently, and much more carefully, than TE writers do. Read the sweeping generalizations about “ID” made on Biologos on a daily basis. Then, if you would, please post some critical comments there about the lack of qualifications. I’d appreciate that, and so would ID proponents.

    T.

  81. Mung, you say:

    In fact, it could be argued that we do know that all designed objects do not share those characteristics.

    That is exactly the point.

    If some designed objects exhibit certain characteristics, and some designed objects don’t, then, given an object that exhibits those characteristics, how can you tell whether it was designed? Unless…you know that NO non-designed objects exhibit those characteristics. Write it out in simple logic and you’ll see what I mean.

  82. nullasalus, you said

    In the example I gave, every piece of art in the room could have conceivably be made by ArtistX. But a given method may only reasonably identify 25% of the art as being made by ArtistX. But if every piece of art in the room was made by ArtistX, that would not mean that the signature method was therefore invalid.

    All of the methods that would allow us to identify ArtistX’s work rely on knowing about ArtistX, and what distinguishes him from other artists. His style of brush stroke, his signature, his subjects, when and where he lived, what style influenced him, etc.

    ID theory has no methods that are like this, because it can’t identify anything about the designer.

    And so it can only identify generic ‘design’ by distinguishing it from ‘non-design’.

  83. lastyearon,

    All of the methods that would allow us to identify ArtistX’s work rely on knowing about ArtistX, and what distinguishes him from other artists.

    Sure. But the point was that there could be A) a diversity of methods of identification available, B) a single method may only reliably identify some, rather than all, the instances of ArtistX’s work, and C) that’s still compatible with every piece in the room being done by ArtistX.

    And so it can only identify generic ‘design’ by distinguishing it from ‘non-design’.

    No, ID makes the argument that there are certain hallmarks of ‘design’ that we can be reasonably sure of and which lend themselves to use in evaluating whether X or Y was designed. It does not require certainty that everything that does not meet the standard is therefore ‘not designed’, any more than in my example a person who knows that a signature indicates that ArtistX was responsible for a piece of art must therefore be committed to the idea – on the information provided alone – that any piece without a signature was not done by ArtistX.

  84. #56 CY: Thank you for your discussion. Like Rupert Sheldrake I am an evidentialist. I must find proof in one way or another. Sheldrake like the Bayesian Theorum, but he accepts the Bible as innerrant, and starts there and I don’t. I must find science. In my Chapter Seven I do use both design of the universe with its very specific parameters and biologic design as one reason for God. Also First Cause, the huge presumptions in Darwinism which cannot have occurred by a chance mechanism, and the arrival of true consciousness in H. sapiens. Consciousnesds is how we are made in the image of God, as I consider Him a Universal consciousness.

  85. #57 Chris Doyle: Thanks you for our very kind comments. I am convinced that Neo-Darwinism cannot survive the current studies of the ‘junk’ areas of DNA, the large contribution of epigenetics to rapid inheritable adaptations to suddenly appearing dangers, and so forth. Darwin worked brilliantly from his very limited knowledge, but from our vantage point today, it is easy to see his errors.

  86. lastyearon, and others who say everything is designed:

    yes and no, there are levels; if you spill something on the floor, the arrangement is random; at different level, the components that make up all the spill may be the product of design

  87. # 55 es 58: I understand that you are a very religious person, and very proud of your religiosity. In a way I envy you that, as I have had to struggle with my own understanding of what I wanted to believe. I did not like being agnostic. I don’t like wishy-washyness. As a practicing physician I couldn’t practice my profession that way.

    However as I have stated elsewhere in the discussion and in direct response to you, we each start at different origins. As children our parents give us a religion to begin with. My Reform parents presented a cultural Judaism, not a very religious one. I imagine you came from a strongly religious family or came to find a very strong attachment.

    I started at zero, and I have used science alone to make my own judgments. I have not used the Bible (OT) at all. I know the modern scholars think Genesis was written by several authors, certainly not Moses at Sinai. The authors are humans. I don’t accept that they had divine insights or direct contact with God’s thoughts. My concept is the Bible is man-made history, at least in the OT. What is fascinating to me is Nahmanides (Ramban) gave an amazingly accurate description of the Big Bang from the early chapters of Genesis. (See Schroeder, “Genesis and the Big Bang”)

    Which brings me finally to your question of me, which is why do I think I know about God as well as anyone else might. We know about God through His works. (The Quranic point of view; see Karen Armstrong, “A History of God”) We do not know God directly, so any other person has as good a theory as I do. My theory is no better nor worse than anyone elses’ theory.

    The commentaries are written by men who started with faith. I arrived at faith by proving to myself through science there had to be a greater power behind the origin of the universe, the very special Earth we have, and our specified arrival through evolution. The odds against chance are insurmountable.

    You have a perfect right to your way of worshipping. I have mine.

  88. Prof Gumby re 65:

    I don’t know of any Christian ID proponent who would differ from your statement on creation.

    Further, many ID proponents, past associates and allies accept that evolution has occurred (Behe, Denton, Sternberg, and a host of rank and file IDers, many of whom post columns and commments here), and do not find any theological problem in the notion that God might have created through an evolutionary process rather than directly.

    However, an important difference between ID and TE people (and I’m generalizing here, which means that you among others may not be covered in my remark) seems to be that ID people are on the whole much more concerned than TEs to obtain a clear understanding of the relationship between divine action and the evolutionary process. Most of them don’t find it satisfactory to say: “I believe as a scientist that evolution from molecules to man occurred entirely without divine intervention, but faith tells me that God was involved somehow, so I’ll assert that he is the cause of the process while doing my science as if he wasn’t, and then I’ll get along with the devout Christians in my church and also with the devout atheists at my university lab, and then all will be well.” To an IDer, that is NOMA-like compartmentalization, whereby one believes in non-teleology in evolution because “science” says so, and one believes in teleology in evolution because “faith” says so, and one doesn’t feel any responsibility to explain how the two truths can be held together, in reference to exactly the same natural process.

    You can scour the hundreds of columns at Biologos, and you won’t find even the beginning of a competent theoretical exposition of the problem, just the blanket assertion that God controls all things, even randomness, so that all is well with evolution and there is no theological problem that Christians need to worry their little heads about. This sort of papering-over of a major theoretical difficulty cannot be sustained, which is why Biologos has come under theoretical attack from several camps (YEC, ID, and New Atheist), each of which offers more coherent philosophical thought about divine action (or non-action) in nature than anything that TE has yet achieved.

    You simply cannot maintain a serious thesis about the relationship between science and religion, or more particularly between evolution and creation, without some first-rate philosophers in your camp. And unfortunately, there is not as yet a first-rate philosopher in all of TE-dom.

    T.

  89. lastyearon @78

    Mung, you said:

    “There is known design, and there is unknown.”

    Maybe to you there is. But not to those who believe the entire universe was designed.

    My argument is with those who believe that everything is designed, yet also maintain that we can detect specific instances of design.

    Now I know you haven’t been paying attention.

    I am the one arguing that it’s all design. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone but me here (in this thread) make that claim.

    So by not dealing with my arguments you really fall short of making your case. Basically, you just keep repeating yourself. Deal with my arguments.

    1. There is no “not designed” category.

    2. There is a category, we know this had an intelligent cause (we know it was designed). Call this set C1.

    3. There is a category, we do not know this had an intelligent cause (we don’t know it was designed). Call this set C2.

    ID starts with C1, with the category we know this had an intelligent cause.

    It then reasons, by inference, from that category, the category of the known.

    But where lie those objects or events then that are the object of the inference? Obviously, they must come from C2. The things which we do not know are designed.

    For some events and objects in C2 we can make the inference. (Our confidence is extremely high.)

    For other objects and events in C2 that inference is not warranted. (Our confidence is not high enough.)

    Now it should be obvious that taking events or objects out of C2 and placing them in C1 does not magically turn the other objects in C2 into some “non designed” category, for that category does not even exist.

    It merely leaves them where they were, in C2, the category of “we don’t know.”

    [Is someone getting all this down, lol? This could be some of the best stuff I've written on ID.]

  90. Prof FX Gumby: “I don’t think that these two positions [Christianity and Darwinism] are in any way contradictory.”

    That is because you do not understand the difference between
    [a] Christian teleology (according to which God fashions the process of variations and selections to aim at and produce an outcome that conforms to his apriori specifications).

    and

    [b] Darwinist anti-teleology (according to which there are no apriori specifications for the process of variations and selections to aim at and produce).

    Thus, as a Christian Darwinist, you are embracing an irrational position that cannot be reconciled with the principles of rational thought.

  91. Mung, you say:

    “In fact, it could be argued that we do know that all designed objects do not share those characteristics.”

    That is exactly the point.

    If some designed objects exhibit certain characteristics, and some designed objects don’t, then, given an object that exhibits those characteristics, how can you tell whether it was designed? Unless…you know that NO non-designed objects exhibit those characteristics. Write it out in simple logic and you’ll see what I mean.

    If some designed objects exhibit certain characteristics, and some designed objects don’t, then, given an object that exhibits those characteristics, how can you tell whether it was designed?

    Through what is known as inference. More specifically, inference to the best explanation.

    Loosely, we know x causes y, y, therefore x.

    Unless…you know that NO non-designed objects exhibit those characteristics.

    We don’t know this. We can’t know this. That’s at least one major reason why “not designed” isn’t a category that we can rely upon in our logic (the logic of ID).

    If you were to show us an object with those same characteristics we’d infer that it was designed.

    How would you even hope to establish that it shares all the characteristics of design but was not actually designed?

    To put it in simple logic, again, loosely:

    we know x causes y

    q may also cause y, but we have absolutely no evidence that q causes y

    Therefore, x is a better explanation for y than q.

    Write it out in simple logic and you’ll see what I mean.

    Let me ask you to do the same. Fair enough? Write your side out in simple logic and show it here. It could help us both better understand each other.

  92. dr turell @86

    thank you for your thoughtful response;

    you wrote: ~ “I know the modern scholars think Genesis was written by several authors, certainly not Moses at Sinai.”

    modern “scholars” also assert that life originated through “natural processes” you and I know otherwise.

    Prior to your realization there was a Creator, I could understand why all inquiry is limited to what you refer to as “scientific”. Once you’ve gotten to a point where you understand there is another “realm”, isn’t it possible there’s more to be known.

    The scholars I listed (including ramban == nachmanides) also have “credentials”. You *volunteered* that you are a Jew. It’s possible the Creator is also aware of that (ie: it’s not an accident) and might now expect you to engage directly with the minds of those scholars, ie: beginning the investigation at point where the Creator placed you, intentionally.

    You might be surprised by what you find.

    Just as you did not permit the “darwinian” scholars to prevent you from examining the “other side” of the evidence, so too, perhaps it’s too early to allow the “modern scholars” to which you refer to have the last word.

    Just my suggestion, for what it’s worth.

    Be well.

  93. nullasalus, lastyearon:

    I agree with nullasalus.

    lastyearon: Please read my comments to Prof FX Gumby regarding the argument you are making. They fully answer all your objections, if you slow down long enough to digest them. And please take the time to read some of the technical and non-technical writings of Dembski, where he discusses false negatives in design detection and shows that they lead to no theological problem such as you and Prof FX Gumby think that you have identified.

    T.

  94. Prof FX Gumby @ 66:

    You wrote:

    “I’m apparently not making myself clear, so I’ll try again.”

    No, you were clear enough. I am a seasoned veteran in all the TE and atheist arguments (interestingly, they quite often overlap to a very large degree), and I recognized your line of argument before you even completed articulating it on your first attempt. The problem is not that you have not been clear enough; the problem is that your argument is inadequate, and you have not yet seen why.

    Your argument runs, in essence:

    “ID people argue that X is too complex to have evolved by Darwinian means, therefore it must have been designed. But this implies that if X were simpler, it could have evolved by Darwinian means. So therefore there are some things that did evolve by Darwinian means alone, and others which required extra design. But this cuts God out of a large part of creation, and is demeaning to him. Therefore ID is bad theology.”

    The first problem with this is logical. It does not follow from the fact that a certain organism or system *could have* evolved without designing input that it *did in fact* evolve without designing input. I can imagine rocks falling from a cliff and forming a simple word such as “an” or “or” by their configuration. This could have happened without the input of any designer. But if we saw such a configuration of rocks, we could not rule out the possibility that they were arranged in that way by human design. In the organic realm, what this means is that, while it might be the case that God doesn’t involve himself in some parts of evolution, but lets random mutation and natural selection operate by themselves, it might also be the case that he is involved in even the smallest evolutionary changes. Nothing argued by any ID proponent requires that God be “kept out” of any part of nature. So ID *might* lead to the view of God that you are criticizing, but it *need not* do so.

    Second, even if ID *did* entail that God designed some things and let others happen according to chance and natural selection and so on, what would be wrong with that? Maybe God wanted a world in which some things were fixed but in which other things were left to spontaneity. TE Ken Miller, in one of his many contradictory metaphysical moods, has praised God precisely for allowing this spontaneity, for letting creation “express itself” rather than controlling it at every step, like a dictator. I don’t think much of this line of argument, personally, but it shows that some TEs can look at a “free” nature and find it a theologically good thing, rather than a sign of God’s absence from creation and therefore a defect in the notion of God. You’ll also find that in the thought of TE George Murphy, there is sometimes a notion of the “absence of God” in creation — God, like Christ, strips himself of power, so that nature can have some powers of its own. Thus, there are many ways of thinking about God’s presence and absence in natural occurrences, and it isn’t clear — not without argument — that God always has to be designing or controlling every stage of the evolutionary process in order to be a truly Christian God.

    Finally, I come to your last paragraph. You wrote:

    “If the position is taken that it’s all designed, then it’s necessary to give a bit more detail on exactly what is meant. Does God directly, consciously intervene in every single cell division and (apparent) mutation? Or is the process of biological change subsumed under a grand design process? If so, how is this different in operation from standard evolutionary theory?”

    ID is a very broad tent, and ID proponents, while agreeing on certain basics (the possibility of design detection, and the dubious truth of Darwinian explanations), disagree on all kinds of things. I can’t speak for them as a group. I can tell you that very few of them — none known to me — would say that God consciously intervenes in every cell division. Generally they believe that God has endowed nature with powers of its own. However, they do not take it for granted that those powers include the power to evolve new life-forms of radically different structure. They regard any such claim as something that needs to be proved. So if it can be proved that a bacterium can develop antibiotic resistance, that’s fine with ID people. If it can be shown that natural selection can shape finch beaks, that’s fine, too. But nothing like the transition from invertebrate to verterbrate has come even close to being provided with a plausible evolutionary pathway, so many ID proponents remain skeptical that purely natural causes could have accomplished this, without the aid of interventions.

    On the other hand, there are ID proponents who have no problem with purely natural causes, even for major changes in body plans, but bring in ID concepts under your second suggestion. They suspect that biological change may be subsumed under some grand designed process. This is obviously the position of Michael Denton, and it may be the position of Richard Sternberg as well, and Behe has indicated that he is open to such an interpretation of evolution. I think that some of the Catholic commenters here might endorse such a position as well. I am certainly open to it, and would read any substantive arguments for this position.

    I am surprised that you ask your final question. It is quite obvious how such a view differs from standard evolutionary theory. Standard evolutionary theory is intentionally non-teleological, whereas the view you have suggested is teleological. Obviously ID people will support a teleological view and oppose a non-teleological one. This is why you constantly see, in Behe’s writings, qualified expressions such as “Darwinian evolution” and “Darwinian mechanisms.” Behe is at pains to show that it is not “evolution” he is opposing, but a particular mechanical explanation of evolution. He sees teleology going on in the process, whereas Dawkins, etc. don’t.

    On this point, the frustrating thing for Christian ID people is that their fellow-Christians, the TEs, regularly take the anti-teleological line of the Darwinians. It’s no accident that very few TEs have embraced anything like your second proposal. Only Conway Morris and Lamoureux have seriously entertained it. For some reason, most of the prominent TEs just don’t like the idea that the evolutionary process might be governed by immanent tendencies, as opposed to random mutations. I suspect that they would be too embarrassed to say so, lest their atheist scientific colleagues ridicule them for being closet “creationists.”

    T.

  95. Prof Gumby:

    Design has not yet been demonstrated to the degree of rigour required by the scientific community.

    The same “scientific comunity” that cannot support its own claims?

    Unfortunately for them ID has more rgour than their postion can muster.

  96. Joseph @ 96,

    You said: “The same “scientific comunity” that cannot support its own claims?

    Unfortunately for them ID has more rgour than their postion can muster.”

    Surely you can’t be serious.

    If you are serious, can you please point me to the ID research facilities, the ID researchers, the ID research results, and the ID theories that are more rigorous than those of the “scientific community” and are completely separate from the “scientific community” and don’t consider or use any of the research, results, or theories provided by the “scientific community”?

  97. Timaeus @ 89,

    You said: “You simply cannot maintain a serious thesis about the relationship between science and religion, or more particularly between evolution and creation, without some first-rate philosophers in your camp. And unfortunately, there is not as yet a first-rate philosopher in all of TE-dom.”

    Besides that being yet another condescending, insulting remark from you, it’s also based on an arrogant assumption. With that statement you’re assuming that some people (“first-rate philosopher(s)”) know more about God or religion than other people (TEs).

    Like many religious people you obviously believe that your version of how you see God and religion (and ID) is the only right way of seeing them. Anything other than your version must be wrong.

    Do you have anything other than assumptions, or references to so-called “first-rate philosopher(s)” who also operate on assumptions, to support your claims?

    Do you have supporting evidence, other than assumptions, that shows your beliefs to be true and the beliefs of TEs to be false?

  98. Mung, You continually fail to comprehend that there’s a basic flaw in your argument:

    You say you are “the one arguing that it’s all design”.

    Yet you insist that…

    There is a category, we do not know this had an intelligent cause (we don’t know it was designed). Call this set C2.

    Those two positions are mutually exclusive. Either you know everything was designed, or there are some things that we don’t know whether they were designed.

  99. Astroman,

    Welcome to the thread. Are you a TE? If not, I’d like to hear what you believe about God, and where you stand on the question of design.

    Edit:

    Like many religious people you obviously believe that your version of how you see God and religion (and ID) is the only right way of seeing them. Anything other than your version must be wrong.

    “Religious people”? As opposed to non-religious people and atheists, well known for their tolerance of people who disagree with them? This is silly.

    Further, Timaeus demonstrably has a broader tolerance for other beliefs than you imply. Right in this thread, he’s shown as much. ID itself is a big tent which comprises a number of views from a number of people, and they hardly all speak with a unified voice on all topics.

  100. 100

    Astroman,

    Surely you can’t be serious.

    If you are serious, can you please point me to the ID research facilities, the ID researchers, the ID research results, and the ID theories that are more rigorous than those of the “scientific community” and are completely separate from the “scientific community” and don’t consider or use any of the research, results, or theories provided by the “scientific community”?

    http://biologicinstitute.org/people/

  101. 101

    Mung,

    To put it in simple logic, again, loosely:

    we know x causes y

    q may also cause y, but we have absolutely no evidence that q causes y

    Therefore, x is a better explanation for y than q.

    Let’s start at the first line:
    we know x causes y
    I assume you mean x is Intelligent Design and y is objects that have certain characteristics. Ok. We’re in agreement so far.

    q may also cause y, but we have absolutely no evidence that q causes y
    Here’s where your logic breaks down. What is q? Is it nature? Chance? Random mutation? Natural selection? Whatever it is, it’s not the absence of x, because, given the assumption that everything was designed, we already know that everything is the result of x. x is an explanation for y, but it’s also an explanation for ~y, and it’s an explanation for q. So, whether q is an explanation for y is irrelevant.

    Therefore, x is a better explanation for y than q.
    Nope. Again, x is an explanation for everything, even q. q is certainly not mutually exclusive of x.

  102. —Astroman to Timaeus: “Like many religious people you obviously believe that your version of how you see God and religion (and ID) is the only right way of seeing them. Anything other than your version must be wrong.”

    Can we assume by your show of indignation that, unlike your reticent TE colleagues, you are going to step up and show us how God can direct an undirected process?

  103. Gee, Astroman (97), nice to meet you, too. :-)

    I don’t know what to say in reply, other than that I don’t recognize myself in your response, and, beyond a vague sense that you are imputing to me views that I don’t hold and aims that I don’t have, I don’t have the slightest idea what you are talking about.

    T.

  104. Clive Hayden @ 100,

    I said: “….that are more rigorous than those of the “scientific community” and are completely separate from the “scientific community” and don’t consider or use any of the research, results, or theories provided by the “scientific community”?”

    From what I saw on that site the people listed there were all mostly, or completely, schooled within the “scientific community” and do their work within the “scientific community” and use and consider the research of the “scientific community” and its facilities/tools, and I don’t see any indication that their work is any more rigorous than that of the rest of the “scientific community”.

    The only thing separate (or different) is their interpretation of some of the results.

    I didn’t see a location for the “Biologic Institute” and its research facilities. Is it an institute in name only?

    Joseph and others here regularly denigrate the “scientific community” but for some reason he and others apparently want very much for the “scientific community” to accept ID as a legitimate theory. In fact, he and others very much want the “scientific community” to accept ID as the only legitimate theory to explain life and its diversity, and to discard the ToE permanently. If the “scientific community” is so worthless and inept, why does any ID supporter care what they think or accept and why don’t ID supporters independently build their own research and research facilities from the ground up, completely ignoring everything the “scientific community” has ever done and theorized, and develop their own, separate results from the ground up?

  105. nullasalus, thanks for the welcome. I prefer to keep my beliefs about God to myself. I must say I’m surprised that keeping beliefs about God private isn’t practiced by all on a site that claims to have nothing to do with religion.

    I am open minded about the possibility of intelligent design. However, I am not convinced by any assertions that have been made to date by the ID movement and I don’t see how religious references or arguments are going to help verify intelligent design.

    You said: “Religious people”? As opposed to non-religious people and atheists, well known for their tolerance of people who disagree with them? This is silly.”

    I used the term religious people because there are religious people and it is religious people who are discussing or arguing about the particulars of their beliefs on this thread. It’s also apparent that some of the religious people on this thread believe that their version of their beliefs is the correct one and that other people are wrong. Some of the religious people on this thread are being insulting and condescending to others who don’t agree with them.

    And if anything is “silly” it’s automatically thinking that atheists need to be compared to religious people in the context of what I said.

    It’s irrelevant whether atheists are tolerant or not. I’m only referring to what’s going on in this thread and what often goes on between religious people elsewhere too. No matter what the topic, religion or anything else, there are always people who believe that their way is right and anyone who disagrees is wrong, and they can get quite rude and insulting about it at times, and that happens here all too often between people who claim to be members of the same religion, which is usually Christianity.

    Why is anyone discussing or arguing about religion on this site? Isn’t this site supposed to be about ID and its scientific credibility?

    You also said: “Further, Timaeus demonstrably has a broader tolerance for other beliefs than you imply. Right in this thread, he’s shown as much.”

    I disagree, and I think his rudeness and arrogance is obvious in his words. Like some others here, he thinks he has all the answers. He doesn’t. No one does.

    P.S. Can you please tell me why some of my comments still haven’t been posted?

  106. 106

    Astroman,

    nullasalus, thanks for the welcome. I prefer to keep my beliefs about God to myself.

    No, you don’t. In fact you walked into this thread to spout off on what is and isn’t valid when thinking about God.

    If your beliefs about God are such that you’re not willing to share them – but you want to criticize others when they share theirs – please depart from this thread. As I said right in the OP, detail is important, as is some proper conduct. You’re providing no detail, and your conduct is poor.

    I must say I’m surprised that keeping beliefs about God private isn’t practiced by all on a site that claims to have nothing to do with religion.

    It’s a thread expressly about God. We’re a multifaceted group here – why, did you know on Biologos they routinely talk about science, when it’s a religion-oriented site?

    And if anything is “silly” it’s automatically thinking that atheists need to be compared to religious people in the context of what I said.

    It’s irrelevant whether atheists are tolerant or not.

    A weak response, and a fumble. Yes, it is relevant when you act as if ‘religious people’ are particularly intolerant.

    P.S. Can you please tell me why some of my comments still haven’t been posted?

    No idea. I don’t do the admin thing here much – I’ve heard people complain about spam filters before. More knowledgeable people, any idea?

    That said, I repeat. This is a particular thread devoted where I laid out some rules. If you don’t want to state your beliefs, that’s fine – don’t, and kindly withdraw from this thread. I’m not impressed with what you’ve offered so far, nor with your slights against Timaeus. I didn’t approve of the knocks on turell, and I don’t approve of this.

  107. Timaeus @ 103,

    Do I really need to quote your outpouring of insulting remarks about TEs? Among other things, you even compared them to atheists, which I doubt is a compliment in your mind.

  108. nullasalus @ 106,

    So unless I join your particular club, and reveal my religious beliefs, I’m not welcome here on a site that claims to have nothing to do with religion? I thought you welcome honest discussion here? I don’t see any rules posted that require anyone to reveal their religious beliefs in order to participate on this site.

    Is keeping my religious beliefs private, having my own mind and opinions, and pointing out obvious truths about what is said, argued, and claimed here, being dishonest?

    Is honesty measured here only by the amount of agreement or disagreement with your party line?

    All my questions are honest questions and I would appreciate honest answers.

    “No idea. I don’t do the admin thing here much – I’ve heard people complain about spam filters before. More knowledgeable people, any idea?”

    Well, it looks as though some of my comments aren’t being posted because they make someone uncomfortable for some unspecified reason.

    “No, you don’t. In fact you walked into this thread to spout off on what is and isn’t valid when thinking about God.”

    Isn’t that actually what you, Timaeus, and others are doing, and isn’t that a daily behavior by many on this site?

  109. 109

    Astroman,

    So unless I join your particular club, and reveal my religious beliefs, I’m not welcome here on a site that claims to have nothing to do with religion?

    This thread expressly deals with religious topics. What makes you think this site ‘has nothing to do with religion’? ID is what is religion-neutral, and this site is not the platonic embodiment of ID.

    Nor did I say anything about ‘dishonest’. “Annoying” and “ridiculous” is more apt. But yes, if you don’t want to answer and give details on your beliefs the way most everyone else in this thread has this far, kindly wander off elsewhere.

    All my questions are honest questions and I would appreciate honest answers.

    What a coincidence, so would I. Your views on God and evolution, please? You know, the same questions that are the theme of this thread? Further, whining about other people and angrily accusing them of nonsense is not ‘a demand for honest questions’.

    Well, it looks as though some of my comments aren’t being posted because they make someone uncomfortable for some unspecified reason.

    Er, what? I just asked the admins, in this thread, what’s up. I’ve no idea how to check here, I’m used to blogspot.

    Really, just man up and say what you believe if you wish to participate. If you’re an atheist, I’m sure you’ll be fine. If you’re a theist, the same. Nothing to be afraid of.

    Save the theatrics for guys who do it better, or at least are more entertaining.

  110. I feel that this needs to be said:

    If you ID supporters want ID to be accepted as something legitimate and popular, the last thing you should do is alienate and insult people, and especially people with an open mind about the possibility of some form of intelligent design.

    If you truly feel confident in your position, and have scientifically verifiable evidence to support it, you should welcome ANYONE here so that you can present and honestly discuss or debate that evidence. And it shouldn’t make any difference whatsoever what their religious beliefs (or lack thereof) are.

    Alienating people or censoring their comments won’t help your cause.

  111. nullasalus @ 109,

    “What makes you think this site ‘has nothing to do with religion’? ID is what is religion-neutral, and this site is not the platonic embodiment of ID.”

    Well for one thing, this site says it serves the ID community, and the “ID community” (including the ID supporters on this site) regularly claims that ID has nothing to do with religion. You said that ID is religion neutral. If that’s so, why is religion a constant topic here?

    Your admission about the real focus of this site is quite revealing by the way.

    Your insulting remarks toward me are mighty Christian of you. Some of you alleged Christians don’t even go without insulting each other on a regular basis. Have you forgotten “love thy neighbor”?

  112. 112

    Perhaps a better name for Astroman would be Agroman. He has come on here, in an aggravating mood, showing not the slightest inclination towards calm, reasonable debate. It seems his only interest is one-upmanship: “You arrogant religious people, all being uncivil. Look at me, I’m not uncivil. It’s just you!” What is it about the evolutionist compulsion to attack religion and the person rather than engage with the facts? As Peter Hitchens has pointed out:

    “The arrogant rudeness of the materialists in any discussion of Darwinism is astonishing, and indicative of a lack of confidence in their case. One cannot even see anything wrong in equating Christianity, the foundation of our civilisation, and the reasoned basis on which man has sought to understand the universe, with Holocaust denial. Really, must we sink to this level? If people don’t like Christianity, then let their objections to it at least be respectable ones. If one thing has convinced me that this controversy is worth pursuing, it has been the invariable discourtesy and pride of the dogmatic Darwinists, which reminds me so strongly of my own attitude and tactics in my Trotskyist days, when I was concealing my own doubts from myself by rudeness to critics who (I secretly knew) had a point.

    If they would substitute patience for impatience, and civility for petulant and superior dismissal, they might learn something from their opponents. They should ask themselves whether their lack of manners is an attempt to defend themselves against any such danger.”

    Can I suggest, Astroman, that you leave out the agro, man, calm down and engage with civility. If you are unwilling or incapable of doing this then clearly you are less interested in searching for the truth as merely expressing your evolutionist intolerance of all things religious, critical of evolution or supportive of Intelligent Design (notice by the way that these are three separate areas of learning – but all mutually supportive of each other).

  113. Chris Doyle,

    The holocaust?

    Trotsky?

    You must be joking.

    I suggest that you practice what you (and Hitchens) preach, and especially pay attention to this part:

    “If they would substitute patience for impatience, and civility for petulant and superior dismissal, they might learn something from their opponents. They should ask themselves whether their lack of manners is an attempt to defend themselves against any such danger.”

    Even though some evolutionists are rude and insulting, you do know that two wrongs don’t make a right, don’t you? And you’re aware of the golden rule, aren’t you?

    Has it ever occurred to any of you that a big reason some “evolutionists” or “materialists” are rude and insulting is because many religious people, including many on this site, act holier-than-thou (even toward each other) and are intolerant and insulting of anything or anyone that doesn’t fit tightly into their belief system?

    I find it interesting and revealing that you assume I’m an “evolutionist”. Do you see evolutionist monsters in your nightmares?

  114. 114

    What a disappointing response from Astroman. Is he telling “The Whole Truth” I wonder…

    Never mind. As a participant in many different forums where things like atheism, religion, evolution, creation and Intelligent Design are discussed, Uncommon Descent is leagues ahead of everywhere else: in terms of the quality of debate, how current and detailed the subject matter is and the behaviour of participants.

    Any trangressions by pro-ID participants here are in the vast majority of cases insignificant compared to the nasty, rude and unpleasant remarks that evolutionists make here (before getting banned) and elsewhere especially. Finding an evolutionist who doesn’t overstep the line at the first opportunity is like panning for gold.

    It is undeniable that a critic of evolution in a forum with ten evolutionists would be subjected to horrendous abuse while an evolutionist in a forum with ten critics of evolution would have a much more tolerable experience.

    So, Astroman, I make one final appeal to you: put down your weapons and pick up the facts. Explain your empirical basis for believing that everything made itself by accident. More good will come of it than bad, you’ll see.

  115. Astroman:

    If you truly feel confident in your position, and have scientifically verifiable evidence to support it, you should welcome ANYONE here so that you can present and honestly discuss or debate that evidence.

    Unfortunatly there appear to be very few people who are honest enough to dicuss and debate the evidence with.

    The people who get banned from here get banned because the are not honest do not want an open discussion.

    Astroman:

    Joseph and others here regularly denigrate the “scientific community” but for some reason he and others apparently want very much for the “scientific community” to accept ID as a legitimate theory.

    All I say about this alleged “scientifc community” is they seem to have problems supporting their position. And I don’t care if they accpet ID or not. Seeing tey cnnot support thr position their opinion means very litle to me.

    And finally:

    “The same “scientific comunity” that cannot support its own claims?

    Unfortunately for them ID has more rgour than their postion can muster.”

    Surely you can’t be serious.

    What do YOU have Astroman? Let us see the rigor fo your position. Tell us about the mutations that moved the nostril from the tip of the snout to the top of the head.
    Stop complaining an start producing evidence.

  116. Chris Doyle,

    You sure do assume a lot. Where did I say I believe that everything made itself by accident?

    There is no good “quality of debate” unless everyone can be heard without having to worry about being insulted or banned.

    Christians acting contrary to their claimed standards is never “insignificant”, no matter how other people act. Does the Bible say to only be nice if people are nice to you?

  117. 117

    “You sure assume a lot” says Astroman, assuming I’m a Christian.

    If you don’t believe that everything made itself by accident, then you must believe that it was all made by design. Welcome to the team!

  118. Joseph,

    You have made an unproductive career out of complaining about and insulting “evotards” and the “scientific community”.

    Stop complaining and insulting people and start producing evidence for your position.

    Many people in the “scientific community” have worked at finding evidence that explains life and its diversity and many are currently working on it every day. What are you working on, another blog post where you relentlessly insult people you call “evotards” and many other foul names?

    “The people who get banned from here get banned because the are not honest do not want an open discussion.”

    That is not true and you know it.

  119. Chris Doyle,

    Nice try but I already said that I only think that intelligent design in some form is possible.

    It seems safe to assume that you are a Christian or at least that you think of yourself as one, unless of course the God you refer to and apparently believe in is a God of some other religion.

    It really doesn’t matter to me what religion you believe in. My comments are mainly about Christians because most of the ID supporters here claim to be Christians and most of the people arguing on this thread about theistic evolution or evolution in general either claim to be Christians or refer to their God as the Christian God.

  120. 120

    Hi Astroman,

    In what form do you think Intelligent Design is possible?

    Many Thanks.

  121. Astroman :

    You have made an unproductive career out of complaining about and insulting “evotards” and the “scientific community”.

    No insults, just observations and they have been very produtive.

    Stop complaining and insulting people and start producing evidence for your position.

    I have presented positive evidence for my position. OTOH my opponents don’t seem to be able to produce positive evidence for their position.

    Many people in the “scientific community” have worked at finding evidence that explains life and its diversity and many are currently working on it every day.

    And yet they still don’t have anything to support their claims. Strange, that…

    “The people who get banned from here get banned because the are not honest do not want an open discussion.”

    That is not true and you know it.

    It is true and based on the evidence.

  122. Chris Doyle, and others,

    Have you seen Joseph’s blog?

    http://intelligentreasoning.blogspot.com/

    Be sure to read his comments after each article too, and then ask yourself if you think he’s a proper representative or spokesman for ID.

  123. When looking at Joseph’s blog, also ask yourselves if you think that there are “No insults” from him and whether he’s really interested in honest, open discussion.

  124. 124

    Hey Astroman, if you answered my straightforward question about Intelligent Design it would make the discussion much more interesting.

    Or are you really more interested in trading insults with people you’ve never met? Life’s too short, Big Man. If you and I or even you and Joseph were talking face to face, none of this unpleasantness would arise. Internet forums are like cars: Dr Jeykll gets in and out comes Mr Hyde!

  125. Chris Doyle @ 120,

    I really don’t know. I will keep an open mind about it until I see verifiable evidence that sways me one way or another, if such evidence is ever found.

  126. 126

    Thanks Astroman.

    Are you saying you are completely agnostic on the matter then? If so, and you haven’t already read it, I would strongly recommend reading “Signature in the Cell” by Stephen Meyer.

    If you come away from that feeling undecided, then further time spent on this particular forum would probably be better spent elsewhere (and I mean that in the nicest possible way – because if Meyer can’t persuade you one way or the other, for the right reasons, then I doubt that anybody else at Uncommon Descent can).

  127. Astrowhinerman:

    Chris Doyle, and others,

    Have you seen Joseph’s blog?

    http://intelligentreasoning.blogspot.com/

    Be sure to read his comments after each article too, and then ask yourself if you think he’s a proper representative or spokesman for ID.

    I speak for and represent myself. I support what I say with references from experts on both sides.

    And for that I get attacked, insulted and fasely accused.

  128. Astrohnerman:

    When looking at Joseph’s blog, also ask yourselves if you think that there are “No insults” from him and whether he’s really interested in honest, open discussion.

    Also consider what I am respondng to and you will see who wants what.

    Do you really think that people here do not understand wat it is like dealing with anti-IDists? Are you expecting sympathy fom IDists? Or do you just want them to spank me? :cool: :razz:

  129. Have you forgotten “love thy neighbor”?

    Every chance I get.

    Does the Bible say to only be nice if people are nice to you?

    I’m pretty sure that’s in there somewhere, yes.

    Anything other than your version must be wrong.

    If I am right, it follows that those who disagree with me are wrong.

    ID isn’t like different releases of a Microsoft operating system.

  130. 130
    HouseStreetRoom

    Nullasalus, Prof. FX Gumby, Timaeus, turell, and others,

    Thanks much for the great discussion – I very much enjoyed it.

    Astroman,

    Way to go man, you single-handedly obliterated this thread. Not sure if that’s what you were going for though…

    Joseph,

    You missed an obvious one: Astro(ll)man

  131. Mung, You continually fail to comprehend that there’s a basic flaw in your argument

    And you fail to show that there is one. You assert there is one, but cannot demonstrate that one actually exists. Try using simple logic. It really isn’t all that difficult to show that two propositons are contradictory.

    Those two positions are mutually exclusive.

    I believe everything is designed, but I can’t show that it is indeed the case that everything is designed are not two mutually exclusive positions.

    I believe everything is designed, and in fact we know that some things are in fact designed, but other things we don’t actually know whether they were designed, is not an illogical position.

    Either you know everything was designed, or there are some things that we don’t know whether they were designed.

    I did not argue that we know everything is designed.

    I said we have known and unknown. I made that rather clear, I thought.

    It is the job of ID theory to make an inference from what we know about that which we do not know.

    Here’s where your logic breaks down. What is q?

    q is any other explanantion you want to offer. It’s the competing explanation(s). It’s the reasons to think that x is not the best explanantion. I don’t know what q is specifically until someone states what q is. If you can state what q is and why it’s a better explanation, more power to you.

    Whatever it is, it’s not the absence of x, because, given the assumption that everything was designed…

    Where, in my argument, have I employed the assumption that everthing is designed? It doesn’t have any place in my argument, so it’s not a basis for rejecting my argument.

    … we already know that everything is the result of x.

    I never argued that. In fact, I said that exact opposite.

    I said that C2 is the set of things which we do not know are designed. I said for some things in C2 we can infer design. I never argued that x was the best explanation for everything in C2.

    …x is an explanation for y, but it’s also an explanation for ~y

    I never argued that. I don’t even know what ~y means. y is the characteristic which we say reliably indicates design.

    So please explain what ~y would be? Characteristics which reliably indicate not designed?

    Good luck making that case.

    … and it’s an explanation for q. So, whether q is an explanation for y is irrelevant.

    I never said x was an explanation for q. I said x is a better explananion than q given the presence of y.

    Again, x is an explanation for everything, even q. q is certainly not mutually exclusive of x.

    I never argued that x is the explanation for everything. What I said was that x is the best explananation for y, and in the example I gave y did not mean “everything.”

  132. 132

    HouseStreetRoom,

    Thanks for the kind words. Don’t worry too much about Astro – this thread’s getting old by fast-moving internet standards anyway, and the success it’s had already is encouraging.

  133. 133

    He’s obviously flamebaiting. He should be banned ASAP.

    Anyway I believe there are three categories of causes: intelligence, necessity and chance.

    Necessity or law requires a Lawgiver and is therefore ultimately reducible to intelligence. It is however different from direct causation via intelligence. Chance may or may not exist, though QM suggests that it does.

    If chance really exists then right there you have events which are not designed. If chance doesn’t exist, then you have two types of causes which both require intelligence: direct agency and laws created by a Lawgiver.

    Either way there’s a place for intelligent design.

  134. Chance may or may not exist, though QM suggests that it does.

    Chance, as a cause, does not exist, and even QM does not suggest otherwise.

    See: Not a Chance: The Myth of Chance in Modern Science and Cosmology

    There’s real doubt about whether “laws” actually cause things to happen.

  135. Astroman:

    You wrote:

    “Do I really need to quote your outpouring of insulting remarks about TEs? Among other things, you even compared them to atheists, which I doubt is a compliment in your mind.”

    To the best of my knowledge, I said nothing about TEs — the group of TEs that I was talking about — that was not factually true. I identified my generalizations as generalizations, and I noted exceptions. At no point did I consciously attempt to misrepresent the TE position. If you can show where I did so, please do.

    I did not compare TEs per se to atheists per se. I said that TE arguments (against ID) were often very similar to atheist arguments (against ID). This is factually true. I leave it to you to explain why TEs, who are supposed to be Christian, so often take the side of atheists against Christian ID people. I just report the facts.

    I never intend the word “atheist” as a term of insult. There are moral, honest, intelligent atheists who don’t ignore or illegitimately manipulate the facts; I disagree with their conclusions, but I respect them. Then there are the New Atheists, who dishonestly ignore or manipulate the facts because they have various axes to grind; I have no respect for them, or for their badly researched, poorly argued, cliche-ridden bestsellers.

    For the intelligent, thoughtful atheists, e.g., people like Bradley Monton, and the intelligent, thoughtful agnostics, people like Steve Fuller, I have much more respect than I have for a number of the leading TEs, who appear to me to be dedicating their lives to holding together contradictions and, by a kind of doublethink, concealing the contradictions even from themselves.

    You can call that evaluation “insulting” if you wish, but I think it’s an accurate description of the facts. And I’m not about to retract an accurate description of the facts because it ruffles an anonymous writer’s sensitivities. We’re all here for serious intellectual debate, and that means sometimes telling someone else that he’s wrong. If people can’t take the heat, they should get out of the kitchen.

    T.

  136. Christian Darwinist: There is no conflict between Christianity and evolution. Please stop saying so.

    ID: I didn’t say that there was a conflict between Christianity and evolution. What I said was that the Christian world view cannot be reconciled with “Darwinism.”

    CD: Oh, so now you now going to start with the name calling. I heard you people are like that.

    ID: No, the term “Darwinism” is not meant to be derogatory. I am simply defining my terms. Darwinism means unguided, undirected evolution. Unguided evolution doesn’t know where it is going, which means that it is anti-teleological. Christianity, which posits a Creator, can be reconciled only with a purpose driven evolution–evolution that knows where it is going–evolution that aims for a specified result in accordance with the Creator’s intentions. According to Christian Darwinists, we can have it both ways, meaning that God could, in principle, direct an undirected process. That makes no sense.

    CD: According to you people, some things are designed and some things are not, which means that you think the entire universe was not a product of design.

    ID: No, not really. In any case, we are, for the moment, discussing your views not our views.

    CD: This is the second time that you have become uncivil and resorted to cheap insults.

    ID: I am not insulting you. I am simply asking you to focus and answer a simple question: Did God fashion the process of variations and selections to produce a specified outcome or didn’t he? If so, Darwinism has left the building. If not, then Christianity has been fatally compromised. How do you handle this difficulty?

    CD: There is no conflict between evolution and religion.

  137. 137

    Astroman,

    That is not true and you know it.

    People are banned for being uncivil.

  138. 138

    Astroman,

    I find it interesting and revealing that you assume I’m an “evolutionist”. Do you see evolutionist monsters in your nightmares?

    I do. “The world of science and evolution is far more nameless and elusive and like a dream than the world of poetry and religion; since in the latter images and ideas remain themselves eternally, while it is the whole idea of evolution that identities melt into each other as they do in a nightmare.”~G.K. Chesterton

  139. 139

    Careful T. Someone might mistake you for a YEC what with all your heated posts lately. Don’t you know only YECs get ticked off?

  140. 140

    Chance, as a cause, does not exist, and even QM does not suggest otherwise.

    A book about QM by RC Sproul? Pardon me but I think that’s a bit out of his element. I know it’s out of my element.

    There’s real doubt about whether “laws” actually cause things to happen.

    pfft.

  141. 141

    Astroman,

    If you ID supporters want ID to be accepted as something legitimate and popular, the last thing you should do is alienate and insult people, and especially people with an open mind about the possibility of some form of intelligent design.

    Chris Doyle expressly asked in what way you would accept ID, and you’re answer was “I don’t really know” because in reality you feign having an open mind towards ID. You’re the agressor here, don’t play the victim.

  142. 142

    Astroman,

    I didn’t see a location for the “Biologic Institute” and its research facilities. Is it an institute in name only?

    It’s in Seattle.

  143. It’s in Seattle.

    More specifically, Redmond. (A suburb of Seattle.) A REAL PLACE!

    People are banned for being uncivil.

    I’ve been banned for incivility. Fortunately, that condition is temporary. ;)

  144. tm,

    A book about QM by RC Sproul? Pardon me but I think that’s a bit out of his element. I know it’s out of my element.

    No, not a book on QM. A book on chance. Apparently also out of your element.

    Read it first, before you dismiss it as being out of his element.

    For more, read Stanley L. Jaki. A physicist.

    http://www.sljaki.com/

    As for laws, would you care to provide an example of a physical law which acts as a cause?

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/laws-of-nature/

    Or is that also out of your element?

    Whence then, the “pfft”?

  145. 145

    As for laws, would you care to provide an example of a physical law which acts as a cause?

    Ok I’ll play. Gravity. Your move. :D

  146. I’m a Jewish-Catholic-Calvinist.

    I lied. :(

    Deepest apologies.

    In fact, I am a Jewish-Catholic-Calvinist-Arminian!

    TULIPS are for PANSIES!

  147. tragic,

    I’ll assume you mean that there is a law of gravitation, and that this law causes various phenomenon. Correct me if i am wrong.

    The law of gravitation states:

    Newton’s law of universal gravitation states that every point mass in the universe attracts every other point mass with a force that is directly proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them.
    Newton’s law of universal gravitation

    The “law” itself, causes nothing. The “law” is merely a description. It is a statement about something. A statement about something is not a cause of that thing.

    How can a statement about a thing be the cause of the thing which it is a statement about?

  148. 148

    Well, I’ve enjoyed seeing this new evolutionist tactic, I must say.

    Step 1. Turn up with no intention of engaging in debate, merely smearing the nasty evolution-deniers.

    Step 2. Denying that they (or indeed, any evolutionist) ever makes nasty, rude and offensive remarks.

    Step 3. Expressing outrage whenever anybody claims Step 2 has happened.

    Step 4. Making excuses when direct questions are put to them (before getting themselves deliberately banned by escalating the insults).

    I’m sure Astroman has now turned his attention to evolutionist forums (where the nastiness is far, far greater than anything seen here) giving them all a really hard time when they “alienate and insult people, and especially people with an open mind about the possibility of some form of” evolution.

  149. 149

    Apologies for my absence yesterday. Very busy. I can see things have been busy here too. Rather than resurrect a now-stale point by point discussion, I’ll make a few general comments.

    Re my point that the science of ID has very little empirical support and little coherent theory, several have responded with the “I’m rubber, you’re glue” schoolyard defense. You try to point out the shortcomings of evolutionary science. Please don’t insult my intelligence (or yours). If you are honest with yourselves, you will admit that evolutionary theory currently has greater empirical support and explanatory power than ID. ID needs to do much more work if this is to change. You all know this.

    Re teleology. Several have made the point that TEs need to (can’t?) reconcile the non-teleology of natural evolution with Christian teleology, which requires that evolution be directed. Not so. It may be that the way the natural world works means that it’s inevitable that sentient life evolves. If you go on to assert that Christian teleology requires us to believe that God intended humans (specifically, with two arms, two legs, hair and strategically placed noses) to occupy the earth, I would disagree.

  150. 150

    Hi PFX Gumby, I would appreciate a response to the point I made here about the design of “biological organisms”:
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-380589

    And let me assure you, I for one am certainly being very honest with myself regarding the empirical support for evolutionary theory, particularly neo-darwinism: it is non-existent. If this wasn’t the case, then I would become a theistic evolutionist… though not one who believes, like you, that God was actually surprised when two armed, two legged, hairy humans turned up.

    As for the explanatory power of ID, try reading “Signature in the Cell” by Stephen Meyer. If you can provide an alternative, better explanation for the cell, I’d really love to hear it.

  151. Prof FX Gumby (149):

    Sorry that our conversation was interrupted by a long off-topic digression. It wouldn’t surprise me if you missed some of my previous answers in all the clutter.

    I’ll respond only to the point about teleology, as I wasn’t involved in the other argument.

    In your last paragraph above, you write:

    “Several have made the point that TEs need to (can’t?) reconcile the non-teleology of natural evolution with Christian teleology, which requires that evolution be directed. Not so. It may be that the way the natural world works means that it’s inevitable that sentient life evolves.”

    For a full response to this possibility, and how it sits in relation to the views of various ID and TE writers, please have a look, or another look, at the last 4 paragraphs of my post 94 above. Note in particular the part starting with:

    “On the other hand, there are ID proponents who have no problem with purely natural causes, even for major changes in body plans, but bring in ID concepts under your second suggestion. They suspect that biological change may be subsumed under some grand designed process.”

    In the light of my full explanation, I hope you will see that what you are calling a TE position is actually an ID position. Or, more accurately, a synthesis of ID with theistic evolution.

    One of the problems in discussing these matters is that people employ terms and abbreviations such as ID and TE without first finding out what they mean, by carefully reading the writings of those who support these positions. I have spent quite a few years now mastering the writings of dozens of TE and ID proponents, and I have a very good sense of all the shades within each position, as well as the general thrust of each position.

    It is not required by ID that evolution be “directed,” if by that you mean directly steered by divine intervention. That is an option within ID, but not part of the definition. The key thing about ID is the detection of design. The means of implementing the design (miraculous or not) are not central to ID. Both TE and atheist critics of ID continually get this wrong, because they refuse to read what ID writers say about their own theory, and rely instead upon rumor and hearsay. I don’t rely upon rumor and hearsay. After reading countless books and articles by almost all the major ID proponents, I’ve nailed down what each believes pretty well. If you haven’t done that kind of in-depth, academic survey of the ID writings, I would suggest that you trust me on this.

    In simple terms: ID is not intrinsically opposed to evolution. ID does not require intervention or miracles. ID is compatible with wholly natural causes. ID is opposed only to anti-teleological explanations of life and evolution. The solution you have proposed is teleological. Therefore, it is an option within ID.

    As for the theological question, the solution you have proposed is compatible with orthodox Christianity. Many Christian ID proponents would take it seriously. The only ones who would reject it outright are those who reject evolution outright on the basis of a certain reading of Genesis. I’m not one of those. Nor are many of the columnists and commenters here. Don’t assume that all ID proponents are “creationists” in the narrow sense in which that term is commonly used.

    T.

  152. 152

    In fact, I am a Jewish-Catholic-Calvinist-Arminian!

    TULIPS are for PANSIES!

    Firstly, LOL!

    Secondly:

    I’ll assume you mean that there is a law of gravitation, and that this law causes various phenomenon. Correct me if i am wrong.

    No that’s correct.

    The “law” itself, causes nothing. The “law” is merely a description. It is a statement about something. A statement about something is not a cause of that thing.

    How can a statement about a thing be the cause of the thing which it is a statement about?

    I never said gravity causes itself. In fact I said that laws ultimately must be caused by a Lawgiver. However, laws can cause other things. Just because the law of gravity is a statement about the law of gravity (what else would you expect a law to be?) doesn’t mean laws don’t cause certain things to happen.

    All I was saying is that it’s fair and even desirable to make a distinction between something like a law which is directly caused by agency and those things which are caused directly by law.

  153. —Prof FXGumby: “Several have made the point that TEs need to (can’t?) reconcile the non-teleology of natural evolution with Christian teleology, which requires that evolution be directed.”

    In my case, I specifically referred to the Christian Darwinist species of the Theistic Evolutionist genus. Forget about the word “directed” since it causes too much confusion. The issue is not whether or not evolution is directed but rather if it has been designed, programmed, or otherwise set up in advance to proceed towards a specified end point. Since Darwinism rules out that prospect, it cannot be reconciled with Christianity, which holds that God’s creative effort produced a specified result, that is, one which conformed to his apriori intent.

    If we are talking about a non-Darwinistic version of Theistic Evolution–one that allows for the purposeful unfolding of a maturation process–then it is compatible with Christianity because it is an TE/ID formulation.

    Only when Theistic Evolution embraces non-design Darwinistic processes are they incompatible with Christianity because Darwinistic processes are, by definition, purposeless and aimless, which means that they do not aim toward a specified end point. Thus, [a] Christian Darwinism, which does not aim toward a specified end point cannot be reconciled with [b] Christian evolution, which does aim toward a specified end point.

    The question that is being put to you, therefore, is not that complicated: How do you justify the irrational and self-contradictory notion of Christian Darwinism? If you are not a Christian Darwinist, then the question doesn’t apply to you.

  154. 154

    Chris @150,

    In your comment 68, you say:

    I wonder, if you had never seen a termite, but came across an old, preserved termite nest – still exhibiting vast amounts of dFSCI – would you ever consider that what you were seeing was a product of purely natural processes?

    Yes, someone in that situation could validly suspect design. However, concluding or even making a solid case for design would require a lot more research. We can only conclude design* when we learn about the designer – your termites.

    As you know if you ever played Clue/Cluedo, only suspecting the Designer with the Cosmic Wrench in the Conservatory is not enough to win you the game.

    A number of artifacts have been discovered that have caused people to incorrectly suspect design. Near perfect stone circles in the arctic appear to have been designed, but actually have been formed by freeze – thaw action. Thus, a lot more than simple appearance of design is required for a solid conclusion.

    As for crop circles, there’s more than a suspicion that these are designed.

    * Do termites count as intelligent designers? I think I’ll leave that question to someone else, maybe Joseph.

  155. 155

    Timaeus,

    I’m aware of the broad tent nature of ID, which your post at 94 outlines. The scope of ID positions (and TE ones) makes most generalisations impossible and conversations sometimes messy. I’m glad that you believe that ID is not intrinsically opposed to evolution and that it’s compatible with wholly natural causes. Based on some of your comments above, I mistakenly thought you thought otherwise.

    You say that

    As for the theological question, the solution you have proposed is compatible with orthodox Christianity. Many Christian ID proponents would take it seriously.

    I would be curious how many posters here would agree with you? I know StephenB would not, based on his comments above and elsewhere. I suspect that you may be on the “liberal fringe” of the ID tent!

  156. Prof FX Gumby (155):

    Why do you say that StephenB would not go along with your suggestion? In his most recent post to you, he writes:

    “The issue is not whether or not evolution is directed but rather if it has been designed, programmed, or otherwise set up in advance to proceed towards a specified end point. Since Darwinism rules out that prospect, it cannot be reconciled with Christianity, which holds that God’s creative effort produced a specified result, that is, one which conformed to his apriori intent.

    “If we are talking about a non-Darwinistic version of Theistic Evolution–one that allows for the purposeful unfolding of a maturation process–then it is compatible with Christianity because it is an TE/ID formulation.”

    This is just what you were talking about — a natural process which *necessarily* leads to the production of intelligent species. But if it *necessarily* leads that way, then, StephenB is saying, it must have been set up to do so. And that’s design. Thus, one can be a Christian, and intelligent design proponent, and an evolutionist at the same time.

    As for who else supports such a view, well, to start off with, Michael Behe, a firm evolutionist, has granted the possibility that evolution could proceed in this way. Richard Sternberg, who may not formally call himself an ID person, but is certainly allied in key respects with ID, believes in evolution, prefers a naturalistic model, and sees mathematical structures governing the process which resemble neo-Platonic conceptions — again, a form of design. Michael Denton, who used to be a Discovery Fellow, but now operates on his own, can be called a small-id proponent; he certainly thinks design is evident in nature, and if you read his second book, you will see that he makes a very strong case for inferring it. He is also a naturalistic evolutionist. Denyse O’Leary, along with StephenB and other Catholics who contribute here, has no problem with evolution per se. And even some ID proponents who do not appear to personally favor an evolutionary scheme, e.g., Bill Dembski and Stephen Meyer, grant freely that nothing in the definition of ID rules out an evolutionary process as God’s means of creation. And there are all kinds of “rank and file” ID supporters, not famous people but just everyday scientists, lawyers, teachers, engineers, doctors, writers, etc. who have no problem with evolution at all and who don’t insist that God drives evolution through miracles.

    Again, the key is that all believe that the design in nature is demonstrable. Whether you call the demonstrations scientific, philosophical, or just common sense, the point for these people is that one can determine that the arrangement we see in nature did not happen entirely by accident. Some degree of planning is clearly involved. That’s what ID is about. The alternative is the Darwinian approach, which says that all the orderly arrangements of living nature can be explained by blind processes which were not pre-calibrated for any particular results. Two obvious figures representing these two positions are Behe and Dawkins. ID says that Behe has “the best explanation” and that Dawkins has an inferior explanation for what we observe.

    TEs, or many of them, muddy the waters. Some of them appear to deny that living things are designed at all, on the grounds that if they are, God is responsible for evil, and it is intolerable that God would be responsible for evil. (e.g., Ayala, Miller) Others affirm that living things are indeed designed, but that we can know this only by faith, not by reason, because if we could know it by reason, then faith would not be necessary. (Many of the leading TEs, especially on Biologos.) Of course, both of these arguments are fallacious and can be disproved by any good philosophy sophomore; TEs are mostly churchgoing scientists with very little knowledge of philosophy and have trouble reasoning things like this out, and therefore embarrass themselves with such arguments.

    I am not making you responsible for these poor TE arguments. I am informing you that they are very common in TE literature, whether you endorse them or not. The protests of many of the columnists and commenters here are based on their deep familiarity with these inadequate TE arguments. Most of us have done our homework before we speak.

    As I said before, the position you are calling TE is endorsed by only two TEs known to me, Simon Conway Morris and Denis Lamoureux. And in the case of Conway Morris, the endorsement is ambivalent, because he still has not made the break with Darwinian explanation. So I’m not opposing your idea; I’m questioning the appropriateness of calling it a TE idea. If TE means only “evolution caused by God” then it is a TE idea; but in practice TE has acquired a number of other aspects which narrow its meaning; and most current TEs have hitched their wagons to Darwinian and other anti-teleological descriptions of nature.

    T.

  157. —Prof FXGumby: “I would be curious how many posters here would agree with you [Timaeus]? I know StephenB would not, based on his comments above and elsewhere. I suspect that you may be on the “liberal fringe” of the ID tent!

    Timeaus and I are saying exactly the same thing, although he is, in a most admirable way, providing more details. The problem is not with Theistic Evolution per se, which, as the name implies, once meant that “God designed evolution,” but rather with with Christian Darwinism, which has hijacked the term Theistic Evolution and twisted it to mean something irrational, namely that God designed evolution [Christianity] without designing it [Darwinism].

    —”Several have made the point that TEs need to (can’t?) reconcile the non-teleology of natural evolution with Christian teleology, which requires that evolution be directed.”

    The critical point is whether or not the “natural evolution” that you allude to is teleological [a process designed by God to produce a specified outcome] or anti-teleological [a mindless process with no end or outcome in mind]. The former can be reconciled with Christianity, the latter, which is the position of most [not all] TEs cannot

  158. StephenB:

    Thanks for all your contributions to this thread, including your witty dialogue. And thanks for your kind words about me.

    nullasalus:

    Thanks for leading a good discussion. Hopefully one or two of our readers are getting a more nuanced picture of ID out of it, and also of ways in which ID and TE people might profitably converse. If they have previously gained their picture of ID from places like Biologos, they will have come here with the assumption that ID is anti-evolutionary, anti-scientific, closet creationism. Hopefully you’ve set in motion a dialogue that will liberate a few people from such misconceptions.

    T.

  159. Upright BiPed:

    I have heard your cry from across cyberspace. Do not despair. You will hear from me within a few days.

    T.

  160. I, too, would like to thank nullasalus for providing the right questions and Timaeus for confirming their importance.

  161. 161

    T & SB,

    Quick clarification – I didn’t see SB’s comment at 153 before my most recent. Must’ve crossed in the post.

    I’ve a couple of questions arising from your comments above. What do you mean by “Darwinism”? From your use of the term, it doesn’t sound at all like the Darwinian evolution I’m more familiar with.

    About the specified end point required by Christian teleology, can you please elaborate on what this end point is? I said above

    It may be that the way the natural world works means that it’s inevitable that sentient life evolves. If you go on to assert that Christian teleology requires us to believe that God intended humans… to occupy the earth, I would disagree.

    To elaborate on what I’m proposing above, natural processes including evolution via natural selection and other mechanisms would tend toward producing sentient life. This would be inevitable, given adequate initial conditions (e.g. liquid water) and no catastrophes (e.g. planet destroyed by a meteor). This would mean that sentient life would not be inevitable on this planet (as it could’ve gotten walloped by a killer meteor), but is inevitable at least in one place in the universe.

    In other words, all the random processes are in place and operational and gave rise to us humans. However, just as rolling a fair die long enough will always give you a 6, the way the world works means that sentient life will always arise (somewhere).

    Is this an ID-friendly position?

  162. Prof FX Gumby (161):

    I’ll give you my view.

    If we imagine a designer who wanted intelligent life, and set up the universe so that intelligent life eventually had to arise somewhere, even though the particular time and place would only be determined by contingent events, then yes, I would say that is compatible with ID as a design-detection project.

    However, whether such a scenario is compatible with the orthodox Christian doctrine of creation is another matter. It might be construed as compatible with it, but it sounds a lot chancier than the normal understanding of that doctrine.

    In any case, I don’t know of any major TE writer who offers the account you are offering here, except possibly Conway Morris and Lamoureux, so whether it’s orthodox or not, it’s not the typical TE line. The typical TE line is the “paradoxical” line that even though there is no teleology in natural events, God is still in control because God is mysteriously in control of all events, even random ones. You’ll find such claims (vaguely and confusingly argued, with no philosophical or theological precision) plastered all over the columns and comments sections of Biologos, and elsewhere in TE literature and on TE websites.

    So again, we seem to be arguing at cross-purposes. We are criticizing a form of TE that you aren’t defending, and the form of TE that you are defending looks to us a lot like ID.

    As for Darwinism, my idea of it is shaped by reading Darwin, Gould, Sagan, Dawkins, and Gaylord Simpson, among others. Despite differences in emphasis, the central teaching of all of them is: design in nature is only apparent, not real; and there is no necessity that evolution will end up at any particular place, least of all at intelligent life. That’s Darwinism in a nutshell, with all the technical talk stripped away. ID people think that this account of evolution is simply false as science, and also incompatible with Christian theology; most TEs treat it as true as science, and then proceed to try to neutralize its anti-Christian implications with evasive doubletalk.

    What many ID people are looking for is theistic evolutionists who aren’t theistic Darwinists. But they are very rare. Ironically, many Christian ID people feel closer to the vaguely Deist Michael Denton, who is an anti-Darwinian evolutionist, than we do to Christians like Ken Miller or Francis Collins who are Darwinian evolutionists. Denton’s view of God’s inexorable realization of his design appears to us more in line with traditional Catholic and Protestant understandings of Creation than does most TE writing.

    T.

  163. 163

    Hello again PFX Gumby,

    Thank-you for your response. I put it to you that anything which exhibits lots of FSCI (pardon the initial ‘d’ in the previous comment, it had no business being there in the context of what I was saying!) – things like Stonehenge which is much more than a mere circle, it’s alignment to the summer solstice alone very much enhancing its FSCI far above the counter-example you provided – arouses much more than a suspicion of design. You look at Stonehenge, a termite’s nest and even crop circles and you *know for certain* that they did not make themselves. And without knowing anything about the designer(s), you therefore *know for certain* that they must have been designed. That’s the remarkable and relevant property about anything with FSCI: the very first thing it does is alert us to the fact that it has been designed. Things with less FSCI do not generate that same alert. But that is irrelevant because the cell has more FSCI (and dFSCI) than anything else in the known universe. There is no possibility that the cell made itself.

  164. And there are all kinds of “rank and file” ID supporters … who have no problem with evolution at all and who don’t insist that God drives evolution through miracles.

    It’s all miraculous!

  165. 165

    Timaeus #159

    Thank You

  166. Dr Turell:

    you wrote:

    “no religion is better than any other”

    here are a few religions/religious services:

    1) person chops down tree, throws 1/2 log into fire to warm tootsies,
    other 1/2 carves into his god and prostrates self before it

    2) person prostrates self before own personal fecal matter

    3) person passes child through maw of idol, with fire inside,
    accompanied by loud drums to drown out death shrieks

    4) perhaps, NAMBLA “man” thinks of his favorite “pasttime” as a religious
    service to god?

    5) could probably go on indefinitely….

    Could you further clarify your original statement?

    Thank you.

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