Home » Intelligent Design » Did the premier organization of Christians in science really choose to target fellow Christians instead of materialism in science? Apparently so.

Did the premier organization of Christians in science really choose to target fellow Christians instead of materialism in science? Apparently so.

In “American Scientific Affiliation – whatever happened to its mission?”, Bill Dembski alludes to an earlier post of mine:

I write this post to put into perspective Denyse O’Leary’s recent remarks about the “gutting of a spiritual tradition from within” (see here — the relevance of her remarks to the ASA cannot be missed) and to highlight that with the efforts by Dawkins, Dennett, and Harris to ramp up their propaganda for atheism since this letter by Jack Haas was written suggests that the ASA was mistaken in shifting its emphasis away from “the sweeping tide of scientific materialism.”

He addresses something I find truly shocking:

About three years ago I received the following mass mailing from the ASA’s Jack Haas (I’ve known Jack since 1990 and our exchanges have always been cordial). In this letter he describes how the ASA had, in times past, been concerned to address “the sweeping tide of scientific materialism,” but had recently decided to change its emphasis to combat young-earth creationism.

adding,

If the problem with young-earth creationism is that it is off by a few orders of magnitude about the age of the earth and universe, the problem with scientific materialism is that is off by infinite orders of magnitude about what is ultimately the nature of nature.

appending the relevant letter.

Well, that sheds considerable light on why the 2000-member organization of Christians in science has been AWOL from the main battle for so long. In an age when the non-materialist taxpayer has been compelled to fund materialist propaganda in science textbooks, when science textbooks routinely promote long-exploded errors in order to advance Darwinism, and key Darwinists promote a widely publicized anti-God campaign, this premier organization of Christians in science has chosen to largely (or entirely) ignore these problems and instead … conduct a war against the doctrinal position of some fundamentalist denominations. (The belief that the Earth is less than 10,000 years old.)

It beggars belief, but it is apparently true.

Now, I am not saying that no one has done anything about the attempt of materialists to make materialism a publicly funded religion, with Darwinism as its creation story. As a matter of fact, ID guys like Dembski, the “evil” Discovery Institute, the estimable Muslim Mustafa Akyol, and others have jumped into the fray, even though they could all have just crowed, “See! We told you so! That’s where Darwinism leads!” But they didn’t do that because they actually cared about what was happening.

The fact that some publicly funded textbooks have had to clean up their act in recent years has everything to do with their efforts, as several correspondents have pointed out to me, and nothing whatever to do with ASA.

I have been covering controversies for my entire career as a journalist (now three and a half decades) and I recognize ASA’s decision to combat young earth creationism instead of materialism for what it is – a familiar type of copout on the part of a sclerotic organization.

They removed themselves from the scene of engagement just before the serious battle with materialists began, leaving the field to be defended by the Dembski gang and assorted other non-materialists of varying types.

Worse, they turned their fire on fellow Christians.

YECs have virtually no serious social influence. For example, when Canadian prime ministerial hopeful Stockwell Day revealed that he was a YEC, his chances of the highest office were kayoed. Few scientists will rise in their field unless they conceal any sympathies they may have for non-standard time frames, however justified.

Indeed, I have just learned of yet another scientist who was fired most likely because he was insufficiently supportive of Darwinism (but I cannot say anything as yet). Indeed, if I did, I am sure that the egregious “ASA list” (which supposedly does not represent the organization) would seethe with posts purporting to show that the guy had it coming to him, just as it recently did with attacks on Smithsonian scientist Rick Sternberg, who was widely abused for permitting a journal article to question Darwin.

That, by the way, is another familiar dodge of sclerotic organizations: Claim that the hatchet jobs done under the banner of the organization’s name do not really represent it. If the “ASA list” does not really represent ASA, the list should be ordered to change its name, go private, or just shut down.

I suspect that the true reason for ASA’s posture is that the ASA types do not want the humiliation of being told in so many words by their atheist peers that the only reason they are not persecuted by materialists – the way the ID guys are – is that they are useless and irrelevant, except when they aid the atheists’ cause by attacking fellow Christians.

Anyone who really does give the materialists grief will face serious attacks. For example, is Francisco Ayala invited to a confab to tell everyone about the danger presented by ASA? No, of course not. And why not? Because a chap can be royally popular at ASA and have tons of blowhards defending him against an obscure Canadian journalist – her crime was to reveal to a wider audience than the few people who bother to read the ASA public archive that he doubts that there is any “special supernatural component” in the human being. Well, if he doubts THAT, then …* Meanwhile, Ayala wants everyone to know that intelligent design is a big danger because the ID guys mean business.

Look, I wouldn’t care if I were not a Christian science journalist. After all, if I were an atheist science journalist, I would point gleefully to ASA as an example of the level to which Christians in science have sunk – attacking fundamentalist denominations’ beliefs while atheistic materialists ride roughshod over anyone whatever who disagrees with their agenda for the sciences – the Dalai Lama, the Pope, the Southern Baptists, the Muslims, any scientists whose research does not support some materialist agenda – or whoever. But at some point the disgrace must surely come to an end.

And here’s how I hope it will come to an end: The organization should either get real about the key current issues or diminish in proportion to its irrelevance.

*Apparently, that guy was supposed to be counselling a Christian whose faith was endangered. Well, it’s hard to imagine how talking to him would help. The most important thing the troubled person needs to know is that he or she really does have a supernatural component, a light that cannot be extinguished by troubled circumstances. Since I am here anyway, here is some advice for Christians troubled in faith: Stay away from all Darwinists of whatever type, whether they claim to be Christians, “from a Christian background,” or “from a fundamentalist background.” Do not concern yourself at present about the age of the Earth. You are immortal; the Earth is not. Join a serious church and ask for a godly pastoral counsellor. Find a committed fellowship group, and avoid obvious occasions of sin. Pray and read the Bible daily. Study the lives of the saints and follow godly examples. Practice charity with everyone you meet. Repeat daily as long as you live.

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112 Responses to Did the premier organization of Christians in science really choose to target fellow Christians instead of materialism in science? Apparently so.

  1. Stay away from all Darwinists of whatever type, whether they claim to be Christians, “from a Christian background,” or “from a fundamentalist background.” Do not concern yourself at present about the age of the Earth. You are immortal; the Earth is not. Join a serious church and ask for a godly pastoral counsellor. Find a committed fellowship group, and avoid obvious occasions of sin. Pray and read the Bible daily. Study the lives of the saints and follow godly examples. Practice charity with everyone you meet. Repeat daily as long as you live.

    Well stated. Preach it sister!

  2. To ASA list members and sympathizers who feel compelled to respond to this post: Watch your step. If you must insult Denyse, do it on your own forum. I shall be monitoring this thread especially closely, and am ready to boot anyone at the least provocation.

  3. 3
    sagebrush gardener

    It is like the unpopular kid in school who tries to score points with the “in crowd” by publicly humiliating someone who is even less popular. Sad.

  4. In my opinion the ASA is being unwise. In the larger culture war this is looks like a strategic error.

    In many people’s minds there is little distinction between YEC, ID, Christianity, or religion in general. The media regularly conflates them.

    To those who don’t follow the issues closely, I’m afraid that ASA’s position is going to look like a victory for the Materialists.

    A brief comment on the topic of Christians troubled in faith by “science;” I find the following quote, by a man whom I consider to be one of the greatest scholars of spirituality ever, quite helpful as a mindset paradigm:

    “It would be unwise, of course, for the Church to tie itself to the provisional truths of science at any point in science’s unfolding history. Ultimately, scientific truth will align with divinely revealed truth; meanwhile we can applaud genuine scientific advances, noting them without depending overly much upon them.”-Neil A. Maxwell

  5. About 10 years ago, when I first researched into evolution as a Christian, I found the ASA website and corresponded with one guy whose email address was on a ASA webpage. He said that many Christian Scientists felt “embarrassed” before their colleagues because of the beliefs held by YECs.

  6. “It would be unwise, of course, for the Church to tie itself to the provisional truths of science at any point in science’s unfolding history. Ultimately, scientific truth will align with divinely revealed truth; meanwhile we can applaud genuine scientific advances, noting them without depending overly much upon them.”-Neil A. Maxwell

    Well said.

    This is the position taken by Popes Benedict XVI, John Paul II, Pius XII – For those who are still trying to decipher what the Popes had meant when they said something about evolution.

    Eg. Pope John Paul II said that there was an “ontological leap” in the evolutionary emergence of Man, and that materialist theories was not compatible with the truth of man.

    Pope Benedict said that evolution theory is not provable, and suggested there are “gaps” that were “covered up”. After praising the advancement made in Science, he cautioned against the abandonment of reason.

  7. Wonderful post.

    Though, what I would really love to see is the DI (and the ID movement in general) approach groups like the ASA diplomatically. No aggressive tone, etc. Just a common sense, ‘Look, wrong on science or not, YECs still deserve to be treated with consideration. What’s more, some stick to the YEC decision because they’ve been told by materialists – again and again – that it’s the only valid position they can have, and anything else means they’ve given up their faith. Wouldn’t it be better to focus our energies on explaining why the guys who think our faith is child abuse writ large are dead wrong, while simply, compassionately (if still publicly) maintaining where we disagree with YECs?’

    I’m not a member of the list, but I have respect for the ASA. I also have respect for the DI. A disagreement is one thing, but there shouldn’t really be a fight here.

  8. But steady on, nullasalus. It’s not a question of a fight or a disagreement.

    ASA appears to have made the decision to largely ignore the rampant and intolerant materialism that has come to dominate the sciences in the Western world in favour of attacking fellow Christians with YEC views.

    Coincidentally or otherwise, various members of the “ASA list” see fit to attack almost anyone who actually faces off against materialists. (I think Francis Collins gets a pass because he attacks the intelligent design guys. Perhaps that makes him safe?*)

    You are entitled to respect that if you wish. I do not.

    Incidentally, I don’t represent the Discovery Institute and have no connection with it. But I respect the Discos for taking on the most serious challenge of the day while others have responded by finding an easy target within their own communities.

    *However, Collins did debate Dawkins, recently. It is time someone stood up like that. – d.

  9. 9
  10. He said that many Christian Scientists felt “embarrassed” before their colleagues because of the beliefs held by YECs.

    I’m pretty much a non-dogmatic YEC (85% YEC/15% OEC). As Michael Shermer said, “what it really is is what it really is”. Meaning one can’t run away from facts, and if the Earth is Old or Young, we have to live with it, and if that means we reject our theology in view of the facts, so be it. A theology not in line with truth is a theology that should be abandoned….

    Given my friendliness to YEC ideas, I too am deeply embarassed by the YEC community. If I have strong prejudices against YEC, how much more anyone else! One thing that I find especially distasteful has been the YEC notion of “appearance of age”, it holds the world is young but God made it look old. That strikes me as inconsistent with Romans 1:20 and John 10:38 and numerous other passages, and its seems like a totally lame defense of ones ideas. One could defend any theology with such claims!!!!!

    Now that I’ve given the YECs my criticism, let me give the Darwinists even worse.

    We have someone like George Murphy who’ll put his theology above scientific ideas. He insists via his so-called “theology of the cross” that God would not reveal His existence through nature. Tipler points out God may exist, and why, if science points to Him should we reject a scientific inference based on theology?

    Furthermore, I tried to be polite to Murphy at ARN in 2005, but his tone was bit too snippy for a Minister, and since then my opinion of his ideas has continued to go south. He stands by his Darwinism, yet he’s never defended the science of it. His so-called “theology of the cross” effectively mandates that scientific explanations for life’s origin must have a naturalistic characteristics.

    His theology would take precedence over sound theoretical principles in information dynamics such as those outlined in Trevors, Abel, Yockey, and Dembski’s formulation of No Free Lunch.

    So yes, my first contact with ASA was negative. Murphy was far more rude and condescending to me than I would expect from a minister. He acted more like a Darwinist than what I would expect from a defender and friend of his brethren.

  11. Just to add to my message @5

    The reason why ASA member scientists felt “embarrassed” by YEC was that YEC was not doing Science, and not “following evidence wherever it leads”.

  12. I know I’m a dolt, and it is a bit off topic (but question spawned by the topic), but would someone please explain (in a way an 8 year old could understand) what the difference between a TEer and an IDer is?

    I admit, I haven’t read Finding Darwin’s God, and maybe the answer is there, but given the theistic evolution asserts *some* kind of godly interference to spacetime, why are a lot of TEers against ID? Do they think that God had a hand in specific creation (ie, the presence of at least some of the CSI in spacetime) without leaving any evidence of such? If so, why on earth anyone want to adopt a position like that A PRIORI?

  13. “…is that they are useless and irrelevant, except when they aid the atheists’ cause by attacking fellow Christians.”

    Ouch. Well put.

  14. Salvador,

    Thanks, now I understand why George Murphy refuses to discuss science. I thought he was a physicist and found it unusual when he continues to push theology.

    There must be somebody at a scientific organization such as ASA that will discuss science. Wouldn’t it be ironic if no one stepped forward.

  15. dacook:

    In my opinion the ASA is being unwise. In the larger culture war this is looks like a strategic error.

    Culture war? This is about science and the age of the earth is a scientific question. I think it would be better for ID to take a position on the age of the earth now, rather than betray your confederate “cultural warriors” at some point later.

  16. As Michael Shermer said, “what it really is is what it really is”. Meaning one can’t run away from facts, and if the Earth is Old or Young, we have to live with it, and if that means we reject our theology in view of the facts, so be it.

    I would actually like to take this opportunity to apologize for being so hard on Darwinism. Whether or not it is true, I have been very hard on scientists who believe it.

    - Dana McGee

  17. Mike1962,

    Others may have better explanations. I just finished Darrell Falk’s book which I recommend to everyone. He is a theistic evolutionist and I believe he said he was an Evangelical.

    He lists the various way God could have acted to affect creation and then looks at the evidence in the world and concludes that it is a gradualist approach. The book is mainly science but about 25% his theology.

    There is nothing in the book to suggest the way God acted had to be gradualistic even though that is what Falk concludes. His findings could indicate some other naturalistic mechanism besides gradualism which to me is a fatal flaw. He assumes the method is gradual when some other abrupt naturalistic approach could just as easily fit the evidence. Of course there is no other accepted form of naturalistic evolution besides Darwinism so guess what get’s accepted. Geo disparity of life is the strongest argument by far for a naturalistic mechanism in my opinion.

    He also believes he has refuted forms of special creation with his findings so that is why he is left with a naturalistic mechanism and he just asserts gradualism. He assumes God actively guides these gradualistic changes and that is how He acts. I think Falk assumes it would never be capable of doing it by chance. It had to be designed or guided.

    This is what I believe is behind Falk’s theistic evolution. Special creation is a no no because he says it does not fit the patterns so it is not something we can accept. Gradualism is then the obvious answer.

    It is not an illogical approach but Falk cherry picks facts in some places which I find interesting. For example, I found his discussion of the Cambrian explosion specious. It was probably inconvenient so it was massaged till it meant nothing. It is hard to explain away the Cambrian explosion.

    As I said others may have better answers or insight.

  18. Matthew Tan #11:

    The reason why ASA member scientists felt “embarrassed” by YEC was that YEC was not doing Science, and not “following evidence wherever it leads”.

    YEC, however, was more scientific than Darwinism in that it said something risky. It may well be than YEC has been refuted—personally I believe it has—but how do you refute Darwinism?

  19. Mike1962 the TE position is that God exists and created the universe. After that point there are various theories. People like George Coyne or Teilhard De Chardin see the universe evolving with very little input from God. Thye believe that it was destiny that the universe and life evolved and that God pretty much hoped it would evolve the way it did. And that eventually life, the universe, and everything, will evolve to some type of apotheosis, an “omega point”. That is where a new type of physics and a new type of universe and life will come into existence.

    Other types of TE theorists believe that God created the universe and the first life form and then evolution took over. Then God either intervened to create humans, or humans evolved independently of God’s direct influence.

    ID theorists believe that God, or whatever you want to call him/her/it, designed life and caused life forms to come into existence. Some ID theorists believe that all life was planned and designed and came into existence without any type of evolution (macroevolution). Some ID theorists accept common descent and evolution but with the caveat that it was a planned and designed. All agree that without a plan and design evolution of any type is too improbable too be taken seriously as a rational theory based on all available evidence.

    I think there may be theological differences between those who espouse TE and ID. I think many of those with some TE position tend to see God as some kind of impersonal entity. To many of them God may be some kind of higher power or love or cosmic consciousness or some other kind of fuzzy concpetion where God is above and beyond our world. God may be without the ability or desire to be directly involved with life on earth, other then to be some kind of cosic cheerleader and love sender.

    So I think that for many TE’s they have a philosophical problem with ID because it posits a very here and now hands on God who is very much involved with everything. A God who is in your face and large and in charge, rather then a God who is a distant impersonal cosmic being.

    Then again there are TE’s who may believe that God is a person and involved with us closely, but they cannot seem to get free from the darwinian conditioning and brainwashing they have been put through.

  20. Mike 1962 @ 12

    I know I’m a dolt, and it is a bit off topic (but question spawned by the topic), but would someone please explain (in a way an 8 year old could understand) what the difference between a TEer and an IDer is?

    Well, I’m pretty close to your 8 year old, and it seems to me that the TEer loudly proclaims his belief in God and demands that God leave no fingerprints in the cosmos, whereas the IDer makes no claims about God (when he’s wearing his ID hat) but is open to detecting design in nature.

  21. Mike1962, I’ve been asking the same question.

    However, I think I’m beginning to understand what the rift is all about after reading the discussion on the post that immediately preceded this one (Dr. Dembski’s “American Scientific Affiliation — Whatever happened to its mission?”).

    It was summed up by Geoff Robinson pretty well on that thread:

    “My understanding of the difference between TE and IDers who believe in common descent: TE are OK with winding up the machine and letting it play out. IDers understand that a simple unfolding of naturalistic causes and effects won’t get you from point A to point B in biological systems without intelligent intervention (of whatever sort-using known or unknown methods). Whether that is the start of life or the flagellum.”

    The discussion that followed gave further demonstration of where the two differ.

  22. Oh, and one other thing: Being a TE advocate could advance your career but coming out for ID can get you into serious trouble.

  23. 23

    I always understood the difference to simply mean that the theistic evolutionist believes that Gods involvement in evolution has not been scientifically detected.

  24. I go for the young earth/old universe hybrid theory myself, such as postulated by people like Dr. Humphreys, etc. However, be that as it may, the battle of worldview that is truly significant right now isn’t between YEC/progressive creationism/TE, etc. but between those who believe matter creates mind and those who believe mind creates matter. The war over the exististance of supernatural causes has grown to epic proportions in the level of supression of anti-materialism in mainstream circles. While I’m not a scientist and hadn’t actually heard of the ASA before now, it seems to me they’re looking at the wrong gang to pick a fight with.

  25. Hmm, the folks on the east coast must be on their way home—and asleep across the pond. Anyway Jb says, “Mike1962, I’ve been asking the same question.”

    Well, the TEer (theistic materialist) does two things. He won’t let his theology make any predictions in this world and so he sides with the materialist in demanding that science be founded on materialism. And because materialism means chance and necessity sans design (Jacques Monod) then something like Darwinism is true by definition (as powerfully pointed out by Phillip Johnson), and so the TEer automatically takes the side of the materialist when ID confronts Darwin.

    Chris Hyland, I disagree! It’s not that “the theistic evolutionist believes that God’s involvement in evolution has not been scientifically detected”—rather the TEer believes that it is forbidden even to try to detect design in nature. That’s why he is generally uninterested in what the ID scientists are saying.

  26. “I know I’m a dolt, and it is a bit off topic (but question spawned by the topic), but would someone please explain (in a way an 8 year old could understand) what the difference between a TEer and an IDer is?”

    Mike 1962 (your birth date?), please don’t feel embarrassed by asking a very good question. It puzzled me for a long time too, and still does, and it puzzles many people.

    You see, biochemist Mike Behe, whose book Darwin’s Black Box (Free Press, 1996) kicked off the second phase of the ID wars should be regarded as a classic theistic evolutionist.

    Behe, you must know, thinks that the flagellum of the bacterium (a biotic outboard motor) is irreducibly complex, which means that some intelligence was required in order for it to work the way it does. It did not come to be the way it is on account of natural selection acting on random mutations within the life of the current universe, for the same reasons as Windows XP did not happen that way. We don’t know exactly when or how the flagellum came to be as it is. Nor do we need to see it as a direct intervention of God in order to say that it shows evidence of design (intelligence, information). But, of course, the existence of such a device implies that we live in a universe in which design is a real factor, not an illusion generated by the random activities of the neurons of the human brain, as materialists believe.

    If we are theists, we should hardly be surprised to discover such a thing, but read on …

    Behe, a Catholic, accepts conventional dating for the age of the Earth and he has no problem in principle with common descent, assuming that evidence supports a given claim.

    At one time, Behe would have been considered a theistic evolutionist – a person who accepts evolution but sees it as a guided process. That is, in general, the most common Catholic view.

    Yet you will hear Behe trashed by all kinds of people who claim to be theistic evolutionists.

    That is because, as law prof Phillip Johnson has pointed out, the MEANING of the term “theistic evolutionist” has undergone a subtle shift in recent years.

    Today, it often means a person who thinks that God’s work looks exactly like natural selection acting on random mutations, and therefore is not detectible. So God’s action in the world is known only by a leap of faith. This is sometimes called fideism.

    The idea is that we show our love for God by believing in him even though there is no evidence for his existence. We show our trust in him by not expecting to find any evidence of his existence or his works that we could distinguish from random actions. Or else he shows his love for us by emptying himself out of any such evidence for his existence. Or – I have heard this one too – God is so great that he does not even need to exist.

    Now, I am not a theologian, so all I am going to say about any of that is that it is not similar to the traditional teachings of the Christian religion, founded in the Bible. It sounds to me like a point of view that was developed by people who thought that materialism was winning the culture wars and that they would have to adapt. And also that it was their duty to help others adapt and that anyone who had a non-materialist point of view was deluded and not deserving of sympathy even if persecuted.

    But what if materialism is not actually winning the culture wars? In that case, theistic evolution had better mean something much more like what Mike Behe thinks and something much less like these other notions. This any help?

  27. Well said Denyse, as usual.

  28. Denyse,

    “ASA appears to have made the decision to largely ignore the rampant and intolerant materialism that has come to dominate the sciences in the Western world in favour of attacking fellow Christians with YEC views.”

    I agree that that is a terrible mistake the ASA is making. But it wasn’t what they were founded on – and I’m holding out hope that they realize the need to combat materialism (especially the new, more rabid breed of it), that’s all.

    Even if I like the ASA, I still recognize that they’ve made a mistake.

  29. For a socially irrelevant bunch, YECers seem to be geting a lot of attention.

  30. “It is like the unpopular kid in school who tries to score points with the “in crowd” by publicly humiliating someone who is even less popular. Sad.”

    Sagebrush gardener, you hit the nail on the head.

  31. Salvador – it may be a reflection of my relative ignorance with YEC orthodoxy, but in the ten years or so I’ve chosen to describe myself as a YEC, I haven’t heard the “appearance of age” arguement from a YEC but rather only as a criticism from the more ignorant quarters in the origins debate.

    Who in your mind are the main agencies behind the YEC “appearance of age” viewpoint?

    J

  32. tenstrings,

    The names would be:

    Duane Gish
    Jobe Martin
    Kurt Wise
    Josh McDowell
    Glen Morton (before he became a traitor)

    and others. See the criticism of the honorable Duane Gish at:

    post 91, Dembski World Famous

    It might be worthwhile googling the names I listed above. I had a book by McDowell called answers that argued for “created light”.

  33. The problem with fideists is that they take a logical argument too far. Of course it is impossible to empirically prove most theological teachings because most of those types of teachings have to do with things that cannot be seen nor experienced and have to be taken on faith alone e.g whether or not there is an afterlife, what kind of afterlife there is, is there a heaven or hell, what does God want from us, what does God not want us to do, etc. To claim that the existence of God has to be taken on irrational faith alone is contradicted by much of Christian theology which makes much of personal revelation of God by God to the individual, be it mystical or philosophical. If God reveals his/her presence by actually showing you through some experience which is given to you or through showing you a philosophical reason to have faith then your faith is no longer irrational, it is based on reason i.e God has shown you the truth therefore you believe. I think the people who invented fideism and who strongly believe in it are people who have really never experienced God, they may believe in God philosophically or intellectually due to their seeing the obvious work of God in the supremely ordered complexity of the universe, our world, and everything in it (anthropic principle). That faith is rational, it comes from reason. They may think it is not based on reason, but that is because they conflate belief in God with belief in theological doctrine. Maybe they take a view that since almost all theological doctrine cannot be rationally proven that it is wiser to deny that God can be rationally proven in order to maintain promote their theological beliefs. If God can be rationally proven and theology cannot, then no theological system can be said to be rationally superior to another. Once rationality is brought into the question of faith then no single faith can be shown to be absolutely superior to another because most articles of faith are philosophically based and cannot be rationally proven. So for me fideism is a all about egotism i.e. If I cannot see the truth of God’s existence through reason, therefore no one can. If I cannot prove my theology through reason as superior to all other theological systems, then reason should not be seen as useful to enlightenment and is actually the enemy of enlightenment.

  34. Does this effect the CSCA as well? A CSCA member recently gave a talk on something along the lines of materialism. Or at least I imagine he meant to, from what I gathered.

  35. mike1962: would someone please explain (in a way an 8 year old could understand) what the difference between a TEer and an IDer is?

    Others have given some excellent responses, including Denyse’s (for breadth) and Rude’s “no fingerprints” (for capturing it in a nutshell).

    I just wanted to emphasize that I believe that at the core it comes down to one key pivotal distinction.

    The dominant view today is that “science” should by definition be required to explain all of nature using only unguided natural process explanations. If one holds this view, then by definition, any explanation that says intelligent agency was required cannot be considered “science”, regardless of what the evidence says.

    Those in the TE camp tend to accept this rule, and they respond by emphasizing how their theology can still be compatible with assuming (without needing to consider evidence) that God would never, ever leave fingerprints where science could see them.

    Those in the ID camp, whether they have clear ideas about God or not, have come to the conclusion that the evidence points to intelligent causes. Therefore, they conclude that the rule is simply a bad rule that should be dropped and that science should be empirical and follow the evidence where it leads.

    Thus, IDers are breaking the rule that materialists require and that TE has accepted and even embraced.

    Phillip Johnson’s question: If empirical evidence and materialist philosophy are headed in different directions, what should we do?

    My question to the ASA: Will you embrace or reject the materialist’s rule*?

    (*intentional double meaning)

  36. Mike (12): …would someone please explain (in a way an 8 year old could understand) what the difference between a TEer and an IDer is?

    In the previous thread, rblinne (63) said, We are not saying that it is by chance. Nor are we saying that it is not designed. We are saying that the current scientific “proof” may be overreaching. We are also saying that evolutionary processes and design are not mutually exclusive categories. Just as the “random” arrow that killed Ahab was under God’s providential care so is the rest of Creation. Merely because some puny scientist can describe the process does in no way negate that fact.

    With that statement, I think I may see the essence of theistic evolution. TE simply believes that (1) variations (at least the ones that really matter) are not truly random in the sense that Darwin intended — i.e., not correlated to improved fitness — and that (2) it’s impossible to prove this.
    __________

    [The rest of this comment isn't meant to be part of my reply to Mike, just a general observation:]

    The problem is that this isn’t a sound position. In theory, it would be refutable by computer modelling if Darwinian evolution was actually feasible.

    There are many different algorithms (and other methods) for generating random, or effectively random, numbers. From the standpoint of Darwinian evolution, regardless of which method is used (or how the methods might be combined), the result should be the same in it’s most important aspect: “no limit to the amount of change, to the beauty and complexity of the coadaptations” (Darwin, OOS). It simply wouldn”t be reasonable to believe that built into each and every one of these algorithms is the ability to generate just the right numbers to lead to such results each and every time, no matter how they are mixed and matched. But this is what should be the case of Darwinian evolution was feasible; It shouldn’t be necessary to be picky about exactly what the source of randomness is.

    But, of course, no matter what algorithm for generating (pseudo)random numbers is used, the Darwinian hypothesis has failed every in silico test of its most important claim. Just as ID says. Thus, if Darwinian evolution could be shown to be feasible, it would be possible to casually obliterate TE. But since it can’t be shown to be feasible, ID is validated.
    __________

    Christopher Langton, organizer of the “Artifical Life I” conference, 1992:

    Artificial life is the study of artificial systems that exhibit behavior characteristic of natural living systems. It is the quest to explain life in any of its possible manifestations, without restriction to the particular examples that have evolved on earth. This includes biological and chemical experiments, computer simulations, and purely theoretical endeavors. Processes occurring on molecular, social, and evolutionary scales are subject to investigation. The ultimate goal is to extract the logical form of living systems.

    Microelectronic technology and genetic engineering will soon give us the capability to create new life forms in silico as well as in vitro. This capacity will present humanity with the most far-reaching technical, theoretical and ethical challenges it has ever confronted. The time seems appropriate for a gathering of those involved in attempts to simulate or synthesize aspects of living systems.

    That was 15 years ago (and this was hardly the starting date of attempts to model Darwinian evolution). And there is yet to be a demonstration that Darwinian evolution can produce increasing functional complexity. But all valid materialistic scientific theories can be modelled in silico in as much detail as one wants (or can afford), fully yielding what they’re supposed to yield — except Darwinian evolution. Why? (I ask, rhetorically.)

  37. Thanks for that, Salvador.

    I am familiar with three of the names in the list (Morton, in his post-YEC phase I know from a forum I am a member of). I’ve heard a form of the light created in transit argument but it hasn’t been accompanied by an apparent age argument. I have some sympathy with the created light argument as it fits with the Genesis narrative but I haven’t placed it in a framework other than one of God baselining or snapshotting the system, so to speak.

    J

  38. “Chris Hyland, I disagree! It’s not that “the theistic evolutionist believes that God’s involvement in evolution has not been scientifically detected”—rather the TEer believes that it is forbidden even to try to detect design in nature.”

    I have seen plenty of writings by theistic evolutionists saying that the supernatural should be excluded from science, but not that it is forbidden to try and detect design, I could be wrong though. It seems reasonable to me that of we are designed it may be detectable, I don’t see how methodological naturalism says otherwise.

  39. 39

    I agree with some that YEC has been refuted, but as a YEC-er, that leaves me waiting for the sciences that refuted YEC to be refuted. Until then, I don’t expect others to believe like I do.

  40. ericB @ 33 wrote

    The dominant view today is that “science” should by definition be required to explain all of nature using only unguided natural process explanations

    I was looking at a “what arguments not to use” creationist website today. One on the list was that you shouldn’t argue that if humans evolved from apes then why are there still apes today? The point was made that evolutionists will say that humans didn’t come from apes; humans and apes both had a common ancestor. But there was also a quote from G.G. Simpson, who apparently objected to this sort of prevarication.

    [T]hat earlier ancestor would certainly be called an ape or monkey in popular speech by anyone who saw it. Since the terms ape and monkey are defined by popular usage, man’s ancestors were apes or monkeys (or successively both). It is pusillanimous [mean-spirited] if not dishonest for an informed investigator to say otherwise.

    In popular usage the word ‘science’ refers to the activities carried out by people who are working in what was once known as natural science, i.e., the investigation of how the natural world naturally and repeatedly works.

    I agree with ericB’s statement but I think this “dominant view” is one that is not shared, or even understood, by the population at large. And that is why I think that much more effort needs to be put into educating the general public to understand that doing natural science is one thing and speculating about the causes of specific historical events is something else entirely. Methodological naturalism is appropriate for the former. Metaphysical naturalism is an ideological (religious) imposition on the latter. In the best of all possible worlds the principle of parsimony should be sufficient to determine whether causes beyond the purely naturalistic need to be invoked to explain a particular effect. Until that world comes into existence maybe all we can do is object to having someone else’s religion imposed on us and, even worse, on our children.

  41. Denyse, this is a wonderful description and summation of TE. You’ve cleared up a point of confusion for me that I’ve had about the issue. Thanks.

    Today, it often means a person who thinks that God’s work looks exactly like natural selection acting on random mutations, and therefore is not detectible. So God’s action in the world is known only by a leap of faith. This is sometimes called fideism.

    The idea is that we show our love for God by believing in him even though there is no evidence for his existence. We show our trust in him by not expecting to find any evidence of his existence or his works that we could distinguish from random actions. Or else he shows his love for us by emptying himself out of any such evidence for his existence. Or – I have heard this one too – God is so great that he does not even need to exist.

    Now, I am not a theologian, so all I am going to say about any of that is that it is not similar to the traditional teachings of the Christian religion, founded in the Bible. It sounds to me like a point of view that was developed by people who thought that materialism was winning the culture wars and that they would have to adapt. And also that it was their duty to help others adapt and that anyone who had a non-materialist point of view was deluded and not deserving of sympathy even if persecuted.

  42. Something to consider on a quasi-related point:

    Those who believe in common descent (and an old Earth for that matter) can fairly and reasonably cite solid evidence in support of their position.

    But those who love science have to remember that there is plenty of solid evidence in support of geocentrism (look at the sky, every child knows it’s the sun that moves) and that geocentrism fairly held the field for millennia until a certain technological advance.

    The point is that neither the age of the Earth nor a common ancestry with chimps are things that have to be (or should be) enforced dogma by the scientific estabishment.

    And yes, I know (or hope considering our public schools) that most children understand it is the Earth that is moving, but it is something that has to be explained.

    The initial assumption I suspect all of us had the first time we look at the sky was that it was the sun that was moving.

  43. rrf

    I think it would be better for ID to take a position on the age of the earth now, rather than betray your confederate “cultural warriors” at some point later.

    Nothing about ID speaks to the age of the earth. This would be like demanding that biologists take a position on the origin of the moon. The origin of the moon is something that’s simply not part of biology. Similarly ID is about examining patterns and making an inference on whether they are of natural or artificial origin. The age of the earth is only tangentially related to it in that its age, in examining certain patterns, must be taken into consideration as a probabilistic resource in the formation of that pattern. In that case ID theorists usually do use the longest reasonable timespan if there’s any doubt. If an ID proponent says something like “this pattern couldn’t have formed accidently because the earth is only 6,000 years old and that’s not long enough for chance & necessity to form the pattern” then you would have a point but only against that individual and not ID. ID doesn’t speak to the age of the earth so that individual is pulling that number of years from some other source.

    Personally I’m convinced the age of the earth is far older than 6,000 years but it isn’t anything to do with ID that causes me to believe that. There are a great many observations of continuing processes that just can’t have produced what we see today in short spans of time. One example that comes to mind is island chains like the Hawaiian. The theory of plate tectonics tells us that the Pacific plate moves. New plate forms from upwelling at one boundary and old plate disappears downward at another boundary. In the process the hardened plate moves from one boundary to the other. Underneath the island chain is fixed hotspot where heat and pressure are great enough to penetrate the crust and cause magma to erupt (volcano). The islands are formed one by one as the plate passes over the hotspot. New islands rise high while the volcano is active and as the plate moves on the volcano becomes inactive and erosion starts wearing it down until it eventually disappears under the ocean’s surface again. We can measure how fast the plate is moving and we measure the rate of erosion. Island to island, as they move farther away from the hotspot, are more and more eroded. The erosion that has occured on the older islands can’t possibly have happened in just 6,000 years. ID offers nothing either in support or denial of that.

  44. Salvador, I always enjoy your comments and, in fact you’re one of my favorite participants here. And don’t mind my comments here too much, because I’m just an arm-chair observer who feels like spouting off from time to time.

    However, I’m a little bothered by your comment #10. I’m not sure it was intentional, but you give the impression that the YEC “community” is monolithically committed to the “appearance of age.” Maybe there are some among the credentialed scientists and others who represent YEC and maybe many uninformed lay-people in the “community” who use this argument, but it hasn’t been my experience growing up in a YEC-saturated up-bringing that this has necessarily been agreed upon as the most satisfying answer to the age-of-earth/universe conundrums.

    Dr. Henry Morris, in a book I recently read by him (can’t remember the title, but its the one he published just before he passed away), he acknowledges the problems with the light-in-transit explanation to the starlight problem. In the discussion, he repeats and acknowledges the difficulties presented by one of the most common objections to the light-in-transit theory: the question of “what about super-novas, etc.?” If light-in-transit is the answer, then these events we observe in deep space never really happened. He also goes on to detail a few other YEC attempts to solve this problem, and ultimately concludes that maybe we just won’t know some answers this side of heaven (presumably he now knows some of those answers).

    Both AiG and the “Creation-on-the-Web” website (which I guess is an Australian off-shoot of the same organization) heavliy market the Russell Humphreys book “Starlight and Time.” Creation-on-the-web frequently speaks favorably of Barry Setterfield. Dr. Carl Wieland acknowledges the problems with light-in-transit in this article:
    http://www.creationontheweb.co.....'%5D/

    I think its unfair to paint the entire YEC “community” with this broad brush.

    Granted, however, I can understand your frustration. I think what happens is that there are many, many people who are committed to YEC for philosophical or theological reasons, but who have zero background in science. Yet because of the implications that origins questions have on their philosophical position, they feel compelled to jump into the conversation, and they can be quite dogmatic. Consequently they attempt to give scientific explanations for origins questions and they’re talking way outside their own area of knowledge, so they end up making fools of themselves. (I’m sure I’ve been guilty of it myself frequently). A case in point is the example you cited concerning Duane Gish. Dr. Gish is a biochemist, not an astrophysicist. Perhaps he knows science, but talking about astrophysics is way outside his field, so he committed the same error that those with no scientific background often commit when trying to argue some form of creationism. I’m sure if Dr. Humphreys were involved in that same debate, he would have given a much different answer.

    I can also understand your annoyance with the likes of that crack-pot Kent Hovind. He’s a shining example of someone with no science background attempting to talk science with the big-boys and making a fool of himself in the process (and Hovind has other problems which makes him even more of an embarrasment–like the recent tax evasion debacle). I know from previous comments you’ve made that you almost put Ken Ham in the same category. Well, you might have a few valid points there, but I don’t think Ham is nearly as dangerous as Hovind, but I can see where he might be annoying sometimes. I could say many more good things about Ham than I could Hovind.

    So I understand where you’re coming from, but it seems that comment #10 does a dis-service to the more sober-minded YEC scientists and better-informec YEC lay-people (“lay” with respect to science, that is).

    Moreover, your attitude/relationship to/with YEC is remniscent of David Heddle’s attitude toward ID. He seems to be somewhat sympathetic to many ID ideas, but is embarrassed by what he feels is bad behavior by ID-advocates (not saying I agree with him necessarily–actually I’m too uninformed for my opinion to matter anyway). I sense the same with you toward YEC.

    Anyway, I’m not entirely sold on YEC like I once was, though I haven’t entirely rejected it, either. I’m one of those uninformed lay-people who should probably keep my mouth shut more often (so, then, why am I typing all this? LOL–I dunno). But what I saw here was a–perhaps unintentionally–unfair representation.

    So that’s the view from the peanut gallery. At least this side of it. Take it for what it’s worth, which–I acknowledge–might be nothing.

  45. Off-topic:

    Did you know there is no information in the genome? According to someone I am exchanging emails with (who will remain unnamed) of the TE persuasion:

    You keep talking about “information” but as stated BY THE PREMIERE QUANTUM INFORMATION THEORIST information does not apply to the genome. You can have information ABOUT the genome but not IN the genome. Simply put, Shannon was misapplied and this was even before the concept of specification is introduced. The argument against specification of the genome is biological and not information theoretic and is below. I want to note that ID are not the only people that abuse information theory here (e.g. Floridi) so this is not an ID-specific critique.

    Nice to know, I guess we can all stop worrying about how all that information got in the genome; there isn’t any information in there. ;) We can all become happy Darwinists now.

  46. @jb comment 44:

    You summed that up well. I see that many on this board are similar to myself, having YEC leanings but not being entirely sold either. I consider myself something of a YEC agnostic when it comes to the science, but believe in YEC from a theological perspective, if that makes sense.

    I try to remain humble (and quiet) when questions about the age of the earth come up. I mean, not too long ago it was argued that an infinitely old universe was the cornerstone of science and it was the surest fact one could have. We now see that such dogmatism was premature at best.

    But like you guys, I am also a little embarassed at the mixed-bag of science associated with YEC. Some good, some not so good, some (like “appearance of age”) really bad.

  47. Dave:

    Nothing about ID speaks to the age of the earth. This would be like demanding that biologists take a position on the origin of the moon. The origin of the moon is something that’s simply not part of biology.

    Cute analogy, but I don’t think it holds. The age of the earth is certainly relevant to most ID proponents, if for varying reasons. ID proponents who accept common descent necessarily have an ancient earth as part of their scientific proposition. ID proponents of the special creation species are invested in a young earth as a matter of orthodoxy. I understand the big tent is a variant of the old saw that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. But, at some point in the future, if ID vanguishes it’s enemy and becomes the reigning paradigm, it is going to have to take a position in one camp or the other.

  48. I think ericB’s explanation of the difference between ID and TE at 35 is better than my own, and would encourage its use.

    Here it is again: “The dominant view today is that “science” should by definition be required to explain all of nature using only unguided natural process explanations. If one holds this view, then by definition, any explanation that says intelligent agency was required cannot be considered “science”, regardless of what the evidence says.

    Those in the TE camp tend to accept this rule, and they respond by emphasizing how their theology can still be compatible with assuming (without needing to consider evidence) that God would never, ever leave fingerprints where science could see them.

    Those in the ID camp, whether they have clear ideas about God or not, have come to the conclusion that the evidence points to intelligent causes. Therefore, they conclude that the rule is simply a bad rule that should be dropped and that science should be empirical and follow the evidence where it leads.

    Thus, IDers are breaking the rule that materialists require and that TE has accepted and even embraced.”

    This explanation helps to explain the fact that used to puzzle me most: Why so many people on the egregious “ASA list” spend so much time attacking the folk who are assaulted by Darwin fascists because they have not hewn closely enough to the materialist line (Rick Sternberg being a case in point). To the TE, anyone who doubts that materialism basically represents reality and we must all adjust is breaking the rules, IRRESPECTIVE of the evidence presented.

    He may deserve a sidelong glance of pity as a wretched felon, of course, but he certainly should not attract support as a fellow Christian who opposes materialism. On the TE view, we must embrace, not oppose materialism. I wonder how the ASA got round to that?

    I can’t wait till The Spiritual Brain: A neuroscientist’s case for the existence of the soul (Beauregard and O’Leary, Harper, Summer 2007) is out.

    My lead author Mario Beauregard (Universite de Montreal) is HARDLY a fundamentalist and yet, for good scientific reasons, he has as little time as anyone you could imagine for that sort of thing.

  49. jb wrote:

    However, I’m a little bothered by your comment #10. I’m not sure it was intentional, but you give the impression that the YEC “community” is monolithically committed to the “appearance of age.”

    You are correct, and I apologize for the imprecision. I could have been more careful with my wording.

    My complaint with much of the YEC theology is this:

    if the Bible is true and if it is the Word of God, of course it will take precendence. However, insisting and demanding that people accept its truthfulness does little to inspire faith that it really is God’s word.

    In fact the opposite often happens, since it is by the policy of dogmatism that untruths are defended, the Bible being defended by way of reciting of creed does not convey the appearance of inherent truthfulness to the doubting Thomases out there who would sincerely like to believe.

    One does not need dogmatism to enforce acceptance of the approximations known as Newton’s laws of motion or his theory of universal gravitation.

    If I defend YEC, it will be the way I would defend the laws of physics. If Christ is the Creator of a Young Cosmos, if He worked the miracle of creation, I expect it will testify of Him. Creation is his work, and He said, “even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles”.

    Thus, it seems to me that demanding acceptance of God’s word first before acceptance of anything else (like the existence of miracles and a young Earth), is not even consistent with the way the Lord would do business with the doubting or unbelievers. He recognizes human fallibility and inablity to accept Him at His word. He provides a means for fallible sinful men who doubt whether He is the Christ to have reasons to trust Him. Of course, faith is a gift of grace, but the Lord still gave an example of the proper apologetic toward those who are doubting Thomases.

    For human institutions to mandate belief, I find problematic. It does not give perception that one has a case defensible on the facts. And that is what I find troubling about “Biblical Science”.

    I think truly “Biblical Science” is rooted in Romans 1:20 and John 10:38. God made the world such that almost whatever world view one begins with, one will be force to go where the evidence leads. If we had no hope that nature was not built to help guide us toward the truth, then we should not study it, nor should there be any science.

    When I defend YEC, I begin for the sake of argument, from an Atheistic Old Earth Darwinistic world view and demonstrate that most of that view cannot hold. The major loose end for me is the age of the universe, but it seems to me all the other major YEC claims are correct:

    1. God’s existence
    2. Intelligent Design
    3. Special Creation of Life and the Universe
    4. Global cataclysm (like a flood)

    I think there is a good chance the literal Genesis hypothesis could be true. I would officially say 50% officially, and 85% personally.

    When the hypothesis is almost as evident as gravity, there should not be any reason to say the hypothesis is biblical or unbilblical. We regard it as true because that is what the physical evidence suggests.

    The question, then, for many in light of the physical evidence, and if it suggests a Young Earth, is it therefore reasonable to think the Bible is God’s Word? Why should a sacred text that has made such an unbelievably bold claim be so accurate, when on the surface it first seem totally wrong? Could it be because the Ultimate Observer predicted by Quantum Mechanics, the Source of the Universe predicted by thermodynamics, did indeed speak to men in ages past? What an exciting possibility!

    I think a major empirical milestone would be what is uncovered via Solexa technology. I think it will show our notions of mutation rates are way off and Sanford’s genetic entropy is indeed correct, which would strongly imply recent special creation of life, thus affirm the literal geneaology of Christ in Luke Chapter 3.

  50. Denyse, the materialistic bias in today’s TE was a gradual work of several centuries of atheists, rationalists, materialists, epicureans, French philosophes, freemasons, etc., all those who were really the enemies of religion and Christianity. Evolution was an integral part of this anti-Christian movement.

    (Re post 26: Now, I am not a theologian, so all I am going to say about any of that is that it is not similar to the traditional teachings of the Christian religion, founded in the Bible. It sounds to me like a point of view that was developed by people who thought that materialism was winning the culture wars and that they would have to adapt.)

    It is really ironic that modern Christians and Catholics don’t know the intellectual history of the last 400-500 years. It is also ironic that many of these prominent scientists don’t know the history of science. Materialism has almost won the culture and science war, and were it not for the current ID movement which unites all counter-atheists, it would have practically won. ID is a new counter-offensive, and that is why all people who have had enough of all that stuff should support it, especially all Christians, even though they may not fully agree with all its tenets.

    (Re: Today, it often means a person who thinks that God’s work looks exactly like natural selection acting on random mutations, and therefore is not detectible. So God’s action in the world is known only by a leap of faith. This is sometimes called fideism.

    For a Christian, or for any common sense man or woman, God’s action in the world is self-evident, see introduction of St. Paul’s letter to Romans, especially Romans 1:20.

  51. Janice at 38 refers to Arguments we think creationists should NOT use and I had a look.

    The primary authority for Creation Ministries International is the infallible Word of God, the Bible (see Q&A Bible). All theories of science are fallible, and new data often overturn previously held theories.

    My reaction is that, yes, for the believer the Bible is infallible. But so is the Book of Nature—it doesn’t lie to us either—and both books are equally easy to misunderstand. So it’s not just that Scripture is infallible whereas “science” is fallible—it’s that our understanding is fallible whichever Book it is that we are reading.

    But I’m not here to say that believers abandon long held traditions of their particular faiths. At present Genesis scholars are mostly split between “modernists” who say the word metaphor quite a lot but never really tell you the meaning of the metaphor, and Young Earthers and Day Agers who believe that Genesis speaks of the creation of the physical universe. More has been written on the first chapter in Genesis than on any other passage of Scripture (may have read this in Claus Westermann), yet the original meaning of the text may still be eluding us.

    Jean Daniélou (The Theology of Jewish Christianity, 1964:301) identifies “the existence of an exegesis of Genesis in the primitive community, among the Elders, which must have been the common source for all these authors. This exegesis would be characterized by the fact that the episodes of the Hexaemeron were not interpreted as referring to the creation of the material world, but to pre-existent spiritual realities.”

    My response to the “Genesis literalist” is that everywhere in Scripture that we find the Genesis imagery, the focus is on the symbolism—never, to my knowledge, to convey information about the physical cosmos (not, of course, that we cannot extrapolate such information from Scripture).

    The narrative genre (R. Longacre, The grammar of discourse, 1983) is defined by its tension, stated early on, which identifies some difficulty or problem, and narratives that are not tragedies also provide some kind of resolution. The Torah’s tension (and hope of resolution) are stated very early—Genesis 1:2: “And the land was a desert and a waste [וְהָאָרֶץ הָיְתָה תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ] …” Pseudo-Jonathan interprets, “desolate of the sons of men and empty of any cattle [צַדְיָא מִבְּנֵי נַשׁ וְרֵיקַנְיָא מִן כָּל בְּעִיר],” which accords with (Gen 2:5), “and there was not a man to till the ground [וְאָדָם אַיִן לַעֲבֹד אֶת־הָאֲדָמָה].” Jeremiah uses this imagery when the desolations of Jerusalem are imminent (Jer 4:23-26): “I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void …I beheld, and, lo, there was no man [רָאִיתִי אֶת־הָאָרֶץ ... רָאִיתִי וְהִנֵּה אֵין הָאָדָם ...] …” One can argue that Genesis is about the creation of the planet whereas Jeremiah invokes the same imagery as hyperbole in regard to his homeland. Nevertheless “the land” (הָאָרֶץ/ἡ γῆ) is prototypically the land of Israel in Scripture, as in (Rev 12:16), “And the earth helped the woman …” So also, let me suggest, this reading is not improbable in Genesis.

    Anyway it is counterproductive in the present culture war to turn and devour one another because we think we have reached an interpretation of Genesis that is infallible.

  52. rrf:

    “dacook:
    In my opinion the ASA is being unwise. In the larger culture war this is looks like a strategic error.
    Culture war? This is about science and the age of the earth is a scientific question. I think it would be better for ID to take a position on the age of the earth now, rather than betray your confederate “cultural warriors” at some point later.”

    As DaveScot points out above, ID really has nothing to say about the age of the earth. ID just says there is evidence for design in life. The question of the age of the earth is an entirely separate, and in my opinion, much less important issue.

    The ultimate issue in the “culture war,” in my view, and a much much more important question, is whether or not humans are ultimately accountable for their actions: If the materialists/Darwinists are right and there is no reality behind, above, or beyond what we can see and measure, and life is nothing but the result of chance and natural law, there is nothing to keep us from doing whatever we can to benefit ourselves at the expense of others; lie, steal, cheat, murder, etc.. This is what “survival of the fittest” is all about, after all.
    There also would be no reason not to satisfy our urges for base gratification in all the sordid ways imaginable, including those victimizing the innocent. What does “innocent” mean, after all, in a materialist, mechanistic universe. If evolution has left some men with an urge to sexually abuse underage girls, why not? It increases their chances of reproduction, right, and is therefore understandable and acceptable in evolutionary terms. In a mechanistic, Darwinian universe, how can something be “wrong” in any ultimate sense?

    My opinion on the question of the age of the earth is that it is interesting, but not ultimately all that important compared to other issues, and does not directly concern the ID position.
    I personally believe the evidence favors old earth. I think the dogmatic adherence to a young earth some people evince is due to an over-literal interpretation of Genesis. (Don’t jump on me YEC people, I’m not trying to pick a fight; if it turns out you were right in the end I’ll concede gracefully ;))

  53. Denyse said,

    [Stay away from all Darwinists of whatever type, whether they claim to be Christians, “from a Christian background,” or “from a fundamentalist background.” Do not concern yourself at present about the age of the Earth. You are immortal; the Earth is not.]

    I think the age of the earth is important. It’s important to scientists because the sciences are integrated with one another. It’s important to people of faith, because if the earth is young, earth’s history is a hoax, a deception, making God a charlatan. (Look at the study of ice cores– they have well over 10,000 annual rings.)

    Also, how do you distinguish between a true beieving Christian from someone who just claims to be a Christian? Can you name any of these fake Christians?

  54. Karen;
    I’m going to throw my .02$ in because I’ve given that question a lot of thought, and I like your name (my mother, wife, daughter, and mother-in-law are all named Karen, same spelling, my sister with a different spelling) even though it’s not addressed to me.

    I believe the way you tell a true Christian is, simply, by how they treat other people. That’s the most important “fruit” of the gospel.

    Similarly, in war or any other endeavor, you tell the good guys from the bad guys by how they treat people. That’s my simple discriminant.
    The world is full of “fake Christians.” (Names come to mind but naming them in public might be… un-Christian :))

    Sure the age of the earth is important. But not as important as a lot of other things.

  55. “I believe the way you tell a true Christian is, simply, by how they treat other people. That’s the most important “fruit” of the gospel.”

    I agree, with one caveat. It would qualify very kind and generous Muslims and Jews as Christians, which I’m sure they’d find offensive.

    So while action is 95% of the formula, it isn’t 100% (which you never claimed, but I say this to make it clear). Beliefs have to have at least a small part, for clarity if nothing else.

  56. Sure.
    All true Christians treat others well.
    But: All who treat others well are not necessarily Christian.

    Set theory; think of circles within or partly overlapping circles like we learned in grade school.

    My bottom line; if you don’t treat people well, you’re not a true Christian regardless of your beliefs.
    I suspect it will go better at Judgement Day for kind and generous Muslims and Jews than for mean and abusive members of Christian faiths.

  57. On being the Christian thing to do, maybe it is time we lay off the TE’s. Both Salvador and myself considered ourselves TE’s till we started reading about the science behind evolution.

    Darrell Falk is a scientist and TE and he doesn’t fit Denyse’s or Ericb’s definition from what I gather from reading his book and obviously neither did Salvador and I. Some of the books George Murphy recommended have a heavy theological over lay but Falk’s book is mostly science. He justifies his beliefs with science. So maybe the generalization doesn’t completely apply.

    We can certainly criticize some of the ASA’s actions but let’s start a dialog with them on science as best we can. That should be the objective.

  58. mentok, the relationship between faith and reason has puzzled many thinkers, one such famous account that comes to mind is Charles Peirce’s Fixation of Belief, see

    http://www.peirce.org/writings/p107.html

    (Re: post 33: To claim that the existence of God has to be taken on irrational faith alone is contradicted by much of Christian theology which makes much of personal revelation of God by God to the individual, be it mystical or philosophical.)

    A newer and rather elaborate analysis of the problem can be found in the encyclical of John Paul II on Faith and Reason, see

    http://www.vatican.va/edocs/ENG0216/_INDEX.HTM

    But what really needs to be stressed and thrown in the face of sceptical scientists and atheists, is that they too have to take many things, and the axioms of their belief system, on faith.

  59. Have to agree on all points with Dave Scott in 43 and also Denyse O’Leary words to the weak in faith: “Stay away from all Darwinists of whatever type, whether they claim to be Christians …”—maybe especially if they claim to be believers. And Karen is right—believers set themselves up for a comeuppance when they make strong claims. But that only makes them good Popperians if they admit it when proven wrong and then they adjust their interpretations accordingly. This is vastly better than the sophisticated but utterly irrelevant liberal who never says anything that could ever be proven wrong.

    Now of course there are religious groups with a lot invested in particular biblical interpretations—and it would be just about as hard for them to adjust to an old earth as for, say, the National Science Teachers Association to reject Darwin. There is one difference though. The YECs do far less damage because it’s not illegal to challenge them.

    It’s difficult for people to grasp that ID is not an organization with magisterium and a position on every point. But no, it’s just defining and detecting design in the natural world. What a miracle that such a movement could get off the ground—a movement not tied to a particular person or church or religion—even I feel welcome.

  60. 60

    “(Don’t jump on me YEC people, I’m not trying to pick a fight; if it turns out you were right in the end I’ll concede gracefully ;) )”

    As will I. The thing is, it seems to me that every old human science has been falsified in most of its principles. Classical physics is now known to be an approximation of reality, alchemy became chemistry, and astronomy, geography, biology, and geology have all been up heaved.

    What has changed about humanity that our sciences are now perfected, never to be upheaved again by future discovery?

    Therefore I credit the Biblical account, which endures for all time, over the sciences that are here today and gone tomorrow.

  61. I think it would be better for ID to take a position on the age of the earth now, rather than betray your confederate “cultural warriors” at some point later.

    It’s not ID’s place to take a position on these matters. A particular hypothesis, within ID, like say “front loading” or “PEH” or “Omega Point Theory” can take a position on the age of the Earth. For the YECs within ID, with respect to biology I simply recommend assuming Billions of Years for the sake of argument in a hypothesis. As in the case for OOL, the point still comes across even if one assumes trillions of years!

    In mathematics, false hypotheses are used as a starting point in order to demonstrate where the false hypothesis is self contradictory. For example, one can assume the square root of two is rational (even though it is not) in order to demonstrate it is irrational. See Home School Math Example.

    Thus there is no need to take a position. I suggest even building theories from incorrect assumptions in order to demonstrate the assumptions are incorrect. One can assume life took billions of years to evolve from a primordial soup and still see the assumption of OOL is dead wrong. There is no need to insist on what the starting assumptions will be. Nature will have a way of demonstrating which assumptions are incosistent with facts.

    The only thing that ID should insist on is that the deductions be logical from whatever the starting premises are. If the starting presises are wrong, many times a Proof by Contradiction will result. If nature is friendly to scientific inquiry, we would expect false premises would lead to ridiculous conclusions.

    For example, assume Darwinian evolution is true. One will find that in making this assumption there will be numerous points where the theory self-destructs on its own demerits (i.e. Haldane’s Dilemma, No Free Lunch, etc.)

    A square circle theory may not, at first glance, be obviously flawed, but logic has a way of showing where a theory asserts the existence of square circles and perpetual motion machines.

    Salvador

  62. Jerry said:

    We can certainly criticize some of the ASA’s actions but let’s start a dialog with them on science as best we can. That should be the objective.

    From my observations so far, there has been an utter unwillingness of TEs on this blog to engage ID proponents on scientific issues. (I’ve been waiting with bated breath since the overreactions to comments about Ted Davis thread.)

    This indicates a consummate lack of respect for Intelligent Design and its arguments, and betrays an attitude of spiritual and intellectual elitism on the part of the TEs that I have observed on this blog. Their insistence to deflect any scientific discussion to one of theology is insulting and unlikely to change anytime soon, or at least until ID gains political ground. When this happens, as is likely, the TE priesthood will seek to ameliorate their own political deterioration by claiming accord with ID theories. (This sort of hedging has been observed here already with “We have more in common than not” type comments, and I predict that this type of equivocation will become more apparent as TE continues to become politically, scientifically, and spiritually irrelevant).

    I bear no ill will toward TE adherents themselves, quite the opposite in fact. I hope and pray the best for those TEs with similar theologies to those represented here; but I hope the ideology itself dies a public and humiliating death. Until that happens, the TE community will continue to act with an air of aristocracy in regard to ID, and seek to appear as a father, graciously welcoming the prodigal son (ID) home. In addition, they will continue to buttress materialistic interpretations of science, and seek to undermine efforts of the ID community to educate the public.

    Some may take issue with my harsh attitude toward TE in general, and that’s fine, but I have to take issue with a world view that manages to compromise both science and Christian theology in one fell swoop.

  63. 63

    Oh and hopefully, we are witnessing a new upheaval in Biology :D.

  64. “I suspect it will go better at Judgement Day for kind and generous Muslims and Jews than for mean and abusive members of Christian faiths.”

    You’re probably right.

  65. ericB

    The dominant view today is that “science” should by definition be required to explain all of nature using only unguided natural process explanations. If one holds this view, then by definition, any explanation that says intelligent agency was required cannot be considered “science”, regardless of what the evidence says.

    That is a view held by many, and probably most who consider themselves TEs, but it is not completely without merit — namely science should be the method to explain nature, and in most if not all cases it is best to restrict explanations about nature (or the material or the measurable) to science.

    The problem that has arisen is the presumption that the only things that exist, or are of consequence anyway, are natural/material/measurable.

    Further, because of this presumption, false explanations have been made in the name of science.

  66. Appolos,

    you said

    “From my observations so far, there has been an utter unwillingness of TEs on this blog to engage ID proponents on scientific issues.”

    I couldn’t agree more. But maybe there are some out there who might be willing to have a dialog on science. Darrell Falk was here last year and it would be interesting if he came back.

  67. tribune7: That is a view held by many, and probably most who consider themselves TEs, but it is not completely without merit — namely science should be the method to explain nature, and in most if not all cases it is best to restrict explanations about nature (or the material or the measurable) to science.

    Those in the ID camp are not advocating that science shouldn’t be used to explain nature. Rather, the objection is that teleological explanations (where supported by the evidence) should not be artificially excluded from the definition of “science”.

    Science draws inferences from observing consistent patterns and forming general statements. Intelligent causes can have discernable effects that can be distinguished from the patterns of unguided effects.

    When the scientific evidence points to an effect being caused by intelligent agency, not by unguided, mindless processes, that should be acceptable as a scientific inference.

  68. rrf

    Cute analogy, but I don’t think it holds. The age of the earth is certainly relevant to most ID proponents, if for varying reasons. ID proponents who accept common descent necessarily have an ancient earth as part of their scientific proposition. ID proponents of the special creation species are invested in a young earth as a matter of orthodoxy. I understand the big tent is a variant of the old saw that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. But, at some point in the future, if ID vanguishes it’s enemy and becomes the reigning paradigm, it is going to have to take a position in one camp or the other.

    Sure it’s relevant in some instances but the age of the earth just isn’t something that ID speaks to as a theory of inferring design in complex patterns. Other theories and observations must be consulted about the age of the earth. The mere fact that ID proponents are not monolithic in what they believe about the age of the earth yet still agree that some complex patterns in nature warrant a design inference is proof of this.

    ID simply doesn’t speak to the age of the earth. If you don’t understand that and continue to argue in this vein you’ll be invited to leave.

  69. jerry: Darrell Falk is a scientist and TE and he doesn’t fit Denyse’s or Ericb’s definition from what I gather from reading his book and obviously neither did Salvador and I. Some of the books George Murphy recommended have a heavy theological over lay but Falk’s book is mostly science. He justifies his beliefs with science. So maybe the generalization doesn’t completely apply.

    I admit that I have not studied Falk. Even so, it’s not clear to me why you would think that he doesn’t fit the definition.

    I hope no one has gotten the impression that I think those in the TE camp do not do science or do not aim to support their positions with science.

    The key question of the distinction is this: When they write their conclusions as scientists, do they agree to stay within the boundary of appealing only to unguided, natural processes to explain effects in nature.

    If Falk says “Evolution wouldn’t function if it were left to natural processes. Someone had to intervene.” then he wouldn’t fit the description of TE, and would be crossing over into ID inferences.

    If Falk merely gives God credit for supporting the whole process in a scientifically invisible and undetectable manner, then he is still well within standard TE teritory (“no fingerprints”).

    It is when God’s involvement (or the involvement of any intelligence) becomes scientifically detectable that lines are being crossed and the real trouble begins.

  70. rrf: Cute analogy, but I don’t think it holds. The age of the earth is certainly relevant to most ID proponents, if for varying reasons. … But, at some point in the future, if ID vanguishes it’s enemy and becomes the reigning paradigm, it is going to have to take a position in one camp or the other.

    ID will never “take a position” on that because the answer to such questions cannot be determined from the ID inference, i.e. that some effects are best explained by an intelligent cause.

    In short, you cannot get there from here. The inference cannot logically take you there.

    Even though “ID proponents” as people have various thoughts about various concerns for various reasons, it might help you catch what DaveScot and others are correctly pointing out if you would focus on the ID inference itself, instead of the diverse group of individuals who affirm it.

    The “enemy” that ID will vanquish is the artificial constraint that says science may not ever infer intelligent causes for natural effects.

  71. 71

    Sigh! Since I see that scordova has chosen to misrepresent me, I suppose I should say something. His reference to “my” (as if I invented it) “so called” (as if he doesn’t believe that there is any such thing) theology of the cross shows that he never tried to understand what I was talking about.
    I don’t recall details of our exchanges but his references to me being “snippy” & “condescending” probably refer to my telling him that.

    As to my supposed “refusal” to discuss the science of ID – well, there’s not really much point. When I see how IDers here wave off the quite cogent arguments of scientists like Ken Miller or Francis Collins who know more about the area in question than do I – & I wager at least 99% of the people here – why should I get bogged down in what will undoubtedly be a fruitless rehash? I’ve made it clear from the start that what I wanted to talk about was the theology of ID. & the response has been not only a refusal to do that but denials that there even is any theology involved – a patently false claim, as I’ve shown.

    I don’t think you guys realize how insular your discussions are. This blog as a whole reminds me of a bunch of kids playing D & D. It may be a fun & harmless way to spend a Saturday afternoon, but it’s kind of sad if they think that it has anything to do with the real world.

  72. Well George in the “real world” ID is relevant, TE isn’t.

  73. George you haven’t shown that there is a “theology of ID”. Your claim is just so much pretentious hot air. Ken Miller and Francis Collins? Thanks for the argument from authority, not much of a fan myself though.

  74. George,

    Perhaps you’d be willing to comment on why you think inferences to design begin with the theological, and why biological systems would require different rules for design inferences than say, archeology.

    Perhaps the concept of irreducible complexity would make an interesting subject. Why must IC begin with the theological–and if this is true for biological systems, why don’t human designed IC systems require the same?

    Why must the apparent theological implications of ID precede the theory itself; or is this just a convenient burden to place upon ID, with no logical basis whatsoever? Is big bang theory any more theological because its implications are theological? Should it be excluded from definition as science because it implies a creator that transcends matter and energy?

    Also, does “mind” constitute another aspect of reality, as is suggested by some interpretations of Quantum theory, and hence is reality not strictly limited to matter and energy?

    Do we know of any other source of complex specified information in the universe than a mind? Is it relevant that we can arrange a jumble of popsicle sticks into a meaningful, and even important message, demonstrating specificity, without changing its mass?

    Personally I think any of these topics would make for an interesting discussion, and others here might agree; but revisiting worn-out straw man arguments that ID is based in the theological, and thus qualifies as some sort of religious creation story, is going to generate a few “sighs” here as well.

  75. George, You are not being consistent. In the previous thread you said “I don’t think that theology should dictate to science.”

    If we can agree on that, then it is a mistake to derive a scientific position, such as whether an inference to an intelligent cause is warranted, from the dictates of a theology. Theology is not pertinent to evaluating the ID inference.

  76. Rather, the objection is that teleological explanations (where supported by the evidence) should not be artificially excluded from the definition of “science”.

    But how is teleological being defined? Is it simply an attempt to determine design? I’d agree completely that would fall under the definition of science.

    Or is it an argument for the existence of God? I’d say that doesn’t fall under the defintion of science.

    Dembski pointedly notes that ID does not name a designer which would put it squarely in the realm of science.

    “Teleological” has a connotation (see wiki, for example) with debates about the existence of God so seeing that word might cause confusion in a discussion.

  77. I’ve made it clear from the start that what I wanted to talk about was the theology of ID.

    There is no theology of ID.

  78. George Murphy,

    Defend Ken Miller’s refutation of Behe’s bacterial flagellum. It is a specious argument and to use my son’s language. It is lame. It certainly doesn’t qualify as science or logic. It is on his website for all to read.

    http://www.millerandlevine.com.....ticle.html

    My guess is that you have never read it or you wouldn’t be making your claims. If you haven’t, read it and come back and discuss it.

    Where I grew up a statement such as

    ” don’t think you guys realize how insular your discussions are. This blog as a whole reminds me of a bunch of kids playing D & D. It may be a fun & harmless way to spend a Saturday afternoon, but it’s kind of sad if they think that it has anything to do with the real world.”

    was condescending.

  79. The materialist’s portrayal of reality is represented here as something that must be vigorously countered. Materialism seems to be a generic term that embodies everything that is random, apathetic, and godless in our various attempts to understand the universe. Or perhaps there’s a more refined definition that eludes me. I would be interested in a clearer definition of just what folks here think the materialist paradigm entails. Certainly it can’t be about the physical nature of the “stuff” that composes various parts of the universe. Is it then an epistemological paradigm? Does it concern how we come to know the world, or perhaps what things are knowable and by what means they are knowable?

    For my part, the vague connotations I associate with materialism roughly equates it with empiricism and rationalism, and I generally take these to be good things, especially with respect to science. I do not understand materialism to be a denial of the super-natural because I essentially take the term “nature” to encompass all of existence. Therefore super-natural is simply a term for order in nature that we do no–and possibly can no–understand. Whether we shall call some thing in the universe a “material” or “spiritual” substance seems of little relevance.

    So, if possible, I’d like to know what the essential features of the materialist paradigm are. As it stands, I don’t think I know anyone who is a strict adherent of materialism as I currently understand it. Generally people consider materialist/empirical/rational science applicable to only a certain restricted domain of our existence. That is not to say that the remainder of existence need necessarily be magical or spiritual, but, at the very least, it is not amenable to the sort of analysis that the scientific method demands.

  80. 80

    great ape,

    Materialism is the belief, taken in a leap of faith, that every effect has only physical causes.

    Empiricism is the unfalsifiable proposition that all existence can be observed.

    The difference is that the empiricist who is not a Darwinian cleric will accept the existence of immaterial causes if the observations lead in that direction; the materialist cannot accept it.

  81. Materialism also means only material things exist. Since I like to use abstract thought and the laws of logic (which are and utilize immaterial concepts), I think materialism is irrational.

  82. The materialist’s portrayal of reality is represented here as something that must be vigorously countered. Materialism seems to be a generic term that embodies everything that is random, apathetic, and godless in our various attempts to understand the universe.

    GA — Materialism is the belief that only what can be measured is what exists. The most damning aspect of it may very well be that it’s irrational.

    I do not understand materialism to be a denial of the super-natural because I essentially take the term “nature” to encompass all of existence.

    Which illustrates my point. The definition of nature is 1. The material world and its phenomena. hence if nature encompasses all of existence then materialism is the denial of the supernatural.

  83. GA, another point.

    You seem to be making the argument that science should limit itself to addressing issues of the material.

    I agree with that. Science, however, must not be accepted as the definitive authority. Mengele is the perfect example of what occurs when it is.

    We must accept as axiomatic (self-evident truths, if you will, such as we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights) that trump any scientific claim.

  84. 84

    It’s obviously time to say good-bye since folks here seem to be either ignorant of, or uninterested in, the issues I’ve raised – or both. A few closing comments:

    1) I admit to being a bit casual about the way I’ve used the words “religion” and “theology” here. Theology involves thinking about one’s religious commitments & trying to make sense of them – “faith in search on understanding” in the classic phrase. That there is a religious component of the ID movement (& note that I speak of the movement as a whole, not of all individual IDers) is quite obvious – again I note Dembski’s statement that “intelligent design is just the Logos theology of John’s Gospel restated in the language of information theory.” Or what would be the point of O’Leary, in the lead article here, calling attention to an “anti-God campaign” if she had no interest in religion?

    But having said that, there’s some truth in the statement of tribune7 that “There is no theology of ID,” though not in the way he/she meant. I.e., IDers generally – & especially those involved in the exchanges here, are unwilling to engage in serious & thoughtful discussions of the theological implications of their religious beliefs and their connections with their broader (in most cases I think) Judaeo-Christian tradition.

    This is not to say that no IDers have given any thought to these matters. But even those who do have some theological competence seem singularly unwilling to discuss them publically. E.g., in the “Objections to Design” appendix of _Intelligent Design_, Dembski does not deal with any serious objections from the standpoint of Christian theology.

    2) I have said before, & meant, that theology should not dictate to science & that I realize that there are genuine scientific matters involved in ID. They are simply not the matters I wanted to discuss here. If nobody here wants to talk about the theological issues, fine, my prior experience of avoidance is reinforced, Auf Wiedersehen. But don’t try to tell me that I have some obligation to enter into discussion on other aspects of ID, important though they may be.

    3) At the risk of stating the obvious, this refusal to discuss theological implications of ID by its partisans is not paralleled by a refusal of those who reject ID (including those who are Christians) to discuss the science.
    There have already been many discussions of that, & the fact that people here simply blow them off doesn’t change the fact. My point in referring to Miller & Collins was not that they are “authorities” but that the scientific discussion is taking place quite well without my input.

    Now I guess I should check the thread on Dembski’s article to see if I need to make any concluding remarks there. But as far as this one is concerned, I’m out.

  85. great_ape,

    Here is my take on the distinction. Materialism is one manifestation of atheism in the sense that it presupposed that there is no God. (We can put aside just what this God is for the moment and He definitely does not have to be the Judeo-Christian God.)

    Materialism as the term is used here says that everything that ever happened has only causes that are natural, that is there is nothing outside of matter and energy which is necessary to explain every phenomena of the history of the universe. There are two forms of it; 1) there is no need for something outside of the material universe and a stronger version 2) there isn’t anything.

    Both are forms of atheism. The second directly and the first indirectly. If God existed then the first version says He has never done anything because only things within the universe are needed to explain what has happened so He essentially doesn’t exist. This is similar to a lot of the Deism beliefs in the 17th and 18th centuries where they may have granted a God created the universe but He then retired or hasn’t been seen since.

    However, suppose that God exists and that He did have some interaction with the universe since its beginning. This interaction would be an override of the natural forces within the universe at least once. As such the empiricism of science would not be able to explain it. So in this way the empiricism you are pointing to would in at least one case have to fall short.

    Maybe no one would know just where God intervened but the philosophy would have to accept that there may be some places where we will never find an answer. It does not limit science from pursuing anything but just says in the back of their minds, that maybe here we will not find an answer.

    The materialism we object to is the one that say the last two paragraphs are nonsense or impossible and should never be considered in science and especially the teaching of science in the curriculum.

    Intelligent Design is a stronger case of the previous. It says that maybe at some place along the line an intelligence was necessary to affect a course of events. This intelligence could be God Himself or could be something else. That is a question that is a philosophical question probably best debated outside of science.

    Intelligent Design also says that there may be some markers that would indicate that an event was designed by this intelligence. We can certainly discuss what some of these markers might be. In fact hypothesizing an intelligence, leads to the same sub set of hypotheses that empiricist science would explore but in addition it leads to a larger super set that could be investigated.

    So materialism explores a smaller set of hypotheses at the moment than would someone with an ID viewpoint.

    Certainly others here may have a better take on the debate but this is how I see it. I personally think there are two instances of interference by God and probably many more. These are the fine tuning of the universe and the origin of life itself. Both seem such low probability events that they defy credulity to say that natural forces produced each. But my assessment does not mean that each must not be researched only that it might not have a solution outside of intelligence.

  86. George you just want to use your theological views as a means to an end i.e. to discredit ID. Since that is obvious why should it surprise you that you find no takers to argue against your agenda? Your trite comment is just an exercise in bitter egotism. You came, you saw, you didn’t conquer because no one cared. So it must be because we aren’t elevated enough to acknowledge the divine mercy you come to bestow. Get over yourself. The path to grace is through humility.

  87. That there is a religious component of the ID movement (& note that I speak of the movement as a whole, not of all individual IDers) is quite obvious

    George, I will submit there is literally a greater religious component to Bacon’s Novum Organum, which is the foundational work of science, than anything in the canon of ID.

    IDers generally – & especially those involved in the exchanges here, are unwilling to engage in serious & thoughtful discussions of the theological implications of their religious beliefs

    George, I think what upsets you is not so much that we are unwilling to dicuss theological implications, but that we don’t agree with your conclusions.

    Turn it around: what are the theological implications of neo-Darwinism (or paleo-Darwinism for that matter)?

    Here’s a homework assignment. Go to Panda’s Thumb and begin a discussion of the theological implications of neo-Darwinism. Report back what happens.

  88. Tribune7,

    “Here’s a homework assignment. Go to Panda’s Thumb and begin a discussion of the theological implications of neo-Darwinism. Report back what happens.”

    I love it.

  89. George Murphy, “3) At the risk of stating the obvious, this refusal to discuss theological implications of ID by its partisans is not paralleled by a refusal of those who reject ID”

    What do you mean by “theology?” Certainly not any particular religious tradition with it’s holy books and artifacts. ID necessarily posits that at least one intelligence is partly responsible for life on this planet. Beyond that it implies nothing, as far as I can tell, neither about the nature of the designer nor the nature of the universe. So as an irreligious hedonist (who was raised in a Christian home and has an admitted affinity to the traditions thereof) I’d like to know what you have in mind.

    But, alas, you’ve left the building.

  90. George Murphy wants to talk about the theological implications of Intelligent Design. Well, no ID adherent denies that there are theological implications to ID, for if ID is right in identifying design in the biological sphere then this finding is compatible with the interventionist deity of the Bible (and of many other traditions)—but not with the deity of TE. So we don’t differ here.

    But we do differ in that ID is not driven by theology whereas the Darwinism of most TEs is driven by theology. ID is the richer project, as others have noted, in that there are no a priori bans on design and agency. What we find is what we find—even if it means we will have to readjust our theology. In this sense “there is no theology of ID.”

  91. Just a brief comment on theological implications. The major reason ID gets rejected (Dover for e.g) is the incorrect assumption that it is necessarily tied to religion or belief in God. Making this connection is the major tactic of IDs opponents.

    The connection, however, is not obligate.
    To speculate, (which is not part of the official ID position, note) the designer(s) could be people much like us, only significantly more advanced in the biological sciences. Certainly modifying biological designs is not beyond our capacity even now.

    http://www.panspermia.org/

    Materialists especially should start taking panspermia seriously; It’s their best hope of a replacement theory which fits the evidence much better than Darwinism, but still allows the possibility of only natural causes. Note that, unlike Darwinism, it does not exclude the possibilty of divine intervention either. It’s a theory that really ought to be looked at seriously by all parties to this debate.
    http://www.panspermia.org/

  92. George Murphy: Your D&D comment merits a boot. I see subsequently that are claiming to remove yourself from the discussion here. That’s a happy coincidence. Yet to ensure that you don’t change your mind, I’m disabling your posting privileges.

  93. TED DAVIS ASKED ME TO POST THIS OPEN LETTER TO DENYSE AND ME. –WmAD

    =-=-=-=-

    Dear Bill and Denyse,

    I do not think it is fair to criticize the leadership of the ASA on your blog, “Uncommon Descent,” for calling attention to the following issue, which one of our members worded as follows:

    “The young-earth message has bitten deeply into the evangelical culture, and people trust this message. What will it take to show people believably that the young-earth view is not the only possible one, without undermining the Christianity or sincerity of those that hold that position?”

    In the context of the ASA and its history (since 1941), Jack Haas’ letter is simply a matter of looking over our shoulders at the inroads that YECs have made in conservative churches since the 1970s, while we are engaged in our primary mission of advancing the cause of Christ in the scientific community. To the best of my knowledge, neither of you holds to the YE view, and it cannot be too difficult for you to understand the concern stated above. How one could construe this as an effort to attack fellow Christians is beyond me. The language is very clear; many in the ASA are concerned about “the young-earth view,” but we are no less concerned to speak to that “without undermining the Christianity or sincerity of those that hold that position.” I fail to see how one can fairly accuse the ASA of wanting to attack fellow Christians, on the basis of this document. Trying to convince people that there are multiple views about origins within the Christian community is hardly equivalent to attacking fellow Christians. Indeed, would it not be fair to say that some ID advocates try to do precisely the same thing? Don’t they want some fellow Christians to think that there are alternatives to TE? Or YEC?

    As for scientific materialism (here you picked up on Jack’s words, where you apparently ignored them above), you need to understand two highly relevant points. First, ASA was founded at Moody Bible Institute by five men, a mix of OECs and at least one YEC (the late Harold Hartzler). Their concern was similar to that of leading anti-evolutionist Harry Rimmer at the time: to use what they took for genuine science to help uphold the faith of the youth. An excellent purpose then, and I still think so now. To the extent that you try to accomplish the same goal, I applaud. The problem was that their view of genuine science was far too Baconian, what I call the “Dragnet” view of science: “Just the facts, ma’am.” The powerful coherence found in larger “theories” did not qualify in their minds as legitimate science, even though this has been a key part of scientific reasoning since the early 17th century. In the 1950s and 1960s, as people like Bernard Ramm, Elving Anderson, Richard Bube, and many others moved into the ASA, and as a much larger number of professional scientists joined, the Baconian view no longer dominated the ASA. Most of us do not view H-D science, including the historical sciences, as inherently suspect; we don’t identify them pure and simple with “materialism.” This is what Jack was probably referring to. This context is vital to understand the point. If the ASA moved, it wasn’t recently, it was at some point in the 1950s and into the 1960s. It’s no accident that Henry Morris and some others left the ASA in the early 1960s to form the Creation Research Society. Whatever may be said about the ASA as we find it today, it is not possible to say that it is a “creationist” organization in the usual (popular) sense of that term. It isn’t clear that it really ever was such, but it was friendlier to creationism in that first decade. It is also true that, especially since the 1970s, many in the ASA have primary interests in areas other than “origins,” although there is no lack of interest in that topic even today. I myself would say that is a primary area of interest, but many of my friends are much more interested in stewardship, bioethics, genetics, HPS (which is obviously my number one interest), or even theology. We’re very interdisciplinary and more widely ranging than we were a few decades ago.

    As for genuine materialism, we have not lost our way, not at all. In response to claims that we don’t confront atheism, for whatever stated or implied reasons (I won’t review them here, except to say that gutlessness is not left out of the mix), I have several times in various places responded to this. Just this morning on the ASA list, I reiterated comments I have made before about multiple visions of Christian vocation among ASA members (including those members who advance ID) and different strategies that are used to respond to the larger cultural claims that God is a fiction and religion is not something that smart people believe. We entirely agree, you and I, about the offensive and dangerous nature of this claim. You have your ways of responding, I have mine, and other ASA members have theirs.

    But respond we do. I could literally fill this blog with examples, but let me limit myself to a few prominent, recent ones that many in cyberspace have probably noticed. Owen Gingerich’s recent Noble lectures at Harvard (the same place where Pinker and others have prevented students from even taking one course on religion, perhaps the most secular university in the nation), published as “God’s Universe”, directly challenge a nihilistic interpretation of the universe, and even appeal to “design” in doing so. Francis Collins’ many activities, which you have (apparently somewhat grudgingly) acknowledged on UD, are so very important for their high visibility and for the contradiction that Collins himself represents to Dennett and the “brights.” Not to be missed is Randy Isaac’s important essay in the current issue of “Phi Kappa Phi Forum,” which we will shortly be adding to the ASA website. That is a very secular venue, but Randy’s message is clear and to the point about Dawkins, Dennett, and Provine, not to mention the falsity of the “warfare” thesis about the history of science and religion. Speaking of the warfare view, my entire scholarly career has been devoted to debunking it, piece by piece and bit by bit, and to providing very helpful (I hope) alternative understandings of the rich and multifaceted historical relationship between science and Christianity. That is my own vocation: to undermine Dawkins and company historically, while at the same time providing ideas and examples (ie, examples taken from history since the mid-17th century) of Christians doing science and interpreting science to larger audiences in ways that are faithful to the science and faithful to Christ. I speak about this anywhere I am invited, including top research universities. (Next month, Owen Gingerich and I will be on a panel at a theater in Philadelphia, where another panelist is Harvard evolutionary psychologist Mark Hauser. We do what we can.) Several other ASA authors have written very helpful defenses of Christian theism, including rebuttals of scientific atheism; and I don’t need to remind you that quite a few ID authors are ASA members themselves. They have apparently found our journal, annual meeting, and networking helpful to advancing their visions of science as Christian vocation. On a different level, there are the apologetics ministries of Fred Heeren and Hugh Ross, both of whom are ASA members.

    In this context, it is vitally important not to miss the significance of teaching, mentoring, and being public witnesses on highly secular campuses. This goes under the radar screen most of the time, unless you know those campuses. But it’s extremely important, since it influences lives and minds at crucial points of intellectual and spiritual development. These activities need to be seen, and credited, and the role of the ASA in helping these members carry out their vocations, by linking them with others of like mind and heart, is vital. Loren Haarsma, whose essay “Does Science Exclude God?” in Keith Miller’s book (“Perspectives on an Evolving Creation”) is one of the best I have ever read, has taught with his wife Deborah Haarsma courses on Christianity and science at secular colleges like Haverford and in China. They both teach at Calvin, which is not a secular school, but their enormously helpful and thoughtful materials are partly available online, and are being made available soon in printed form to churches. Many others ASA members do similar things*again, perhaps not on your radar screen, in which case you might want to adjust the frequency. Ian Hutchinson teaches a terrific course about “the Faith of Great Scientists” at MIT; Walter Bradley, David Vader, Martin Price and so many others help initiate their students into meeting the basic needs of impoverished people around the world. (What I want you to see here is the power of this type of witness, in response to the empty morality of Dawkins and company. Actions really do speak louder than words.) You know of course about Walter’s strong pro-ID stance; it is worth noting that he will be president of the ASA next year, when I will be VP. For much of his career (he is now retired), Dick Bube taught Stanford students about science and Christianity, wrote about it in several books, and edited the ASA Journal. Bob Griffiths and Gary Patterson teach courses at Carnegie Mellon, David Snoke brings religious speakers to Pitt, Bob Kaita mentors students at Princeton. And Nobel laureates Bill Phillips and Charles Townes (the latter not a member, but on our advisory board) speak against scientific atheism all the time; they just aren’t as “in your face” as some others, and not as widely publicized.

    I could keep going all day, which I haven’t got; I’ve left out so many others, even top names like Fritz Schaeffer and Elving Anderson. These are all ASA people who courageously bring Christian perspectives on science to very secular places, in various ways. They may not get on the radio opposite Dawkins or on the cover of Time magazine, but they count. Some prefer ID to TE, some prefer TE to ID, and some would say they like both. As for those who prefer TE, you may believe that a more aggressive response to scientific atheism, such as that represented by ID, would be more effective in the long run. If so, that would be simply a difference of opinion about strategy, not a failure on the part of ASA members to confront and engage the claims of Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, and company. Some of us agree with you that methodological naturalism should be directly refuted, and some of us don’t; but we all agree that metaphysical naturalism is a false religion, based on false assumptions about God, humanity, and the creation, and we all try to show the weaknesses of atheism while providing a more thoughtful alternative. Simply b/c most of us don’t publish in “Salvo” magazine or get invited to debate Michael Shermer, does not mean that we don’t confront the atheists.

    You have stated on your blog, Bill, that you won’t let anyone “insult” Denyse there, and that those of us who participate in the ASA list (which you can post to anytime you wish) need to “watch your step” if we respond to her charges. You say that you are ready to “boot anyone at the least provocation.” I can’t imagine that any fair-minded person would regard this post as provocative, in the sense you seem to have in mind. I ask you, therefore, to post this entire message on your blog, as an appropriate response to Denyse. As you know, Bill, technical problems with your server have prevented my posts from going through. I’m sure your moderators can put this post directly onto the blog; or you could do it yourself. Please take care of this for me.

    For my part, this is all I wish to say, but I’ll watch for any further comments on UD or the ASA list.

    Ted

  94. Why do these people get so hot under the collar about YEC?

    They seem to be wanting a statement from us that it is absolutely impossible for the age of the earth to be 7,000 or so years.

    The seem to unwilling to accept “it seems unlikely” or “evidence indicates it is 4.5 billion years old” but demand that we declare calculations based on Biblical genealogies to be wrong and to ban or humiliate anyone who disagrees.

  95. Hi scordova [sort of off-topic?]:

    You wrote…

    “In fact the opposite often happens, since it is by the policy of dogmatism that untruths are defended, the Bible being defended by way of reciting of creed does not convey the appearance of inherent truthfulness to the doubting Thomases out there who would sincerely like to believe.

    One does not need dogmatism to enforce acceptance of the approximations known as Newton’s laws of motion or his theory of universal gravitation.”

    Maybe I’m misreading you, but…

    If I look back to every science course I ever took — there were many! — I can recall writing exams where, unless things were answered precisely, there would be certain failure.

    In fact, all my courses required examinations.

    In the NT Jesus asks a question: Who do you say that I am? An exam question to be sure, and likely THE most important exam question of all time.

    So when Christians are regularly asked that exam question, as they have been asked for upwards of 2000 years, they respond. They respond by identifying what is considered to be orthodox Christian belief: the Creed. Without adherence to such precise dogmatism there is opportunity for almost countless differences of opinion — and so there are. As you can appreciate, Christianity is something, rather than anything.

    Also, ID. Unless you believe your eyes and intellect that design is observable, you don’t fit the category of IDer.

    Dogmatism of what is considered to be the truth is mandatory for any intellectual progress. Arguments are not won by wish-washy brain-squalls. Important arguments have been won in arenas where Christian blood flowed freely — and necessarily.

    And, truth is not won by mixing it with what is untrue. Being dogmatic with the eyes open is quite different from being dogmatic with the eyes shut.

    But I’m almost sure you agree — with about 15% certainty? ;-)

    Now, GM has (has been) signed off. Funny, but my neural connections seem to interpret the “Auf Wiedersehen” as a direct request for a “Sieg Heil”.

    From the little I’ve read from GM his ideas would tend to lean towards the left, liberal, syncretistic side of things. Luther’s “Theology of the Cross”, which GM would seem to champion is likely the basis for that bent. A bent, IMO, that leads to blindness to the stark and clear view of ID. I can’t imagine that many, or most, ASA adherents would go along with those notions.

    It would appear this particular “Theology of the Cross” cannot see the same glory of God the stars see. It couldn’t comprehend God’s encore of daisies, each and every Spring.It couldn’t appreciate the “song in the soul set free”. Faith would be a jump into the dark rather than into the light, as Polkinghorne might say.

    Personally, I would go along with Denyse, and not touch this promiscuous association with materialism, with a ten-foot pole. With a ten-foot polemic, that’s a different matter.

    I really do think YECs are quite wrong. I really do think TE is quite wrong. Is one worse than the other?

    IMO, YECs have a doctine of God that maintains his simultaneous transcendence and immanence: his ontological separation from creation, yet his providential and sustaining connection. The second Person of the Trinity became one of us so that we could observe, even measure. Faith is not blind, it is substance that cannot be seen, it is the tangible promise of expectation.

    OECs, ditto.

    TEs, on the other hand, it seems to me, do not make the transcendence/immanence distinction to the same degree. God is allowed to hide himself in materialism in order to effect a syncretistic, and palatable, primeval soup. Presumably, out of this slime, emerges atheist attractants, and apposite anathemas to opponents.

    Such a different idea (doctrine) of God would seem to indicate many orders of magnitude difference between Y/OECs and TEs.

    But my latest SALVO has just arrived, so must stop!!!

  96. George Murphy states at 83, “Or what would be the point of O’Leary, in the lead article here, calling attention to an “anti-God campaign” if she had no interest in religion? ”

    I’ve never claimed to have no interest in religion. I am a Roman Catholic in communion with the Church, and I make that clear at the bottom of almost every post to my own ID blog, the Post-Darwinist.

    It does not follow that a given intelligent design thesis backs a specific theology.

    If the bacterial flagellum is irreducibly complex, is that fact to be credited to one religious system over another? Which one? Why?

    If irreducible complexity is the best explanation of a given phenomenon in living nature, all it really means is that radical materialism and its creation story, Darwinism, are not true.

    As for the anti-God campaign, many people who have no personal interest in religion have noticed it. Actually, it would be hard not to notice. That was why I was initially so surprised at the general failure of response on the part of ASA, which kicked off this whole series of posts.

    A person who wants to demonstrate my personal interest in religion would be better off to quote the information at the foot of regular posts to the Post-Darwinist (that I am a Catholic in communion with the church and have no time for village atheism or random Jesus-hollering) than to note that I am aware of the anti-God campaign and its implications. The latter proves nothing except that I keep up with my faith and science beat, as a hack is bound to do.

  97. TED DAVIS: Some of us agree with you that methodological naturalism should be directly refuted, and some of us don’t; but we all agree that metaphysical naturalism is a false religion, based on false assumptions about God, humanity, and the creation, and we all try to show the weaknesses of atheism while providing a more thoughtful alternative.

    I appreciate Ted Davis taking the time to offer his thoughtful and informative response, and I greatly appreciate the respectful and exemplary tone in which he has offered it. Even if he disagrees with me, I find it a refreshing and commendable expression.

    That said, I do find the proposition of holding on to methodological naturalism to be untenable.

    If we can agree that (metaphysical) naturalism is a false premise, then it follows necessarily that doing science as though it were true means one is committing in advance to reasoning from a false premise. Why would you ever want to willingly obligate yourself in advance of evidence to reasoning about nature as though a falsehood were true? Or to never drawing a conclusion that could be considered to conflict with that false premise?

    To be healthy, science should be free of obligatory, a priori commitments about what the answers will turn out to be in advance of considering the evidence. We would never agree to a trial that was required in advance to find the defendent guilty, and whose only job was to find the best explanation of the evidence that arrives at that predetermined result.

  98. p.s. To require all scientists to operate as though naturalism is true is no different in kind from requiring Galileo to operate as though a particular understanding of the heavens is true.

  99. Ted Davis, a doyen of the American Scientific Affiliation list, posted a long item at 92, courtesy of WmAD, defending the ASA from my accusation that it has been essentially AWOL during key materialist advances in recent years.

    The materialists

    (1) damaged the careers of non-materialists in science, for ideological, NOT evidentiary, reasons – including the careers of people who are Christians and maybe even members of ASA

    (2) forced almost all taxpayers in Western countries to subsidize their views in textbooks,

    (3) make a direct appeal against any transcendent view in the recent “anti-God” campaign.

    (While called “anti-God” for convenience, the campaign is really pro-materialist. Otherwise, how to explain the trashing of Sam Harris, an atheist neuroscience grad student who accepts actual evidence of non-materialism?)

    Instead of addressing these growing issues – and one never hears any accounting of their failures – ASA committed itself to the essentially silly goal of combatting young earth creationism – a doctrinal position of some fundamentalist religious denominations that have almost no key societal impact.

    Having read Davis’s post, I see nothing to revise. What was missing all along (and still is) was any obvious concern about the dominance of materialism in the sciences, in defiance of evidence, resulting in the problems described above – as well as many other problems, including some that will be clearly detailed in The Spiritual Brain (Mario Beauregard and Denyse O’Leary, August 2007).

    I am glad to learn from Davis’s post that ASA members live a life that contradicts “Dawkins and company.”

    Indeed, I find that easy to believe. The rumpled, scruffy people who ask me to buy them breakfast at the Horton’s on Sunday morning live such a life by virtue of their very existence.

    That is the central thesis of non-materialism, of which the Christian tradition is an integral (and in my personal opinion the central) part.

    I would not quarrel with the view that ASA members are more virtuous than the general run of humanity – including the groups I associate with – if that view is strongly asserted by people I respect. But how ASA members live has nothing to do with confuting Dawkins and company in practical terms.

    As John Paul II said, when writing on evolution, that quality of direct connection to the divine life is integral to humanity.

    That was PRECISELY why Dawkins attacked John Paul II for his view s on evolution , while others were content to simply misrepresent him.

    I monitored the ASA list for some years while writing my book, By Design or by Chance?, and continued to follow the list when I decided to make the intelligent design controversy a major beat.

    I had realized while writing Design or Chance? that the intelligent design controversy would explode in the mid-part of this decade and go international. So of course I wanted to assess the co-dependence of an identified Christian establishment with the materialism that has long suffered it to exist – but only according to strict limitations – before intelligent design became an important challenge. In my view, if he ASA list is anything to go by, the organization continues to conform to those limitations even when there is no longer any need.

    My sense is, they could break free now if they wanted. But perhaps they don’t.

  100. Galileo was allowed to say and believe anything he wanted about the heavens as long as he said it was a hypothesis. It is when he said it was truth and how he said it that he was censored. Proof of Galileo’s hypothesis wasn’t available till almost 200 years later.

  101. jerry: Galileo was allowed to say and believe anything he wanted about the heavens as long as he said it was a hypothesis. It is when he said it was truth and how he said it that he was censored. Proof of Galileo’s hypothesis wasn’t available till almost 200 years later.

    It quite true that Galileo’s “punishment” was quite mild, and that he really got himself into trouble by how he conducted himself (e.g. insulting a pope that was formerly not hostile to him).

    About evidence, it depends on whether you mean evidence for heliocentrism or evidence against geocentrism. Being able to see planetary moons is direct evidence against pure geocentrism. (Yet some refused to even look into the telescope.)

    But, either way, all of this is beside my actual point. It is harmful to science to require adherence to any predetermined result, a priori.

    I mention Galileo as an illustration because many who would object loudly to the speck of sawdust in how Galileo was treated would also fail to notice the present day log of methodological naturalism.

  102. This has nothing to do with the ASA but here is a criticism of creationism going on right now in California school systems.

    There is an article about Donald Kennedy, past president of Stanford, who is an expert witness and is critical of the value of creationist materials in Christian schools in California.

    http://news-service.stanford.e.....41107.html

    There is an easily tested hypothesis, Do students who come from Christian schools have less curiosity than those who come from public high schools? Kennedy says they do. Maybe ASA could design the experiment and implement it. If true then it may back their disproval of YEC in the classroom. If not then maybe they should shout down people like Kennedy.

  103. tribune7: But how is teleological being defined? Is it simply an attempt to determine design? I’d agree completely that would fall under the definition of science.

    Or is it an argument for the existence of God? I’d say that doesn’t fall under the defintion of science.

    The determining issue is whether a proposition can be supported by evidence that is accessible to science.

    There is a saying that if you see a turtle stranded on top of a fence post, you can know that someone put it there. How can we make that inference? Because as we learn about turtles, we begin to understand that turtles cannot climb up fence posts. If a turtle could climb the post, you couldn’t make that inference.

    For ID, the key fact is that intelligent agents can be observed to create effects that cannot be created by unguided, natural processes. If some effect could also be caused by natural processes, then we would not be justified in making an inference to intelligent agency for that effect. We are only justified in supporting an ID inference when we observe that natural processes by their nature do not behave in a way that leads to those effects.

    The reason this process does not support drawing the conclusion that God created life is because science does not have access to evidence concerning life that would distinguish “God did this” from “Some intelligent agent did this”. We have excellent reasons to infer that natural processes will not invent language, which is needed by life. Language needs intelligence. But that doesn’t tell us whether it was a natural or supernatural intelligence.

  104. ericB,

    There were other theories out there that fit the data better than Galileo hypothesis. Tycho Brahe’s theory fit all the data better even though it was eventually Galileo’s ideas which were accepted and Brahe’s ideas which were discarded. Actually Kepler had a better handle than did Galileo since Galileo believed in circular orbits while Kepler believed in elliptical orbits.

    Galileo could not solve the parallax problem nor could he explain why there was no wind as the earth spinned on an axis. If it was rotating at a 1000 miles per hour at the equator, any sensible person realized that something going that fast would create massive winds. We now know better but then they didn’t. Galileo also said the tides were due to the earth moving on its axis which was wrong.

    He was a bright but arrogant fellow who got mixed up in a plague, the 30 years War, supposed conspiracies between two arch enemies, The Holy Roman Empire and France and the literal translation of the bible.

    It would make a great movie if anyone would be interested. But no one would tell it truthfully.

  105. 105
    Vladimir Krondan

    Atom – concerning no information in the genome,

    A very handy way to resolve all the implications of ‘information’ in biology. Just deny there is such a thing.

    Have you noticed a tendency on the part of philosophers to deny what they are trying to explain? When a philosopher explores the often absurd consequences of his conceptions, he may run into some horrible empirical fact which totally refutes them. At this point, if he is sensible, he will abandon some of his preconceptions. But if he is not sensible, he will view the empirical fact as a ‘problem’, to be explained by his ‘system’. A ‘problem’ that can be solved by denying its existence. For some, the preservation of the logical splendor of philosophic delusion is always preferable to empiricism, as we shall see.

    This has been the case with many philosophers – Hobbes, Hume, Berkeley, Marx, etc., and recently Popper, Kuhn, and others. Hume faced an obvious problem: that science really does work, and so inductive skepticism must be nonsense. Instead of accepting this, Hume argued that empiricism proves nothing, generates no knowledge, etc, and the upshot of that is, science is basically an illusion. Berkeley’s odd manner of thinking ran up against an annoying empirical refutation: there really is such a thing as matter, but his philosophical system said otherwise. But far be it from a monkey-wrench cast into the philosophical machine – Berkeley merely concluded that matter does not exist. The same for Popper, etc., who, because of their absurd deductivist preconceptions, had to view empirical science as an insoluble ‘problem’, and hence, empirical science had to go.

    The same can be said of those who, because of philosophic considerations, insist that we have no free will. Dawkins assures us we have none whatsoever – that we are blind automata enslaved by genes. Now, free will is an empirical fact – all the experiences of all the humans that ever lived testify to this fact. But what of it? If it stands in the way of some philosophic ism, it has to go.

    Remember Huxley’s silly essay about the ‘protoplasm’? Where he hammers away on the point that there is no difference between dead matter and living matter? That’s a convenient way for a materialist to approach the problem of life. Simply deny there is such a thing. But we must admit it is an odd position for a biologist to take.

    Consciousness has been finally explained! Consciousness, we are told by some Darwinian philosophers (like Dennett) is an illusion. I bet you saw that coming. Well it has to be, for if it were not an illusion, it would refute their a priori biology. What of the empirical fact of altruism? That too, is a troublesome thorn in the side for the philosophy of a priori biology. And how do the a priori biologists explain it? By saying it does not exist, that it’s an illusion, a case of selfishness disguising itself for clever strategic reasons, etc.

    And the Marxists have had ample empirical refutation. Has that any effect on them? No. They merely deny the existence of marxist regimes.

  106. ericB — The reason this process does not support drawing the conclusion that God created life is because science does not have access to evidence concerning life that would distinguish “God did this” from “Some intelligent agent did this”.

    As far as I can see I agree with you 100 percent.

    Which gets us to the limit of science and its inability to be a definitive authority. What is science? It is just a methodology for understanding the rules of nature (i.e. the material).

    What about powers not bound by the rules of nature? Science can’t address them and it is silly to attempt to do so.

    And there clearly are things not bound by the laws of nature. Energy — which can’t be created according to thermodynamics — comes from somewhere.

    So there has to be something beyond science that is the authority, and since science can’t deal with it that leaves it to other fields.

  107. Vladimir Krondan,

    What a wonderful post. You are our resident philosopher.

  108. Tribune7 at 106:

    What is science? It is just a methodology for understanding the rules of nature (i.e. the material).

    I would disagree—science is not so much a methodology as it is (or should be) an honest pursuit of knowledge by people truly wanting to know (and humble enough to admit it when they don’t). The methology is the same for everyone—observation, reason, authority—this whether you’re a farmer, a hunter gatherer, or a top scientist. Science didn’t arise because Europeans discovered some magic new methodology. Rather it was a climate of wanting to know and a belief that we can know—it was Judeo-Christian monotheism: belief in a unified, stable world, that we are created with the mind to comprehend that world, the belief in progress and high standards of ethics, etc.

    The materialists have been trying very hard for a long time to demarcate a boundary between science and religion—why? Because science has achieved prestige through technology and, as Phillip Johnson and Nancy Pearcey have pointed out, whatever is called “science” will therefore define public knowledge. Thus our public knowledge has been constrained by materialism with the disastrous effect that now “who’s to know” whether anything is right or wrong “… and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.”

  109. I would disagree—science is not so much a methodology as it is (or should be) an honest pursuit of knowledge by people truly wanting to know (and humble enough to admit it when they don’t).

    OK, here’s the problem I see with that definition. If you define science simply as the pursuit of knowledge you’d have to include activities like praying for guidance or indulging random curiosity (I think I’ll see what Murphy’s doing at the garage) which would generally be considered the opposite of science.

    And there is nothing wrong with praying for guidance (which I often find effective) or indulging curiosity (Moses investigated the burning bush, after all)

    Demarcation is not automatically a bad thing either. If a particular word is assigned a particular definition, I’ll go along. The important thing is to make sure the other side plays by the same rules and to not let them change the rules if they should find themselves losing.

  110. Tribune7 (109): “If you define science simply as the pursuit of knowledge you’d have to include activities like praying for guidance or indulging random curiosity …”

    Well … words mean what people think they mean. Once upon a time “science” meant knowledge—not just obvious, frivolous facts, not hopes and dreams, not wishful thinking, but knowledge. Theology was the “queen of the sciences”—so in those days philosophy and science were not sharply distinguished. The point is not that science has some logically obvious, exclusionary meaning. The point is the prestige of the word and the battles waged over what gets to be called “science” and what gets excluded. Letting the materialists arbitrarily define such an emotive, high prestige word is not a good thing.

  111. Just to throw in my 2 cents: my way of defining science is to consider it a pursuit of knowledge about the natural world, by observations made of the natural world.

    The sticking point for me would be the definition of “natural,” which in my way of reasoning differs from “material.” I consider that which is natural to be a superset of that which is material and that which is metaphysical. By metaphysical I don’t mean to suggest supernatural. The metaphysical subset of what is natural can be thought of as things that are considered objectively real, but immaterial, such as information, ideas, concepts, and agency. (An idea is arguably immaterial, and the expression of an idea in various forms would qualify as information.)

    Science does a good job finding “how” answers such as how things work. However “why” answers, such as why are we here? are not directly answerable by observation. Science solves problems, but does nothing to advance knowledge of human purpose, at least in my estimation, and so it can’t deny purpose either, which is what materialist methods of science seek to do–it’s an inappropriate alchemy of science and a-theology. This constrains not only what can be explored, but what can be discovered, and thus is parasitic to science.

    The supernatural differs from the metaphysical in that it requires intervention from outside time and space; metaphysical events do not. I may be stretching the definition of metaphysical, but I can find no better word to represent that which is real but immaterial. Atheists tend to write these things off as illusory, and ideas arguably could be, but information cannot.

    IMO, science itself should not presuppose the supernatural, nor deny it. It should be agnostic, taking note when extra-natural events are suggested by the evidence, but not abandoning the pursuit of naturalistic explanations even when supernatural influence is strongly suggested. Whatever limits to quantitative knowledge exist will eventually become undeniable, and such has occurred with physics and black holes.

    Since the supernatural is not directly observable in nature (under normal circumstances) it probably shouldn’t be explored by science itself, whether in support or denial of. It might be suggested that this is a sort of NoMa philosophy, but I don’t think that it is. In my estimation, it is completely appropriate for science to produce evidence in favor of supernatural events (the big bang, special creation) just not to provide any sort of philosophical gloss to its findings.

  112. Well … words mean what people think they mean.

    Often they don’t :-)

    Once upon a time “science” meant knowledge—

    And it still does , well, depending on the dictionary you use anyway.

    I think the definition based on methodology, however, has become the commonly understood one, and I think the evolution to it was natural as opposed to guided.

    Here’s the etymology of the word if you’re interested. (A neat link, btw).

    You can see that for the past 300 years “regular or methodical observations or propositions” has been involved in the meaning.

    The point is the prestige of the word and the battles waged over what gets to be called “science” and what gets excluded.

    Ahhh, but don’t forget that ID can be accurately and fairly described as science even under the most materialist definition. In fact, the only way they can keep ID from being called a science — under their definitions — is by lying.

    That will bite them in the tail in the not-so-distant future.

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