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Mailbox: A reader writes from an island in Mediterraean to ask,

Don’t you think Evolution excludes God from being the Creator? How can you support it them being a Catholic?

After I got over raging at that guy for living in a place that is actually warm and sunny (how dare he?), I replied:

Friend, thank you for writing, and apologies for any delay in getting back to you.

Essentially, I think God can create however he wants.

He can use direct creation and various types of evolution, including Darwin’s natural selection. Or other methods beyond my ability to imagine.

He’s God. and I’m not. So I don’t worry about whether God can do something, but rather whether evidence suggests that he has.

Indeed, for certain purposes – weeding out losers, for example – natural selection is doubtless an important mechanism.

I use it myself sometimes when I garden. I often just scatter flower seed broadcast – knowing that the losers will die, and the survivors will not need interventions that I can’t afford and don’t have time for.

Where I differ with the exponents of “Evolution” is:

1. I am not an atheist or a “liberal” Christian.

2. Therefore I do not need to prove that there is no design in the universe or life forms.

3. Therefore, I can acknowledge that design is evident in the universe and in life forms.

4. Therefore, I do not need to pretend that my method for weeding out loser plants in my garden actually creates any new information. All it does is distinguish between good and bad examples of the information that already existed.

5. I think that once we get things like that straight, we will be on the verge of another science revolution. But as along as we are stuck with no-design nonsense, we will be stuck with stupid projects about stuff we know that ain’t so.

I do hope this is a help.

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96 Responses to Mailbox: A reader writes from an island in Mediterraean to ask,

  1. Haha, I hope you won’t be too upset with a comment from Okinawa!

    I think the parable of the mustard seed shows an acceptance of natural selection processes in Christian thinking from the very beginning. Otherwise it is not a good parable. The analogy of free will in the human mind is a free process in the rest of the biological world. That is my opinion anyway.

  2. Ms. O’Leary, thanks for the post. Again you show that your motivation for supporting ID is not religous, even when you are.

    It took me a long time to get past the “The Bible is the Word of God inerant” view that I was taught as an evangelical Christian. The young earth view was clearly in error, so I glomed onto the old earth creationist view (a la Hugh Ross). This held for a while, but the theory that humanity was reduced to 8 in a giant flood just doesn’t hold water. It is clear that humanity has been around in its current form for at least 50,000 years. Further, I find the scientific case for common ancestry between human and chimp to be very strong. Ie, there was no two orignal human parents.

    Once one gets to the state of concluding that there is something very human about the Bible, theistic evolution becomes quite theologically reasonable. I see no theological advantage to the ID theory over TE except that ID is incompatible with athieism. Even there, however, it seems reasonable that God would avoid a situation where he forces people to believe in him based upon the evidence. Otherwise for the intellectual, there would be no freedom of choice.

    Alas, it is the evidence, not religious motivation, that drags me to an ID position over a TE position (though TE is, in a way, ID. It just holds that God went out of his way to make sure that he couldn’t be put into a test tube.)

  3. Beautiful post, Denyse. And very close to how I’d summarize my own views on these things.

  4. 4
    AmerikanInKananaskis

    O’Leary, I’m very sympathetic with your views because they seem close to my own. Except that I think that the *imperfections* that we see in nature where what were actually designed, to help guide evolution and increase biodiversity.

    This statement should not be allowed to stand:

    Therefore, I do not need to pretend that my method for weeding out loser plants in my garden actually creates any new information.

    This is not what anyone is proposing. You’ve forgotten about the mutation step entirely. Mutation can “do” anything that it can “undo”. If a chromosomal deletion is a clear instance of loss of information, then a chromosomal duplication is a clear instance of gain of information.

    Strawman statements like these are what hinder ID as a legitimate scientific movement. It is critical (especially on a major ID forum like this one) that you get your facts straight, if–as I do–you want ID to be taken seriously.

  5. 5

    Post #3: “Mutation can “do” anything that it can “undo”. If a chromosomal deletion is a clear instance of loss of information, then a chromosomal duplication is a clear instance of gain of information.”

    Mutation has never been shown to be able to do what it can (easily) undo. That is simply an assumption. A chromosomal duplication is a gain of information only in the sense that currently existing information has been copied. Nothing ‘new’ has been produced. However, a chromosomal deletion clearly removes information. Once a duplication event has occurred, it is assumed that despite the evidence generally showing silencing and deleterious mutation, the duplicate gene can mutate and be expressed later, coding for a new protein. Ohno was the main proponent of this as a method of evolution, but the possibility is highly disputed and unsupported by empirical studies on duplication events.

    No strawmen, them’s the facts.

    As for the original post by Denyse, for me, if Darwinian evolution is true, it does exclude the Christian God as Creator. It doesn’t immediately imply atheism, but ‘theistic evolution’ with the Christian God as ‘overseer’ simply doesn’t square with what the Bible says about the most important things it addresses in my opinion.

  6. bFast:

    “the theory that humanity was reduced to 8 in a giant flood just doesn’t hold water.”

    Nice pun, but Noah’s flood is not a theory. The flood either happened the way Genesis says it did or it didn’t. Jesus thinks it did, as did Peter.

    bFast again:

    “theistic evolution becomes quite theologically reasonable.”

    Sure. If you don’t care about little things like Adam and Eve, floods, virgin conceptions, resurrections, and the like.

  7. Although I’m not a believer myself, if I was to think about the possibility of design, and especially that God had an involvement in the design, it could lead me to a couple of tentative assumptions:

    1) At several times in the history of the universe and the earth, God has made several design “interventions”. Although there is no clear-cut evidence of when or how these took place, events such as the Cambrian explosion could be inferred as an intervention point (or perhaps the initial design of RNA/DNA and/or the cell).

    2) Even though God has used design (as described above), there is no explicit mention of this in the Bible, although perhaps design is inferred in part. Does this suggest that God not is particularly bothered whether believers accept creationism or ID? (I don’t know, but it is something I’ve always been puzzled about.

    Would you say these are fair assumptions?

  8. 8

    ID is about evidence.

    I would not expect the Bible to be a math book.

  9. JTaylor:

    As you are asking, I will try to answer. Obviously, these are only speculative answer, nothing which we can demonstrate at present.

    1) Even if I personally believe in a continuous, and probably in part gradual, intervention of the designer, I agree with you that there are specific points where the design seems to be implemented in a rather sudden way. OOL is certainly the most astonishing (notwithstanding the imaginary scenarios of darwinists, indeed, there is not a single reason to believe that life ever existed in a form simpler than what we can observe today in prokaryotes). The emergence of eukaryotes could well be a second point. And the various “explosions” (Ediacara, Cambrian, flower plants, and probably others) are certainly other critical steps. The birth of humans could also be an important saltation (don’t believe the trivial concepts that humans are so similar to chimps, there are many reasons to believe that the organization in humans is a definite leap of complexity).

    2) I think that most religion describe God as Creator, intelligent and purposeful. As far as I can understand, the Bible certainly describes God as acting in his creation, both during “creation proper” and after. But He is not necessarily advertising His role. If He wanted, He could easily print in the sky in golden letters what He wants us to believe, but that is not His usual way. Perhaps he appreciates that we use some of the gifts He has given us to search for truth.

    IOW, I think that God is very tolerant, and does not impose truth on us. If He is interested to what we believe, that is certainly out of His care for us, and for what can happen to us as a consequence of what we think and do, and not because he is “bothered” about our beliefs. At least, this is my personal view.

  10. I agree with you, riddick. For my part, if the basic history in the Bible were proven unreliable, then why would I consider it trustworthy for spiritual matters–about which I have no insight of my own?

    In that case, I would say that design is fairly obvious and that there probably is/was a transcendent being responsible for it–but logically it couldn’t very well be God as portrayed in the Bible.

    JTaylor – Point 2: Not a fair assumption, I think. God is on record as having explicitly claimed the role of Creator; and, indeed, it is asserted that God’s divinity and eternal power are clearly seen from the creation.

    Upright – ID is about one kind of evidence. The Bible has evidence of another kind–historical, for instance.

    Of course you wouldn’t look to a history book for instruction in mathematics; however, you might be concerned about the scholarship of the history book if it contained egregious mathematical errors when it happened to touch on the subject.

  11. It seems many (our atheist friends, maybe?) have a hard time wrapping their minds around a ‘being’ that created everything since they could not imagine a ‘being’ that could create so much and manage so much since the universe is ‘so’ large. So they laugh off this notion as the musings of an ignorant mind.

    But maybe its because they can’t ‘picture’ it in their minds that they are having trouble. If we could picture a ‘being’ in our minds, would that not reduce God to just a step ahead of us?

    Rather, if we could conceive of God as ‘being’ not ‘a’ being, that the universe is an expression of God’s being, that all things exist within His being, it is not at all difficult to wrap your mind around concepts of design embedded in nature; i.e peering into Mind.

    Whenever I see the flagella, I see Mind. Whenever I look in a telescope is see Mind. When I look at a picturesque scene of an ocean, a forest, a mountain, I see Mind.

    What is ironic is that this concept should be easily understood by a scientific mind that spends countless hours considering abstract concepts.

    Yet, why in the particular of GOD would they reject out of hand the idea of the physical Universe as an expression of Mind.

    I know, the implications are tooooooo scary to contemplate. Weeeeee are NOT aaaloooone.

  12. I’m thinking here. It it because of dimensional size?

    Is it because Man creates skyscrapers will a hundred million tons of concrete and steel, that we think it outrageous a Mind could create an Universe with N gabillions of tons of rock, and distances of gabillions of light years.

    What is the fascination with weight and distance? Why does it affect us conceptually?

    Heck I’ve already travelled OOB to Asia when I was 15. I’m working on going to the Orion Nebula the next chance I get. I haveta work on will and Mind a bit more, though.

    :)

  13. Denyse, you said in your point #4: “Therefore, I do not need to pretend that my method for weeding out loser plants in my garden actually creates any new information. All it does is distinguish between good and bad examples of the information that already existed.”

    Already existed?

    I agree with you, but I think that is where the writer misunderstands your position. Not nearly enough people can distinguish between natural selction, and evolution.

    Are you advocating special creation ‘de novo’ of some form? The only alternative is the TE right down to the level of abiogenesis.

    Information, by definition is complete, complex, and organized. And it is useless without the cell structures to surround it.

    So… if I were to rephrase your position, I would say that ‘we need a whole self replicating organisim before natural selection can occur’.

    But if that is the case, why would this person have thought you a believer in evolution?

    ???

  14. ” How can you support it them being a Catholic?” ?

  15. Gpuccio – thanks for the reply. As I said I’m not a believer myself, but my intent here was to try on different viewpoints to see how they “feel” and where they might lead.

    I think 1) is a logical outworking of how an ID supporter would probably interpret natural history. It would be interesting to see if a research programme could be designed around this idea.

    As for 2), I’m not so sure I would agree with your statement that “but He is not necessarily advertising His role”. I think the creation accounts in Genesis very much advertise God’s role. And of course that this creations accounts from the very opening of the Bible tells us presumably that God wants us to understand origins, and that this is important to all that follows. In fact if God wanted to be more ambiguous about this, maybe it would have been better not to have had a creation account at all. I think then if I was a believer (particularly one who was a literalist) I’d probably find it hard to reconcile ID with the fact that not only is there a creation account, but quite a detailed and specific one too.

    If I was a liberal or non-literalist Christian I suppose I could say this is a “myth” in the Campbell sense of illuminating a general truth but not a literal event. But then given the time, passion, and fascination that people have with origins, why would God seemingly mislead us with a creation account/myth? Even if this is a myth then, wouldn’t a better myth have served that would be more congruent with ID?

  16. JTaylor, 6 – “Even though God has used design (as described above), there is no explicit mention of this in the Bible”

    Job 38:4-6 (New International Version):

    4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
    Tell me, if you understand.

    5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
    Who stretched a measuring line across it?

    6 On what were its footings set,
    or who laid its cornerstone?”

  17. bFast and others

    It seems to me that there is evidence for a world wide flood (or at least a series of huge local floods).
    1. massive fossil beds all over the world
    2. braided channels in many locations
    3. sediments that seem to have been deposited in a short period of time
    4. genetic entropy (John Sanford)
    5. anthropological evidence
    6. fossilised worm burrows only in the Cambrian (S. Conway Morris)
    7. fossil footprints found in older strata than the fossils themselves
    etc. You all have heard the arguments.

    I have found little to contradict YEC’s. Why is Noah’s flood not considered a possibility? Please direct me to a book or books or any other source of info on this particular aspect of the debate. Thanks.

  18. merlin

    Why is Noah’s flood not considered a possibility?

    I suggest you look at this link:

    http://www.aigbusted.com/Noahs_Flood.php

    See also:

    http://www.aigbusted.com/Radiometric_Dating.php

    and

    http://www.aigbusted.com/Young_World_Evidence.php

    I accept that the Earth’s history may well be filled with more catastrophes than we presently imagine. Sean Pitman makes a strong case for catastrophism on his Web page at http://detectingdesign.com/fossilrecord.html , but I don’t think he is persuasive when he claims that a single flood can account for it all.

    However, a global catastrophe may well be the basis of the Biblical account of Noah’s flood. See this link:

    http://discovermagazine.com/20.....reat-flood

    The scientific evidence remains controversial, but IF it withstands scrutiny (and that’s a big if), then I think it could reasonably be taken as confirmation of the Genesis account. Quibblers may object that the comet strike, if it occurred, would “only” have killed 80% of humanity, leaving far more than eight people, but 2 Peter 2:5 merely says that God “did not spare the ancient world but protected Noah, a righteous preacher, along with seven others when he brought the flood on the world of ungodly people.” That means that eight people were explicitly saved by God when the Flood struck, but that does not necessarily mean that only eight human beings survived.

    We have to be very careful, when looking at 3,000-year-old documents written in a foreign language for a culture with a different mindset from our own, to discern what the sacred author intended to communicate.

    In other words, there is no such thing as “the plain meaning of Holy Scripture.” That’s an Elizabethan notion. Scripture is never plain. The meaning of Scripture can only be understood by, and within the context of, the Christian community that has treasured it since the time of Christ.

  19. I agree with you, riddick. For my part, if the basic history in the Bible were proven unreliable, then why would I consider it trustworthy for spiritual matters–about which I have no insight of my own?

    Just a heretical thought: What if the Bible is a mixture of folklore and spiritual insight?
    That what we should realize is the spiritual message and not so much ancient attempts at figuring out how the world came to be?

    We are born with the potential for spiritual life within but without knowledge about the physical world.

  20. That’s not a heretical thought, but rather the position many Christians, and Christian denominations, take on the Bible. (Well, it’s heretical to the Biblical inerrantists, but that’s only a subset of all believers in the Bible.)

  21. JTaylor:

    “If I was a liberal or non-literalist Christian I suppose I could say this is a “myth” in the Campbell sense of illuminating a general truth but not a literal event.”

    At which point does the book of Genesis cease being a myth and become historical narrative?

  22. Really, the reverse is the case. Science has shown that the creation of the universe depicted in Genesis is a myth in the Campbell sense. It makes very powerful points about the ultimate ground of the universe, but it is not literally true. That does not detract from the spiritual truth for the believer.

  23. Science has shown that the creation of the universe depicted in Genesis is a myth in the Campbell sense.

    What has to be remembered is that science changes. Right now, very good science indicates a 4.5 billion-year-old Earth and that the sun came before plants.

    But if one should be of the opinion that 50 or 100 or 500 years from now, or at the very end, the data will indicate a picture more in line with Genesis, that is not a delusional faith.

  24. riddick

    At which point does the book of Genesis cease being a myth and become historical narrative?

    I’d say Genesis 12. It’s not that the events prior to Genesis 12 didn’t happen – it’s just that the account in Genesis 1-11 is likely to be based on earlier accounts, compiled by people from other cultures (e.g. the Babylonians). The author of Genesis 1-11 may have simply taken certain historical data in these accounts as established fact (having no reason to question it), but woven it around a monotheistic account of the origin of the world, rather than the polytheistic one favored by the people living in the Fertile Crescent at that time. That’s why I think it is vitally important to discern the intentions of the author, when expounding a Scriptural passage. It makes no sense to argue that the author of Genesis 1-11 intended to assert some historical fact X if he was addressing people to whom it would never have occurred to question that fact.

    On the other hand, the story of the call of Abraham marks the beginning of a people set apart by God. The Jewish people are likely to have treasured Abraham as their spiritual father (as he was also to the descendants of Ishmael), and to have jealously guarded their traditions relating to him and the other patriarchs. For that reason, I’d be inclined to credit most of the historical events narrated in Exodus, despite their highly miraculous content and the total lack of secular evidence for their occurrence.

    That isn’t to say that all myth in the Bible stops at the end of Genesis 11. But it does mean the shoe is on the other foot: Christians have a strong prima facie reason to treat events recorded in the Bible as historical from that point onwards, except for those books which make no claim to be such.

  25. So can we now surmise

    1) It is difficult, if not impossible, to be an inerrantist and a supporter of ID? Although I think they do exist?

    2) If the Bible is not inerrant, but more mythical/spiritual, than God is not that much concerned with revealing the true nature of origins? And since this is an intelligent designer, we must assume that it would have been in their power to easily reveal the mechanisms (and timeline) used in the ID process – but for whatever reason has chosen not to. So the ID community is left with a hypothesis that the designer performed some design interventions at key points in history, but with no testable way to verity this.

    3) Or as gpuccio @9 suggests that He/She wants us to embark on our own search? (although 2 above suggest it might not be fruitful). If so we still must deal with a text that, mythical or not, if it does not actually contradict ID, at least provides very little support.

  26. DaveM: “Job 38:4-6 (New International Version):

    4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
    Tell me, if you understand.

    5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
    Who stretched a measuring line across it?

    6 On what were its footings set,
    or who laid its cornerstone?”

    I agree that this is suggestive of design…but the fact that it mentions cornerstones and foundations is suggestive that this was initial design at the time of creation – not the ongoing design-intervention that I believe ID proposes (if there is any mention of that in the Bible that would be interesting to know).

  27. JT,

    As to 1 – not at all. There’s several different perspectives on what qualifies as ‘inerrant’, and especially with regards to Genesis, dispute over just what is the proper reading is not a new discussion by a longshot.

    That rather puts aside 2 and 3, though as far as 3 is concerned – no ID proponent I know of views the bible as a ‘support’ for ID. The ID question is its own, divorced from theological questions. Whether ID meshes well with theology is a distinct question from the science queries.

  28. 1) It is difficult, if not impossible, to be an inerrantist and a supporter of ID

    ID tells us that life is designed. It doesn’t say how or who or why it was designed.

    You can be a Young Earth Creationist and accept the methodology of ID. You can believe in an old Earth and common descent and accept the methodology of ID. You can be a Hindu or a Moslem or a follower of Quetzecoatal or a Scientologist or an atheist believer in ancient astronauts and accept the methodology of ID.

  29. Nullasalus @27: “There’s several different perspectives on what qualifies as ‘inerrant”

    I’m not familiar with what these different perspectives are (other than inerrancy based on different translations?). I think the Wikipedia definition puts it well: “Biblical inerrancy is the doctrinal position that in its original form, the Bible is totally without error, and free from all contradiction; “referring to the complete accuracy of Scripture, including the historical and scientific parts.”

    Nullasalus @27: “no ID proponent I know of views the bible as a ’support’ for ID.”

    Fair enough – but then why are the majority of ID supporters evangelical Christians? For whatever reason they believe that the Designer is the Biblical God (as opposed to Allah), yet there seems little Biblical evidence for that viewpoint (arguably the opposite, even if you take a mythical or inerrantist viewpoint). Yes it is possibly a distinct theological question. But presumably though many ID supporters must have given this some thought at least in their own minds?

    I know some have tried to mesh theology and ID together but to an outsiders viewpoint at least it seems more of a mish-mash than a good fit, let alone one that establishes any kind of causal relationship.

  30. tribune7 said: “You can be a Young Earth Creationist and accept the methodology of ID. ”

    How does that work? If you are a YECer you presumably believe in the literal 6-day creation of the entire Universe. How can you accept an ID ‘methodology’ which suggests that God intervened at various points throughout history (e.g., the Cambrian explosion which presumably a YECer would not accept).

  31. 31
    CannuckianYankee

    JTaylor: “At several times in the history of the universe and the earth, God has made several design “interventions”. Although there is no clear-cut evidence of when or how these took place, events such as the Cambrian explosion could be inferred as an intervention point (or perhaps the initial design of RNA/DNA and/or the cell).

    2) Even though God has used design (as described above), there is no explicit mention of this in the Bible, although perhaps design is inferred in part. Does this suggest that God not is particularly bothered whether believers accept creationism or ID? (I don’t know, but it is something I’ve always been puzzled about.

    Would you say these are fair assumptions?”

    The Bible does not address how God created, you are correct. There are several hints in Scripture about the creation process in Genesis, but nothing exhaustive. The scriptures speak largely about God’s nature and character, and as such, one can glean how He might have created. For exhample, the scriptures speak of God as holding the universe together. This suggests that God is a non-material force of some kind. It also suggests that the laws that govern the universe come from God. Paul’s epistle to the Romans suggests that God’s existence is evident in what He has made, and this evidence also hints at His divine nature.

    Now to address the interventionist question – yes, I think that there are times when God creatively intervenes in nature to create a (for example) Cambrian explosion of new species. However, it is possible that he also creates by a process of front-loading – whereby he sets in motion an evolutionary process of development, by providing the basic information that is needed for such a process allong with the basic building blocks. None of these ideas are compatible with unguided natural selection, simply because natural selection denies that complex information is required for evolution.

    I don’t envision God as a tinkerer. I think that he knew exactly what he wanted and created exactly that. He even allowed for the possibility of the disintegration of what He created(through the process of the fall), so that what we currently see in nature is not the perfection that God has in mind for His creation.

    The mistake is to assume that God created only a physical universe. To make that assumption is to miss all the important points of who God is. This is what materialists do all the time when addressing what theists believe, by saying that for example: “God couldn’t have designed nature because nature is flawed.” This does not take into account that God also created consciousness (which most materialists assume is simply a construct of brain function). Consciousness allows us to make certain decisions and as such to do good or evil. The existence of evil allows for the disintegration of a perfect creation. So God’s not a tinkerer, he allows the evil to have it’s full effect in order to bring about a more perfect creation, one where good is chosen apart from evil. This is the primary Biblical theme.

    I think it’s interesting that you mention that the Bible does not mention design. This is precisely why ID is not religious. ID is complatible with the Bible as far as supporting creation rather than unguided unplanned evolution. But ID is not based in the Bible as is creationism. Incidentally, ID and creationism are not “either or.” One can be an ID supporter and a creationist, and the other way around. The important point is that not all ID supporters are creationsists.

    I think God is concerned that His believers believe what is true. He’s more concerned with their faith and love for him and for each other than what they believe about science and what-not. However, God is truth. He does not support anything that is not of the truth, so his believers should be aligned with what is the truth. If ID is more true than Darwinian evolution, then believers should support ID. Above all, however, believers should believe in God as the creator of all that exists.

  32. JTaylor–How does that work? If you are a YECer you presumably believe in the literal 6-day creation of the entire Universe. How can you accept an ID ‘methodology’ which suggests that God intervened at various points throughout history (e.g., the Cambrian explosion which presumably a YECer would not accept).

    ID methodology does not suggest God intervened. It does not suggest that God didn’t intervene. It is silent on the matter.

    ID methodology states that if certain characteristics exist, an object is design. It doesn’t say how, who or why. It just says is.

  33. “ID methodology does not suggest God intervened. It does not suggest that God didn’t intervene. It is silent on the matter. ID methodology states that if certain characteristics exist, an object is design. It doesn’t say how, who or why. It just says is.

    If ID can’t at some point start to answer these questions, I have to wonder what the point is? Isn’t ID too narrowly circumscribed to ever be of any useful application? I think too human curiosity cannot stop people naturally wanting to ask these questions – yet ID tells us that no only is this out of scope, but unfortunately there doesn’t appear to another sub-disciple (or is there?) and/or forum where these kinds of questions can be addressed.

  34. 34
    CannuckianYankee

    JTaylor :How can you accept an ID ‘methodology’ which suggests that God intervened at various points throughout history (e.g., the Cambrian explosion which presumably a YECer would not accept).”

    I think you presume too much. Why wouldn’t a YECer accept the Cambrian explosion? A YECer would accept anything that there is evidence for just as you would. the only thing a YECer might differ with is the time of the Cambrian, not necessarily the event itself.

    Besides this point, the Cambrian event is used as evidence in favor of ID. By itself it is not the main argument for ID. Therefore, a YECer could be in favor of ID, while rejecting the Cambrian event.

  35. 35
    CannuckianYankee

    JTaylor: “If ID can’t at some point start to answer these questions, I have to wonder what the point is? Isn’t ID too narrowly circumscribed to ever be of any useful application? I think too human curiosity cannot stop people naturally wanting to ask these questions – yet ID tells us that no only is this out of scope, but unfortunately there doesn’t appear to another sub-disciple (or is there?) and/or forum where these kinds of questions can be addressed.”

    The questions you referred to fall more in the area of philosophy and metaphysics than in science. ID does not address the metaphycical questions: thus, ID theorists do not address them. This is something that many materialists fail to do: separate their metaphysical assumptions from the science.

    You have to separate the metaphysical implications (designer vs. no designer) of science from the physical evidence (complex specified information / irreducible complexity vs. gradual unplanned and undirected natural selection) of science in order to do science.

    ID is useful because it shows that something other than unguided unplanned natural selection is going on. It shows that complex specified information is behind the irreducible complexity found in biological organisms, and as such, it implies that such information came from intelligence.

  36. Cannuckian Yankee said: “Why wouldn’t a YECer accept the Cambrian explosion? ”

    Well yes, the timeline would be a problem for a YEC! But more than that – YECers believe in the literal account of creation in the Bible. Therefore they must believe that at least the large majority of species (including mammals) were created as detailed in the Genesis 1 & 2 accounts. That’s at least what a YEC is too me – somebody who believes in the inerrant literal account of Genesis.

    “A YECer would accept anything that there is evidence for just as you would. ”

    I would say a YECer does not accept evidence in the same way as I do but puts an priori emphasis on an ancient text whose provenance is disputable (and is more likely based on earlier myths than inerrant revelation).

    But the current science behind the Cambrian explosion holds that mammals did not basically exist prior to this event. Of course remember I’m not a believer so I personally think the YECer has got just about everything dead wrong.

  37. 37
    CannuckianYankee

    JTaylor: “I know some have tried to mesh theology and ID together but to an outsiders viewpoint at least it seems more of a mish-mash than a good fit, let alone one that establishes any kind of causal relationship.”

    You know, you are really good at making gross generalizations without any support whatsoever. ID “meshes” perfectly well with evangelical Christian theology. This is precisely the reason so many evangelicals support ID and why the majority of ID supporters (at least in this country) are evangelical Christians.

    It IS a good fit. You apparently don’t know Christian theology as much as you pretend to.

    One of the most well known ID proponents is William Dembski. He is not only an evangelical Christian, but he has an advanced degree in theology. If ID didn’t mesh with Dr. Dembski’s theological views or vica versa, he would either not be an evangelical, or not be an ID supporter.

  38. CannuckianYankee said: “ID is useful because it shows that something other than unguided unplanned natural selection is going on. It shows that complex specified information is behind the irreducible complexity found in biological organisms, and as such, it implies that such information came from intelligence.”

    But we’re not allowed to question who/what that intelligence is – although the majority of people on this forum believe that intelligence is the Biblical God. But why?

    A lot of ID supports here say:

    Proposition A: I believe in God
    Proposition B: I see evidence for ID

    And the unstated conclusion (and the elephant in the room) is A causes B. But why does A cause B and not C or D or X?

  39. CannuckianYankee said: “It IS a good fit. You apparently don’t know Christian theology as much as you pretend to.”

    Explain it me – and give me a Biblical basis too that is more than just random cherry picking of verses. But if it is such a good fit, why is it that for the majority of the 2000 years of church history, theologians have mostly supported Biblical creationism.

  40. 40
    CannuckianYankee

    JTaylor: “But the current science behind the Cambrian explosion holds that mammals did not basically exist prior to this event. Of course remember I’m not a believer so I personally think the YECer has got just about everything dead wrong.:

    Well I’m not a YECer. I am however a believer in inerrancy. I don’t think the YECers have everything dead wrong. The science has to be separated from the metaphysical assumptions as I stated earlier.

    As far as we know the earth could be only a few thousand years old as a literal interpretation of Genesis might appear to suggest. But the physical evidence we have appears to suggest otherwise. This does not make Genesis incorrect – only the literal interpretation of Gensis, in which the YECers engage.

    The 6,000 year old dating of the Genesis creation event does not take into account gaps in the genealogies that most certainly exist. And apart from that, Genesis does not seem to give us a time frame between the creation of the earth and the creation of animals and humans.

    Look, all that Genesis states is that God created. It does not state how He created, or by what time frame.

    I used to believe (even as a Christian) that the events described in Genesis are allegorical. I no longer believe that because it appears that the earliest Christians, including Jesus himself did not believe that. However, I CAN mesh my evangelical inerrant views of scripture with the scientific evidence, precisely because Genesis does not address the “hows” and the “time frames” involved in creation. I’m as open to a front-loading explanation as to an interventionist explanation, because Genesis does not address these. But what matters is not my metaphysical beliefs; rather, as Antony Flew suggests, to go where the evidence leads. So far the evidence does not destroy my faith.

  41. 41
    CannuckianYankee

    “Explain it me – and give me a Biblical basis too that is more than just random cherry picking of verses. But if it is such a good fit, why is it that for the majority of the 2000 years of church history, theologians have mostly supported Biblical creationism.”

    Of course theologians have supported Biblical creationism, that is beside the point. They have at the same time supported philosophical arguments that don’t come from the Bible, but support creationism; such as the teleological arguments for the existence of God – the Kalam Cosmological argument, etc. Theologioans, like other thinking humans have not lived in a vacuum of biblical literalism apart from understanding other arguments that support their views. Again, I think you are making assumptions about Christian thought that need not be made-.

    ID is an argument for design. It implies a designer. Therefore, combined with the metaphysical arguments for God’s existence, ID becomes another one of those teleological arguments for God’s existence. Incidentally, the design argument goes back several centuries; it is not a 20th century invention. ID merely expands the design argument with evidence from biology.

  42. 42
    CannuckianYankee

    JTaylor: “But we’re not allowed to question who/what that intelligence is – although the majority of people on this forum believe that intelligence is the Biblical God. But why?”

    Funny nobody’s ever told me on this forum or anywhere else that I’m not allowed to question who or what the intelligence is – that goes on all the time even in this forum. All ID is saying is that the question of who the designer is, is a question better left to philosophy or theology, not to science. In other words, ID merely detects design – what you do with that evidence is up to you. Design proponents are not going to dictate that to you. There’s a huge difference between ID proponents and Darwinists in this area – Darwinists use their “evidence” to dicatate atheism.

    JTaylor: “A lot of ID supports here say:

    Proposition A: I believe in God
    Proposition B: I see evidence for ID

    And the unstated conclusion (and the elephant in the room) is A causes B. But why does A cause B and not C or D or X?”

    Well I don’t know what you mean by C, D or X, but perhaps ID supporters accept that A causes B because there is evidence for B, but not for C, D or X.

  43. Somewhat interesting thread but I prefer talking about the evidence of design rather than speculating and conjecturing about the Bible, whether it is inerrant, figurative, literal, etc.

    I see some really bold statements in this thread. For some, science has removed the need for God. Wow, what a ridiculous reach. Quite the contrary, the more I know about life and the universe, the less likely it seems to me that any of this could have happened by accident. For example, what banged during the Big Bang? And don’t weave fantasies about the multiverse. Those that are certain of the multiverse are 1) grasping at anything that will reduce the need for a transcendent being and 2) begging the question in that it would remain to be explained where the multiverse itself came from. Furthermore, as expressed earlier in this thread: where did the first organism of self-replication, mutation, etc. come from? You can’t get a chicken without an egg and you can’t get an egg without a chicken. Evolution says *nothing* of this issue and yet the atheists are just so darn sure!

    None of this necessarily proves the existence of God (particularly the God of any specific religion). It is merely strong evidence that some transcendent being is necessary to account for first causes. I am not certain regarding the identity of this implied, transcendent being. I see certainty as the antithesis of faith and have no problem separating my faith from this issue. Strictly speaking, ID *only* detects design. It says *nothing* regarding the identity or nature of the designer (or designers). Be it God, little green men, time travelers, or some biochemical activity occurring on the backs of crystals (as proposed by a prominent Darwinist in the movie Expelled!), it matters not to the science of ID.

  44. If ID can’t at some point start to answer these questions, I have to wonder what the point is?

    The point is to determine whether an object is designed or not.

    Isn’t ID too narrowly circumscribed to ever be of any useful application?

    It is very useful to know whether or not an object is designed.

    I think too human curiosity cannot stop people naturally wanting to ask these questions -

    Sure, but using the methodology of ID won’t help very much in answering them. Barometric pressure will tell you if a storm is coming but it won’t tell you why. Radiometric dating can provide an age for an object but it won’t tell you what it was used for or how it got where it was.

    Something can be very useful without being encompassing. Actually, the specific a tool is the more reliable, and useful, it is for its given purpose..

  45. Interesting responses. In my questions above one of the things I was trying to understand is whether an acceptance of ID naturally leads not only to Christianity but to a particular form of Christianity. From the answers it seems people are saying ID can be made to be compatible with a wide range of viewpoints – inerrant, mythical, OEC, YEC etc (and presumably some limited acceptance of evolution itself).

    Everybody is saying to that ID is limited to purely the detection of design only. Not the first time I’ve heard that of course as it is frequently stated on these pages. I think for myself I would find that problematic to simply accept that narrow definition – as I said above I would have a hard time just accepting this without a natural inclination to also ponder on the nature of the designer as well. If I were to accept ID I think it would have to go hand-in-hand with a concentrated search for a compatible Designer.

    That’s why I can’t help wonder then, if this design is real – who are the best candidates for the Designer? Obviously many people here think the Christian God. That’s why I’ve been trying to probe to find out why. Why Jehovah and not Allah, or Scientology or Hinduism or whatever? Who is the best-qualified “design” God? Or is ID flexible enough that people simply fit ID into their established belief systems? The responses above suggest this is true, but surely there should be some tell-tale signs that may lead us favor one entity over another? Also it does seem that the majority of leading ID proponents probably held their religious beliefs prior to knowing and accepting ID – so there could be some confirmation bias playing a part here.

    If anything a better fit might be a Deist God – after all, since we know so little about how the mechanisms of ID (how, when etc), perhaps Deism is a closer fit than anything (isn’t that close to the conclusion that Anthony Flew made?).

  46. Jtaylor, you ask some good questions. And you make some intersting comments that ring in alot of assumptions.

    For example, in your very last paragraph you mentioned the ‘how’ and ‘when’ of design. And that is very intersting to me, because the same can be said of the cosmos. But in doing so, we bring in mechanical assumptions concerning causation that cannot be supported other than by our philosophy.

    So if your with me so far, you are quite correct, our bias is certainly brought in. And that means all of us.

    Why do we all assume that ‘how’ and ‘when’ are legitimate frmaes of reference by which to ask the questions?

    It is a real problem…

    When dealing with origins, I personally think we must consider asking these questions from the refernce of ‘who’ rather than ‘how’. And the reason is simple. Many events we witness or experience are ’caused’ by other ‘whos’. C.S. Lewis pointed out in his book ‘Miracles’ that we would find no help using the laws of physics to explain ‘how’ a billiard ball goes to point A instead of B. Becuase the laws only tell us where it will go once willed into action by being.

    So when it comes to exp-laining the origins of life and the cosmos, perhaps they are not ‘how’ questions at all. The cause producing the effect may be the will of being.

    The material clues can only take us so far. When it comes to origins we are on metaphysical ground.

    And that is very ineresting…

  47. JTaylor,

    I have often said here that I find atheism intellectually bankrupt and at any moment there are several atheist roaming the halls of UD. So I consider these individuals intellectually bankrupt and would have more respect for them if they said they were Deists. But atheism is fashionable now and deism is not. I base this assessment on the fine tuning of the universe.

    All ID can point to in terms of a deity is a creator of the universe who set up the laws under which it runs. After that the creator could have retired so to speak and this belief was popular at the end of the 18th century. Now ID also questions the origin of life due to naturalistic causes but this could still be due to a Deist creator who created life somewhere in the universe and this life in turn created the life we have here. ID cannot say anything more. The Deist creator could have created the life on our planet but there is no judgment that he did or didn’t do it as there was for the universe.

    Also it appears that aspects of the evolution of life does not appear to be due to naturalistic causes so one could argue that some intelligence has helped it along at various times. Again nowhere does this point to the creator of the universe or to any specific deity or to any specific intelligence.

    If anyone wants to run with this to justify a certain religion, then it is just wishful thinking. One has to go some place else to do that. It does not contradict most religions but it does not necessarily support any particular one.

  48. Uh, I’m an atheist “roaming the halls of UD,” and I’m pretty sure I’m not “intellectually bankrupt.”

    Your conclusion that the existence of our universe as it is points to a deity is just one possible hypothesis. I had a long discussion about this back in December.

    I don’t mind people disagreeing with me, and I understand many of the things which lead people to choose to believe in a deity rather than some of the other options, but to call me “intellectually bankrupt” is to have way too much confidence that your are right about things we can’t really know (as well as being fairly rude.)

  49. as I said above I would have a hard time just accepting this without a natural inclination to also ponder on the nature of the designer as well.

    As well you should, but how will the ID method help you?

    if this design is real – who are the best candidates for the Designer?

    My view is that science can’t help one whit to answer that.

  50. Actually, it was back in November when I discussed this topic, mostly here

  51. I have not seen a logical argument for the fine tuning of the universe outside of a creator. So I stick by my description. People can make up anything they want to deny the obvious. As I said I have zero respect for atheists and can understand a deist very easily.

    The traditional way out is a multiverse and even this leads to a potential creator.

  52. I’ll just accept that you feel that way, Jerry. That’s your choice.

    However, I’ll point out that the “traditional” way out is not a multiverse, which is an idea that is quite recent. A more traditional alternative would be, for instance, the Tao of Taoism, which is an older idea than that of a monotheistic deity.

  53. tribune7 said “My view is that science can’t help one whit to answer that.”

    I don’t think I was necessarily asking for a scientific answer. In fact I think I was trying to say that for me to seriously consider ID it would have to be both on scientific and metaphysical grounds. As far as I know metaphysical discussion does occur here from time to time, so maybe if you don’t wish to discuss it there are others here who might be willing to do so.

  54. Hazel said “However, I’ll point out that the “traditional” way out is not a multiverse, which is an idea that is quite recent. ”

    Of course there doesn’t even have to be a “way out” – for myself I’m quite comfortable with acknowledging that science does not (yet) have answers to these things. That could and perhaps should open doors to explore of non-natural agencies, but in my own case I have yet to find any convincing evidence for that (at least for “revealed” religions). But it may be that it just hasn’t come along yet (which is partly why I’m here of course). It’s possible in time I could tentatively embrace some form of deism, who knows – but I’d be very surprised if my journey takes me back to revealed religion .

  55. Who said anything about a monotheistic deity? I may have used creator in a singular fashion but did not mean to imply it was necessarily singular. Maybe it took more than one intelligence to create the universe, life and evolution.

    The question is why does anything exist and why does it exist with such super fine precision.

    If your way is traditional, then I have never seen this traditional way. Every argument I have ever seen during my life has been that there is no evidence of anything interfering in our universe. We seem to get along just fine without Zeus, Jehovah, Allah or any other deity or set of deities. Everything can be explained by the laws of nature. That was the cop out.

    It is only in the last 30-40 years that people began to examine the laws of the universe after they understood the standard model and its implications for the structure of the universe. So the argument for non interference in our affairs gave way to “what the hell” caused this fine tuning. In order not to interfere, an incredibly intricate machine was needed that just the slightest deviance would cause it to collapse.

    So I do not know how Tao or Taoism solves this problem and how it is a traditional explanation for the universe.

  56. I don’t think I was necessarily asking for a scientific answer.

    But ID is solely a scientific endeavor, and it is new and is inspired by 20th Century advances in biological understanding and information theory.

    There is nothing metaphysical about it. It is falsifiable. Apply it to something known to be undesigned and get a false positive. Evolve a flagellum from a partial set of proteins.

    But if you falsify ID, however, you don’t falsify design. You don’t falsify God.

    ID is just a small subset of design theory/logic/philosophy.

    In fact I think I was trying to say that for me to seriously consider ID it would have to be both on scientific and metaphysical grounds.

    Here’s something to consider: Kurt Godel noted that for mathematics, the consistency of axioms cannot be proved within the system. Suppose we apply that to the material universe. All matter can be described digitally, after all. :-)

    You would then have to resort to a force outside the material universe to explain the material universe.

    You could then use ID to determine that this force is intelligent. Now, as far as what this force wants us to do, you are going to have depend on revealed religion, and I’d strongly recommend sticking with the Judaic-Christian tradition.

    So there is something scientific and metaphysical for you to chew on :-)

    Of course, if you want to get right to the point with regards to Godel, you can just go with his ontological proof

  57. Jt- ‘but I’d be very surprised if my journey takes me back to revealed religion’.

    Lol! Yes, quite right!

    We all are Jt… We all are…

    “I did try to found a heresy of my own; and when I had put the last touches to it, I discovered that it was orthodoxy.” G.K. Chesterton / Orthodoxy Chap 1, pg 5

  58. tribune7 said: “But ID is solely a scientific endeavor, and it is new and is inspired by 20th Century advances in biological understanding and information theory.”

    I think I understand the need and motives to keep ID methodology defined purely as a scientific endeavor. I have to say I don’t personally buy it, because I think the religious and philosophical underpinnings are too obvious to be ignored and for ID to be so neatly sliced up and delineated like this. After all any large-scale acceptance of ID would inevitably lead to a redefinition of science as currently practiced in the form of methodological naturalism. That would not be a trivial shift to put it mildly. To me this “ID only science” stance comes across as disingenuous since some ID supporters like to claim that atheism is the engine behind evolution, and obviously have not issue with mixing science and metaphysical concepts (and I’m not suggesting you are saying this, but just in general). As to whether ID is science or not, I’m not going there other then to say I wish there was more of it to evaluate!

    tribune7 said: “You could then use ID to determine that this force is intelligent. Now, as far as what this force wants us to do, you are going to have depend on revealed religion, and I’d strongly recommend sticking with the Judaic-Christian tradition.”

    Why the Judaic-Christian tradition over any other? Is that based on your personal experience? Are you also now ruling out Deism since (I presume) it will not be a force that wants us to do anything?

  59. Jerry writes, “So I do not know how Tao or Taoism solves this problem and how it is a traditional explanation for the universe.”

    I don’t know whether you know anything about Taoism or not, but my point was this: multiverses are a new, speculative idea, not a “traditional” alternative to theism. Other religious and philosophical alternatives to theism are “traditional” in the sense that they, like theism, have roots going back thousands of years. If you want to compare theism with other possible non-theisticviews of the how the universe came to be how it is, you need to know something about what those alternatives are.

    Also, Jerry writes, “Who said anything about a monotheistic deity?”

    Although theism can mean belief in a God or gods, it usually refers to belief in a (singular) divine entity. Atheism thus commonly means a lack of belief in God (again singular.) I see that one could believe in gods who designed the universe and have possibly been active in the world, but I don’t think that is what is commonly referred to as theism here at UD.

  60. “After all any large-scale acceptance of ID would inevitably lead to a redefinition of science as currently practiced in the form of methodological naturalism. ”

    Utter nonsense. Not one scientific study, or set of findings would necessarily be restricted. What would change would be the range of conclusions one could make from the findings and the types of studies may be expanded. Science would not lose one bit but who would lose are those scientists who currently arbitrarily restrict the conclusions one can make from the data.

    So such attitudes are an example of repressiveness under the guise of being enlightened.

    The next line is entirely correct

    “that would not be a trivial shift to put it mildly.”

    Yes an expansion of possible knowledge would take place as restricted chains are released from what is now allowed as possible and true. The tyranny of modern science would be set aside for an open investigation into the nature of the world.

    Thank you JTaylor for showing us how restrictive modern science is and how it currently mixes metaphysical concepts with its findings to produce false non science based conclusions.

  61. JTaylor:

    Everybody is saying to that ID is limited to purely the detection of design only.

    Detection AND study of the design.

    I think for myself I would find that problematic to simply accept that narrow definition – as I said above I would have a hard time just accepting this without a natural inclination to also ponder on the nature of the designer as well.

    Nothing in ID stops you from pondering other questions borne from the design inference.

    If I were to accept ID I think it would have to go hand-in-hand with a concentrated search for a compatible Designer.

    Why? The designer(s) identity is irrelevant to whether or not the object was designed.

    As a matter of fact the ONLY possible way to make a scientific determination about the designer(s) or the specific process(es) used, in the absence of direct observation or designer input, is by studying the design in question.

    That is how it works in every design-centric venue, including forensic science and archaeology.

  62. The super fine tuning of the universe points to an immense intellect or intellects as its origin. Nothing else can be said about that intellect(s) from an ID perspective other than it is immense. Any other interpretations of that intellect must go somewhere else besides ID at the moment. ID does not say it is omnipotent, omnipresent or omniscient only that it must have existed and is/was immense. Maybe science will be able to say more about the intellect as it learns more about the world and universe but right now it points to no specific religious based interpretation. For example, science might point to the necessity of an intellect to keep the universe in existence or running and if that is true then this would say a lot more about the type of intellect and its motives.

    But to deny such an intellect existed at one time to effect the creation of the universe is fatuous. The certainty of this statement is based on modern physics of the last 40 years but was always suspect by most during history as an explanation of the orderliness of the world and universe that was available for everyone to witness. At first science seemed to undermine that assessment as unnecessary but it shortly reversed itself and provided information to confirm it. Much to the consternation of many scientists.

    So atheism is living on past scientific assessments and not on present knowledge. As I said it is intellectually bankrupt and I stand by that appraisal of those who hold such a specious point of view. I do not know why they continue to hold such a point of view against the overwhelming evidence for the opposite. Maybe it is emotional. It certainly isn’t logical.

  63. More unfounded certainty.

  64. I have to say I don’t personally buy it, because I think the religious and philosophical underpinnings are too obvious to be ignored and for ID

    Do you think they are too obvious to be ignored in the defenses offered by modern proponents of NDE?
    Or the original proponents for that matter?

    Go where the data leads you.

    Why the Judaic-Christian tradition over any other?

    Once you understand that there is a Creator, it is possible for you to incorrectly guess what this Creator wants you to do. Consider Aztec human sacrifices. Consider Islamic honor killings.

    Are you also now ruling out Deism

    Deism can be part of the Judaic-Christian tradition which would lead you not to practice human sacrifice/honor killings etc. or against the Judaic-Christian tradition which would not be a good thing.

    Regardless, if you are going to accept the values of the Judaic-Christian tradition you are going to have to accept divine revelation — these values did not/cannot come from human reason — so why not accept the miracles as well?

  65. “After all any large-scale acceptance of ID would inevitably lead to a redefinition of science as currently practiced in the form of methodological naturalism. ”

    Actually, what I think it would do would be to get meth-nat out of areas where it doesn’t belong i.e. values; and this would lead to the elimination of moral relativism, and the recognition that truth is an absolute.

    Frankly, my prediction would be that it would result in the sincere establishment of NOMA, rather than the concept being given lip-service by secularists to marginalize concerned Christians.

  66. I personally think that NOMA is an invalid concept. There is only one truth and there are different ways of arriving at it. Science is just one way but there is no reason science and other methods have to be non overlapping.

    If you want to define science as inference from data with a constant reassessment using new data, then I see no overlap but a continuum of methodology.

  67. There is only one truth and there are different ways of arriving at it

    Prayer and fasting is not the best way of determining how much steel you need to span a river.

  68. Anyway, the only way NOMA can work is with the recognition that the “one truth” is axiomatic, and the puzzles we face are predicated with “how” this relates to it rather than “if”.

  69. 69

    It seems to me that the fine tuning argument is dead on arrival. Any environment in which complex life exists must be compatible with the existence of complex life. Therefore the observation of fine tuning provides zero information over and above the initial observation that complex life exists.

  70. 70

    Joseph said:

    (ID is limited to) ‘Detection AND study of the design.’

    Out of curiosity, what kind of questions would study of the design aim to address?

  71. For starters:

    1- Understanding the design

    so that we may be able to

    2- dupicate it

    or

    3- be better able to maintain it

  72. faded:

    Any environment in which complex life exists must be compatible with the existence of complex life.

    Humans existed on the Moon for a time. Is the Moon’s environment compatible for complex life?

  73. 73

    tribune7 said:

    ‘But ID is solely a scientific endeavor, and it is new and is inspired by 20th Century advances in biological understanding and information theory.

    There is nothing metaphysical about it. It is falsifiable. Apply it to something known to be undesigned and get a false positive. Evolve a flagellum from a partial set of proteins.’

    Can you give me an example of something known to be undesigned?

  74. Can you give me an example of something known to be undesigned?

    A hurricane.

    A tree felled by a windstorm (where the tree fell would not be designed.)

    A snowflake.

    A rock.

    A rock slide

    The thoughtless throwing of a jacket when one comes home.

  75. 75

    tribune7, how do you know (not: why do you assume) there is no designer involved in such events?

    If a disembodied designer with remarkable powers exist, could he not have a hand in every hurricane, falling tree, snowflake….in everything that happens?

    If that is indeed the case, we will never have a known undesigned object to test ID against.

  76. 76

    Joseph said:

    ‘For starters:

    1- Understanding the design

    so that we may be able to

    2- dupicate it

    or

    3- be better able to maintain it’

    This sounds like we would study the object’s function and inner workings without particular regard for its mode of origin. In what way then would an ID perspective make a difference to our ability to answer such questions?

  77. 77

    Joseph:

    ‘Humans existed on the Moon for a time. Is the Moon’s environment compatible for complex life?’

    Come on now, clearly the immediate environment in which the humans survived was compatible for complex life (the inside of their space suits). How does this refute the argument?

    An environment that sustains complex life is necessarily compatible with it. It could never be otherwise and therefore there is nothing remarkable about it.

  78. how do you know (not: why do you assume) there is no designer involved in such events?

    ID would indicate there is not. Granted, ID is expected to provide false negatives. In fact, the standard for ID is so high that if applied to criminal investigation, it is likely no one would ever be arrested.

    So do I “know” those things were not designed? That the hurricane was sent specifically to teach some poor city a lesson? No.

    But the ID methodology would indicate that it was not designed.

  79. 79

    Ok then, so how do we find an undesigned object that would falsify ID? You say we first use ID to tell us an object is not designed, and then you propose to use that same object as a potential falsfication of ID by coming up with a false positive.

    Don’t you see the problem with this?

  80. Don’t you see the problem with this?

    You have missed the point.

    If you find an undesigned object that falsifies ID, you, well, falsify ID.

    If you can’t find an undesigned object that falsifies ID, it means ID is a viable theory.

  81. 81

    tribune7:

    ‘If you find an undesigned object that falsifies ID, you, well, falsify ID.

    If you can’t find an undesigned object that falsifies ID, it means ID is a viable theory.’

    Your first statement is impossible in practice, because according to you the way to decide if an object is undesigned is by using ID on it in the first place. It would come up as a negative, correct? I take it that ID will give the same answer every time we use it on the same object. How then could using ID on that very same object for a second time ever come up with a false positive?

    Because of this logical impossibility of ever achieving the falsification, your second statement is a non-sequitur.

    Can you think of any other way to falsify ID?

  82. Your first statement is impossible in practice, because according to you the way to decide if an object is undesigned is by using ID on it in the first place.

    You would use another method to show, conclusively, that an object that ID indicates to be designed, is not.

    I presume you do not accept ID as the authority in determining design, correct?

  83. tribune7:

    ‘You would use another method to show, conclusively, that an object that ID indicates to be designed, is not.’

    That would be good, basically what you suggest is to test the ID approach against some other methodology that we know gives reliable results. That would be sound practice – but is there another methodology?

    tribune7:

    ‘I presume you do not accept ID as the authority in determining design, correct?’

    I hesitate to assign authority to ID before its tools and methods have been thoroughly tested. I am not convinced by testing against objects of known human design, and then applying it to entities with a fundamentally different causal history. To be honest I am not convinced it can be independently tested or falsified at all.

  84. That would be sound practice – but is there another methodology?

    If there’s not, I guess that makes ID the boss :-)

    One thing you have to keep in mind is that nobody is saying ID is a dogma. We are saying it is science. It is an objective methodology that can be criticized, improved upon or completely overthrown.

    One can be looked upon with interest yet refrain from endorsement, and even express respectful skepticism.

    It cannot, however, be dismissed without showing irrationality.

    Now, you say you are not convinced it can be independently tested or falsified. Why would that be?

    Well, it is because ID is either:

    1. Unassailably true.

    or

    2. Nobody has figured out a method yet.

    So go for it.

  85. tribune7:

    ‘One thing you have to keep in mind is that nobody is saying ID is a dogma. We are saying it is science. It is an objective methodology that can be criticized, improved upon or completely overthrown.’

    Well, that is more or less where my problem lies. I’m not saying that ID is a dogma; I am doubtful if it is a science, and I am strongly inclined to consider it a metaphysical viewpoint, with all the good and bad connotations of that term. The issues about the testability and falsifiabilty (is that a word?) cut to the heart of that.

    What would it take to completely overthrow ID? Can we ever conclusively say that there is no man behind the curtain? I am skeptical.

    tribune7:

    ‘One can be looked upon with interest yet refrain from endorsement, and even express respectful skepticism.

    It cannot, however, be dismissed without showing irrationality.’

    Well, I guess views on what is irrational and what is not vary from person to person.

    I am for all practical purposes an empiricist. ID struggles to make itself convincing for a person like me. I probably wouldn’t get involved in it much if it regarded itself as a metaphysical concept. There are many of those and most are equally deserving of our tolerance. However, I hear claims that ID is a scientific enterprise and I struggle with that. When I watch people do science I see different things than when I watch people do ID. Why is that?

    tribune7:

    ‘Now, you say you are not convinced it can be independently tested or falsified. Why would that be?

    Well, it is because ID is either:

    1. Unassailably true.

    or

    2. Nobody has figured out a method yet.

    So go for it’

    Hmm. I did say that ID, to be more precise ID’s toolkit, has not been independently tested and I think that is correct. I see a lot of pointing at analogs, and they certainly help to illuminate the thinking behind ID. However, invoking analogs is not the same as rigorous testing of newly proposed scientific tools. Would you agree with that?

    I am not complaining that ID has not been falsified – I am wondering if it can be falsified, even in principle. We seem to agree that we can never know if there isn’t a ‘man behind the curtain’, even when looking at something as simple as a rock. If we can’t rule out a designer behind a rock, how can we ever hope to demonstrate there is no designer of life?

    Indeed, nobody has figured out a way to falsify ID yet. I think that is a problem in the context of scientific theories, and something that the ID community should be more worried about than they sometimes appear to be.

    For all I know, ID is unassailably true. The issue is not that it couldn’t be, the issue is how can we be convince ourselves that it is true, using the accepted conventions of empirical science.

    fG

  86. The amusing thing about NOMA is SJ didn’t pay any attention to it himself. He was constantly trampling down the garden of theology with ham-fisted speculation about the nature of being.

    Sort of like the Darwinists in this thread.

    If Darwinists really observed NOMA, then such concepts as macroevolution and abiogenesis would not dominate their discourse. It seems they just can’t stop talking about things they’ve never seen—but that’s not pure science. It’s metaphysics.

    So what was SJ really up to, with those twinkling eyes of his? He wanted people of faith to stop commenting on his beloved Darwinism and casting nasty doubts on its postulates.

    NOMA was the ruse of a man a little frightened by his own discoveries.

  87. FG–

    What would it take to completely overthrow ID?

    Just demonstrate that it doesn’t do what it claims.

  88. FG

    I think you are conflating ID methodology with metaphysical design.

    ID is simple: It claims designed objects have specific traits not shared by anything else. It’s tested against objects of known design and it reads design. It’s tested against objects known not to be designed, and it does not indicate them to be designed.

    So it’s calibrated.

    Then it’s tested with something known not to be designed by man– the workings of the cell, which it indicates to be designed.

    Now why would one object to that conclusion? Because it is impossible for something known not to be designed by man to have been designed?

    That’s not science, that arbitrary semantics.

  89. The amusing thing about NOMA is SJ didn’t pay any attention to it himself. He was constantly trampling down the garden of theology with ham-fisted speculation about the nature of being. Sort of like the Darwinists in this thread. If Darwinists really observed NOMA, then such concepts as macroevolution and abiogenesis would not dominate their discourse. It seems they just can’t stop talking about things they’ve never seen—but that’s not pure science. It’s metaphysics.

    allanius, those are very good points, and that’s why we should embrace NOMA. If it’s followed, we win.

  90. 90

    To Faded @77 – regarding the argument that we should expect a universe with its given finetunings since this is the only way we could exist. And that such a universe is unremarkable.

    Consider the following parable introduced I think by Swinburne.

    If kidnapers tied you to a chair and forced you to watch a computer program spew a random 10 digit. And additionally the kidnappers had rigged explosives to detonate instantaneously if the computer chose any number except 9999999999. They then started the computer program. You prepare for your certain death. You express astonishment as the computer spews 9999999999. One particularly clever kidnapper then states. “oh you shouldn’t be so astonished. If the computer had spewed any other number you would be dead. Therefore you should have expected to see 9999999999 since this is the only number you could see.”

    The story illustrates nicely the principle.(Of all the ways the particles could have bounced after the so-called “big-bang” how astonishing that they were enabled to bounce this way)

  91. that’s why we should embrace NOMA. If it’s followed, we win.

    And if our adversaries don’t follow NOMA, and we point that out, we win.

  92. joshuabgood:

    ‘Of all the ways the particles could have bounced after the so-called “big-bang” how astonishing that they were enabled to bounce this way’

    I don’t know – in how many ways could the particles have bounced? Also, are you sure there are no underlying principles that made them end up where they have ended up?

    The universe exists and we exist in it. It follows logically that therefore the universe allows for our existence, and it could not be otherwise. No need to be amazed at logical consequences.

    How probable/improbable it is for a universe to exist that allows us to exist is actually a different question.

    Winning a lottery if your ticket has number 1 on it is hardly remarkable if the total number of tickets issued is just 1.

    How many tickets were issued in the galactic lottery?

  93. 93

    Faded-glory writes: “How probable/improbable it is for a universe to exist that allows us to exist is actually a different question.”

    It is unclear to me how this is a different question. I think that is the question in the “fine-tuning argument. I think what some of us find astonishing is very nearly what you noted. How improbable it is for a universe to exist that allows us to exist.

    I believe I understand your position. You are stating since we couldn’t have existed otherwise we shouldn’t be surprised that we do exist. But again I refer to the parable at #90. Just because the man tied to the chair couldn’t have seen any other number except the randomnly generated 9999999999, doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be surprised that that particular sequence was the one generated. Even though this was a necessary condition to him observing anything at all.

    It would be helpful for me if you could explain why this is a faulty analogy.

  94. 94
    CannuckianYankee

    Faded Glory: “The universe exists and we exist in it. It follows logically that therefore the universe allows for our existence, and it could not be otherwise. No need to be amazed at logical consequences.

    How probable/improbable it is for a universe to exist that allows us to exist is actually a different question.

    Winning a lottery if your ticket has number 1 on it is hardly remarkable if the total number of tickets issued is just 1.

    How many tickets were issued in the galactic lottery?”

    Well the only scenario where the galactic lottery ticket universe could exist is a multiverse (infinite number of universes, each unique) scenario. But we know the absurdities that creates.

    The argument that we shouldn’t be surprised that we ended up “us” because, “voila, here we are” – is simply nonsense. Darwinists WERE surprised, and spent the last 150 years trying to come up with an alternative to the implications.

  95. 95
    CannuckianYankee

    You know it occurred to me that Dawkin’s “voila, here we are” argument in The Blind Watchmaker was a reaction to Paley’s own watchmaker argument. I never saw this before, but Dawkins is so full of contradictions in his assessment of the design argument.

    If we shouldn’t be surprised that we ended up how we are, then why does Dawkins go to such pains to explain away the appearance of design? If the appearance of design is such a shocking phenomenon given natural selection, then evolution really is a miraculous process, and not a mundane “here we are, what did you expect?” kind of process. And in the end, if Darwinists, underneath it all, really do need miracles, then why do they go on rejecting design?

  96. Because the miracle of their godhood is an acceptable view.

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