Home » Intelligent Design » Are Ken Miller and Francis Collins ID proponents when it comes to the Origin of Life?

Are Ken Miller and Francis Collins ID proponents when it comes to the Origin of Life?

Here is an edited report on Ken Miller’s talk that he gave at Texas Tech back in March 2006 (go here) as well as a portion of a keynote address given by Francis Collins at the 2002 ASA meeting in Malibu (go here):

Ken Miller’s talk was well attended — the auditorium was stacked (400+) with biology professors and their compulsory biology students (for extra credit). The talk was surprisingly fair on the subject of God, but it was terribly unfair (and disjointed) on the subject of Intelligent Design. Almost no facts were given and nearly all of his argument dealt with the Dover v. Kitzmiller trial in which he testified. As usual, Intelligent Design was conflated with creationism. The most interesting part of the talk for me came at the end when the following question was posed: “Since biologists don’t really have a good grasp on the origin of life itself, and since life has clearly resulted some kind of self-organization to go from a bunch of chemicals to the point where we are today, couldn’t the origin of life be the point at which God’s involvement in creation was direct?” As this question was posed, at least a third of the students in the crowd nodded their heads yes. The professors in the crowd just looked confused; and scared. To my surprise however, Dr. Miller said, “absolutely!” That made the professors look even more confused. During the book signing afterwards, I approached Dr. Miller and told him I appreciated him bringing up the possibility of God and science as not being mutually exclusive. I then chastised him for not fairly treating both sides of the argument. His response was that he didn’t have time and he was asked by the professors [read politburo] to cover certain material more. I reminded him of the importance of ethics in science. I then told him I believed he had a very important mission in this world and that he should follow it. I walked away as he looked uncomfortable.

——————

[Collins speaking:] Another issue, however—one where I am very puzzled about what the answer will be—is the origin of life. Four billion years ago, the conditions on this planet were completely inhospitable to life as we know it; 3.85 billion years ago, life was teeming. That is a very short period—150 million years—for the assembly of macromolecules into a self-replicating form. I think even the most bold and optimistic proposals for the origin of life fall well short of achieving any real probability for that kind of event having occurred. Is this where God entered? Is this how life got started? I am happy to accept that model, but it will not shake my faith if somebody comes up with a model that explains how that the first cells formed without divine intervention. Again, watch out for the God-of-the-gaps. However, I think it is noteworthy that this particular area of evolution, the earliest step, is still very much in disarray.

Why shouldn’t Miller and Collins be called ID proponents (or at least ID sympathizers) when it comes to the origin of life? And if ID is scientifically valid at the origin of life, aren’t they on a slippery slope? If ID is potentially valid at the origin of life, what is to preclude its validity for the subsequent history of life?

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46 Responses to Are Ken Miller and Francis Collins ID proponents when it comes to the Origin of Life?

  1. Occasionally, a scientist discouraged by the consistent failure of theories purporting to explain some problem like the first appearance of life will suggest that perhaps supernatural creation is a tenable hypothesis in this one instance. Sophisticated naturalists instantly recoil with horror, because they know that there is no way to tell God when he has to stop. If God created the first organism, then how do we know he didn’t do the same thing to produce all those animal groups that appear so suddenly in the Cambrian rocks? Given the existence of a designer ready and willing to do the work, why should we suppose that random mutations and natural selection are responsible for such marvels of engineering as the eye and the wing? ~ Phillip Johnson

    Correct. They operate under the assumption they can’t let a divine foot in the door. They’re afraid if they give an inch the other side will take a mile. I don’t think this is true. Just because I’m willing to admit a divine or some other intelligent foot in the door at the time life first appeared on this planet doesn’t mean I’m willing to admit that foot ever appeared again. I need compelling evidence for each appearance of that foot and following Occam’s Razor I will shave the number of intercessions to the bare minimum. There are only two possible intervention points I’m willing to entertain right now and that is at the beginning of the universe and at the beginning of the earth’s history. -ds

  2. Heck, since Darwin is so venerated, perhaps we just quote him regarding the origin of life and the bio faculty would be compelled to accept it.

    Chapter 14:

    the first creature, the progenitor of innumerable extinct and living descendants, was created.

    Charles Darwin

  3. I really believe that Miller and Collins have two motivations for holding their “non-ID” theistic evolution position. One motivation is the “jam tart” motivation — they may be afraid of being rejected by the scientific establishment. I think this is Miller’s primary motivation for being so vehamently anit-ID. However, Collins expressed what is probably the deeper motivation when he said, “it will not shake my faith if somebody comes up with a model that explains how that the first cells formed without divine intervention.” This fear that taking a position might endanger one’s faith, or create a faith crisis, causes some to move as far into the devil’s territory as they can get. They believe that they can find a safe place there, figuring its easier to back out than it is to be forced in deeper than you voluntarily go.

    As one who has slowly moved from YEC to being prepared to weather the possibility that theistic evolution is correct, I can only say that faiht is pretty good at adapting. I do not have a similar fear.

    I must say, however, that the statements by these two men is a glimmer of ID light in the darkness of their position. You are alive until you are fully dead, and God did it until God had absolutely nothing to do with it.

  4. 4
    SatyaMevaJayate

    “If ID is potentially valid at the origin of life, what is to preclude its validity for the subsequent history of life?”

    None I should say… This is one of the reasons I try & add the Origins of Life when I debate TOE..

    Need to introduce myself. First time on UD & I am impressed. Been following the posts for a few days now… I have begun to read up on ID only off late as I researched evidence against TOE. I was led to beleive that scientist are contantly trying to falsify existing theories for obvious reasons & so i expected to find lots of work being done to falsify TOE. But alas my modest search untill now gives the opposite picture for TOE…

    What I have dicovered is reams & reams of supposed anomalies which seemingly contradict TOE & its conclusions/inferences but very less mainstream scientific studies in such areas. Infact its the opposite which is true, there are reams & reams of speculative psedo-scientific explanation( no experiments) that try to explain away the TOE anomalies & then we get told there is “overwhelming evidence” in favour on TOE & no(zilch, dada) evidence against it. Silly of me to trust that scientists always follow the data irrespective of where it leads to. Can’t blame them entirely cause some of these areas have been labelled unfairly fringe science, namely parapsycology, forbidden archaelogy etc etc. I can understand ignoring a field to protect one’s career but to peddle falsehoods, subvert truth etc in the name of debunking is a strict no no in my book.
    The materialistic scientists need to realise that Truth always wins.. it always just a matter of time. Truth doesn’t contradict at any time/place, while lies/falsehoods always will contradict & hence will be eventually exposed.

    Science as I understand should be the pursuit of Truth using the Scientific method.

    “Truth Always Wins” translates into “Satya Meva Jayate” ( language Sanskrit/Hindi) and is one of Mahatma Ghandhi’s famous quotes.

    As long as any scientific activity pursues Truth, its on solid grounds & no amount of hurdles can stop it.

    Whatever I have learnt untill now about ID, its primary exponents & its many votaries reinforces this notion of “Pursuit of Truth” & hence have no doubts on its eventual triumph over TOE.

  5. Did God only get involved 4 bill years ago and then sleep until Adam? Is God again asleep until the return? Not in my experience.

    God has continuously intervened in human history.

    I know a God who meddles in my life, and in the lives of others that I know, and hear about. I do not attribute only the “unknowns” of our lives to a “God of the Gaps”. God is involved in many knowns too.

    People who know God, know He is alive and active today in our real every day lives. I know people who say they are helped by God to do their science better!

    Isaiah gives the picture of the potter. The potter creates over time. How long? Who knows? The details of the potter’s methods are only partly recognised from the finished pot.

    ID finds the marks of the potter on the pot. A pot is different from a stone hollowed out by an erosive process.

    By seeking to be respectable about when and where God is allowed to have acted in life’s history, we are in danger of being shown up to be trying to tame Aslan.

    If God is alive and intervenes in the world today He has some explaining to do when I meet up with Him as to why there’s so much pain and suffering in the world. -ds

    DS: Theologians have taken up the task of explaining evil in the world despite God’s continued intervention, so you don’t need to wait until you have a face to face encounter with your Maker . I’ve taken up this task myself: http://www.designinference.com.....eodicy.pdf. –WmAD

  6. Dave, you do not have to wait to meet up with him to complain. Ask any Jewish Rabbi, or well informed Christian. We complain all the time! Complain enough and he gives you opportunties to solve the very problems you’re upset about :)

    He must think you’re very exceptional or you would not be here now defending Dembski and crew. As a small personal testimony, it took 42 years to accept fully a personal God and Christ as his son. Prior to that I was angry, disbelieving and critical of all Christians.

    But I digress….
    You can talk to him now, argue with him, blame him for the worlds problems. He’ll listen. This is what God, Moses, David in Psalms, the Prophets, Christ and his apostles all state with clarity. Abraham argued, Jacob wrestled with an angel(messenger) of the Lord, and Job whined, complained and questioned God’s ability to do anything good at all.

    God is not responsible for man’s actions other than freeing us to do make our own decisions. We ourselves are, our leaders, our nations. We cause the problems of the world. We allow them. We ignore them. Both the good and the evil, the majority and minority are all responsible at one time or another. Some people drop all they’re doing, enter into service to help other people and nations. They feed millions, give healthcare, and make a real difference. I cannot say this. I’ve only just begun this journey a little over 3 years ago.

    We know driving a car has certain potential danger when our children grow up. When some children drive to fast or drink and cause a wreck that is clearly their fault, do we blame God or ourselves for letting them to drive? Or do we hold the children accountable if we gave instructions for them to drive carefully? This is a simple example. I realize you can rebut with others. In many ways, we are in control. In some ways we are not – and thats the hard part.

    But if there is true acceptance and belief in Christ, then the Father who is in Him, then the cruelty, oppression, pain, suffering and death in this world are temporary and this world pales in comparison to the world to come.

    His existence as recorded in Old/New Testaments and his appearances set forth guided Israel. So far, archeology has proven both Old and New Testaments accurate, much more so than fossil collecting of evolution btw. Although I realize its similar in that it cannot provide actual evidence of God’s existence.

    The outline of God’s appearance to the world however is he would not appear again until Israel is gathered together again from all nations of the world and other specific steps occur. Israel has only the last few years located the two tribes of Joseph and are busy in preparations to bring those willing home. He dispersed 10 tribes of Israel first for their failure to honor him, then Yahudah, Benjamin and the Levitical Priestly family after their refusal to follow him and from a Christian perspective(not accepted by majority of our Jewish elder brothers), the very rejection of Christ who said, “not one stone shall be left unturned when the temple will be destroyed”. Christ wept because he new what would happen.

    I hope this does not seem like preaching, but trying to give some specifics from my understanding of God’s word and history thru his people and nation he chose for the world to see as evidence for his being.

    You may already have read fully the Bible and know this information and just not accept it as accurate. But hey, I’m praying for you to experience what I did. To me it was overwhelming and caused me to search, to question everything I knew regarding evolution, etc., and actually begin learning again with renewed vigor and spirit of inquiry I’d lost for some time.

    As a result of all my complaining, God put something right in my lap and said – go fix it! You’re mad these people are suffering without cause, here, here’s your opportunity to show me what you’re made of. Here’s people who come to you and ask for help, in fact, against all odds, here they are – now – what will You do. Accccck! ;-)

    Rise up, he says, and feed my sheep for the harvest is great and the servants few. He’s a conquering God, fearless as David well knew when one finally accepts him truly.

    That’s been my experience… so far….

    Challenge Him!

  7. You have to understand that Ken Miller is a phony. He claims to be religious but is openly dishonest when it comes to presenting what he must know about one of the biggest controversies of the day. If he were an honest man, and I believe to be religious you have to be an honest person, he would publicly act differently.

    To understand Ken Miller you have to understand he sells hundreds of thousands of text books each year, has a prestigious job at Brown and has many speaking engagements and receives a substantial financial reward from each. If he were to be honest about ID or Darwinism he would be ostracized in a nano-second and all his career and royalties would disappear. We know the game. So Ken Miller has made some choices.

  8. 8

    It is important to make the distinction between something you believe and something you know to be scientifically proven. Ken Miller might believe that abiogenesis requires God, he might even believe that evolution requires God. That does not make him a hypocrite, because he accepts that there is not enough scientific evidence to make the conclusion that intelligence is nessecary. Maybe he secretly hopes that ID will be proved right eventually I dont know, but the point is that right now he doesnt think that the evidence supports design, so he argues against it.

    ““it will not shake my faith if somebody comes up with a model that explains how that the first cells formed without divine intervention.” This fear that taking a position might endanger one’s faith, or create a faith crisis, causes some to move as far into the devil’s territory as they can get. They believe that they can find a safe place there, figuring its easier to back out than it is to be forced in deeper than you voluntarily go.”

    It seems to me that is just the reason he will not accept God of the gaps arguments, and that he does not need Gods actions to be proved to him scientifically to believe.

    “You have to understand that Ken Miller is a phony. He claims to be religious but is openly dishonest when it comes to presenting what he must know about one of the biggest controversies of the day. If he were an honest man, and I believe to be religious you have to be an honest person, he would publicly act differently.

    To understand Ken Miller you have to understand he sells hundreds of thousands of text books each year, has a prestigious job at Brown and has many speaking engagements and receives a substantial financial reward from each. If he were to be honest about ID or Darwinism he would be ostracized in a nano-second and all his career and royalties would disappear. We know the game. So Ken Miller has made some choices.”

    Whether or not he is openly dishonest is your opinion, I have spoken to many evangelical Christians who give the same reason you do as to why creationists are dishonest. These kind of accusations are unprovable, unless you have a quote from Miller confirming it. I imagine that some creationsists and ID advocates make just as much money as Miller from speaking engagements and books, but I would not argue that they are just in it for the money, as it adds nothing to the debate.

    Surely people like Miller, if genuine, are a good counter to the claims that ID is just about religion.

  9. Michaels

    I defend ID because it is the most rational explanation for the empirical evidence. I have no bias for or against divinity. A divine presence (divine defined as omnipotent/omniscient) is a possibility but one that I can find no compelling evidence either for or against. I tend to lean towards deism as the universe itself and the laws which govern it seem far too contrived to be an accident but that’s not a real conviction – just the way I’d bet if I had to bet on it. I do have a bias for modern Christianity as a superior cement to bind together a fair & successful civilization of a kind I want to live in and that I want my children to inherit. In that way my hackles are raised by anti-religionists who in the U.S. might as well be called anti-Christian. They are a destructive influence. So there’s two reasons I defend ID – one because it’s the best explanation and two because the most vocal of its opponents are a destructive influence on the culture that I cherish and wish to preserve for my descendants.

    As to other matter – God intervening in comtemporary affairs – I don’t need to consult anyone to know that if God is intervening it is haphazard and unequal intervention. I’d rather presume a non-interventionist policy than presume that God is unfair. And I still have a problem with a living God able to intervene who doesn’t as that seems unnecessarily cruel. There’s an old saying “have the courage to change the things you can change and the wisdom to know what you cannot change”. I can’t change the nature of God, if there even is a God, so I don’t dwell on it. I do what I can to make the world a better place and trust that’s enough to satisfy my maker if there’s one keeping score.

  10. Also, I don’t see how being ID on the origin-of-life is ANY different from being completely ID. How stupid do you have to be to suppose that God built a first organism but did not build it with its future goals in mind?

  11. Sophisticated naturalists instantly recoil with horror, because they know that there is no way to tell God when he has to stop. If God created the first organism, then how do we know he didn’t do the same thing to produce all those animal groups that appear so suddenly in the Cambrian rocks? Given the existence of a designer ready and willing to do the work, why should we suppose that random mutations and natural selection are responsible for such marvels of engineering as the eye and the wing? ~ Phillip Johnson

    Just because I’m willing to admit a divine or some other intelligent foot in the door at the time life first appeared on this planet doesn’t mean I’m willing to admit that foot ever appeared again. I need compelling evidence for each appearance of that foot and following Occam’s Razor I will shave the number of intercessions to the bare minimum. There are only two possible intervention points I’m willing to entertain right now and that is at the beginning of the universe and at the beginning of the earth’s history. -ds

    Probably, so far as I know, there is no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university who does not believe that the writer(s) of Genesis 1-11 intended to convey to their readers the ideas that (a) creation took place in a series of six days which were the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience; . . . Or, to put it negatively, the apologetic arguments which suppose the “days” of creation to be long eras of time, the figures of years not to be chronological, and the flood to be a merely local Mesopotamian flood, are not taken seriously by any such professors, as far as I know. ~ James Barr Regius Professor of Hebrew at Oxford University in England

  12. I agree with JohnnyB in comment 10- If you are ID proponent for the origin of life then you are an ID proponent period.

    That is because if life did not arise from non-living matter via some blind watchmaker-type (unintelligent, blind/ undirected (non-goal oriented) process then there would be no reason to infer its subsequent diversity arose solely due to those type of processes.

    Off topic- check out the 12th comment:

    http://mednews.stanford.edu/st.....-main.html

    :)

  13. 13

    Hello Satya,

    Nice to have a Hindu in the tent.

    Link to Dembski’s explanation of evil didn’t work.

    I’ll entertain complaints about suffering in the world once people have stopped being greedy, selfish and insensitive. Then we’ll talk.

    Shortly, it’s all about responsibility. I mean, a major component of real spiritual growth is about taking responsibility. We aren’t worms, we aren’t children, and we’re not here to be treated like dogs in a kennel. God can’t “intervene” because it would accomplish nothing. The only way we’ll live in paradise is when the desires of our hearts are pure. You can’t take selfish people and “place” them in paradise. Paradise isn’t a place as much as a spiritual condition. The one thing God can’t do is force us to be good.

    I’ll entertain complaints about suffering in the world once people have stopped being greedy, selfish and insensitive. Then we’ll talk.

    How convenient. In the meantime tiny children that haven’t lived long enough to be greedy, selfish, or insenstive suffer. If you decide to talk about it start out by telling me what they did wrong. -ds

  14. 14

    “How stupid do you have to be to suppose that God built a first organism but did not build it with its future goals in mind?”

    If it was the Christian God as described in the bible then fair enough, but if we are not assuming that then it seems entirely plausible to me that the first life could have been created and then seeded on earth as some kind of experiment for example. Whether or not an intelligence performed some kind of frontloading or interfered with evolution does not mean that there was a specific goal, eg human beings as they currently exist.

  15. DaveScot: have you considered the possibility of reincarnation, and the associated law of karma? It is the spiritual equivalent of “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”. The terrific cruelty of some apparently unfair or unwarranted fates are obviously matched by the terrific cruelty of positively evil actions. In the ongoing cycle of incarnations, the soul finds those conditions which are necessary for its development. If someone has sown cruelty, he must in turn experience it in order to come to a complete understanding of its horrible effects. This may at first sound harsh, but not nearly as harsh by a long shot as the notion of a completely arbitrary system in which chance doles out grossly differing conditions for no knowable reason whatsoever. In fact, a true understanding of this law leads to great compassion for those who suffer, since we are able to recognize that they are on another part of the wheel of life, where we might also find ourselves one day, in need of compassion and help. Also, it is about learning, not punishment. Only through experiencing the same can I come to know it completely. I once read a great story in National Geographic about a group of villagers in Tibet. These people have a very special and compassionate way of dealing with handicapped children BECAUSE they believe that the handicaps are a result of karma.

    Also, consider that suffering is a relative condition: there are many people who willingly take on suffering which is not necessary out of a conviction that their actions will help others. This inner state makes the suffering bearable, and can be the basis of releasing them from karmic burdens. Others, however, can bear almost no deviation from a comfortable norm without violently recoiling and blaming, cursing and accusing. This striking difference is only explicable in terms of a differing spiritual maturity. I always think of the example of starvation: many times, you will find hunger and poverty given as excuses or “causes” for the most disgusting behaviors imaginable. On the other hand, you have people who would willingly starve themselves to death out of conviction for a cause.

    You seem comfortable with the concept of a lawful universe on a physical level. I think you could consider,(just consider) the possibility of a lawful universe on a spiritual level. Many conundrums are resolved through such an approach. Just food for thought.

    have you considered the possibility of reincarnation, and the associated law of karma?

    Certainly. I’m nearly convinced that Richard Dawkins will be returning as a dung beetle, for instance, while Wesley Elsberry will be viewing the world through the eyes of a weasel. Oh hold it, Wesley’s already doing that. Let’s make it a prairie dog. -ds

  16. Chris Hyland,

    Ken Miller is a fraud. He gives lectures where he wilfully misrepresents the ID position. He testified that ID is a form of special creationsim at Dover, whatever that is without defining it there. He has debated Michael Behe and they are both Catholics so he must know Michael Behe’s position on ID and creationism. So, yes Ken Miller is a dishonest person or stupid. Take your pick.

    I cannot understand why that is “my opinion” when he obviously distorts things when under oath. Unless you do not think distorting things under oath is being dishonest.

  17. Chris –

    “Whether or not an intelligence performed some kind of frontloading or interfered with evolution does not mean that there was a specific goal, eg human beings as they currently exist.”

    I wasn’t talking about a _specific_ goal. I was just talking about frontloading in general. It is still ID if human beings were not the intent of the designer. _Any_ front-loading activity is ID — it means that X required (or at least used, but I feel fairly safe saying required) intelligent causation.

  18. I was wrong, Ken Miller does define special creationism. He defines it as the work of an intelliigence so by definition ID is a form of creationism.

  19. How convenient. In the meantime tiny children that haven’t lived long enough to be greedy, selfish, or insenstive suffer. If you decide to talk about it start out by telling me what they did wrong. -ds

    One of the core doctrines of Biblical Christianity is the teaching that we are sinners by both choice and by nature. We are born seperated from our Creator. When I held my tiny baby after he was first born, it was difficult to swallow that this [externally] innocent little angel had inherited this sin nature. Interestingly, I never had to teach my babies to shout “NO!” defiantly, or be sneaky and deceptive… they just seemed to figure it out on their own. ;)

    The Bible compares it to a disease of the blood which we are all born with. Read the book of Romans. This is why Christ came and did what he did.

    [By the way, it almost seems to me that the "Selfish Gene" is the Materialist's Sin Nature. Perhaps the Selfish Gene is the material "extension" or result of the Sin Nature. Just a thought. A discussion which is probably better suited for a Theological forum though. ;)]

    I’m pretty sure I don’t want anything to do with a God that condemns a child for the sins of its parents. But of course on judgement day, if there is a such a thing, I’ll give Him a chance to explain Himself to My satisfaction. As of now it’s my opinion that I’m not the one who needs to be forgiven. I’m down here in the trenches trying to alleviate pain and suffering with my tiny ability while He’s sitting his omnipotent posterior on a throne in heaven apparently doing jack diddly squat in that regard. -ds

  20. Why shouldn’t Miller and Collins be called ID proponents (or at least ID sympathizers) when it comes to the origin of life?

    Dr. Dembski,

    I’m confused. I thought ID was a scientific method of design detection (at least that’s how DaveScot always refers to it). I don’t see how Miller’s position is “ID on the origin-of-life”; his position is one of a specific act of creation by God. That’s theism. ID is proportedly neutral as to the intelligence. Miller is arriving at at his conclusion not from a position of scientific design detection, but from a position of faith. I don’t think he was giving any credence to the ability of science to detect an act of special creation; in fact, I think he was explicitly addressing that point.

    As far as Miller and his confreres are concerned, ID is simply in the business of looking for gaps in the materialistic story of science. True materialistic scientists, however, are committed to there being no actual gaps in nature (the gaps are simply in our minds for the time being as science matures). Here, at the origin of life, however, Miller seems to be admitting that there could be a gap in nature where God miraculously intervened. Granted, he’s still not admitting detectability of design, but he has left the materialistic fold, an act that has earned him the appellation of “creationist” from no less a critic than Frederick Crews (see the latter’s review of Miller in the New York Review of Books some years back). –WmAD

  21. One of the really confusing things about ID literature is the extreme imprecision of the term. For instance, in jumping all over Ken Miller in this thread, people seem to be saying that any belief that God may have been responsible for something occuring (e.g. the first life form, or I assume divine causation of the Big Bang would fall in the same category) constitutes ID.

    In that sense, anyone who is a religious believer and believes that God is responsible for the workings of the universe believes in ID. I believe in ID in that sense. As does, clearly, Ken Miller and Stephen Barr and Fr. Edward Oakes and others.

    However, in Behe and Dembski’s books what we find is not simply an argument for God’s power and providence, but rather a claim that one can use certain scientific and mathematical criteria to say “At this point, some sort of designer must have intervened and made some sort of change” or “We don’t know when or how, but this particular structure (flagellum, or whatever) was clearly created rather than developed.”

    It is in this sense that one may very much believe in God (as everything I’ve read and heard from Ken Miller suggests he does) while rejecting the specific scientific claims of ID. From what I’ve read of Ken Miller, his agreeing that the creation of life might have involved divine intervention is not at all necessarily agreeing that the creation of life is an instance of ID holding true. As someone who believes that science is and should be metaphysically modest, I imagine that Miller would say that if God created the first life, the only evidence we would find of that scientifically is simply that we wouldn’t find any explanation. However, a lack of a ‘naturalistic’ explanation is not the same thing as a proof of divine intervention. It’s simply that, a lack of explanation. (Perhaps this is too much in the Catholic trivia line, but note that when a miracle is investigated the ‘positive’ result is that there is no known natural explanation for the claimed miracle, not that it definately was a miracle. Science can’t prove that.)

    One thing I think we as Christians should be very careful to avoid is the idea that finding a ‘naturalistic’ explanation for something in some sense suggests that God was ‘asleep’ or otherwise not involved. If we believe, as Christianity traditionally has, that God keeps the world in existence through his active will, than a naturalistic explanation is no less God’s work than a miraculous one, it’s simply that the one is the working out of God’s organizational principles of the universe while the other is not clearly so.

  22. On a side note, I find the claim that Miller rejects ID because he wishes to sell more textbooks absurd. He is one fish in a very large pond of mainstream science, while the leading lights of the ID movement are in a much smaller pond, with a very dedicated source of supporters and donations to support them.

  23. According to the Bible account, being born with a sin nature that separates us from our Creator does not mean that God sends babies to hell. The Bible indicates an age of accountability when each person becomes old enough to understand the message of Christ. If we believe the Bible, then we have to believe that God is a perfect judge and deals with each individual based on the light they have, or have not, been shown.

    And if there is a Biblical judgment day… I’m afraid you’ll do no such thing, Dave. Rather, you’ll be flat on your face “as though dead” in the presence of a perfectly holy and perfectly just God who will ask you one simple question: What did you do with the provision of my son? :)

    As for sitting on thrones and such… anthropomorphisms are just that – illustrations to allow our wittle human brains to get a picture of things like God’s majesty and authority. According to the Bible, God is Spirit. But that’s beside the point. And as for doing “jack diddly squat”, I would suggest that He did everything needed to redeem a fallen creation, thru the sacrfice of his Son… where redemption is given as a free gift that cannot be earned.

    …this is if we accept the Bible as the truth, of course.

    Whatever! Here’s my take. “No Free Lunch” is more than just a book by Bill Dembski. When it comes to earning a comfy spot in the hereafter there are two possibilities – you have to work for it or you don’t. Now if you work for it and you’re wrong about needing to work for it, you needlessly gave of yourself to make the world a better place. If you don’t work for it and it turns out you needed to work for it, you’re screwed, blued, and tatooed. I prefer to err on the side of caution. You can rationalize that free lunch if you want but I choose to hedge my bets. -ds

  24. Scott: you are going to have to do some explaining, then, about the continuation, and even drastic increase of sin, suffering, and disease SINCE Christ’s coming, and even (sometimes especially) amongst those who have been “saved”. if everything which is wrong is wrong because of some ancient sin, and that sin (and all others in the future)are automatically redeemed, then shouldn’t things be steadily and drastically improving? if not, why not?

  25. Tina:

    Firstly, I would ask for a statistic in support of your claim that sin & suffering has “increased” since the coming of Christ. Secondly, the Bible indicates, mainly in the NT epistles, that things are going to get a lot worse before Christ redeems all of creation. So, if what you say is true, it’s right in line with Biblical prophecy. Just read Matthew Ch. 24 & the book of 1 Peter, for starters.

    When redemption in Christ happens to an individual, the Bible says that Christ’s righteousness is “imputed”. So, God looks at the believer and sees his Son. The believer is “smuggled” into God’s favor, in Christ, so to speak. But this doesn’t change the fact that the believer is still subject to a fallen world and the deliterious effects of sin. There is a dual nature now: the flesh which is still corrupt and subject to the lusts of this world, but the spirit is redeemed and clothed in Christ’s righteousness (see Romans Ch. 7).

  26. Whatever! Here’s my take. “No Free Lunch” is more than just a book by Bill Dembski. When it comes to earning a comfy spot in the hereafter there are two possibilities – you have to work for it or you don’t. Now if you work for it and you’re wrong about needing to work for it, you needlessly gave of yourself to make the world a better place. If you don’t work for it and it turns out you needed to work for it, you’re screwed, blued, and tatooed. I prefer to err on the side of caution. You can rationalize that free lunch if you want but I choose to hedge my bets. -ds

    You have every right to believe that, Dave. My point was to demonstrate what the Bible teaches about our condition and redemption. And according to the Bible, God’s standard to get into the “hereafter” is perfection. The only person who met this standard was Christ. Hence the need for his sacrifice. Here is one of my favorite verses:

    Ephesians 2:8&9

    “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.”

    You have every right to believe that God made an impossible requirement for a normal human to ever meet then when he discovered he set the bar too high he set out a bottomless stack of “get out of jail free” cards that anyone can pick up whether a saint or a serial killer. Uh huh. Whatever. -ds

    ———————————————————-
    I think you’re reading the sacred book of 1 Opinionz, Dave.
    …or II Hezitationz.
    either way, your theology is rotten. Eeek! ;) -Scott

    ———————————————————-

    Okay, it’s easy enough to play on your turf. Oh LUUUUUUcy, you got some ‘splainin to do! :-) -ds

    1 Corinthians 3:11-15:

    For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay or straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work, which he has built upon it, remains, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire.

    Revelation 20:11-15

    And I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and the books were opened; . . . and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. . . . And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

    I was “saved” over 40 years ago at the tender age of 6 in the Grace Baptist Church on Prospect Avenue in Salamanca, New York. Once you’re saved you don’t get unsaved even if you lose your faith. Since my ostensible salvation I’ve felt the pain of every sparrow that falls from the sky and have been building on my foundation a veritable zoo of rescued animals and have two wonderful children who do the same. That is the work set before me. My butt is covered come heck or high water. I hope yours is too. There are no free lunches. You get back what you give out. Maybe. ;-) -ds

  27. Darwin Catholic,

    In Miller’s own words, his text book is used by 35% of all high school students a year. That is probably worth a couple hundred big ones a year. You have to be naive if you do not think that makes a difference with Ken Miller. That should disqualify him immediately as a witness in this process. He is in the process of writing a college text which should add to his take. He is a dishonest man, not necessarily for this writing text books but because he constantly lies and distorts and then claims he is a religious person. Does the Catholic religion condone lying to foster your personal interest? You don’t have to answer that one because I know the answer.

    As I said he is a phony.

  28. I think you’re unnecessarily working yourself up, Jerry…

    The fact that someone profits by their positions does not necessarily make them dishonest about their positions. Behe, Dembski, Johnson and so on sell quite a few books themselves but I don’t think anyone claims that they write them only to make a buck. Nor did Behe only testify in the Dover case because he was being paid consultant rates to do so.

    The charge of lying and dishonesty is one that I think people should be rather cautious about making, especially on contentious topics. As I’m sure you’re aware, evolution proponents express constant frustration that ID supports distort what evolution really says when writing their rebuttals. Behe, Dembski and perhaps most of all Paul Johnson are often accused of distorting what evolutionary theory says in order to make it easier to rebutt.

    Perhaps this is because one seldom feels that someone rebutting one’s arguments does justice to them. Regardless of the truth of the matter, it certainly doesn’t help in any debate to constantly accuse one’s opponents of lying.

  29. 1 Corinthians 3:11-15:

    For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay or straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work, which he has built upon it, remains, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire.

    Revelation 20:11-15

    And I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and the books were opened; . . . and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. . . . And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

    Not a problem. First, always remember this cardinal rule of Biblical Hermeneutics: A text out of context becomes a pre-text (and usually for error).

    The 1 Corinthians passages are talking about spiritual rewards in the hereafter for believers in Christ. Entire books have been written which deal with the believer’s awards. First note that the passage is written to believers in Christ. You emphasize the key point for me: If any man’s work, which he has built upon it, remains, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire. The point of this passage is to exhort believers to live a life of good works as the result of their salvation… not in order to earn it. Let’s look at the verse after the ones I quoted in Ephesians:

    For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

    This is Soteriology 101. We are saved unto good works. Not by good works. Otherwise you have to explain how the incredibly godly prophet Isaiah could say that his most righteous deeds are a filthy rag in the eyes of the Lord. It’s not about how good or bad you are, it’s about who ya know. ;)

    The Revelation passage: First off, this book is apocolyptic literature (which doesn’t exist anymore)and the rules of hermeneutics would dictate that we not build soteriological doctrine from the wild apocolyptic writings of Revelation. Secondly, one of the cardinal rules of interpretation of scripture is you always interpret the few obscure passages in light of the many obvious passages. Never the opposite. Finally, the key is understanding that the condition for being cast into the lake of fire (metaphor for the agony of conscious and eternal separation from that love one could have known) is their names “not being written in the book of life”. i.e. along with those others who received the free gift of eternal life in Christ.

    I was saved in December of 1992. I’m thankful that I can’t be “bad” enough or fail to do enough “good” to lose my salvation. :) Of course a consistent life of disobedience and lack of concern about the things of God and his word would indicate I was never saved in the first place, but that’s a totally different discussion. ;)

    “…the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” – Ephesians 4:30b

    As a sidebar, this is the beauty of the redemptive plan of God as presented in the Bible. This plan convinced me, personally, that Biblical Christianity was truth. If it were a plan penned by the hands of mere men, it would resemble the religions of the world: trying to appease a reluctant god by doing enough good and hoping it outweighs the bad when all is said and done. See, human nature wants to have something to do with it. Pride. The performance mentality gives us something we can touch and feel, like little children who put things in their mouths. But then we have the Biblical redemptive plan which flies in the face of our human pride and says: “You can’t do it. You are completely bankrupt spiritually and nothing you can do will earn you favor with me.” Enter: Christ’s perfect life in exchange for our imperfect lives, to be received sans works. It’s brilliant. It defies human logic and pride.

    I believe when he hung on the cross and said, “It is finished.” He meant it.

  30. Scott: I don’t like to get into fights about doctrine. I think people’s spiritual beliefs are a sacred pact between themselves and their Creator. Up to a certain point it is interesting to discuss them, but once acrimony and hard feelings enter, then its gone too far. I disagree completely, as a starting principle, with the notion that we can rely on Scripture to contain every thing which is true, or that we can rely on it to contain only truth. I just think its a bad principle. Look at the Pharisees. THey relied completely on their own interpretations of scripture. THen, when the truth itself confronted them, in the person of Christ, they couldn’t square what he was saying with their preconcieved notions, and so they murdered him. This is an historical as well as a moral warning, as far as I can tell. It sounds lofty and sincere to say “the bible is the Holy word of God” and ultimately, no one can “prove” anything about that one way or another. As you say, it comes down to a matter of faith. You believe in a god who would erase someone from the book of life for not having the sense, insight, or opportunity to “believe” something which took place 2000 years ago and which can only be experienced through heresay and written records. Even if this person lived a life of service and beauty. Great. I don’t believe in this god, whom I would term a “monster”. I believe in a God who sent his son to be a living example of the path to righteousness THROUGH RIGHT ACTION AND INNER FAITHFULNESS. To equate right action and faithfulness to God with the “works” of ancient times is just ignorant, in my opinion. Those works were outward things, like giving to charity, building churches, you name it. Worldly things of which someone could “boast”. Christ was teaching about the INNER life, the life of the spirit, which he charged men to purify through proper love. But all of this is probably not worth the time since our starting principles are so different.

  31. Darwin Catholic,

    Rather than take up a lot of space here, you should read

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....hives/1166 post 62.

    In it I giive a brief outline of my disdain for Darwinism as a scientific theory of evolution. By the way you should define what you mean by “what evolution really says” so we can use it as a standard to judge things by. My experience is that it is the Darwinists that distort not the ID people.

    In my opinion Darwinism is intellectually bankrupt because it has no evidence to support the claims it makes. I challenge you to present any that are not based on trivial micro-evolution examples. Nothing that Darwin witnessed on his trip on the Beagle supports his theory beyond some trivial conclusions that might be explained by genetics. Given the harm it has done to the world, one has to be also morally bankrupt to support Darwinism once they understand its shortcomings as a theory especially if that person also proclaims to believe in God. If a person is an atheist, then they must believe in it because there is no current alternative that is consistent with their atheism. Why do you think the fight is so vociiferous. It has nothing to do with the merits of the theory as science.

    If you want to have a nice quiet discussion on either of these issues we can, but offer logic and evidence not platitudes. So far I have not seen either logic or evidence in any of your posts. You act liek you assume they exist but you are in for a rude awakening. If you also want examples of how pro Darwinist diistort the ID position, I can provide lots, but you can start with reading the NY Times science sections to see disingenuous treatments of ID. I even have an exampe of the current chair of bio-ethics in the US doing it. He never replied when asked if distorting a position in an editorial is ethical or not.

  32. I’m pretty sure I don’t want anything to do with a God that condemns a child for the sins of its parents. But of course on judgement day, if there is a such a thing, I’ll give Him a chance to explain Himself to My satisfaction. As of now it’s my opinion that I’m not the one who needs to be forgiven. I’m down here in the trenches trying to alleviate pain and suffering with my tiny ability while He’s sitting his omnipotent posterior on a throne in heaven apparently doing jack diddly squat in that regard. -ds

    The ancient man approached God (or even the gods) as the accused person approaches his judge. For the modem man the roles are reversed. He is the judge: God is in the dock. He is quite a kindly judge: if God should have a reasonable defense for being the god who permits war, poverty, and disease, he is ready to listen to it. The trial may even end in God’s acquittal. But the important thing is that man is on the bench and God in the dock. ~ C.S. Lewis

  33. Jerry,

    If I seem overly hesitant in stating strong positions, it’s because it seems to me that it behooves me to be respectful of Dr. Dembski’s positions while commenting on his blog — especially since he apparently keeps those of us who disagree with him on a moderation list as it is.

    I could come right out and say that I think many of the Discovery Institute leading writers consistently make statements far beyond the evidence they have, and distort the statements of others to prove their points — knowing full well that most of their readers aren’t scientifically literate enough to know the difference — but what good would that do other than starting a flame war.

    I could come right out and say your days here are numbered if you come right out and say things like that without backing it up too. It isn’t Bill Dembski that does the moderation here. At least not much of it. The moderator would be me. Consider yourself warned. -ds

    One of the big problems I have with the micro vs. macro evolution distinction that so many people try to make in these circles (and as you do in the comment you link to) is that the terms are slippery.

    Once upon a time, I went to go see a professor (who know I believe is a DI fellow) at my college because we’d both had articles on evolution in the same edition of New Oxford Review. Mine was a very negative book review of Creation Rediscovered, his put forward an ID-based perspective. I wanted to see if he had a reaction to my review (he hadn’t read it) and to get his reaction to my next assignment: reviewing Dembski’s Intelligent Design. As we talked about the evolution issue, this professor brought up the issue of transitional forms, saying there weren’t any. I pointed out that there are actually some pretty well documented transitions among such small sea invertibrates as trilobites and molluscs. His reply was, “Yeah, but who cares about molluscs.”

    Often it seems to me that the distinction between micro and macro evolution is simply a matter of whether anyone cares. But from a biological point of view, species transitions are important even if they’re not exciting. And the general methodology is to assume that processes that work on a small scale must also work on a large scale until very good evidence to the contrary shows up.

    Scientists have spent a helluva lot of time making taxonomic distinctions for something nobody really cares about. Microevolution is that which doesn’t result in the generation of organisms the belong in a new taxonomic category. There’s nothing slippery about it especially when you get to higher taxonomic divisions. But just to be clear I prefer to distinguish macroevolution by saying it’s the creation of novel cell types, tissue types, organs, and body plans. -ds

    And the general methodology is to assume that processes that work on a small scale must also work on a large scale until very good evidence to the contrary shows up.

    Wow. So if I can make a pile of rocks a hundred feet high I should assume I can make a pile that stretches all the way to the moon? Sorry Charlie. It doesn’t work that way. What you claim is reasonable is a gross extrapolation atop an argument from ignorance. You don’t know of any other mechanism (other than an intelligent agency) that can create biological novelty writ large so you say well then it must be this thing that can make trivial changes that’s making the big changes because, if not this, then what? -ds

  34. For those concerned with evil in ourselves or in the present or past world, please take the time to read Bill at;

    http://www.designinference.com.....eodicy.pdf

    it may just be the time best spent in years.

  35. Children, we digress. I notice not one of you has mentioned, nor even appeared aware of, the MIRACLE IN OUR MIDST: The Miller/Collins debacle took place at TEXAS TECH, MY ALMA MATER!

    Considering that when I was there, one of our regents–J. Fred Bucy, founder and megarichguy of Texas Instruments–when asked whether beer drinking should be allowed on Tech campus, opined that beer drinking was a bad thing because it would, and I quote, “lead to Communism.”

    Also, let us not forget Tech’s most famous near-graduate, our own John Hinkley, Jr., who tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in hopes of impressing the actress Jodie Foster.

    So the fact that an idea as controversial and cutting-edge as ID theory was broached there at all is, I think, a sign of progress.

    Oh, and Dave: as to your question about why God allows suffering. Answer: He just does, whether or not you can understand why. If you knew what God knows, you’d understand. You don’t know, so it’s not possible for you to understand. Supposing that maybe God should have allowed some thing or other to happen in a different way than it really happened is tantamount to telling Him how to do his job. I have it on good authority that that sort of thing tends to cheese Him off, so don’t do it.

  36. Darwin Catholic,

    You are welcome to say anything you want here about science as long as you back it up. My experience is that the pro Darwinists here end up spouting nonsense when they get called on it so they get banned. They cannot back up their claims. Great_Ape is a Darwinist who is very knowledgeable and offers a lot to the discussion.

    I don’t think macro evolution is hard to differentiate from micro evolution. There are plenty of examples in the literature of small changes that may happen over time but nothing major showing something turning into another substantially different life form. Dave Scott defines his macro evolution a little differently than I do since I put some of his examples in my Tier 2 (novel body parts, organs, tissue types) and reserve macro evolution for the origin of the higher taxa within a phylum. There are plenty of examples of similar birds and similar fish and probably similar molluscs but nothing that explains the origin of the bird itself, bat sonar, land breathing animals or a lot of other substantial differences such as heart types, different birthing methods etc. How about opposable thumbs or consciousness? Here we are getting closer in time. The examples usually provided are all trivial and could be included within micro evolution and easily explained by genetics or maybe some simple mutations causing size differences or color changes. Look at the different types of dogs and this is just allele changes through breeding or what is common genetics.

    How do I know there are no good examples of macro-evolution? I ask and never get a coherent answer. I have gotten dinosaurs to birds, land animals to whales and now molluscs. The first two turned up as highly speculative with only a couple possible intermediaries based on wishful speculations. Especially when birds have a unique oxygen delivery system no other animal has. They are incredibly adapted for flight (should I say designed) and there is no reason a dinosaur would have these body functions. But maybe someday there will be evidence that the dinosaurs had this unique oxygen system. So if you have any evidence for molluscs, I will gladly look at it. Do they end up something different or just different sizes, shapes and designs?

    But there are other problems for Darwinism. No serious scientist thinks it can explain the Cambrian explosion where there is almost no diversity but lots of disparity between the unique body plans. It is an obvious top down phenomena. They try to say RM + NS worked on these life forms but the evidence is so clear here. All the versions of the eye appeared during the Cambrian explosion but no others since. I wonder why. There has been 500 million years and the Cambrian explosion lasted 10-20 million years. Surely there was time.

    They even try to explain Darwinism works for OOL by saying molecules compete with each other and some types of molecules survive. There is zero evidence for this but they still try. Are you aware of the origin of life issues? The magnitude of them and how all they address is some simple preliminary problems with the implication they are just a short research project away from the solution. The idiot who heads the Harvard program thought it would take a year or two and a few million dollars and then it would be over.

    Since you chose the name Darwin, defend it or you should get rid of it. This site exists because many here think Darwinism is not only bogus but maybe the single biggest driver of atheism in the world and the track record of atheism is not very positive. Europe is about 70+% atheist now and I blame one thing, Darwinism. Without Darwinism, atheism would shrivel up to an obnoxious few especially with the cosmology research all pointing to design. No sane person would chose atheism since all the evidence is stacked against it. And the science community prevents all this information getting to the public or the students.

    Poetically enough, Darwin is taking care of Europe. They have a negative population growth rate, they’re being taken over by Muslims, and their economy is in shambles with runaway unemployment. I fear the U.S. is going to have to save Europe from itself a third time as the Muslims near completion of their takeover. -ds

  37. 37

    Hi Dave,

    -I went through and read everything, and I pulled out quotes from you and from Scott. I refute many of Scott’s comments, but only to weave them in as an answer to you. My comments start with a – mark. Where’s the edit features? I’m still trying to get the Dembski link to work.

    How convenient. In the meantime tiny children that haven’t lived long enough to be greedy, selfish, or insensitive suffer. If you decide to talk about it start out by telling me what they did wrong. –ds

    -I also have come to believe in reincarnation because there isn’t a better supposition and it does create a great avenue for improvement in justice, and a far better game plan. I do not think it must be nonChristian to accept reincarnation, but that would take too much ‘splainin for now. The children did nothing wrong, although of course they may indeed have negative karma. This is a very tricky part, because it can lead to complacency about suffering – ‘that kid must have been a murderer in a past life.’ There’s a lot more that could be said on that topic.
    However, I find in myself and I think in others that belief in karma is sort of intuitively fundamental and is a far better check on bad behavior than the Christian one. That is because it is so easily understood, so accessible to daily reality, and so obviously just. Christianity holds a very big ax over everyone’s head – the punishment is either an incredible one of eternal suffering, or one gets off Scott free in the end no matter what you do. It’s just too much. Deep down, I think a lot of people don’t buy it. Thus it lacks power to change people. Karma, though, really only makes sense in terms of reincarnation, although much of it occurs in the very same life.

    -But I never said that our evil actions don’t cause innocents to suffer. I said that it is up to us to stop it. Most of their suffering is caused by the fact we’re not running our world as we should. The thing you have to understand is that we are all in this together.
    You can’t just ask God to stop us from doing wrong. That makes us either robots, or God the eternal policeman. Eternal because we would remain forever selfish people held in check by God. It also thinks too little of what a human being is. We have a great potential and destiny, but we won’t get there by being spoon fed.

    I’m pretty sure I don’t want anything to do with a God that condemns a child for the sins of its parents.ds

    -A wretched doctrine. If it makes you feel any better, it is one that the Eastern Orthodox Church does not hold. They believe all humans since Adam and Eve inherit the propensity to sin, but no one is born guilty. In fact, they also consider the doctrine that God required the death of his son as a propitiatory sacrifice a monstrous one, which turns people’s hearts away from God and defames his character. And what the heck is the Orthodox Church, anyway? Well, there are about 13 countries which have been Orthodox since their conversion – but you haven’t heard of them, and maybe it’s because they almost never go to war. At the time of the ecumenical councils there were 5 major bishoprics. Of those 5, 4 are still Orthodox. The 5th is Rome. I don’t say this to promote, but to let you know that the oldest and most venerable church of them all does not hold these modern doctrines.

    As of now it’s my opinion that I’m not the one who needs to be forgiven. ds

    -Good for you. Let me tell you why I admire Anthony Flew. In the interview I read, he quoted Thomas Aquinas as saying that the saved will perfectly see the sufferings of the damned, and it will be an increase of joy to them. He saw the ethical flaws in the doctrine he was taught, but he had the strength of FAITH to stand alone and wait for something better, (which meant becoming an atheist). He trusted his own inner voice. And then, even while that remained unresolved, he had the openness of mind to see that ID is the better argument and became an agnostic. That is a spiritual warrior, not the one who stays with the herd. I admire your agnosticism as well. God is big enough to take it, I’m sure.

    I’m down here in the trenches trying to alleviate pain and suffering with my tiny ability while He’s sitting his omnipotent posterior on a throne in heaven apparently doing jack diddly squat in that regard. –ds
    And if there is a Biblical judgment day… I’m afraid you’ll do no such thing, Dave. Rather, you’ll be flat on your face “as though dead” in the presence of a perfectly holy and perfectly just God who will ask you one simple question: What did you do with the provision of my son? Scott

    -Jesus said almost nothing about getting into heaven, but Matthew 25. And so it really stands out. Kindness and compassion were big themes with him. That, and getting to know the Father inwardly, through the Holy Spirit. The only provisions Jesus talked about was the parable of the talents, and that refers to nurturing one’s spiritual gifts, which of course come from the Holy Spirit.

    According to the Bible account, being born with a sin nature that separates us from our Creator does not mean that God sends babies to hell. The Bible indicates an age of accountability when each person becomes old enough to understand the message of Christ. Scott

    -Where in scripture does it speak of an age of accountability? Because Christians were told for centuries that unbaptised babies go to hell. And what about all the majority of humanity who never heard of Christ? (And if babies go to heaven, then dying and suffering as an infant is a great gift, so great that it isn’t even fair.)

    And as for doing “jack diddly squat”, I would suggest that He did everything needed to redeem a fallen creation, thru the sacrifice of his Son… where redemption is given as a free gift that cannot be earned. Scott

    This is just too silly. You say we have to be perfect. I agree, but it is an inner spiritual journey, and a long and marvelous one. How are you going to be perfect if your saved self gets squashed by a truck tomorrow? Is God going to ‘make’ you be perfect? What happens to your free will then? What kind of cheap crown is that?

    Grace is indeed a free gift which cannot be earned and has no price. Redemption is receiving grace, not fulfilling a danged legal contract! Receiving grace redeems because it quickens the spiritual faculty, which before was dormant. This brings life, joy, and inner guidance direct from God to the soul – not the cheap bill of goods being sold by the churches! Free means free – not “you do this and I’ll give you that.” That’s works!

    “No Free Lunch” is more than just a book by Bill Dembski.ds

    -Boy, do I agree with you.

    “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.”scott

    - Read James. It isn’t the works that save, but the saved person is a transformed person and this will show up in their works. Faith and works can’t be separated and it’s time to stop trying. It’s not the works that save but the saved worketh no ill…It isn’t “believing in doctrines” (faith) that saves because God demands it. Faith means a bond with God. A bond with God means you are spiritually alive. Being spiritually alive IS salvation. I’m not going to be saved when I die, I’m saved now because I have understood who God is and love God without reservation. I have no fear of God. I don’t need the church. The world is my cathedral.

    Otherwise you have to explain how the incredibly godly prophet Isaiah could say that his most righteous deeds are a filthy rag in the eyes of the Lord. It’s not about how good or bad you are, it’s about who ya know.

    -Deeds, in and of themselves, are nothing. He was trying to describe the difference between spirit and matterialism.

    If it were a plan penned by the hands of mere men, it would resemble the religions of the world: trying to appease a reluctant god by doing enough good and hoping it outweighs the bad when all is said and done. See, human nature wants to have something to do with it. Pride. The performance mentality gives us something we can touch and feel,.. Scott

    -I’m tired of Christians dissing the religions of the world. Hinduism teaches that everyone will one day be enlightened and sin comes from ignorance. Buddhism teaches that everyone has the same pure, inner nature, and that all will one day be enlightened. And they praise the Boddhisattva, who is enlightened but elects to stay behind and help more people advance spiritually. Yet Christianity teaches that God couldn’t forgive us unless he was propitiated by the death of his son. Billy Graham said it: “God demanded a death.” Christianity does NOT make a good showing against the best religions of the world – but it could. My annoyance is not at the Christians like DarwinCatholic or Scott – it is at the miserable doctrines that they’ve been fed. Most Christians are people who want to lead a spiritual life and get to know God – but the doctrines make them take too much poison with the sugar and use fear to make them accept it.
    And this relates to ID because these doctrines make a lot of people gag.

    Thanks avocationist. We have much common ground. Reincarnation is something I don’t put much stock in though it is a consistent way to explain the injustice we see. You still seem to be blaming people for evil in the world and while that’s true for some of the bad I don’t see how a newborn with, for example, some hideous genetic abnormality is any person’s fault. The great flaw with Christianity that I see, and thanks for pointing out it isn’t universal in Chrisitan churches, is redemption by grace alone. This makes it too easy to do bad things and get away with it. Paradoxically I also see this as Christianity’s greatest practical virtue. When redemption can be obtained by grace alone through a personal relationship with Christ, off go the yokes of ritual and sacrifice that drag down civilizations with counterproductive behaviors that do nothing but try to appease a God who doesn’t appear to respond in any measureable way to the appeasement. Free of this constant need to expend energy to appease God and support a freeloading clergy class the people are able to devote more time to constructive activities like finding cures for disease and growing food and building hospitals (instead of churches) etcetera. This I believe is why the nations swept by the Protestant reformation 500 years ago have the highest living standards in the world today. -ds

  38. 38

    “It’s not about how good or bad you are, it’s about who ya know.”

    It’s not who you know it’s who you are. What you do IS who you are.

  39. 39
    LowenheimSkolem

    “How about opposable thumbs or consciousness?”

    Jerry- An even better question would be “how about a tensed, syntactic language?”

    Other creatures have things sort of like thumbs, and most of them seem to be conscious (where consciousness is understood as simple awareness) but no other creature has anything like human language. As far as I can tell, anyone who says otherwise is bluffing.

    Our language is almost certainly the most complex but I think it’s unique in degree, not in kind. And our non-verbal language is primitive compared to many other animals. Before you say we have some kind of elevated consciousness however you should read this article: http://www.uncommondescent.com.....chives/715 -ds

  40. Bevets, cool CS quote, thanks for sharing that little noodle of knowledge.

    Dave, thanks for your post.

    My initial response morphed into a long running dialogue. I’ll narrow it down to a few specifics before posting in short form. I enjoyed the back and forth sparring with you and Scott and points made on each side.

    off-topic, sorta, in the future… squared.
    There’s cool new research technology for nano circuits – invisible, with expected application in Car Windows, etc., and another research project focused on the ability to warp light around objects to appear as if not there. Where the images are projected around bending the reflection of the light. The commercial appliations are years off, but look promising in research. I’m sure Defense will want to gawk this before the public.

    So, invisible circuits with light bending around physical objects to appear invisible…. hmmm… by looking ahead, anyone with such advanced technology can maneuver without being detected to a large degree when perfected. This is sci-fi stuff, but experiments are being done which show promise.

    I wonder what a Designer that creates worlds can do…

    I wonder what *we* will be able to do 100 years, 1000 years, and 1 million years from now? For an inkling, just given current understanding of the laws that govern the universe, of what’s physically possible I highly recommend the following book: Engines of Creation by K.Eric Drexler. -ds

  41. DS, It’s always good to know who your editor is. Thanks for the clue in…

    On the question of extrapolating a small scale process to a large scale, I think your example actually supports my point. One can easily test the limits of building a rock pile, so it would be silly to think one could build one a mile high, much less a lightyear high. On the other hand, we have never found an ‘edge’ to the distance of which light will continue to travel at a constant speed or over which gravity will continue to act according to the same equations. So we assume that gravity and the speed of light work consistently throughout the universe. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it actually didn’t use to be the case. The Aristotelian model which was used to one extent or another until the 1600s assumed that the forces and substances we find on earth were wholly different from those found among the stars.

    As far as ID advocates distorting evolution (probably not a point worth spending much time on — and it’s certainly true that the Dawkins and PZ Myers of the world do the same thing to ID) to really get into it I’d need one of Johnson’s books in front of me, since he strikes me as one of the prime offenders in that category. But to cite a single example I seem to recall Dembski saying he took responsibility for any errors on evolution in Coulter’s latest work (Look, you don’t get much more conservative than me, but please, Bill, Ann gets no respect, she’s just a loud voice. Don’t go there.) in which she stated that scientists teach whales descend from bears that fell in the water. That would be much more an example of Lemarkian evolution than the Darwinistic variety — and if it’s not a totally untrue summary of current theory, it’s so far off to be functionally equivalent to falsehood.

    I think your example actually supports my point

    Hardly. The rock pile won’t go very high before it goes no higher. We’ve tried and failed to go beyond a certain height. Mutation and selection won’t go very far before it goes no further. We’ve tried that too. The best example of the limit is the variety in dogs. For 20,000 years man has been breeding and artificially selecting dogs for any and all unusual traits. They’re all still dogs but there is quite a bit of variety in cosmetics and scale. -ds

  42. Jerry,

    From what you say, I don’t think you’d be much impressed by molusc or trilobite transitions. If you figure ‘Darwin’s finches’ can be chalked up to micro-evolution, I’m pretty sure you’d say the same thing about the few marine invertibrate transitions that are well documented — since the changes are less exciting looking and took place over a longer period of time.

    Probably the best shot at the kind of macro-evolution you’re looking for is the transition between amphibians and reptiles, and to an extent the split between mammals and reptiles. But I certainly wouldn’t claim that any of these are documented so well as to satisfy you. Though one of the things I thing supports evolutionary theory is the near impossiblity of placing some of the odd creatures that were running around 350-200 million years ago in any one of those catagories. While one can make anything fit (these are, after all, human defined catagories to an extent) the fact that there are these oddball creatures suggests to me progress through forms rather than the wholesale creation of new ones.

    I wrote a bit about the difficulty of defining a transition here and here, should you be interested.

    Of course, I understand that ID can be taken to mean that the ‘designed’ changes are very small, just a little statistics-defying nudge in the right direction. Indeed, I suppose by one account we could say that ID might even serve to encompass a completely unbroken evolutionary record — if one believed that the likelihood of it following that particular path of development was so vanishingly small as to suggest design. In this sense, I would agree with ID as a proof for God in the same sense that I agree with Aquinas’ proofs for the existence for God. However, since that still wouldn’t allow us to say anything about how God did it or when he would do such things again, I wouldn’t consider ID to be a scientific theory, just a very strong metaphysical indicator of God’s existence.

    Which brings me to your point about atheism. I know it’s become common in some circles to lay atheism at Darwin’s door, but I honestly have to wonder if it’s not a bit of the other way around. I’d see modern atheism’s popularity as originating in the ‘enlightenment’ and French revolution — sixty years before Darwin. Karl Marx wrote the Communist Manifesto nearly a decade before the publication of the Origin of Species. Churches and monestaries had already be repossessed, vandalized, and torn down for scrap well before Darwin wrote. And if I understand some of the comments on this very thread correctly, even belief in ID in no way prevents one from rejecting the Christianity.

    Certainly, many atheists have latched onto Darwinism to ‘prove’ their point. But from the ones I know personally, I don’t think they would have done any differently without it.

  43. To Darwin Catholic,

    The debate is about unitelligent, blind/ undirected (non-goal oriented) processes (the anti-ID position) vs. intelligent, directed (goal oriented) processes (the ID position).

    In that light if anyone accepts that life was the product of some divine Creation and we (humans) were the intent- that is ID.

    And as I stated before there would be no reason to infer the anti-ID position for the diversity of life if life’s origins requires ID or Creation.

    DC stated:
    And the general methodology is to assume that processes that work on a small scale must also work on a large scale until very good evidence to the contrary shows up.

    There is very sound logic and reasoning to doubt that:

    Extrapolating From Small Changes

    “If one desires to extrapolate small changes into large changes by simply adding time, one requires independent evidence to justify this move. The problem is that we really don’t know how evolution occurs. And when talking about the evolution of the mammalian middle ear bones, we should not forget that we are still basically in the dark in trying to explain how both a mammalian and reptilian zygote actually develops the middle ear and jaw bones, respectively. Without this knowledge, attempts to explain such a transition as a function of a series of small, incremental changes stretched across time are rooted in ignorance. That is, we don’t truly understand neither the process of development nor the process of evolution and without such knowledge, there is no reason to think we are on safe ground when employing (1).”

  44. 44

    Dave,

    I do think most suffering is caused by people. There is no reason that this bounteous earth, a paradise-in-disguise, could not provide every family with a nice home, owned free and without debt, wonderful food, and a modest and enjoyable work schedule. It is only our mixed up priorities that prevent it.

    I was able to google Dembski and Theodicy, but before I delve into his long essay, I found someone who made a quick refutation of it, and funnily enough, he brought up hideous birth defects to refute premise #3.
    +++++++++++++++++++++
    Says him:
    The problem of evil is easily stated:

    1. An omnipotent, omnibenevolent God would not permit evil and suffering to exist unless that evil and suffering were logically necessary to bring about some greater good.
    2. Evil and suffering exist.
    3. At least some of that evil and suffering is not logically necessary for bringing about some greater good.
    4. Therefore, there is no omnipotent, omnibenevolent God.
    Now, this argument is logically valid. If you accept the three premises you must, as a matter of logic, accept the conclusion as well.
    So the task of theodicy can be viewed in part as the task of showing that at least one of these premises is false.
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    I don’t find this argument valid or even particularly interesting! However, many people do. Premise # 1 is false for reasons I already stated. God is the absolute, the all in all, and is not separate from suffering. The entire cosmos, God and all beings are in this together. There are two spiritual paradoxes that come to mind. One is about individuality-unity, and the other is about grace versus personal spiritual striving. They can’t be solved in an either-or manner. I’m not saying God suffers, but neither is he separate from suffering.

    As for #3, who is he to say that some suffering is gratuitous? Does he see the grand scheme? Does he see at all? He does not. He does not even see beyond death. The thing I notice is that everyone believes in death, and the Christian only a tiny bit less than the nonreligious or atheist person. There is indeed a reason for suffering and it isn’t hard to see. I find the book of Genesis endlessly fascinating. Take the fall. I am NOT in favor of looking at scripture simplistically, so as to never offend the average IQ. Eve wanted to become like God, and so we are now on the path of the knowledge of good and evil. Genesis hints that there could have been another path, or that we entered it prematurely somehow, but I think it’s wrong to consider the thing an unmitigated disaster. Of course, if people go to hell forever, even one person, that is an unmitigated disaster.

    But was physical death the real death or was it belief in death, that is, a closing of the spiritual vision so that we live in such fear of it? There are so many hundreds of near-death experiences and they indicate our consciousness never stops for a moment. Death isn’t real. Life is all there is. One guy said, “It isn’t ‘life after death’, it’s life after life.”
    Knowledge of good and evil means intimate knowledge. We are experiencing good and evil and the end result? We will understand what is good and what is evil and we will learn to choose the good. By choosing the good we literally BECOME good, that is, we transform our own, personal, inner nature to one of perfect goodness. Jesus, our brother, was the example who lit the way. It is accomplished by grace and it is accomplished by willingness.
    So while the suffering can seem intense at times and our learning involves becoming exquisitely sensitive and compassionate, nonetheless the game plan is not the harsh one you envision with your limited perspective. Rather, God has set us down in a playpen of a universe, at no time in any danger at all, but like the little boy in Bruce Springsteen’s incredible song, “My Father’s House” we get spooked by the dark. We’re like babies who get hurt and cry, then so quickly distracted by some bauble that we begin to smile and laugh with tears still undried on our cheeks.

    Those obsessed with pacifying a reluctant God also get their priorities wrong. They are so fearful that they overemphasize propitiating God by ‘accepting’ him, that they ignore the repeated teachings of Jesus himself that it is compassion toward others that he is looking for. (Includes animals!) So you have put God on the shelf while emphasizing compassion, and in my opinion that means your priorities are straight. Pretending that you have limited time and must choose under duress is fear-talk, and fear does not come from God.

    But the situation we are in here is not great, and a main, or perhaps the main, component is limited understanding. I’m not sure you noticed that you were recently consigned to the vestibule of hell for your agnosticism, but I think it is a great description of our actual situation. We aren’t in hell, but we are in the vestibule. It all starts in the mind, not in the physical surroundings.

    Look, I agree with your comments about salvation through grace, and it is IMO the one and only actual ‘reformative’ doctrine of the Reformation, but still there is the tendency to interpret the teachings of Jesus in a materialistic and legalistic way. They want to make a quick, legalistic agreement so that God will ‘decide’ to ‘allow’ them into heaven while being ‘offended’ by unbelievers. It isn’t all that much different than covering your sins with ablutions. And for heaven’s sake, how do Christians claim to have done away with the need for sacrifice by offering the most hideous sacrifice ever? That means those who put him to death did right! Even in the Old Testament, (filled with rot in my opinion) God sneaks in the occasional good word. “I will have mercy and not sacrifice.” I am full (sick of) your burnt offerings and your fatted calves.”
    ****

    Says Terry-
    “Supposing that maybe God should have allowed some thing or other to happen in a different way than it really happened is tantamount to telling Him how to do his job. I have it on good authority that that sort of thing tends to cheese Him off, so don’t do it.”

    Such anthropomorphism! It makes of God a personality somewhere in the mid-range of regular human beings so far as patience and magnanimity. C’mon Christians! Either come up with a God that is so fantastic as to boggle the mind, or quit claiming you’ve got the best religion.

    The weak point is #3 and the quick argument against it is that unless you can see to the end of time as God presumably can then you can’t know what suffering is gratuitous and what isn’t. This is why I said I’ll give God a chance to explain to me why things have to be the way they are. I think you overestimate the fear of death. I don’t fear death. I fear eternal life because I don’t know how I’m going to entertain myself for that long without going nuts. If there is a God undoubtedly He has a similar problem. Taking very long naps would help. :-) -ds

  45. 45

    DS-

    I made an answer on the question of theodicy, it was a bit long – and it has not appeared although when I pressed the submit button everything behaved correctly. I am afraid it would be annoying to resubmit it. Is there a delay if posts are too long? I’ve got it saved.

    It must have had a blacklisted spam word in it. In that case you have to wait until I get around to looking through the spam to see if there are any ponies in the pile of manure before it’s flushed forever. -ds

  46. 46
    LowenheimSkolem

    DS- Regarding your comment on my last comment-

    The notion that animals have minds is not one that I’d dispute, in fact I think it’s pretty clear if you look at the literature in Cogntive Ethology you’ll be bombarded with intriguing info.

    However,I think we can be rather sure that the domain of language-use is occupied by human beings and only human beings. Though some particularly intelligent chimpanzees have, after exhaustive training, learned to communicate with sign language, plastic words and similar nonverbal methods, they are still unable to approach the intricacy of human language. David Premack, who has dedicated years to the study of language use in primates, has suggested (in the book “Gavagai!”) that although chimpanzees are able to represent many different courses of action, and likely have the ability to understand the semantic content of a few signs, they seem to lack entirely any kind of device with which to understand the syntax and structure of language as we know it. Premack writes that “there is a growing consensus among psycholinguists that syntax cannot be derived from semantics…no metamorphosis has been demonstrated for turning semantic caterpillars into syntactic butterflies.”
    Even though some animals seem to be able to internalize the semantic content of certain symbols, it doesn’t seem likely that they will ever be able to create a language from whatever meaningful symbols they comprehend. Though Premack’s chimpanzee test subject Sarah was able to use plastic words to create meaningful “sentences” which might seem to state that an apple is red or that chocolate is brown, he writes that “ ‘subject of the sentence’ is not a distinction available to Sarah or to any other creature who has language formulated in semantic categories.”

    If we think that a primary difference between language-using creatures and other “smart” but language-less creatures is that the language using creatures have second order thoughts, and we assume there is something about the mind of language using creatures that differs in kind from that of flexible creatures, it seems to follow that there must be some kind of mental hardware unavailable to the flexible creatures due to this difference in mind. Since it is obvious that one primary difference between the two kinds of minds is the ability to constructively use language, one might also wonder what role language plays in the difference between the two. I’m not totally ready to say man has a different kind of mind altogether, but I think many of the signs point that way. Especially when you consider the doors opened up by second order thought.

    Honey bees use a symbolic language to communicate navigation information to coworkers about the location of food sources outside the hive. Cats scratch trees and dogs mark them in other ways to communicate to others their size and the territory they consider to be theirs. Technically speaking that’s writing in a symbolic language. Human language (verbal and written) is unique in degree but not in kind. Likewise tool use. What may be unique in humans is imagining supernatural beings for which no evidence exists and worshipping them in order to influence the outcome of events in the natural world. I’m not sure I’d brag about that though. -ds

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