Home » Intelligent Design » Michael Heller, this year’s Templeton Prize winner, on ID

Michael Heller, this year’s Templeton Prize winner, on ID

Michael (Michal) Heller is a Polish cosmologist and Catholic priest and recipient of this year’s Templeton Prize.  Here he is over at FT bashing ID.

 Adherents of the so-called intelligent design ideology commit a grave theological error. They claim that scientific theories that ascribe a great role to chance and random events in the evolutionary processes should be replaced, or supplemented, by theories acknowledging the thread of intelligent design in the universe. Such views are theologically erroneous. They implicitly revive the old Manichean error postulating the existence of two forces acting against each other: God and an inert matter; in this case, chance and intelligent design. There is no opposition here. Within the all-comprising Mind of God, what we call chance and random events is well composed into the symphony of creation.

  • Delicious
  • Facebook
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
  • RSS Feed

52 Responses to Michael Heller, this year’s Templeton Prize winner, on ID

  1. Heller: “Elements of necessity determine the pattern of possibilities and dynamical paths of becoming, but they leave enough room for chancy events to make this becoming rich and individual.”

    It’s nice to not need to actually back up philosophy with observation. We should be observing all kinds of rich and individual events creating information out of nothing in the laboratory if this was anything more than rhetoric.

  2. 2

    Good grief, I’m so tired of theologians telling us, Darwinism and theology are not incompatible, therefore quit fighting it. The assumption is, the only problems we have with Darwinism are theological. The problems I have are logical.

  3. Good grief, I’m so tired of theologians telling us, Darwinism and theology are not incompatible, therefore quit fighting it.

    I see that Heller is a lecturer at Gregorian University. I just don’t get why professors at religious schools feel that they can dictate to scientists what exactly science is. They need to just stick to their knitting.

  4. “Within the all-comprising Mind of God, what we call chance and random events is well composed into the symphony of creation.”

    Isn’t Father Heller really saying that the Divine Creator arranged the initial conditions in such a clever manner that all we behold in awe was the necessary result? The course of every quantam particle carefully orchestrated from before time began?

    If so, is this not simply Intelligent Design moved to a very early point in time?

  5. “Within the all-comprising Mind of God, what we call chance and random events is well composed into the symphony of creation.”

    If this accurately reflects Heller’s view, then his position gets very interesting – he may be criticizing ID, but I think it’s important to note the way that he’s doing it.

    Heller is taking a position stronger than most ID proponents (possibly with the exception of Behe): He’s arguing that intelligent design can’t be pursued, because there is no ‘chance’ to search through in an effort to discover design and intention. Instead, there is no chance whatsoever – from the perspective of the Heller’s Designer, EVERYTHING is design. “Detecting design” in natural processes is therefore a dead end; the apparently IC is designed, but so is the apparently non-IC.

    I disagree with Heller’s characterization of ID, certainly the motivations, but I think his take is worth regarding carefully. He’s not taking an orthodox view here – in fact, I think Heller’s own view (if I’m right) could fit under ID’s big tent of sorts.

  6. Chance may be designed or not. Life may be designed or not. But I think this fella misses the point. There is apparent chance and there are apparent telic constructs. ID is about finding things in spacetime that seem to apparently violate the otherwise apparent chance.

  7. “Within the all-comprising Mind of God, what we call chance and random events is well composed into the symphony of creation.”

    Heller is redefining the terms here. If chance and random events are somehow orchestrated by Intelligence, by definition, they cease to be random. He is also misinterpreting ID position regarding relationship between chance and design. Nowhere in ID literature did I find that these two oppose each other to the point of “Manichean error”. But maybe I misunderstood him as I cannot link to the original article.

  8. Granville Sewell:

    Good grief, I’m so tired of theologians telling us, Darwinism and theology are not incompatible, therefore quit fighting it. The assumption is, the only problems we have with Darwinism are theological. The problems I have are logical.

    The single biggest contention I have with Darwinism is evidenciary. As with you, I am quite comfortable with the theology of theistic evolutionary theory. I am disconviced by the evidence.

  9. “The assumption is, the only problems we have with Darwinism are theological. The problems I have are logical.” – Granville Sewell

    Well, I don’t know if you’d count this as a theological or a logical problem (or both), but I find it disconcerting that many proponents of design refuse to consider what we actually know about design when discussing the issues. For example, when we create — and we’re the only creators with whom we have any first-hand experience –

    1. We do so in discrete stages, without smooth and uniform transitions;

    2. We employ tools and techniques that do not appear as part of the finished product;

    3. We frequently implement components out of sequence;

    4. We often make things with an illusory appearance of age; and

    5. We typically spend much less time creating than using our creations.

  10. The 9 commenters so far seem to have trouble agreeing on exactly which parcel of ground Heller is trying to defend. Seems he has commited the “grave error” of not writing very well.

  11. Heller is just the latest in a series of TE partisans who will do or say anything to militate against ID. I am embarrassed to say that, like me, they are all Catholic. Before commenting on Heller, I would like to provide a little background on this movement. First, Miller and Barr muddied the debate waters with their “bad design” argument. Recently, we had to endure Edward Oakes and his accusation that ID confuses “design” with “final cause.” Now we get this. Here is my assessment of their pitch: causality can maintain its integrity only if God created a sustained explosion in a paint factory and waited for all the pretty pictures to develop. Presumably every thing we observe and experience MUST be the result of secondary causes.

    For a while they twisted poor Aquinas like a pretzel to support their ideas, arguing on behalf of their perception of his teaching on causality. I can only assume that they have yet to stumble on Aquinas own view of the matter as expressed in (S. T. 1, 94, 3):

    “I have no doubt that the world was created in the beginning with such perfection as it possesses, in such fashion as the sun, the earth, the moon, and the stars have existed from that time. And the earth not only had in it the seeds of the plants, but indeed the plants themselves covered a part of it; and Adam and Eve were not created as infants but as mature human beings. The Christian religion wills that we understand things thus, and natural reason completely convinces us of this truth. For if we consider the omnipotence of God, we ought to judge that all He has made has had from the beginning all the perfection that it ought to have.”

    Oh, well, why should I expect these guys to probe that deeply into the matter? They only do this for a living.

    I understand Miller and Barr’s mistake. They assume that since God can create some things through contingency, He creates ALL things through contingency. Also, I think I understand Oakes’ mistake. He believes ID presumes to probe the ESSENCE of the final cause when, in reality, it only considers the possibility of its EXISTENCE. I wish Oakes would be more specific and explain exactly how the explanatory filter intrudes on the idea of a final cause. It is remarkable how these folks labor incessantly over irrelevant nuances while ignoring the ones that really count. Consider Heller’s curious foray into the subject of ID and theology:

    —–He writes: “They (IDers) claim that scientific theories that ascribe a GREAT role to chance and random events in the evolutionary processes should be replaced, or supplemented, by theories acknowledging the thread of intelligent design in the universe. Such views are theologically erroneous.”

    No, ID would challenge paradigms that ascribe an EXCLUSIVE role to chance. The difference is all important. It would help if Heller understood the subject matter a little better.

    —–Again, he writes, “They implicitly revive the old Manichean error postulating the existence of two forces acting against each other: God and an inert matter; in this case, chance and intelligent design. There is no opposition here.”

    No, Manichean dualism is not the same as theistic dualism. The former holds that spirit is good and matter is bad. Theistic dualism simply acknowledges two realms of existence, spirit and matter. ID innocently considers the point the matter may have been influenced by something other than matter, namely spirit (mind, soul, God, human agency, whatever) There is no Manichean intrusion in that.

    Just as Miller, Barr, and Oakes think they know Aquinas’ mind better than Aquinas did; Heller thinks he knows the mind of God better than God does. Like Aquinas, God has already told us what he thinks in Genesis, Psalms, and St. Paul’s epistles and other places. Design is “manifest” and reveals the existence of the Creator. As with Miller, Barr, and Oakes, there is something wrong with an argument that is almost incomprehensible and requires so many twists and turns to explain itself.

    In the old Dragnet series, a suspect became frustrated with Sergeant Joe Friday and cried out, “You’re crazy.” Friday responded, “One thing sure, somebody is.” Heller and company insist that we are confused. Well, somebody is.

  12. It might help Heller to read up on: Manichæism

    As the theory of two eternal principles, good and evil, is predominant in this fusion of ideas and gives color to the whole, Manichæism is classified as a form of religious Dualism.

    Note that Manachaenism holds:

    Opposed to the Father of Grandeur is the King of Darkness.

    i.e. both include “intelligent” agents.

    Heller would do well to also read up on Intelligent Design.

    ID includes evidence for intelligence within the fine tuning of the universe.

    ID considers “inert matter” as not “intelligent” in itself.

    Heller:

    Within the all-comprising Mind of God, what we call chance and random events is well composed into the symphony of creation.

    This could easily be interpreted as:
    Pantheism

    The view according to which God and the world are one.

  13. Gerry Rzappa:

    Well, I don’t know if you’d count this as a theological or a logical problem (or both)

    How could you perceive this as a theological problem?

    1. We do so in discrete stages, without smooth and uniform transitions;
    If you look at human technology as the prime example of human ID, you will find that there seems to be a huge number of transitionals. I remember watching a documentary on the early development of the automobile. It seems that for every stage of development, there is a stage inbetween.

    If one looks at the tighter parallel of computer software development, it is much more finely graded than the releases would indicate. As Microsoft makes a new version of Windows, it does so by making individual enhancements one at a time. By time its packaged, it looks like a large (sometimes too large) group of changes, but from the inside, not so much.

    2. We employ tools and techniques that do not appear as part of the finished product;

    It would be interesting to discover specific tools used by the designer(s) in the development of life. However, the designer(s) may not let his/her/its tools out of the shop.

    3. We frequently implement components out of sequence;

    Any evidence that a component was implemented serously out of sequence would be a very strong case for ID in deed. That said, the front-loading boys seriously hypothesize that such has been found. It would appear, for instance, that fish have bone structures in their fins that serve a marginal purpose at best, until quadrupeds were developed.

    4. We often make things with an illusory appearance of age;

    Though there is a phenomenon of making things appear “antique”, it is definitely a sub-phenomenon of human ID development. This phenomenon appears to be intended to make products that appear to be like previously existing old stuff. Ie, if the previously existing old stuff didn’t exist, the “looks like it” wouldn’t either.

    Most manufactured stuff, by far, is not made with the appearance of being old. Instead it is intended to look anything but. Stuff is even intentially made to look new only once. Once it is taken out of the package, it cannot be put back in — by intent.

    5. We typically spend much less time creating than using our creations.

    One day Microsoft wrote an operating system. The world then used it. NOT!!

  14. Heller’s definition of chance is the following:

    It is an event of low probability which happens in spite of the fact that it is of low probability.

    He then condemns ID as theologically unsound because ID doesn’t see chance as part of God’s arrangement. The problem here is that Heller’s definition of chance is not what ID means when talking about chance. In ID chance is not something of low probability, it is something which is without intent. So really he is making a straw man argument.

  15. Heller wrote: “[A] Adherents of the so-called intelligent design ideology commit a grave theological error. [B] They claim that scientific theories that ascribe a great role to chance and random events in the evolutionary processes should be replaced, or supplemented, by theories acknowledging the thread of intelligent design in the universe. [C] Such views are theologically erroneous. [D] They implicitly revive the old Manichean error postulating the existence of two forces acting against each other: God and an inert matter; in this case, chance and intelligent design. [E] There is no opposition here. [F] Within the all-comprising Mind of God, what we call chance and random events is well composed into the symphony of creation.”

    In [B] Heller charges us of replacing chance theories with ID theory, a “grave theological error” [A, C]. So we are who *do* deny chance. In [D] instead we are who do *not* deny chance because we “postulate the existence of two forces (chance and design) acting against each other”. First contradiction.

    In [F] Heller says that “random events are well composed into the symphony of creation”. A symphony is entirely designed then its events are not random at all. In fact in [E] he denies opposition (how could there be opposition when there is one term only?). So, after having accused us of denying chance, what does he do? Exactly denies chance! Second contradiction.

    Heller cannot have both ways: if the “Mind of God is all-comprising” [F] then events are not random (ID is true); if events are really random (evolutionism is right) then the “Mind of God is *not* all-comprising” [not F].

  16. bFast -
    “If you look at human technology as the prime example of human ID, you will find that there seems to be a huge number of transitionals.”
    Since the Designer, being, contrary to humans, of fathomless genius would hardly need to try and try again – the reason why humans have so many stages in developing new things, I can’t your point.

    Humans go through transitional stages in creating things simply because we so often don’t know what will actually work best from the start. An infinitely intelligent designer would not work with trial and error.

    Heller says: “…all-comprising Mind of God, what we call chance and random events is well composed into the symphony of creation”. This is meaningless to the issue. He is here making it a theological point by introducing the mind of God and something he presumes about him – something ID doesn’t do. Underlying his statements is the implication that IDists all see the designer as the same god he refers to. Not so.

    His statements are moot proving nothing either way. If that’s the way he preaches I would fall asleep trying to listen to such meaningless dribble disguised as religious wisdom.

    The mention of any “Manichean error” has no relationship to the real issues at all. We all know there is both chance and design. The whole issue is about where to draw the line between them.

    Imo, He should have just kept his mouth shut instead of opening it and looking like an ill reasoning dummy.

  17. Borne:

    Since the Designer, being, contrary to humans, of fathomless genius would hardly need to try and try again – the reason why humans have so many stages in developing new things, I can’t your point.

    Are you sure you aren’t overlaying a preconceived, possibly religious, notion of the nature of the designer over top of the evidence. The evidence that I see indicates that biology contains a serious component of experimentation. For example, during the cambrian explosion, many phila were generated, shortly after that, most of these phila dissappeared. Why? The data looks like experimentation to me.

  18. Fr. Heller is one of the TE “Vatican Observatory” group, which was represented by fr. Coyne:

    http://clavius.as.arizona.edu/.....ep2005.pdf

    Heller supposedly wrote 30 books and 400 papers:

    http://www.catholicnews.com/da.....801398.htm

    Heller’s comparison of ID to Manicheanism is really odd. I would not have expected something like that from a person like him. It does seem to show a bias or a prejudice against ID, I suppose, due to his ignorance of ID.

    But at least now we know where John Paul II was getting his ideas about evolution from.

    I did a quick online search but have been unable to find anything substantial about what Heller wrote.

    Has anybody read anything by Heller? Which books or papers of Heller deal with chance, evolution or ID?

    “If one wants to determine whether an event is of low or high probability, one must use the calculus of probability, and the calculus of probability is a mathematical theory as good as any other mathematical theory. ”

    It seems to me we have to know more about his understanding of chance and of probability calculus. But if I had to venture an educated guess, I would say it is likely he is wrong somewhere in his reasoning about chance and nature.

  19. bFast says, “If you look at human technology as the prime example of human ID, you will find that there seems to be a huge number of transitionals.”

    But certainly not enough transitional forms to justify a step-by-step climb up Mount Improbable. The differences between, say, a 1967 Corvette and the 1968 model are striking and abrupt in many ways — and I think it safe to say that very few of the thousands of possible intermediate forms were ever manufactured, even in prototype form.

    I’ve written a great deal of software, also, and while my finished programs are indeed the result of thousands of individually coded and tested extensions, each of those extensions is typically a “leap” in the program’s capability. Inserting a single IF statement, for example, will usually add hundreds (if not thousands) of new bits of information to the program — and in just the right spot!

    bFast says, “Though there is a phenomenon of making things appear “antique”, it is definitely a sub-phenomenon of human ID development.”

    That’s not what I had in mind when I said, “appearance of age”. I was thinking more of a novel where the characters are full grown on the first page of the first chapter; or a painting where the flowers are created in full bloom.

    The element of sequence enters here too. The youngest character in a novel may have been “thought up” long before the older ones, and the flowers in a painting may have been rendered a day before the sun above them.

    Intelligent Design enthusiasts often seem to forget that not all creative activities result in mechanical devices.

  20. Good grief, I’m so tired of theologians telling us, Darwinism and theology are not incompatible, therefore quit fighting it. The assumption is, the only problems we have with Darwinism are theological. The problems I have are logical.

    Well said, Granville

  21. [...] In regards to Dave Scott’s opinion– fair enough but don’t you think then that… tribune7: Good grief, I’m so tired of theologians telling us, Darwinism and theology are not [...]

  22. rockyr at 18

    Vatican Observatory 2005 notes:

    HELLER Gave the paper “Noncommutative Unifi-cation of General Relativity and Quantum Mechan-ics” on 4 February at the Physics Institute of the Prague University, Czech Republic. Spoke on “Emergence and Structure” 16-17 May at the IX Kracow Methodological Conference, Poland, which he also helped to organize. 11-16 September at the Congress of Polish Physicists in Warsaw pre-sented the paper “Einstein, the Universe and Our-selves.” 26-27 September at the symposium “Science­Religion­ History,” held at the Catholic University of Lublin, Poland, gave the paper “On the Structural Understanding of Science.” At a workshop on the “Controversial Relationships be-tween Science and Philosophy,” 30 October to 1 September at the Pontifical Gregorian University, gave the paper “Unification Theories of Every-thing. Philosophical Aspects.” 14-17 October, at the symposium, “Relational Ontology in Science and Theology,” Athens, Greece, gave the paper “Is the Universe a Self-Contained Structure?”

    See: M Heller Google Scholar. e.g.,
    Creative Tension: Essays on Science and Religion (2003)

  23. bFast: “For example, during the cambrian explosion, many phila were generated, shortly after that, most of these phila dissappeared. Why? The data looks like experimentation to me.”

    The so-called Cambrian explosion is only proof that a global flood took place about 4500 years ago, in the time of the biblical Noah.

    Both Darwinists and IDers will continue to be mystified by the “fossil record” as long as they continue to believe – erroneously – that it was laid down gradually over long periods of evolutionary time.

    The “Cambrian explosion” accurately fits types and effects of sedimentation and multiple laminations observed in practical studies and experiments conducted by French scientist Guy Berthault. See http://www.icr.org/articles/view/473//

    Berthault has worked with Professor Piérre Julien at the Engineering Research Center in the Civil Engineering Department at Colorado State University, Fort Collins. Their experiments have demonstrated how multiple laminations form spontaneously during sedimentation of heterogranular mixtures of sediments in air, in still water, and in running water.

    They make a compelling evidence-based case that the “Cambrian explosion” looks decidedly more like a sudden catastrophic worldwide species wipe-out than a gradual covering-over of dead animals over long periods of time.

  24. Emkay:

    The “Cambrian explosion” accurately fits types and effects of sedimentation and multiple laminations observed in practical studies and experiments conducted by French scientist Guy Berthault.

    Your link doesn’t discuss phila. It only discusses strata — sedimentation. Why, pray tell, are there a bunch of very small, very different organisms in the strata that are dated early cambrian. Why, prey tell, are the strata dated older than the early cambrian (the lower strata) almost devoid of multicellular animal life. Why, pray tell, are there other starata all over the place that have all manner of strange creatures in them. Why is it that if a perticular level shows a bunch of very large bugs, all of the bugs nearby are also very large. If the strata contain very small bugs, then the neighboring bugs are very small.

    If you take a bunch of sand and let it slosh around, you get strata. You surely do. That’s how gold panners used to find gold. It turns out that the gold ends up in the bottom stratum. However, the assemblage of lifeforms does not fit a flood theory in any way whatsoever.

    Get your religious conviction out of your science, look a bit past the guys that only render your doctrine, and you will be shocked to discover that the case for an old earth is strong — really strong!

  25. Michal Heller’s recent comments may be better understood from his book:
    Creative Tension: Essays on Science and Religion (2003)

    Heller (2003) p 99 explores Boetius’ definition of “eternity”.

    In such a perspective, the concepts of chance and necessity also “shift their meanings.” . . .God knows the outcomes of laws and chance not by calculating from the initial conditions, but in the same direct way as God knows everything. What for us is a chance, for God is a detail of the picture that is simply present.

    Heller (2003) p 124

    Our concepts of design or teleology are heavily laden with the all-pervading idea of temporality . . . The shift of meanings of such interconnected concepts as probability, chance, and purpose has obvious consequences as far as philosophical and theological disputes on the “design argument” are concerned.

    Heller (2003) p 140

    Leslie – on the anthropic principles – the principle competitor of the God hypothesis is the idea of multiple worlds in which all possibilities are realized . . .The God hypothesis relies on the argument from design, which is “based on the fact that our universe looks much as if designed.” However, there might be immensely many universes.

    Heller (2003) p 142 explores: the ontological gap and epistemological gap, and what he calls the axiological gap.

    Heller p 145 addresses – Transcending Science

    Heller (2003) p 149-150 comments on the Origin of Life and the biological code.

    The structure of the machine which does that is itself encoded into the DNA. The code cannot be decoded unless the products of the code are involved. This is the modern version of the old omne vivum ex ovo. We do not know when and how this logical loop has been closed.

  26. bFast: “Why, pray tell, are there other starata all over the place that have all manner of strange creatures in them. Why is it that if a perticular level shows a bunch of very large bugs, all of the bugs nearby are also very large. If the strata contain very small bugs, then the neighboring bugs are very small.”

    Here’s the answer. Consider the evidence. Here’s what Berthault found out, and reported:

    “I started by examining how sedimentary particles are deposited in both dry and wet conditions. Sand particles of differing size produced micro-strata or laminae when poured into a flask. The micro-strata formed from the particles of sand sorting themselves out according to size, with the larger particles at the bottom grading up to the smaller ones at the top. The process repeated itself, producing multiple laminae.”

    Large bugs are deposited in one layer with other large bugs, and the smaller ones on top of the larger one, in a secondary layer. And the process repeats as long as the flood waters are retreating/flowing.

    “This was fundamental because it showed that micro-strata or laminae formed from particle sorting, irrespective of the speed of sedimentation, and not by one layer forming first and then the next one forming on top of it. My results were published by the French Academy of Science, which encouraged me to continue my experiments, but on a much larger scale.”

    These were conducted in the Colorado State University jointly with Pierre Julien, a sedimentologist. Berthault reported and through the sides of the tanks.

    “Different sized particles of sand were poured into water circulating in the flume. Variations in current velocity caused the particles to be sorted according to size. At 1 m/s superposed laminae formed laterally in the direction of the current. A reduction of velocity to 0.5 m/s caused larger particles to collect on the previous laminae, always migrating in the direction of the current. An increase in velocity back to 1 m/s caused laminae similar to the previous ones to form, mainly due to friction, on top of the stratum of larger particles.

    “The accumulation of sediment produced a deposit consisting of the downstream part of the lower laminae, part of the sloping stratum of larger particles, and the upstream part of the upper laminae. Each individual deposit formed successively downstream and was therefore younger than the one before it. Variations in current velocity, as found in rivers and oceans, could thus cause deposits to form both vertically and laterally at the same time in the direction of the current.”

    Some facts (among several others) that Berthault highlighted that are germaine to your objection, were that where there is a current:

    1. Strata can form laterally and vertically at the same time;

    2. Strata can form in the same way as sequences of facies;

    3. Strata are not always a measure of chronology.

    These highlighted experimental facts show clearly:

    a. Superposed strata do not always result, according to Steno’s beliefs, from successive layers of sediment; consequently the principle of superposition does not always apply to strata formed in a current;
    b. Stratification formed parallel to a slope exceeding an angle of 30°, can invalidate the principle of original horizontally. Inclined strata are not necessarily, therefore, the result of subsidence or uplift.

    Correspondence between experimental results and geological formations
    The experiments demonstrated that current deposited strata can form in the same way as sequences of facies. This is consistent with sequence stratigraphy. The experiments show that bedding planes, considered as resulting from interruptions of sedimentation, can result from desiccation of sediments. Moreover, recent submarine observations such as Rubin,6 the flume experiments summarized by Southard,7 and river studies initiated by Hjulström8 and developed by several other scientists, have shown the relationships between contemporaneous hydraulic conditions and sedimentary structures, particularly between critical speed of sedimentation and particular size. Such relationships correspond to those measured in our experiments. These relationships can be used to determine the minimum paleohydraulic conditions (velocity of current, depth of water, discharge and speed of accumulation of sediments) from sedimentary rock structures.

    References
    1 Walther J., 1893-1894, Einleitung in die Geologie als historische Wissenschaft: Jena Verlag von Gustav Fisher, Sud. 1055p.
    2 McKee, E.D., Crosby, E.J. & Berryhill, H.L. Jr. 1967, Flood deposits, Bijou Creek, Colorado, 1965, Journal of Sedimentary Petrology, 37, 829-851.
    3 Berthault G. 1986, Sedimentology—experiments on lamination of sediments, C.R. Acad. Sc. Paris, 303 II, 17, 1569-1574.
    4 Berthault G. 1988, Sedimentation of heterogranular mixture—experimental lamination in still and running water, C.R. Acad. Sc. Paris, 306, II, 717-724.
    5 Julien P, Lany, Berthault G., 1993, Experiments on stratification of heterogeneous sand mixtures, Bulletin of the Geological Society, France, 164-5, 649-660.
    6 Rubin D.M. and McCulloch D.S. 1980, Single and superposed bedforms: a synthesis of San Francisco Bay and flume observations, Journal of Sedimentary Petrology, 26:207-231.
    7 Southard J. and Boguchwal J.A. 1990, Bed configuration in steady unidirectional waterflows, part 2, Synthesis of flume data, Journal of Sedimentary Petrology 60(5) : 658-679.
    8 Hjulström F. 1935, The morphological activity of rivers as illustrated by river fyris, Bulletin of the Geological Institute Uppsala, 25, chapter 3.
    For further study, see the video describing the Berthault and Julien investigation “Experiments in Stratification,” 1999, available from ICR, 1-800-628-7640.
    *Guy Berthault is an independant researcher from France. Next Article
    GRADUATE SCHOOL

    Get a Masters in Science Education from ICR through our Distance Education Program.
    Prev Article Print this Article Email to Friend Bookmark this Page Next Article my.icr.org Donate to ICR Contact ICR Ethical Use Policy Privacy Policy

  27. bFast says, “…the assemblage of lifeforms does not fit a flood theory in any way whatsoever.”

    That’s a pretty categorical statement. Are you quite sure? Consider the following from Dr. Morris, et al:

    1. All the mountains of the world have been under water at some time or times in the past, as indicated by sedimentary rocks and marine fossils near their summits. Even most volcanic mountains with their pillow lavas seem largely to have been formed when under water.

    2. Most of the earth’s crust consists of sedimentary rocks (sandstones, shales, limestones, etc). These were originally formed in almost all cases under water, usually by deposition after transportation by water from various sources.

    3. The assigned “ages” of the sedimentary beds (which comprise the bulk of the “geologic column”) have been deduced from their assemblages of fossils. Fossils, however, normally require very rapid burial and compaction to be preserved at all. Thus every sedimentary formation appears to have been formed rapidly—even catastrophically.

    4. Since there is known to be a global continuity of sedimentary formations in the geologic column (that is, there is no worldwide “unconformity,” or time gap, between successive “ages”), and since each unit was formed rapidly, the entire geologic column seems to be the product of continuous rapid deposition of sediments, comprising in effect the geological record of a time when “the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.”

    5. It is also significant that the types of rocks, the vast extent of specific sedimentary rock formations, the minerals and metals, coal and oil found in rocks, the various types of structures (i.e., faults, folds, thrusts, etc.), sedimentary rocks grossly deformed while still soft from recent deposition, and numerous other features seem to occur indiscriminately throughout the various “ages” supposedly represented in the column. To all outward appearances, therefore, they were all formed in essentially the same brief time period.

    6. The fossil sequences in the sedimentary rocks do not constitute a legitimate exception to this rule, for there is a flagrant circular reasoning process involved in using them to identify their supposed geologic age. That is, the fossils have been dated by the rocks where they are found, which in turn had been dated by their imbedded fossils with the sequences based on their relative assumed stages of evolution, which had ultimately been based on the ancient philosophy of the “great chain of being.” Instead of representing the evolution of life over many ages, the fossils really speak of the destruction of life (remember that fossils are dead things, catastrophically buried for preservation) in one age, with their actual local “sequences” having been determined by the ecological communities in which they were living at the time of burial.

    7. The fact that there are traditions of the great Flood found in hundreds of tribes in all parts of the world (all similar in one way or another to that in the Genesis record) is firm evidence that those tribes all originated from the one family preserved through the cataclysm.

    One can understand why atheistic and pantheistic evolutionists have to interpret Earth history in terms of great ages and evolution, rather than Creation and the Flood. They really have no other choice, once they have decided to reject the God of Creation and His record in the Bible. However, it is very difficult to understand why men and women who do believe in God and His word do this. The Bible is explicitly clear on the global Deluge, and sound scientific evidence supports it.

    But this position does mean that the geological ages could never have happened, and too many establishment-oriented Christians are not yet willing to take such a stand. And that’s rather sad in these last critical days.

  28. emkay, bfast, gerry et al.
    Lets get this thread back on discussing Heller.
    We can open another thread if you want to discuss the Cambrian explosion etc.

  29. bFast: “Your link doesn’t discuss phila. It only discusses strata — sedimentation. Why, pray tell, are there a bunch of very small, very different organisms in the strata that are dated early cambrian. Why, prey tell, are the strata dated older than the early cambrian (the lower strata) almost devoid of multicellular animal life. Why, pray tell, are there other starata all over the place that have all manner of strange creatures in them. Why is it that if a perticular level shows a bunch of very large bugs, all of the bugs nearby are also very large. If the strata contain very small bugs, then the neighboring bugs are very small.”

    The link does not discuss phila, It discusses the process by which phila ended up as fossils. It demystifies the “Cambrian explosion” by giving scientific, repeatable and demonstrable evidence how the fossil record abd geologic column were laid down.

    In the linked artcle at http://www.icr.org/articles/view/473// Berthault reports that in a flow of water laden with particles, objects and bodies of various sizes, the larger objects always get laid down first, then the smaller, and the process repeats continually.

    This is how in any (even small and localized) flood event, deep strata of sediments can be laid down in a a few hours. An observer seeing this a few weeks later might quite reasonably conclude that the layers of sediment were created many centuries before.

    Directly to answer your question, very large bugs end up close together in sedimentary strata because, as Berthault found out, the large bugs are deposited first out of the silt, then the smaller, then the large in a secondary new stratum, then the smaller, on and on as long as the flood waters are flowing/retreating.

    I was shocked to discover that God is a better scientist than six billion Einsteins.

  30. DLH: Am I reading you right at @25. Does Heller seriously entertain the notion of multiple universes as an objection to intelligent design?

  31. Emkay:

    Berthault reports that in a flow of water laden with particles, objects and bodies of various sizes, the larger objects always get laid down first, then the smaller, and the process repeats continually.

    Ok, so why are the creatures in the oldest of strata the smallest? Assuming that the strata are the product of a great flood, why would we not find lions and tigers and bears intermixed with the dinosaurs of the same size. Many dinosaurs were much smaller than the lions, tigers and bears, you know.

    There is only one way that there could have been a great flood, and the scientific community could be so wrong — a mass conspiracy. Yet many of the researchers exploring the rock record are seeking money — oil, gold, minerals. They could hardly benefit from the required mass conspiracy. I don’t think that humans would abandon wealth for any conspiracy.

  32. StephenB at 29
    See link. In the paragraph Heller is discussing J. Leslie, Universes, Routledge, 1990. I am not clear what Heller’s view is.

    On page 142 Heller proceeds:

    Instead of immersing ourselves in risky disputes, I believe we should once more ask Einstein’s question: Why is the world so comprehensible? . . .

  33. I think the entire issue with Heller illustrates the need for ID principles to be better communicated not just to non-professionals, but professionals as well. Either Heller has a misinformed view of Intelligent Design, or he’s purposefully portraying it as something that it is not. I’d guess the former is the reality in this case, though naturally I don’t know the man.

  34. nullasalus 32
    Read the book. His comments may also reflect his perspective on God vs time vs the casual focus of ID.

  35. Re 31:

    I think Heller’s argument is that if we treat low-probability incidents as “acts of God” and high-probability incidents as “not acts of God”, then MWI shows up as an atheistic force (because it’s making so many events suddenly high-probability). His philosophical preference involves, it seems, sidestepping questions of probability altogether. There is no ‘chance’ in Heller’s worldview. Everything is the work of design. If I read him right.

  36. nullasalus re 34
    As you said, Heller formulates God out of time and that consequently everything is in the Mind of God.

    A convenient way to incorporate evolution and try to avoid controversy.

    Conversely, I understand Heller’s position to be indistinguishable from the materialist’s. It gives no way to detect evidence of intelligent causation.

  37. DLH 35,

    I’d agree that Heller’s position means there’s no way to truly detect intelligent causation on those levels (biological, cosmological, ‘behind nature’ in general.) Or at least, by operating from the view that ‘all things are from God’ in such an ultimate sense, there’s nothing to distinguish design from. Instead the question is part of theology and philosophy, and nature is approached with the outlook acquired there.

    At the same time, I (and admittedly, I’m an ID neophyte) don’t see why Heller’s own view couldn’t be formulated within the context of Intelligent Design theory. Sure, under that view, discussions of whether something is or is not IC fall by the wayside. At the same time, it provides a theistic philosophical frame to perform scientific investigation within. The question of ‘did God do X?’ shifts to ‘How did God do X?’ It defangs naturalism, which no longer is a competing view with the theistic outlook. It’s absorbed by it.

    At the very least, I think he’d be more friendly towards the ID outlook if he knew just what it does and could entail. But hey, maybe I’m being naive.

  38. Jeopardy answer:

    A six letter word that begins with the letter “p” that when the “p” is capitalized (P) it changes both the pronunciation and the meaning of the word.
    {DLH Is this on topic or should we delete it?}

  39. Just curious. Where did this stuff about Intelligent Design being concerned with final causes come from? If anything, ID is about formal causes. That’s the reason that inquiries into “who is the designer” are irrelevant, if not forbidden. Can’t Dr. Heller, Ed Oakes and the rest of the Catholic cast get this straight? Its really obvious! I’m sure St. Thomas would agree, even if these guys don’t.

  40. D.A.Newton @ 40
    Encourage you to expand on Formal vs Final causes. That is the controversy – accusing ID of not being compatible with Heller’s perception of the Final Cause rather than addressing the appearance of design and whether that can be detected.

  41. DLH, thanks for the references. I will try to get prof. Heller’s books. It seems a lot of his works are only in Polish. He has also a new book coming in 2008 with fr. Coyne. In order to express an opinion, and not only hunches or guesses, I will need more time to read and digest what they are saying. In fact, it seems they have defined or re-defined everything from scratch, or from the Big-Bang singularity, including the mathematical definitions? :

    “One must go a little bit deeper into a mathematical definition of the initial singularity(a geometric counterpart of the Big Bang) and the conditions of its existence, for only then can one correctly decipher its physical content and its philosophical (or theological) significance.”

    http://www.templetonprize.org/pdfs/93-113.pdf

    I will also need to find out more about Heller’s comparison of ID to Manicheanism, since such a comparison is so bizarre, as to defy reason.

    For now, with some perhaps important reservations, I will tend to go with the opinion of Avery Cardinal Dulles, which is quite reasonable, see his article in Oct 2007:

    Notwithstanding these advantages, Darwinism has not entirely triumphed, even in the scientific field. An important school of scientists supports a theory known as Intelligent Design. …

    At this point we get into a technical dispute among microbiologists that I will not attempt to adjudicate. In favor of Behe and his school, we may say that the possibility of sudden major changes effected by a higher intelligence should not be antecedently ruled out. But we may take it as a sound principle that God does not intervene in the created order without necessity. If the production of organs such as the bacterial flagellum can be explained by the gradual accumulation of minor random variations, the Darwinist explanation should be preferred. As a matter of policy, it is imprudent to build one’s case for faith on what science has not yet explained, because tomorrow it may be able to explain what it cannot explain today. History teaches us that the “God of the gaps” often proves to be an illusion.”

    http://www.firstthings.com/art.....ticle=6038

    and his reply to letters to his article:

    http://www.firstthings.com/art.....ticle=6113

    Although I disagree with cardinal’s acceptance of Darwinism as a sound scientific explanation.

    It would be interesting to know cardinal Dulles’ opinion on Heller.

  42. DLH @ 41 – Formal vs. Final Causes.

    The standard example in the literature is the building of a house. The four causes – material, efficient, formal, and final – are set out as follows:

    Material: The bricks, mortar, planking, concrete, screws, nails and other stuff used in the building process.

    Efficient: The activity of the construction boss and workmen who erect the building.
    Formal: The blueprints designed by the architect who specified the structure and dimensions of the dwelling and the method of erection if necessary.

    Final: The desire of the new owners, who commissioned the work, for a new dwelling.

    This should give someone a solid sense of the difference between formal and final causes. Please note that a single agent may effect more than one of them: e.g. the commissioning owner may have definite architectual requirements.

  43. D.A.Newton at 42
    That’s helpful for using the terms towards ID.
    Do you know of any literature on discovering or identifying the existence of:
    1) “Efficient causes” from configuration of Material causes, or
    2) “Formal causes” from
    material configuration or efficient causes, or
    3) “Final causes” from Material configuration, Efficient causes, or Formal causes?

    OR conversely, any examples where one was identified, without knowing the identity of one or more causes higher in the chain?

    e.g. identifying that an arson, theft, or murder has occurred without yet locating the murder weapon, or identifying the hit man, or fingering the mob boss.

    Compare accusations against ID because of not identifying the designer.

    e.g., in court cases etc.

    Any good textbook or standard references?

  44. Welcome your comments on:
    Final Causes by Paul Janet (Author), William Affleck (Translator) (2007) Kessinger Publishing, LLC, ISBN-10: 0548031088

    “IF the principle of final causes were a first principle, and a priori, like the principle of causality, we would apply it everywhere and in all circumstances…”

    The Table of Contents Includes
    * The Industry of Man and the Industry of Nature
    * The Doctrine of Evolution
    * The Supreme End of Nature
    Extract

    Looks pertinent

  45. rockyr: “I will also need to find out more about Heller’s comparison of ID to Manicheanism, since such a comparison is so bizarre, as to defy reason.”

    From what I’ve read of Heller (thanks to DLH), his version of Manicheanism is the distinction between “highly probabalistic” physical outcomes and “low probabilistic” physical outcomes, God being the ‘author’ of the first (hence the ‘good’ principle), and the second being the enemy of God (hence the ‘bad’ principle) against which he must ‘work’. Since intelligent design says that biology reflects such low probability events, using God (the Designer) as the solution to this problem is then like dividing up the world into the cosmos and the chaos, the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’. (Manicheanism taugbht that there were two principles at work: a good and a bad one. In this way it could explain ‘evil’.)

  46. PaV, Thanks for the clarification. That’s roughly how I also read Heller’s accusation. But I need to know more about Heller’s philosophy of chance, and about his understanding of the probability calculus, and what he means by his interpretation of physics and biology and the role chance plays in physical and biological processes. God is the author of nature and of physical and biological principles, and it a Catholic and a Christian dogma that everything God created is good. So no matter how or what probabilistic principles are used to accomplish His creation, they must be good! In all my reading about ID, and correct me if I am wrong, I have never read or heard such a goofy proposition – that ID somehow distinguishes between good and evil probabilistic principles and makes them key principles or some “theology” of the ID teaching!

    Not being familiar with Heller’s works, I want to give him the benefit of the doubt, and I am assuming he is not just shooting his mouth off, although, considering the history of Manicheanism, I do sense some prejudice in his comparison.

    Considering the teaching of Mani, and the history of Manicheanism, Heller’s bizarre comparison raises a number of issues. Mainly, what was he trying to say or imply by even using such a comparison?

    From the very beginning the teaching of Mani was severely persecuted — Mani died or was killed because the Zoroastrians hated his teachings; Diocleatian ordered that the sect leaders be burned together with their “abominable scriptures”; nasty sects in history, like the Gnostics, Bogumils and Cathars, which were persecuted by Byzantine emperors & patriarch and the Western emperors and popes alike, were Manichean in their nature, etc. That is why it is hard to ponder such a comparison, especially when prominent Catholics like cardinal Dulles and Schönborn actually praise Intelligent Design scientists for doing good work.

    Even when compared to the rational argument of St. Augustine, who was a Manichean before he converted, and who became a staunch anti-Manichean, Heller’s criticism is rather harsh and “unintelligent”, since Augustine at least tried to argue with the “enemy” in civilized terms. So if Heller has a beef with some key ID principles, I would prefer to hear them raised in a civilized way, not in an under-handed attack. That is why I am surprised that Heller, rather than trying to argue with us “intelligently”, would stoop down to such a prejudiced and perhaps even hateful tactic.

  47. PaV at 46
    Thanks for those comments.
    Question: Was Manicheanism originally two “principles” or two “intelligent agents”?
    Or is it Heller who has interpreted them as two “principles” based on “cosmos” vs “chaos”?

    A related question: Is “chaos” really that low a probability compared to “cosmos”? I thought that the consequence of natural laws were stochastic processes. i.e., the reason the probability of the Origin of Life from natural processes is so small.

    From that perspective, any “intelligent designer” coming up with designs that are stochastically highly improbable would appear to be categorized as “evil.”

  48. DLH: #47

    Originally, Manicheanism saw two “principles” at work; but, of course, then there’s the whole idea of agency that arises when you consider how these principles play themselves out. I can’t go further than this in an informed way. Maybe someone else has the right answer.

    As to “chaos” being low probability, I’d have to go back and look at some of what he’s written again to refresh my memory. I may have stated things a bit wrongly. But I think Heller is saying that you shouldn’t have these two things, laws and probabilistic phenomena (like chaos), in opposition. I guess he would say that God is the author of both, and uses both. He’s deep into “theistic evolution” I suppose.

  49. rockyr:

    In reaction to what you wrote in #47(the new order): Yes, I think Heller is very deficient in his understanding of ID. Apparently he’ll be coming out with a book co-authored by Fr. Coyne, who is very anti-ID.

    As to ID, no, it does not distinguish in any way between good and bad principles. I think Heller is simply trying to say that if God chooses to work using probabilistic entities to bring about life, we shouldn’t be upset by that. But that is a theological, and not a scientific, argument. So if in Heller’s mind ID is no more than cooked-over YEC, then you can understand what he says. But, of course, ID is not.

  50. NCSE waxes eloquent over Heller’s (mis)understanding of ID in
    Newest Templeton Prize winner rejects “intelligent design”

  51. Further discussion at:
    ID and Catholic Theology

Leave a Reply