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Miracles and the Principle of Causality

In a prior post EJ wrote:  “I think natural intelligences are to be preferred above supernatural intelligences in design detection, for the simple reason that we have experience with the former, but not the latter.” 

I replied:  “Says who? You are repeating Hume’s error of circular reasoning. “Miracles do not happen because they are counter to universal experience.”  In other words, “miracles do not happen because miracles do not happen.”  That may satisfy you and Hume.  Those who would like to have their conclusions demonstrated rather than assumed might not be as impressed.” 

Then evo_materialist wrote:  “BarryA, you may have experience with miracles.  Alas, I do not, and neither has anybody I know in a way that’s not better explained naturally.” 

Pace evo’s comment, I never said I personally have had experience with miracles.  My comment is a matter of the application of logic to EJ’s (and Hume’s before him) position.  In other words, my point is that Hume’s position fails on logical grounds, not because my experience is different from his.   

Hume (and EJ and Evo) asserts a univeral principle of natural law, which Karl Popper calls ‘the principle of causality.’

This is what Karl Popper says about this principle in The Logic of Scientific Discovery (which, as far as I know, is the only scientific text with the force of law in the United States): 

“The ‘principle of causality’ is the assertion that any event whatsoever can be causally explained – that it can be deductively predicted . . . If . . . ‘can’ is meant to signify that the world is governed by strict laws, that it is so constructed that every specific event is an instance of a universal regularity or law, then the assertion is admittedly synthetic.  But in this case is not falsifiable . . . I shall, therefore, neither adopt nor reject the ‘principle of causality’; I shall be content simply to exclude it, as ‘metaphysical’, from the sphere of science.” 

Hume and EJ and Evo think they are being “scientific” when they reject miracles a priori.  But as Popper convincingly demonstrates, they are merely showing their metaphysical prejudices.   

Moreover, the premise of Hume’s statement is incorrect.  His premise is that the universal experince of the human race is that miracles do not occur.  This is not true.  Miracles have been reported and many people believe those miracles actually occurred.  For example, a man reportedly rose from the dead outside the city of Jerusalem circa 33 AD.  Of the 6.6 billion people on the earth, approximately 2 billion people believe this account. 

My point is not to argue that Jesus actually rose from the dead (I personally believe that he did).  My point is that Hume’s statement should be modifed to read:  “In the universal experience of the human race miracles do not occur if one rejects a priori all of the accounts of miracles that we have.”  Again, this argument is quite circular, because Hume assumed a priori the very conclusion he wished to demonstrate.   

Again, while I personally believe that miracles occur, my personal belief is quite beside the point.  My point is that those who assert that miracles do not occur usually believe they are speaking with the authority of science.  Popper says not so.  The statement “miracles do not occur” is just as metaphysical as the statement “miracles occur.” 

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109 Responses to Miracles and the Principle of Causality

  1. 1

    “…the total number of events that happen to us is about thirty thousand per day, or about a million per month. …The chance of a miracle is about one per million events. Therefore we should expect about one miracle to happen, on the average, every month.”

    - Freeman Dyson

  2. 2

    How is Popper’s The Logic of Scientific Discovery “the only scientific text with the force of law in the United States”? It’s not a scientific text but a philosophical one. Also, do you mean “force of law” literally? I’d love to understand how that works. It certainly has nothing like the force of law in the philosophy of science (its proper domain).

    In any event, you misunderstand me. My reasoning is not circular but inductive. To wit: I have not experienced miracles. Nobody I know has experienced miracles. As far as I can tell, all stories of the miraculous either crumble under close investigation or are set in the distant past and therefore not subject to close investigation. My disbelief in miracles is akin to my belief that the sun will rise tomorrow (and yes, it doesn’t really “rise”): I don’t know for certain that it will happen, but to put stock in the alternative would be silly.

  3. One in one million? Dyson must have had an odd definition for miracle.

  4. I PERSONALLY have witnessed a bona-fide New Testament-level miracle.

    I don’t expect you to believe on my say-so, but I have witnessed, not on a stage a hundred feet away, but less than 10 feet away, a woman’s leg grow about 1 1/2 inches. She was born with one leg shorter than the other. There was no song and dance, no raised voices, no spectacle, just a short request to God to heal her leg, and it did. In front of my eyes.

    So yes, I believe in miracles.

  5. What is a miracle? It is an event with no naturalistic explanation or cause. Therefore, the origin of the universe is by definition a miracle. Since matter, energy, space, and time all came into existence at the birth of the universe, there was no “nature” to provide a naturalistic explanation or cause for this event.

    Do I believe in miracles? Of course, because I know of one that happened for sure, and on the grandest scale imaginable.

  6. Gods iPod,

    I would never propose to call you a liar, as I trust your recording of events. But, I have struggled with this for a long time, and that is what makes ID difficult to really get my hands around.

    Miracles assume that God steps into the natural world and intervenes. Thats fine. However, I think people should not be so quick to assume this happens in our our lifetime. Maybe one in a 100 years?

    Newton at one time just assumed that God threw in a correction factor every now and then to re-adjust the planets. This of course was later discovered to be wrong. There was a natural, mathematical reason for this. However, Newton jumped the gun.

    In the same way, did God have to come in and throw a correction factor in for the bacterial flagellum? Or, have the natural processes just been working and we haven’t discovered it yet. Or, perhaps there is a “front loading” in place that causes things to happen.

    I wonder the same for miracles. Every now and then you hear about someone who’s cancer goes away. But, the question is, is it a miracle, or over the course of a decade, is there about .0001 probability that cancer cells will just die out?

    Also, nowadays, if you have ovarian cancer there is a chance you will live. But, in the 1930s, if you had ovarian cancer you would die – period. Is is correct to assume that when someone is cured of ovarian cancer that it is a miracle, or is it due to medicine? If its a miracle, then you should expect to have seen cures of ovarian cancer in the 1930s.

    Yes, I know these are theological questions, but the idea of miracles was raised in this thread, and this conundrom has always perplexed me. So, I thought I’d ask :-)

  7. Good post Barry.

  8. 8

    The leg growing “miracle” has been a favorite of faith healers for decades. Who knew there were all those people with one leg shorter than another? Hundreds get cured every week in the United States alone.

    But such a “miracle” is easily faked and just as easily debunked; James Randi has been debunking it for decades and showing precisely how it’s done.

  9. Having grown up in the age of video games, I’ve never understood the objection to the possibility of miracles. Programmers create laws that a virtual world operates according to. If they wish the programmers can easily modify, temporarily suspend, or if they choose, abolish any part of the programming code responsible for the laws.

    For example, I remember back in the days of the original Nintendo system there was a “game genie” which you could attach to your game and access all sorts of special abilities or cheats. In Mario Bros. for example, there is a law of gravity of sorts; you can jump but you will always come back down after a certain height. With the game genie you can “break” the law of gravity in the game and jump higher. This seems to me a fairly good analogy in that if God did create the laws he should not have any trouble further modifying them as he chooses. And no, it does not necessarily entail mass chaos, as my experience with modifying virtual worlds demonstrates. As long as God leaves the rest of the laws intact and only changes a few temporarily, what possible logical objection could there be? We have direct experience of humans modifying laws within their created worlds. Why cannot God do the same?

    And Evo, there are plenty of things each of us have never experienced, but that of course does not mean that they have not happened to others and or have happened sometime in the history of the world. Induction has its limits.

  10. Interesting post. I like!

    I have to say, I have what’s probably an odd view of miracles – I don’t believe they’re the violations of natural law, nor are they simple 1 in 1000000 (or higher) events. For all I know, every miracle – from virgin birth, to resurrection, to even Gods iPod’s example – can both be a miracle, yet a part of nature.

    After all, from the perspective of God, I doubt anything is surprising or unusual. Perhaps singular, perhaps ‘meant as a sign’.

  11. I am what you would call a second-hand witness. I am personally acquainted with a few people who have themselves been witnesses of astonishing miracles. Unless you consider someone revealing the secrets of your hearts as a miracle, then go ahead and count me in as a first-hand witness.

  12. evo_materialist: Can you cite anything you know absolutely?

    You are making the same mistake as the Logical Positivists made: ( I am paraphrasing here )–For anything to have meaning or to be considered true it must be verified empirically.

    Can that statement be verified empirically? Of course not.

  13. BarryA
    Please provide links / references to your statement:
    “This is what Karl Popper says about this principle in The Logic of Scientific Discovery (which, as far as I know, is the only scientific text with the force of law in the United States)”

    I am intrigued.

  14. Yes, I’ve seen pastors, evangelists and other Christians calling out hidden sins or undiagnosed diseases of certain individuals in some of the churches I’ve visited. I remember a visiting evangelist lady from Puerto Rico who had to stop in the middle of a worship song because she had fallen under a powerful impression that a woman in the congregation was suffering from cancer of the vagina. She urgently called this individual out for prayer, but no one responded. There were about eighty (80) worshippers or so gathered that day. Imagine the embarrassment. But with God, no disease is sacrosanct.

    After about two minutes of suspenseful waiting and wondering whether this dear old evangelist lady had gotten herself worked up to some demential charade, a woman stood up from the middle aisle only to be told that she was not the one with the dreaded sickness. I was flabbergasted. How did the evangelist lady know? I was fifteen years old back then, and the memory still burns in my conscience. I thought, this time this poor woman (the evangelist lady from Puerto Rico) is really going to fall and look silly. I mean, what are the odds?

    But the evangelist lady was insistent. THERE WAS SOMEONE WITH CANCER THAT NEEDED PRAYER, from a specific body part, no less. Minutes passed by. It looked like all was a failure, a delusionary farce, but if it wasn’t for the evangelist lady’s rock-solid conviction that someone was indeed suffering from a horrifying malady, and and urgent constancy, I think someone in the church would have put an end to it.

    And then…

    There she was. Running like a little child from the back alley towards the altar. In sobs, she revealed her frightful ordeal.

    There was no jumping up and down, no clapping, no mindless celebratory innervations… just a hushed reverence over something that had taken place that is beyond the control of mere mortals.

  15. “I think natural intelligences are to be preferred above supernatural intelligences”

    The problem here is that it presupposes that there is a difference. The only thing about a human intelligence that isn’t “supernatural” is that it is generally confined to a specific location.

    I think this is the heart of the issue – materialists view the material world as being everything – and therefore specifically the mind is a material item in the world. But if instead the mind was a spiritual/creative force instead of a physical one, then there is no reason to draw a distinction between a natural intelligent agent and a supernatural one, except perhaps in scope, extent, and ability, at least for the purposes of being an intelligence.

    For example, the paper “Quantum physics in neuroscience and psychology: a neurophysical model of mind–brain interaction” argues for the mind being essentially an amplifier for the will by providing a concentration of quantum indeterminancy which can be exploited by a will. In such a model, the will is outside the system, but essentially limited to operation within the brain. Where is the reasoning to disallow a will whose operation is not so limited, and exploiting quantum indeterminancies elsewhere?

  16. evo_materialist, I am positive many many such miracles were faked.I would go as far as to say most even. Due to the nature of what I saw and the person involved, there is no room for doubt for a person that has the facts. The woman was the wife of a very well known business woman in the area, her condition was well known, as she had over an inch of extra sole on one shoe and walked funny. This event also took place very near the end of the evening when the majority of people had left. Bad timing if it was just for show and tell. The woman is healed to this day.

    I would have also thrown in my own back injury that was healed. I lifted a rally car when I was 14, injured my back, had severe pain for many years. I continually asked for prayer for my back. One day, after an average Joe, not a leader or faith healer, laid hands on my back and prayed a simple prayer, all pain left and my back has been fine ever since.

    Is it possible that it was coincidence and my back just perhaps popped back to where it should be and no miracle was involved? Sure, I can accept that. But being a first hand witness to a woman’s leg growing in front of my eyes, I also have to accept that it may just have been a miracle too.

  17. Air travel is a violation of the laws of nature; and as a firm and unalterable experiece has established these laws, the proof aganst air travel, from the very nature of the fact, is as entire as any argument from experience can possibly be imagined.

  18. TomRiddle:

    Newton at one time just assumed that God threw in a correction factor every now and then to re-adjust the planets. This of course was later discovered to be wrong. There was a natural, mathematical reason for this. However, Newton jumped the gun.

    Tom, I know that I am about to use your statement make a point that is off the topic that you were addressing. However, I think it very on the topic of ID.

    I see a glaring reality in your above statement, a glaring reality that proves that science need not be bound to “methodological naturalism”. It is this — Newton’s non-naturalistic hypothesis that “God threw in a correction factor every now and then” has proven to be falsifiable. As such, it was a valid scientific hypothesis! Hmmm, science need not be bound to methodological naturalism because falsifiable non-naturalistic hypothesees are possible.

  19. Evo points out that the Logic of Scientific Discovery is not a scientific text but a philosophical one. Well, it’s a text on the philosophy of science, but I grant your narrow point.

    Evo asks about my statement that “Logic” has the force of law: “do you mean “force of law” literally? I’d love to understand how that works.”

    Yes, I mean that literally. The courts have adopted Popper’s falsification demarcation as the Establishment Clause dividing line between what can and cannot be taught in the public schools in the United States.

    I do not misunderstand you Evo. You seem to misunderstand me. You made a statement of supposed universal truth based on inductive reasoning. My point (and Popper’s) is directed precisely at this inductive approach. Your experience and your metaphysical prejudices do not establish truth. My point is very narrow and simple. Your statement “miracles do not occur” is not a scientific statement. It is a metaphysical one.

  20. TomRiddle:

    Miracles assume that God steps into the natural world and intervenes. Thats fine. However, I think people should not be so quick to assume this happens in our our lifetime. Maybe one in a 100 years?

    My experience is of having experienced dozens of miracles personally. I must be really old.

  21. The majority of the comments so far miss the point of the post. The point of the post is NOT to argue that miracles occur. The point of the post is that the statement “miracles do not occur” is not a scientific statement. It is a metaphysical statement. Those who disbelieve in miracles frequently attempt to cloak their metaphysical prejudices with the mantle of scientific authority. They should not.

  22. 22

    JPCollado, I wonder how that pastor knew about that woman’s cancer? Hmm..

  23. In a prior post EJ wrote: “I think natural intelligences are to be preferred above supernatural intelligences in design detection, for the simple reason that we have experience with the former, but not the latter.”

    OK, but if we only have the object/ structure/ event that we are investigating to go by, how can we tell the difference between the two?

  24. As one example, apparitions are fairly numerous. Just one example is in Zeitun, Egypt, in 1968 – 1971, at the church on the site where Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus found refuge from Herod for a period of time, according to legend.

    A glowing woman, believed by many to be Mary the mother of Jesus (Virgin Mary) was witnessed and observed by thousands. The witnesses included Moslems and non-believers with no desire to “imagine” or “create” the vision. In fact, the apparition was first seen by a Moslem worker.

    See the photo: http://www.apparitions.org/zeitun.html

    I am not sure what natural explanation can be provided by the Materialist, but I would be interested.

    One other suggestion: The Sanctified Body, by Patricia Treece. She provides solid evidence for a number of what we would consider supernatural events and conditions.

    http://www.amazon.com/Sanctifi.....038;sr=8-1

  25. 25

    I am sure that many who post here already have, but for those who have not, I highly recommend “Miracles” by C.S. Lewis.

  26. 26
    William J. Murray

    Just for a second, imagine …

    Imagine if nobody in the history of the world ever thought of a god or the supernatural. Imagine that everyone assumed that materialism was all that existed, and nobody even had a single thought otherwise.

    Intelligence, then, would just be regarded as another material commodity; intelligent design would be just the use of that commodity by material entities or forces.

    In such a scenario, would biologists looking at the nano-technology of the cell hypothesize that perhaps intelligent design might be involved? Would they say, “hmm, looks like it would require intelligence to design at least some of this”?

    Why not? In this hypothetical scenario, they don’t have to fear that anyone would construe that intelligence as “god” or some other supernatural agent.

    What the preference for “material” intelligent agents boils down to is simply fear on the part of materialists that someone is going to infer something supernatural out of the evidence – much like they do with NDE’s and evidence for the paranormal.

    One wonders what they are so afraid of. It’s not like science based on assumption of the existence of the supernatural didn’t flourish for hundreds of years before the materialists took over.

  27. I think Quantum Mechanics reveals the “miraculous” foundation upon which God has built our reality. For though Quantum events obey strict probabilistic rules that gives them a coherent structure in our reality, this does not detract, in any way, that the events are supernatural events in the first place, indeed they are blatantly defying our concepts of time and space every time we observe them happening in experiment. (Just pull out your double-slit to view a miracle!) Most people I know consider defying time and space to be a “miraculous” event. If I disappeared then instantaneously reappeared a short distance away, would you not consider this a miracle of the first order? Why then should quantum events be denied the respect of a bonafide miraculous event from us just because that “miraculous way” is the way they “always” operate?

    Here are Some of the “miraculous” actions of the electron:

    The Electron;

    :performs something called a quantum leap, which means it disappears from one spot; then, instantaneously appears at another spot without traversing the space in between.

    :sometimes “blinks off” which means, for a short time, it just disappears before reappearing.

    :has actually never been seen; only the effects of an electron have been witnessed.

    :acts like a particle sometimes; sometimes, like a wave, depending on how we look at it. The electron acts like it knows how we were going to look at it before we actually look at it.

    :has been proven by quantum non-locality to have the ability to instantaneously communicate its state of being anywhere in the universe. This ability defies the speed of light, thus making the communication transcendent of any physical means, and also gives scientists the spooky impression that the electron may somehow be aware of everything that is going on everywhere in the universe.

    Mark 10:27
    But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.”

    In fact, the only way these things are rational, for us in this universe to any coherent degree, is if in fact the foundational “particles” of our reality have their ultimate basis in a “higher” dimension. This is especially true when compared to the dis-coherence that the many worlds interpretation offers us instead.

    http://video.google.com/videop.....;plindex=1

  28. Plus I’ve seen what I consider to be a profound miracle in my life.

    Alfs Miracle

    This is one of my favorite miracles that I’ve seen so far in my life.
    In March of 1989, I was living in Lancaster, California. This was right after I had gotten out of the military, and right after the Lord had revealed the fact that He is real to me. I was staying in a house, renting a room. One evening, one of my housemates, who happened to be a Christian also, confided in me that he was depressed. He told me he had been depressed for a long time, and did not know if he would ever get better. Well, since I was a brand new Christian, I got excited. I saw an opportunity for God to move. In the unrestrained enthusiasm of a man who has finally seen the light that God is indeed real, I told him, “Hey man! This is something we can pray about”. So we bowed our heads and prayed for his depression. Shoot, we prayed for all the people who are suffering from depression in the whole world. We prayed that God would touch everyone that instant. We prayed as we thought the Bible would have us pray. “Well”, he said to me, after we finished praying, “I don’t feel any different”. Right after that, on television, on the Christian Station, TBN, there was a group talking. One of the ladies in the group said “Excuse me, if you don’t mind, but I really feel that we need to pray for depression at this very moment”; They joined their hands, began praying for depression, asking Jesus to touch and heal everyone. Then, after they finished praying, my friend tells me that he still feels depressed. Well, sensing that God was up to something, I wasn’t about to let this go, So trying the best I could, in my own way, to cheer him up, I then started to sing, dance and clown around, trying to cheer my friend up. I was singing, dancing and clowning around to the children’s song “What makes that little old ant think he can move that rubber tree plant …. He’s got high hopes, He’s got high apple pie in the sky hopes….” “Well”, my friend said, after I was all done with my clowning around, “I still don’t feel any different”. Then I said, “Well, maybe a comedy on television will cheer you up”. I switched the channel to one of the major networks, and ALF was on. A few seconds after we started watching ALF, ALF started to sing and dance to that same exact song I had just finished singing. You see, ALF had an ant farm and he loved that ant farm. BUT sadly, he had left his ant farm on the windowsill, in the sun, and ally kills his ants. ALF was stunned by his mistake and started weeping. He said he had never been so depressed; and, he didn’t think he would ever get over his ants. Then the father figure, on the T.V. show, comes in and sees ALF weeping. He said ” ALF I know that you’re depressed; I know you think this can never get any better; BUT, tomorrow is going to be a little better; the day after that will be a little better; the day after that a little better, and when it is all said and done, everything is going to be…BETTER! Well, both my friend and I were completely amazed. I even ended up going down the street that evening, stopping complete strangers on the street, trying to tell them I had just seen a miracle, on the T.V. show ALF, with ants and singing and dancing. One of the strangers tried to assure me that he believed me, but I still wonder if he was just placating me as I related some of the “strange” singing and dancing parts of the miracle to him. The best thing about the whole situation was three days later when my friend came up to me and said, “MAN, I FEEL GOOD, I don’t remember the last time I’ve felt this good.” And that my friends is the end of my Alf Miracle story. God does indeed move in mysterious ways.

  29. allanius 17
    As an engineer, having studied jets, and ridden in them, you are spouting nonsense.

  30. Jets evolved. From a junkyard. A random tornado put the first one together.

  31. evo-materialist:
    “JPCollado, I wonder how that pastor knew about that woman’s cancer? Hmm..”

    A few points:

    1 – she was not a pastor but a member of an evangelistic team where she played the role of worship leader/singer

    2 – this experience caught her by surprise since this is not what was expected of her and/or something that she was known to do

    3 – these types of revelations were rare in the church I used to go to, but did manifest whenever there was a special need, it seemed

    4 – the girl with the cancer was in her twenties and received the diagnosis from her doctor in the very same week that the evangelistic campaign was being conducted

    5 – the cancer victim had not revealed it to anyone outside her immediate family for obvious reasons

    6 – the people at the church were honorable down-to-earth people who don’t take such things very lightly

    7 – I’ve experienced this sort of extra-ordinary knowledge myself, maybe half a dozen times in my life – the most spectacular while in the Army during Intermediate Training (when Noriega was still in power. Hint. Hint.)

  32. Some have asked why I believe Popper’s “Logic” has the force of law in the United States. See McLean v. Arkansas Bd. of Ed., 529 F.Supp. 1255, 1267 (E.D.Ark. 1982). McLean was an Establishment Clause case in which the court adopted Popper’s falsification line of demarcation between science and non-science as follows:

    Begin quote: More precisely, the essential characteristics of science are:

    (1) It is guided by natural law;

    (2) It has to be explanatory by reference to natural law;

    (3) It is testable against the empirical world;

    (4) Its conclusions are tentative, i.e., are not necessarily the final word; and

    (5) It is falsifiable. End quote

    Thus my conclusion that Popper’s line of demarcation has the force of law.

  33. As far as I can tell, all stories of the miraculous either crumble under close investigation or are set in the distant past and therefore not subject to close investigation

    And when an atheist man with brain cancer has an epiphany in which he is called to become a Christian, as well as to share the good news with his children, and so he does, and soon thereafter the brain cancer is undetectable, the materialist who rules out supernatural causes faithfully declares “misdiagnoses” of the cancer and “hallucination” on the epiphany.

  34. I agree with Johnny B in 15. For unless the facts force us, why create an artificial distinction between divine design and human design. Isn’t it all design?

    Biblically man is in the image of God—surely this means something. If the cell is composed only of the chemical elements (which I doubt), then surely the day will come when human technology will create one. Build a theory of creation based on classical theology and contrast it with one based on human technology (which is evolutionary): which fits the observable facts best?

    Isn’t the ‘principle of causality’ as described above contradicted by quantum mechanics? We can imagine, as the ID folks have reminded us, three types of explanation (along with their combinations): chance, necessity, and design. Heading into the 20th century the physicists were quite certain that only necessity was necessary (thus the ‘principle of causality’), whereas meanwhile the Darwinists proceded along blithely and ironically as “chance worshippers”. At mid century Jacques Monod ordered us to consider both Chance and Necessity—but absolutely NOT design, and this is the one-party regime the ID wedge proposes to split.

    As for miracles, how is it possible that the impossible happens? If it happens it’s not impossible! If you mean that the deity’s technology far surpasses ours and even operates above the level of contingent physical law, then miracles remain a logical possibility. But as Paul Davies is fond of reminding theists, even God cannot violate logic (can any of y’all quote him on this?).

    I’m bothered by the TE insistance that the deity is so alien that there’s no way we could see his hand. How do they know this? Why not just call a spade a spade and let design be design?

  35. I think the point of BarryA’s post is that we should regard the statement:

    “Pardon me for disagreeing Barry, but humans are natural entities. It does not violate methodological naturalism to say that a human designed something. In fact, I think natural intelligences are to be preferred above supernatural intelligences in design detection, for the simple reason that we have experience with the former, but not the latter.”

    is contrived. Whether something was designed and whether it was supernatural should be two seperate questions. The questions:

    1. “Is this thing designed?” should be determined using the normal methods of design detection. [i.e. Does it have all the hallmarks of design, etc.]
    2. “Is the designer supernatural?” should be a completely seperate question and should not affect 1.

    To use an analogy, if I discover a machine in the desert replete with gears, engine, etc., I would conclude that it’s designed. Now of course, in a possible world that includes the supernatural, that designer could be supernatural, but I would still conclude that the machine was designed regardless of who designed it.

    To eliminate possibility of a supernatural designer a priori is to DEFINE the materialist position to be correct.

    Of course, whether the design inference is a valid method is another completely seperate question.

  36. “…the total number of events that happen to us is about thirty thousand per day, or about a million per month. …The chance of a miracle is about one per million events. Therefore we should expect about one miracle to happen, on the average, every month.”
    - Freeman Dyson

    This is a straw-man of Christian theism. God is neither a cuckoo-clock that pops out a miracle regularly at the appointed time, and neither does he role the dice and fire off a miracle every time he rolls a “7″. A miracle is an event done by Him to make a point and/or to support the revelation He gave through a prophet. With the cessation of special revelation, there is no need for a miracle.

    Thus, one cannot quantify the probability of a miracle.

  37. 37

    BarryA, you say that I “made a statement of supposed universal truth based on inductive reasoning.”

    Where have I made such a statement that claimed to be universally true? I defy you to find it.

  38. And then of course there is the “Ultimate” miracle.

    Examining the Shroud

    The Shroud of Turin, the piece of cloth that is alleged to be the burial garment of Christ, is one of the most widely studied relics in the entire world. Scientists from 67 different academic studies … more >>

    The Shroud of Turin, the piece of cloth that is alleged to be the burial garment of Christ, is one of the most widely studied relics in the entire world. Scientists from 67 different academic studies have examined the shroud, attempting to see if it is indeed genuine and if it could reveal further clues about Christ himself.

    http://www.godtube.com/view_vi.....;category=

  39. Most miracles I’ve seen or heard of COULD have been natural events… very unlikely ones at REALLY convenient times.

    The slap-you-in-the-face-from-impossibility type, I’ve not seen myself, though I believe in them.

  40. 40

    bornagain77, welcome back! You’ve been gone too long. In a previous discussion, bFast referred to “miracles of timing — natural enough events with a precision that is precious.” Your return seems like one of those, except I bet there’s a natural explanation.

  41. 41

    DLH

    I was about to respond the same way. An airplane of any sort does not defy the laws of nature. They simply use a combination of physical laws (thrust, lift, etc.) to lessen the effect of other (e.g. gravity).

  42. The term “miracle” is problematic.

    If “miracle” means “violates the laws of nature as they truly are” then we can never tell whether something is actually a miracle or not until we fully understand all the laws of nature (which we don’t).

    If “miracle” means “violates the laws of nature as we believe them to be” then all sorts of things we know to be true are miracles — like the Mpemba effect to us, or the function of an airplane to a child who doesn’t understand how this “magic” thing works. Miracles are just a function of our ignorance — and are SUBJECTIVE in nature.

    Either way, the term “miracle” doesn’t have any particularly profound significance. Under one definition, we never know whether it’s a miracle or not. In the other definition, it’s only a miracle because we don’t understand it.

    The real question is not whether something is a “miracle,” but whether it actually happened or not. If it didn’t happen, then it’s not a miracle, but a fiction. If it did happen, then the real problem is not the “miracle,” but our inadequate understanding of the laws of nature, which permitted it to occur.

  43. There is no such thing as natural intelligence if by “natural” you mean things which can be weighed, measured, and observed. Intelligence is outside of 3 dimensional matter/energy. Intelligence is not a particle/wave, it is not a quantum anything, it is not an atom or a molecule or an element. Intelligence is a property of a mind, it is an abstract experience rather then a physical reality.

    The mind is supernatural in the sense that it is not comprised of 3 dimensional matter/energy. What is the mind then? It is a silent voice which we perceive to be located in our head and which most people identify as being them or under their control. Netheir which is true.

  44. evo asks: “Where have I made such a statement [about the non-existence of miracles] that claimed to be universally true? I defy you to find it.”

    In comment 2 you state that you are as certain that miracles do not occur as you are that the sun will rise tomorrow. If that’s not an assertion of a universal truth, I don’t know what is.

  45. And when an atheist man with brain cancer has an epiphany in which he is called to become a Christian,…

    William, those are truly wonderful events, and I am encouraged everytime I hear about it. However, it is hard to know whether to qualify them as miracles. In order to maintain someones confidentiality, I won’t divulge the name, but there is a famous athiest often mentioned on this blog who had a brain tumor. This athiest was cured of it, yet, still disavows God. Is it a miracle that this person no longer has the tumor, or was it medicine? One can’t really quanitify it.

    For every person who claimed it was a miracle that their spouse did not go into the WTC or their flight on 9/11 that morning, there are 3000 others that did. I’m not certain we can call it a miracle that someones train was late that morning.

    If in fact miracles do happen today, I would say they are just as rare today as it was back in the Old Testament. Think about Joseph’s life: he saw what might be considered maybe 5 miracles in about 100 years! And, this is a special guy who actually made it into the book of Genesis.

    Nor am I sure they can really be detected as going against natural law, as in Psalm 77:7

    Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen

    notice how the author gives credit to God, but acknowledges that his footprints could not be seen. So, if we do see a miracle, we may not be able to discern it from natural events.

    I think the quantum theory, while interesting, is still just speculation like Newton’s orbits. We just haven’t figured out how it works.

  46. —–johnnyb: “I think this is the heart of the issue – materialists view the material world as being everything – and therefore specifically the mind is a material item in the world. But if instead the mind was a spiritual/creative force instead of a physical one, then there is no reason to draw a distinction between a natural intelligent agent and a supernatural one, except perhaps in scope, extent, and ability, at least for the purposes of being an intelligence.”

    —–mentok: “The mind is supernatural in the sense that it is not comprised of 3 dimensional matter/energy. What is the mind then? It is a silent voice which we perceive to be located in our head and which most people identify as being them or under their control. Netheir which is true.”

    In my judgment, these two points by johnnyb and mentok constitute the proper response to the misguided notion of “natural intelligence” being preferred over “supernatural intelligence.”

    For purposes of ID, we should not even consider such formulations as “natural intelligence” or “supernatural intelligence.” We should be speaking in terms of human intelligence, superhuman intelligence, and divine intelligence. The term “natural” is synonymous law and chance and nothing else.

    To speak of natural intelligence or supernatural intelligence is to conflate the idea of intelligent agency with physical laws and contingency. In fact, “natural intelligence” is an oxymoron. We should stop using it because it confuses the issue. To me, a miracle is a suspension of the laws of nature. I don’t equate that with ID.

  47. Miracles are more an addition to laws rather than “intervention”. See also Miracles and Science.

  48. To look a little further at Hume’s critique of miracles:

    1. Hume first writes that miracles are a violation of the laws of nature. What he really means is “Miracles are impossible because they are miraculous!” This is circular reasoning (as pointed out by BarryA).

    Educated people today are less prepared than Hume was to insist that the familiar laws of nature hold true everywhere and at all times. Scientists speculate on whether there are additional dimensions in the universe.

    2. Hume then goes on to state that people are easily fooled, and that some people want to believe in miracles and marvels especially where religion is concerned.

    It was pointed out that many ‘faith healing’-type miracles are fraudulent. However, consider that counterfeit money can be passed from bank to consumer, but that does not mean that all money is fake. Artists may forge ‘old master’ paintings but that does not mean that all paintings are fakes. Thus, the fact that some claimed miracles may well be fakes does not preclude thinking that genuine miracles can never happen.

    3. Hume stated that such events “never happen in our time.” Hume reasoned that he had never seen a miracle, so he refused to believe that they could happen. This is an argument from ignorance. Imagine if we could travel back in time and explain things such as jets, the space shuttle, the Hubble Telescope, television, and radio to David Hume.

    Such ‘prodigious events’ (to use Hume’s term) do happen, because man is using scientific principles of which Hume had no concept to construct televisions, transistors, internal combustion engines, and vehicles capable of traveling through space. Is it so hard to believe that on occasion in the past God could have accomplished (in ways we don’t fully understand) things that to us are miraculous?

  49. 49
    [email protected]

    evo_materialist:

    Help me understand. You say:

    “In any event, you misunderstand me. My reasoning is not circular but inductive. To wit: I have not experienced miracles. Nobody I know has experienced miracles. As far as I can tell, all stories of the miraculous either crumble under close investigation or are set in the distant past and therefore not subject to close investigation. My disbelief in miracles is akin to my belief that the sun will rise tomorrow (and yes, it doesn’t really “rise”): I don’t know for certain that it will happen, but to put stock in the alternative would be silly.”

    In my view, the best you can say is that you do not *believe* in miracles and that in your *personal* experience they don’t happen. You certainly can’t prove they don’t happen and so to claim that you have a scientific position that they don’t exist is illogical. The intellectually honest position would be more of a position of agnosticism. Anything else exceeds what you actually know. It’s kind of like the Darwinist that assumes that life came from undirected, random chance events without having any verifiable idea regarding how the first life forms came into existence. Like your position on miracles, it *feels* more scientific but in fact isn’t. Those that say there are no miracles are stating a philosophical position, not a scientific one. Those that express certainty that life arose via undirected, random mechanisms without *any* proof are also taking a philosophical position (materialism). Don’t be afraid to take an agnostic position on matters such as these. It keeps you from taking positions that exceed your actual knowledge.

  50. Hey, this isn’t related to the post, but I wanted to let you guys now the kind folks at pharyngula are now resorting to poll crashing. Wasn’t sure if it was blogworthy, but I thought you’d enjoy knowing.

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyn.....s_poll.php

  51. Barb:

    “1. Hume first writes that miracles are a violation of the laws of nature. What he really means is “Miracles are impossible because they are miraculous!” This is circular reasoning (as pointed out by BarryA).”

    I disagree that Hume is using circular reasoning. His rational error is more subtle than that–he is assuming that he knows all human knowledge. Hume uses a trick that he thinks no one will call him on. How does Hume know that no one has been seen to rise from the dead? While Christ’s resurrection wasn’t witnessed by men, the Bible mentions others whose resurrections were witnessed by men. Hume must automatically discount those evidences. How does Hume know these things? Does he really have access to the sum of human knowledge?

    Hume appeals to “common experience.” However, there are many things which are not common experiences which nevertheless occur–stellar novations, avalanches, etc. We generally don’t believe in these things because of personal experiences, but because of the testimony of others.

    As regards using science to study miracles, which is often suggested by atheists, in my experience–science must be methodologically natural. It cannot be used to study the supernatural due to its blindness regarding the supernatural. Hence, science can never disprove miracles.

  52. “I think natural intelligences are to be preferred above supernatural intelligences in design detection, for the simple reason that we have experience with the former, but not the latter.”

    I found this to be a slightly odd statement. After all, it pretty much begs the question doesn’t it.

    In what sense are human intelligences “natural” ? It is definitely not obviously the case that the mind is reducible to the brain in the way the statement just asserts.

  53. Mtreat, they always say they “cant understand” you. That is how they limit the language in the language game. They are pulling a Wittgenstein.

    Intelligent Designer? Come again? What does that mean? Specified complexity? Come again? Improbability? Huh?

    Creationism! That must be what you mean because I know that one.

  54. Hi Folks!

    Just hanging around a few minutes before heading back to bed to nap before facing the music later on this morning in the hot seat on the local radio station.

    First, the quote on the impossibility of airplanes has a very familiar ring to it — as I recall, it was an opinion by an expert circa C19 to turn of C20, just before the Wright brothers blew the idea out of the water.

    Second, the modernist and ultra-modernist suspicion against miracles fails to reckon with a basic statistical insight: irregularities within a narrower pattern may well be part of a wider one.

    Thus, the inference from one’s circle or observation and — too often contempt-filled dismissal — of others, is highly dubious and question-begging. The commenter above who said that open-minded agnosticism is what we should hold on miracles is right.

    Also, since we are at the mioracles quesiton, I note that first the mind itself is the biggest everyday miracle: and the mind is the very first and cetral experience we all have. [What we do to simply think and make up our minds is vastly beyond the reach of any concatenation of chance + necessity acting on matter + energy. Cf my latest remarks here.]

    In short, every time you think, reason, or decide, you are providing standing evidence of something beyond the physical world that acts into it effectually. And, given the weight of the evidence of profound intelligence and power that points to mind as the root of the observed physical cosmos, we have excellent reason to see that mind is capable of acting beyond rhew course of matter + energy under the control of mechanical necessity and chance.

    When it comes to experience of miracles, my favourite is that of a good friend, Jamaica scholar and daughter of a pentecostal bishop some 25 years ago in my university’s medical school clinical programme, and all-time absolutely lovely and wonderfully vivacious young lady.

    S was found with ovarian cysts, already at a very large size.

    The suspicion was obvious: big C, bigtime, maybe hopelessly metastasised. Priority diagnostic testing and onward exploratory surgery.

    Meanwhile, fervent prayer was offered on her behalf by her home church and by many fellow med students. (BTW, ever wondered why a lot of doctors believe in miracles? They tend to be close witnesses . . .)

    When the time for the more serious testing came, astonishing surprise: the cysts were gone, literally overnight. Diagnostic evidence there day one, further evidence: gone, day 2. To the great relief of one and all.

    Then, there is the fact that were it not for healing of my back I probably could not sit up to type this. And, if it were not for a “timing miracle” where I as a very sick child leaning on my mother for help after we failed to get through at a diagnostic clinic and with my father making an astonishing mistake on his scheduling, we walked out the clinic entrance to the open door of a taxi, the driver ow which said that he knew just the doctor we needed to address obvious, utterly out of control asthma. And, that is what saved my life nigh on 40 years ago now. [These days, I COUNT on miracles of timing, a la "the steps of a good man are ordered . . ."]

    I should add that the ash from the early days of volcanic eruptions here re-triggered asthma, and I was called out for prayer in my home church in Barbados. After prayer, the monster went back to sleep. When I told a doctor in Jamaica as a part of a subsequent job checkup, her remark was to the effect that that was not surprising at all; i.e they see such answers to prayer all the time.

    Much more could be adduced, but the problem is not want of evidence but an underlying worldview level assumption that, once swallowed, makes it next to impossible to hear the evidence fairly.

    Hume was plainly and simply flat out wrong.

    Okay, ah gawn . . .

    GEM of TKI

  55. When the time for the more serious testing came, astonishing surprise: the cysts were gone, literally overnight. Diagnostic evidence there day one, further evidence: gone, day 2. To the great relief of one and all.

    KF, I wonder if you would care to speculate on the reason why no amputee has ever been cured in the same manner? I imagine they pray just as hard. I read about miracles all the time (cancer cured, people walking again etc) yet I’ve never heard of a single instance of an amputee re-growing a limb? Does the entity who doles out these cures have something against amputees do you think?

    I can’t think of a good reason.

  56. When I told a doctor in Jamaica as a part of a subsequent job checkup, her remark was to the effect that that was not surprising at all; i.e they see such answers to prayer all the time.

    Any limbs grow back?

  57. Megan:

    I am not omniscient.

    So, I am not so sure as you seem to be about no cases of limbs growing back — have you observed all cases of reported miracles? [Then, are you not appealing to ignorance?]

    More to the point, we have cited some specific examples of miracles within the realm of our direct experience adn observations.

    You now do not dispute these, you wish to dismiss them by shifting the goal posts, then inferring — on base of effectively zero sample of the possible population — that limbs don’t grow or grow back by miracles, thence, that other miracles are to be dismissed as they are not as spectacular or whatever.

    On the contrary, even if there were no recent cases of such spectacular miracles within our experience, that would not vitiate the force of the cases we do know from our own experience and close observation.

    Please, don’t give into the temptations of selective hyperskepticism and closed minded infinitely iterated objectionism.

    Ah gone for sure now . . . ZZZZZZ!

    GEM of TKI

  58. So, I am not so sure as you seem to be about no cases of limbs growing back — have you observed all cases of reported miracles? [Then, are you not appealing to ignorance?]

    If you had heard of one, you could tell me about it. Yet your still leave the door open. No, I have not observed all cased of reported miracles – is that your criteria? “Where you there?”

    You obviously are unaware of the ‘Miracle of Calanda’ the sole limb regrowth miracle I am aware of. It happened in the 1600′s. Yet every day on particular TV channels (and here, to wit the “miracle cures” mentioned earlier) I’m told that miracle cures are happening. Yet no limbs regrow.

    More to the point, we have cited some specific examples of miracles within the realm of our direct experience adn observations.

    Indeed. But even the Pope verifies miracles. He just does not assume they are automatically a miracle. OK, the Pope might have a lower standard of proof then the scientifiec community. So, to me, examples of purpoted miracles have been given.

    You now do not dispute these, you wish to dismiss them by shifting the goal posts, then inferring — on base of effectively zero sample of the possible population — that limbs don’t grow or grow back by miracles, thence, that other miracles are to be dismissed as they are not as spectacular or whatever.

    No, that’s what you’d like to think I am saying. What I am saying is that
    a) Limbs don’t grow back, miracles or otherwise.
    b) If Limbs don’t grow back (and there’s no good reason to assume that they do until an example can be cited and verified) the possiblity must be left open that other miracles are not in fact miracles.

    What’s different about limb regrowth to brain tumor cures? I’d say one possiblity is that brain tumors sometimes vanish of their own accord. Missing limbs don’t appear to have the option to reappear of their own accord.

    On the contrary, even if there were no recent cases of such spectacular miracles within our experience, that would not vitiate the force of the cases we do know from our own experience and close observation.

    Sp are you saying is that the data point “there are not observed cases of miracle limb regrowth” can be discarded?

    And by definition a miracle is spectacular! What non-spectacular miracles are you aware of KF? :)Is there a sliding scale? I always thought an event was either miraculous or not! No middle ground!

  59. Oh, and KF I asked you if you’d care to speculate as to why limb regrowth appears to be excluded from the miracle cure class, not if you’d care to talk generally about why, even if that were true, it should not (presumably) dent your faith in other miracles.

    KF, do you care to toss a thought into the air as to why limb regrowth appears to be excluded from available miracles?

  60. Seriously, now— #17 is a direct quotation from Hume, supposedly a proof against miracles, with the words “air travel” substituted for “miracles”; the point being, of course, that poor old Hume was either disingenuous or lacked imagination (we lean toward the former).

    Hume’s proof depends upon the axiom that possibility is limited by the fixed conditions of nature as they are known to us at the present time. But as we now know, this is false. Intelligent agency can provide freedom from nature and her apparent laws.

    A case in point is air travel, which, from the perspective of the 18th century, was virtually impossible; was a violation of natural law. Human intelligence overcame that law and made air travel possible. It provided a means of resistance to the seemingly fixed conditions of existence.

    Admittedly the analogy is not perfect, since airplanes cannot fly unless they obey nature and her laws—but it does indicate a flaw in Hume’s axiom. Our notions of possibility are limited by our own imaginative limitations; i.e., we are finite beings.

  61. Megan.Alavi:
    “I’ve never heard of a single instance of an amputee re-growing a limb”

    Mr. or Ms. Alavi,

    Just curious. Would you consider limb re-growth a far greater miracle than a dead person coming back to life?

    Where in the hierarchy of impossibilities would you classify this sort of miracle-stomper? At the very top?

  62. OFF-TOPIC
    anyone notice the article in the NYT on the dinos-birds hype? HERE

    Anyone wish to tackle it in another thread?

    They never give up trying to prove this in spite of it’s being unprovable. Now they’re using protein comparisons to tout the same old baloney.

    Next they’ll be comparing frog protein to princess protein and claiming there’s a link.

  63. 63

    There was this guy in college (an excitable individual, charismatic or something) who told me a vivid first hand account of watching someone’s amputated limb restored in a healing service – a ball of flesh grew forward from the amputated end and grew into a foot. Do I have any idea whether this is true or not? No. I regret that I didn’t inquire into this more fully at the time (and frankly don’t know why I didn’t). Did the guy show up to work the next day with a brand new limb? What was the reaction? Even if the infidel public newspapers wouldn’t cover it, certainly Christianity Today or some similar publication would have been interested.

    There were no amputees healed in the Bible. Not sure of the significance of that. No one eaten by sharks has been healed either to my knowledge.

  64. Megan.Alavi @ 59:
    ”Oh, and KF I asked you if you’d care to speculate as to why limb regrowth appears to be excluded from the miracle cure class”

    Strangely, the logic behind this premise ironically seems to give some air of legitimacy to the “other” miracles, because, if, as you seem to imply, there are no reported cases of limb re-growth similar to the miraculous physical restorations we have been hearing about, then, by default, cancer cures and other healings have a greater probability of being true by the sheer weight of their documentation alone since no one would record a phenomenon that is rather incredibly unlikely by comparison.

    In the construct of this fragile argument, limb re-growth appears to act like a control by which to gauge the matter-of-factness of extraordinary events.

  65. Junkyard:
    “No one eaten by sharks has been healed either to my knowledge.”

    Yes, good point. It is all a matter of frequencies and statistical occurrences.

    As far back as I could remember, I’ve only encountered, what, maybe two or three amputees in my life? But cancer victims and diabetics and schizophrenics…oh, they runneth into the dozens upon dozens.

  66. 66

    JPCollado wrote: As far back as I could remember, I’ve only encountered, what, maybe two or three amputees in my life? But cancer victims and diabetics and schizophrenics…oh, they runneth into the dozens upon dozens.

    “The number of amputees world-wide is estimated to be 10 million.” -Kelvin Institute

    “In 2005 alone, the number of breast cancer victims worldwide was estimated at over 1.2 million.-supplements.inquirer.net

    You never hear about breasts miraculously regrowing either.

  67. 67

    Borne, I don’t think you have anything to worry about. If Universal Common Descent turns out to be true. Then ID is totally compatible with it?

    What is the big deal about dinosaurs becoming birds?

  68. 68

    JPCollado, do you think it is fair that critics of Intelligent Design feel that Design Theorists are deluded? Deluded mind you is a strong word, with alot of negative baggage to it.

    A famous materialist philosopher said recently that the evidence of design is stronger than the inference to the designer.

  69. Pannenberg:
    “JPCollado, do you think it is fair that critics of Intelligent Design feel that Design Theorists are deluded?”

    Given the ethical quandaries that darwinists have been facing with the movie Expelled (e.g., buying a ticket of another movie, seeing a different movie and then sneeking in to see Expelled w/o paying), fairness may not be an appropriate yarsdtick to measure or expect anything of moral value coming from the “critic.”

  70. 70

    Darwinism (or NeoDarwinism) very well may be wrong. But that doesn’t automatically mean that the God of the Abrahamic religions is the Designer.

    There might be some kind of Universal Mind, World-Soul or Elan Vital at work in the universe. I think that is the only reasonable inference to a designer. IMHO.

  71. To PannenbergOmega (68), if someone suggested there is strong evidence that something has been designed, but not strong evidence for an inference to the designer, I would suggest that position seems less than coherent. The evidence for actual design is the evidence for the inference to the designer.

    In another thread I point out that even if one begins from materialist assumptions, it still makes no sense to deny the importance of the issue of intelligent design as a valid scientific issue.

    See for example here and here.

  72. PannenbergOmega (70): “Darwinism (or NeoDarwinism) very well may be wrong. But that doesn’t automatically mean that the God of the Abrahamic religions is the Designer.”

    You are quite right as far as this goes. The insufficiency of Darwinism does not automatically mean that the God Abraham knew was the designer. How then do you say in the next breath…

    “There might be some kind of Universal Mind, World-Soul or Elan Vital at work in the universe. I think that is the only reasonable inference to a designer. IMHO.”

    The only reasonable inference?? The leap from “There might be” to “the only reasonable”, after just pointing out the such a leap is not “automatic” in the other case, seems a bit unwarranted. It does not seem that you are applying standards of inference in an even handed way.

  73. It does not seem that you are applying standards of inference in an even handed way.

    Exactly. In all the time I’ve been lurking here I’ve not seen anyone present any convincing reason to prefer a non-material designer over a simple alien from a galaxy far far away. Why many then makes the designer = Abrahamic religions deity leap I don’t know. I guess you see what you bring to the table, eh KF? Still, I guess that’s why they call it faith. If you had evidence you’d not need belief.

  74. Detection of design implies several things, the chief implication being that a sentient entity processes sensory input about the characteristics of an object, or objects, contemplates the characteristics and determines that at least one observable characteristic was artificially produced by a sentient being.

    An artificial characteristic could be the shaping of an object physically, or it could also be the arrangement of objects in an extraordinary manner in time or space.

    The “Alf Effect” account by bornagain77 in post 28 appears to be an example of an arrangement of objects in both time and space in an exquisitely extraordinary manner. But not just an amazing arrangement occurred. There was a very important salutatory effect. The result of the detectable arrangement of events was personally directed to the well-being of the depressed person. That certainly implies direct interest in the participants by the Sentient Being who arranged the events.

    Miracle – Late Latin miraculum, from Latin, a wonder, marvel, from mirari to wonder at.

    I’d say the “Alf Effect” at very minimum fits that definition.

    Was the “Alf Effect” actually only a stochastic chain of unintended random events?

    Since I’ve personally witnessed similar “Alf Effect” occurrences, also in circumstances involving the state of my well-being, and in which the “Alf Effect” produced a striking change in my outlook, I have to say such events point to a magnificent, supreme mastery over what occurs in the Universe by a Sentient Someone, who on occasion, chooses to order so-called “natural” events in a way that confirms and clearly expresses that mastery. Every hair on your head is numbered.

    I would also say that receiving articulate communication that I know does not originate from my will, i.e. “hearing the still, small voice of God” is another reason that I contend there is a Creator “in whom we live and move and have our being.”

    I would also remark that, on occasion, there are people who are physically healed. The miracle of the healed amputee of Calanda occured in the mid 17th century. A man had his leg run over by a cart, developed gangrene up to just below the knee, and it was amputated. The man subsisted begging for alms. Some three years later, not at a faith healing tent, but at home, his lower leg was restored, though not completely healed. That took further time. The amputation and healing were known and verified.

    In addition to “Alf Effect” signs, I was freed from addiction to nicotine by personal prayer. Yet, I later had a bone fracture in my right foot that shattered the cap into many small pieces, and which was inoperable according to the orthopedic surgeon. So I limped around in pain for many years “unhealed.” But I do not base my trust in God on instantaneous jumping through a hoop for my benefit. Instead I am all the more amazed that God has worked ANY miraculous events in our midst.

    P.S.
    For Dave Scot: I grew up a naturalist. But at NAS Millington, during the week of mag-amps in my AFTA course, I’d reached the stage where the existence of the Creator seemed likely though I could not prove it. So I humbly made the attempt to contact the Creator and I was graciously answered. Semper Fi.

  75. —–Megan Alavi:.. “do you care to toss a thought into the air as to why limb regrowth appears to be excluded from available miracles?”

    This discussion on selective miracles is really a speculation into the mind of God. On the one hand, it is not unreasonable to ask this question: Why this miracle and not that miracle? Let’s take it even further. Why should I believe in any miracle when the vast majority of those put in evidence require medical verification? Why doesn’t God make it obvious to a point that doubt is impossible? Why doesn’t God turn midgets into average sized people? Why doesn’t God turn plain people into beautiful people? Why doesn’t God normally reform deformed bodies?

    My guess is that the Creator of the universe is committed to the principles of justice and mercy, so he has created a world of moral options and tradeoffs.—a world in which faith can illuminate reason but must also pass the test of reason—a world in which we will be given “just enough” information to believe in God, but not enough to remove all doubt. Apparently, God has decided that when he makes things so obvious as to remove all doubt, freedom of choice is compromised in some way. Granted, there are, on record, a few who seem to have rejected truth even when it is obvious (even to the point of admitting the truth of a miracle [Lazarus in NT], but denying its divine source), but that would seem to be the exception. Normally, if a proof cannot be rationally denied in any way, the choice to believe or not believe has been removed.

    Also, the Creator seems to have designed a moral system in which, “to whom much is given much is expected,” Apparently, everyone has to pass a moral test, and the demands of that moral test become more rigorous as faith becomes less necessary. Thus, if proof is provided such that all doubt is removed, God seems to raise the bar and expect heroic behavior. Thus, poor creatures like me, who believe but have occasional doubts, are given an easier test is easier to pass. Whereas those poor apostles in the New Testament, all of whom witnessed miracle after miracle (including, it would seem, total restoration and reformation), had to face torture and death. That is one reason why I personally would not ask for absolute certitude on matters of faith.

    So, when miracles come, as they occasionally do, they manifest themselves in a form that provides reasonable “motives for credibility” but no more. Medical cures are strong evidence, but not all of the objections are irrational. Granted, most people would like to have absolute intellectual assurance, but those same people would probably rather not follow up with heroic virtue as payment. I happen to be one of those people. The good news is that heroic virtue is possible anyway, even for those who begin with very little faith. Anyone who is willing to enter into a life of contemplation and who is serious about removing moral faults in search of perfection can certainly achieve it. There is plenty of empirical evidence for that phenomenon. Just read about the lives of the saints.

    The problem is that most people, like me, simply do not want moral perfection. That is a problem. My guess is God allows moral mediocrities like us that luxury as a courtesy, settling for humble faith and moral frailty. Nevertheless, we were made to achieve moral perfection and that is what we should be striving for.

  76. Megan.Alavi (73): “In all the time I’ve been lurking here I’ve not seen anyone present any convincing reason to prefer a non-material designer over a simple alien from a galaxy far far away.”

    Regarding inference to a designer for the biological life we see, the data available to science does not necessarily discriminate. That is why ID proponents consistently point out that in that case ID doesn’t necessarily determine the designer.

    [Notice that skeptics both fault ID proponents for saying this, as well as making and acknowledging the point themselves. Nothing done regarding ID would satisfy some.]

    Regarding biological ID, there is the question of regress. If one supposes that aliens also inhabit material bodies that require the creation of specified complexity, then this may be a reason to conclude that the regress must begin with non-material intelligence. Dembski has developed this aspect from the standpoint of the mathematical implications.

    ID is not limited to biological ID, however. For example, regarding cosmological ID, if the universe is considered to show evidence of design from its very beginning (e.g. fine tuning aspects and aspects raised in The Privileged Planet), then that cannot be explained by aliens.

    BTW, each ID inference must stand on its own legs and be evaluated for its own merits. “ID” is not one monolithic proposition that is all or nothing. That said, if intelligence was involved in an earlier aspect of the process (e.g. origin of the universe or the origin of life), one can hardly exclude the possibility of intelligence being involved in later events (e.g. history of life).

    “Why many then makes the designer = Abrahamic religions deity leap I don’t know.”

    It is quite simple. There is more to knowledge and life than science can know. That doesn’t mean trying to believe something that is contrary to the evidence (such as the leap of blind faith required for abiogenesis ;-) . In the Christian understanding, faith is about the question of trusting Someone. It works with reason, not against it.

    Those who conclude that the God of Abraham is involved have additional reasons for drawing that conclusion.

    Science tells us about the regularities and limitations of nature and undirected natural processes, but there is more to reality than undirected processes.

  77. Megan.Alavi at 58 you state:

    You obviously are unaware of the ‘Miracle of Calanda’ the sole limb regrowth miracle I am aware of. It happened in the 1600’s.

    Then at 59:

    KF, do you care to toss a thought into the air as to why limb regrowth appears to be excluded from available miracles?

    There is no logical reason for excluding limb regrowth. Furthermore, your example of the ‘Miracle of Calanda’ rebuts any speculation on such an exclusion.

    See C.S. Lewis “Miracles” (e.g. ISBN-10: 0060653019) on the logic of what “miracles” are/are not possible.

  78. —–Eric B: An excellent point!

    —–”Regarding inference to a designer for the biological life we see, the data available to science does not necessarily discriminate. That is why ID proponents consistently point out that in that case ID doesn’t necessarily determine the designer.”

    Yes, indeed. ID is in the business of establishing the EXISTENCE, not the IDENTITY of the designer. The distinction is critical, but it always seems to get lost on critics?

  79. thogan @ 51:

    Hume was an empiricist. To him, knowledge was necessarily limited to what humans experience through their senses. He saw the scientific method as the means for solving all the problems of the world.

    The Bible describes nine accounts of persons being resurrected. Apparently, Hume discounts all of them (although I think at one time he did have faith of some sort), including the resurrection of Jesus.

  80. Barb
    PS A few more reported in:
    Matt 27:52. In the future Two witnesses

  81. BarryA (21) “The point of the post is that the statement “miracles do not occur” is not a scientific statement. It is a metaphysical statement. Those who disbelieve in miracles frequently attempt to cloak their metaphysical prejudices with the mantle of scientific authority. They should not.”

    One of the most common misconceptions concerning the idea of miracles is that they “violate” the laws of nature. Some take offense to the idea of God “breaking” His own rules, as they imagine it.

    Yet we never consider (now, anyway) that an airplane or jet is “breaking” the law of gravity regarding the expectation it should fall. That “law” is only a description of what we would expect in the absence of other influences.

    When some other influence participates, whether it be lift on wings, or an invisible influence such as magnetism on iron, or someone holding or pushing an object, or Someone exerting an influence on an object — none of these need be considered to be “breaking” the laws. Final results are based on net effects.

    A miracle is not a violation of any law. It is an influence on physical nature from beyond physical nature. What it may violate is our assumption that nature (i.e. this physical universe) is a closed and isolated system. Scientists assume that the universe is the only case of a truly closed and isolated system, but it is only an assumption. Science itself has no means to prove it or even give evidence for it.

    The claim that physical nature is a closed and isolated system — the foundation for denying the miraculous in general — is a metaphysical position just as BarryA said. It is quite literally a claim “about” (meta) the “physical”, specifically about its supposed non-interaction with anything else. Science itself can never deliver such a result.

  82. Therefore, the origin of the universe is by definition a miracle. Since matter, energy, space, and time all came into existence at the birth of the universe,

    Science is predicated on miracles. Biology says that life can only come fom life yet life exists. Thermodynamics says energy can’t be created yet energy exists.

  83. My dear, don’t believe everything you hear. Hume was not an “empiricist” of the type you are describing. His “empiricism” was of the Cartesian type–he used pure intellect and its force of resistance to demolish all constructs of intellect and sense; that is, to demolish Newton and Locke. The seeming empiricism he exhibits with regard to miracles is convenient. He was an enemy of religion, and in this case it seemed useful to him to make an appeal to the senses. Of course this position is entirely inconsistent with his antipathy to cause and effect reasoning to causes.

  84. 84

    Ok. I’ve been having some trouble posting my comments here, but I will try again.

    Eric, what I’m saying is that I think there is design in the universe, in the intelligibility of nature, but I don’t think you can necessarily infer the Abrahamic God from this. Yet I think design by aliens is silly too.

  85. 85

    So I posit some kind of superintelligence or mind at work in the universe. I think Dyson, Hoyle, Margeneu, Eddington share the same view.

  86. Barb @ 79:

    Hume was one of the three great English empiricists, along with Locke and Berkeley. I rank Hume second to Locke. Hume acknowledged some of the importance of witnesses, though I agree with you that he likely would have reduced their epistemological evidence to human perception. Tony Coady has written an interesting book about the epistemological importance of testimony. Have you read it? I found it to be very interesting.

    I’ve found that confirmation of testimony by another witness, especially when forgery can be ruled out, in a judicial setting of some sort where the witnesses can be questioned, provides an epistemological credential that is unmatched.

    It’s interesting to note that Boyle used to ask guests attending his demonstrations to sign a book of witnesses. Empirical evidence is required of science, but the testimony of additional witnesses is also required. Any experimental result that cannot be confirmed by another researcher is rejected. The empiricists failed to note the importance of confirmation which Boyle implicitly understood.

    There is epistemological content in Scripture that supports the notion of confirmed testimony as providing a very high epistemological credential–”The testimony of two men is true.” This epistemological understanding is at the base of information about human experience. Its initial application was law, but it was applied in the New Testament as support for the proposition that Jesus is the Christ and that He rose from the dead. It is a chief reason why the office of apostle is so important–the men were chosen because they were eyewitnesses of Christ’s actions.

    It is not surprising that we should find witnesses to be important also in science. They are used to confirm experimental results and should be used for singular events such as fossil unearthing, especially since otherwise fraud is difficult to detect.

    Positivism came from Auguste Comte, not Hume.

  87. For anyone who is interested, Mortimer J. Adler successfully refuted both Hume and Kant in his piece, “Little Errors In The Beginning.” I don’t have the equipment to provide the link, but you can get it by simply googling the title.
    Adler shows that there there is no radical divide between the mind’s image of reality and reality itself. He also explains the intellectual errors that caused hyperskepticism and the unfortunate results that followed.

    This should be required reading for ID defenders. If Kant, in reaction to Hume, had not denied the reality of “design” in the mind, Darwin would never had dared to deny design in nature. In fact, they were both wrong. The point needs to be emphsized.

  88. to PannenbergOmega, I’m glad your comments came through and what you said in 84 and 85 is quite understandable.

    It is also more reasonable to “posit” (“to propose as an explanation : suggest”) the possibility that you mention. Earlier it had seemed that you were claiming: “I think that is the only reasonable inference to a designer. IMHO.” Yet that particular explanation is no more certainly inferred from the scientific evidence of design than is the God Abraham knew. It had seemed before like you were applying a double standard concerning what could be inferred from the scientific evidence.

    You mentioned Hoyle. You might be interested to know that long before Phillip Johnson popularized the intelligent design movement, the textbook “The Mystery of Life’s Origin” reviewed origin of life research, and the inadequacy of undirected process explanations. In the Epilogue they listed and discussed the five categories of possible explanations, including both

    4. Special Creation by a creator within the cosmos, and
    5. Special Creation by a Creator beyond the cosmos.

    Under 4, they discussed the views of Hoyle and Wickramasinghe. Here is part of some of the quotations:

    [Having just made some calculations on the infeasibility of a random beginning, "even if the whole universe consisted of organic soup" they say:]

    “If one is not prejudiced either by social beliefs or by a scientific training into the conviction that life originated on the Earth, this simple calculation wipes the idea entirely out of court…the enormous information content of even the simplest living systems…cannot in our view be generated by what are often called “natural” processes, as for instance through meteorological and chemical processes occurring at the surface of a lifeless planet…. For life to have originated on Earth it would be necessary that quite explicit instruction should have been provided for its assembly…. There is no way in which we can expect to avoid the need for information, no way in which we can simply get by with a bigger and better organic soup, as we ourselves hoped might be possible a year or two ago.”
    (p.196)

    “The correct position we think is…an intelligence, which designed the biochemicals and gave rise to the origin of carbonaceous life….”

    “… The speculation of The Origin of Species turned out to be wrong…. It is ironic that the scientific facts throw Darwin out, but leave William Paley, a figure of fun to the scientific world for more than a century, still in the tournament with a chance of being the ultimate winner…. Indeed, such a theory is so obvious that one wonders why it is not widely accepted as being self-evident. The reasons are psychological rather than scientific.” (p.197)

    [Side observation: Dawkins in Expelled does much to reveal the truth of that last point that the reasons are psychological rather than scientific.]

    Hoyle and Wickramasinghe discuss how biology has resisted notions that might involve God. Of course, they also avoid God, i.e. a Creator beyond the cosmos.

    They do recognize explicitly that to be consistent logically, their position does at least imply that carbonaceous life was first “invented by a noncarbonaceous intelligence”, though they hold out that this need not have been God.

    [Additional comments to come in a response to Megan.Alavi]

  89. to Megan.Alavi, regarding Principled (not Rhetorical) Reasons Why ID Doesn’t Identify the Designer, please see (Part 1) and (Part 2).

    There it is made clear that many ID advocates understand the difference between what can be inferred from the scientific evidence alone, and what they infer more specifically based upon additional considerations and evidence not within science.

  90. 90

    Some folks in the media (I despise the media) are saying Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed has flopped.

    What say u?

  91. StephenB @ 87

    If there is no radical divide between reality and the mind, how is it that two people can obtain such different views of reality?

    Hume’s essay “Of Miracles” may be refuted many different ways, all of which are instructive. Accusing Hume of circular reasoning is not one of them. Hume uses a simple weight test based on experience and states that any contrary conclusion must be supported by weightier evidence.

    Like Adler suggested, I attack Hume’s beginning–that Hume’s evidence from common experience is worthless because there is no such thing as “common experience.” Hume reduces everything to individual observation and doesn’t allow for corroboration; hence, there can be no “common experience.”

    You could also attack Hume’s evidence on the grounds that it relies upon methodological naturalism. Axiomatically, MN is blind to anything supernatural; hence, it cannot be used to disprove miracles. MN can only be used to study natural things. In the natural course of events, living things eventually die. If we could somehow know “common human experience about natural events”, then we could use that knowledge with induction to expect that in the future, given the natural course of events, living things will die. It can tell us nothing about whether God might raise someone from the dead. I think this sort of approach is closer to what you were aiming at with your circularity argument.

  92. bornagain @ 28,

    loved the Alf story!

  93. thogan: You raise many interesting points, however, I am applying Adler’s realism and rejecting Hume/Kant’s nominalism in a very specific context, namely the dynamics of the design inference.

    If, as Kant believed, we only “conceive” reality and do not really “perceive”, then ID science is out of business even before it enters the arean. Indeed, I assert that much of the skepticism about ID originates from that very same error.

    Once the design inference has been completed, the Kantian can simply say to the scientist, “sorry, but the image was already in your mind prior to the investigation. You are not really inferring design, you are simply presupposing design and then smuggling it into your conclusion. You may be able to “comprehend” design, but you cannot “apprehend” it. You simply cannot bridge the gap between your mind and the real world. The design isn’t in the real world at all, it is only in your mind.”

    Kant is death to ID, and his error must be addressed head on. That is why I ask ID advocates to read Adler’s piece, “Little errors in the beginning.”

  94. StephenB @ 93

    You still haven’t addressed my question, “If there is no radical divide between reality and the mind, how is it that two people can obtain such different views of reality?”

    Surely some non-IDeists will ask this question.

    It must be obvious that the mind doesn’t necessarily correspond with reality–otherwise, we wouldn’t have paranoid-schizophrenics.

  95. thogan,

    Just to jump in briefly – if two people having different views of reality is evidence of a radical divide, wouldn’t people with complementary views be evidence of no divide?

    And if that’s the case, can’t the decision go either way?

  96. —–thogen: “You still haven’t addressed my question, “If there is no radical divide between reality and the mind, how is it that two people can obtain such different views of reality?”

    —-”Surely some non-IDeists will ask this question.”

    What do you mean, different views of reality? If I come in contact with a tree and you come in contact with a tree, we will agree that it is a tree? If it rains the streets will get wet, we will both perceive it that way. We may interpret the meaning of these things differently, but that is a wholly different matter. I am talking about a correspondence between the object of investigation and the image of that object in the mind. What are you talking about?

    —–”It must be obvious that the mind doesn’t necessarily correspond with reality–otherwise, we wouldn’t have paranoid-schizophrenics.”

    It should be obvious that the images of a paranoid-schizophrenic are not normal.

  97. #77 DLH

    There is no logical reason for excluding limb regrowth. Furthermore, your example of the ‘Miracle of Calanda’ rebuts any speculation on such an exclusion.
    See C.S. Lewis “Miracles” (e.g. ISBN-10: 0060653019) on the logic of what “miracles” are/are not possible.

    Very good point DLH; that kind of objections to miracles are bogus. I would only add a few points.

    1. From both logical and methodological points of view even the occurrence of a single miracle is sufficient to disprove the materialistic assumption.

    2. It is strange that this objection comes from people who typically claim that believers are asking for more and more proofs of a purely naturalistic explication of life.

    3. But let us remain in the argument. The case of Calanda disproves the initial assumption but it is NOT the only one. Please refer to one of the Lourdes’ miracles: Peter De Rudder.

  98. @ nullasalus

    Disagreement is a smoking gun test result against the hypothesis.

    @ StephenB

    I didn’t know that you were limiting the mind-reality correspondence to perceptions. I thought that the problem was inferences drawn from perceptions–that the point was the ability to infer ID as part of reality. That would require more than mere perceptions.

    How are you able to define what “normal” is for a mind? I agree that PS is abnormal, but what is “normal?” I think that the whole mind-reality question is fraught with difficulty.

  99. Megan:

    A few remarks.

    1 –> I think the limb regrowth miracle and related issues have been adequately responded to above.

    2 –> On the issue of embodied vs non-embodied designers, I think you will see that the cosmological side of ID [cf always linked, section D] has much to say on the issue you raised at 73. And, you will see that the issue in designer identification — which is beyond the main current project, design identification — is context and what it implies.

    3 –> For cell-based life on earth, we have evidence that strongly points to design. That is enough to address the Darwinian-derived evolutionary materialist paradigm. And, it is enough to make it the subject of orchestrated attack by the evo mat advocates — telling on what they understand that such detection of design points to.

    4 –> Now, FYI, I make no inference on any scientific grounds from design in the case of cell based life to the God of Abraham as the conclusively identified designer. So, kindly cease and desist from putting such words in my mouth.

    5 –> On cosmological design inference, I see good SCIENTIFIC grounds to infer to an intelligent and powerful designer who is ontologically and causally prior to matter as we know it, and indeed to thence infer that mind is prior to and causally connected to matter. But, again, I make no scientific inference from that to the God of Abraham.

    6 –> Instead, I point out the obvious — and much resented — point that such a designer bears a clear resemblance to the God of the philosophers, i.e. it supports theism as a worldview option. Theism is still far from [though it is generally compatible with] the Judaeo-Christian tradition, as say Pascal knew. [He came to know the God of Abraham etc through direct encounter on Nov 23 1654, if memory serves -- his life-transforming vision of God. In his description in Pensees, he explicitly contrasts the God who answers by Fire with the God of the philosophers.]

    7 –> The possible — as opposed to inevitable — personal conclusion that the designer of the cosmos is the God of Abraham, is a worldview level commitment, one made after examining live-option candidates for the designer of the universe. [And, we cannot but have a worldview, the issue is how well-examined.]

    8 –> Next, since the cosmos is set up for life through considerable fine-tuning, it is a reasonable further inference that the best candidate for creation of life on earth is the designer of the cosmos, through direct or indirect means. This is by dint of inference to best explanation across comparative difficulties, i.e comparative worldviews analysis as the just linked elaborates in introductory details from a course.

    9 –> For Christians and those considering Christianity as their worldview of choice, following Acts 17:16 – 32 and 1 Cor 15:1 – 11, the decisive issue — the central warranting argument of the Christian position — is the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth as attested by 500+ eyewitnesses, and as subsequently manifest in the resurrection power that has flowed — despite all the many sins and failings — in the church ever since. [But that is beyond the main focus of this blog; I simply point it out for correction and clarification, as some very unwarranted inferences are being projected on those who are thinking about the issue of design and happen to also be Judaeo-Christian theists. I beg to remind all that such theists are the principal founders of modern science, starting with Newton, Galileo, Kepler and Copernicus. Indeed, the Judaeo-Christian worldview is strongly promoting of exploring the world as the orderly and intelligible creation of a reasonable God who holds us responsible to manage our world well. We manage best what we understand, at least in part.]

    10 –> I remain of the convinced opinion that empirically evident miracle — “sign” — no 1 beyond the idea of closed materialistic causality that is ever so common nowadays, is our own experience of our minds and associated inner life.

    On that, I think Locke’s rebuke to the skeptics of his day in the opening of his main argument in section 5 the intro to his essay on understanding is still ever so telling:

    Men have reason to be well satisfied with what God hath thought fit for them, since he hath given them (as St. Peter says [NB: i.e. 2 Pet 1:2 - 4]) pana pros zoen kaieusebeian, whatsoever is necessary for the conveniences of life and information of virtue; and has put within the reach of their discovery, the comfortable provision for this life, and the way that leads to a better. How short soever their knowledge may come of an universal or perfect comprehension of whatsoever is, it yet secures their great concernments [Prov 1: 1 - 7], that they have light enough to lead them to the knowledge of their Maker, and the sight of their own duties [cf Rom 1 - 2, Ac 17, etc, etc]. Men may find matter sufficient to busy their heads, and employ their hands with variety, delight, and satisfaction, if they will not boldly quarrel with their own constitution, and throw away the blessings their hands are filled with, because they are not big enough to grasp everything . . . It will be no excuse to an idle and untoward servant [Matt 24:42 - 51], who would not attend his business by candle light, to plead that he had not broad sunshine. The Candle that is set up in us [Prov 20:27] shines bright enough for all our purposes . . . If we will disbelieve everything, because we cannot certainly know all things, we shall do muchwhat as wisely as he who would not use his legs, but sit still and perish, because he had no wings to fly.

    GEM of TKI

  100. —–thogan: “I didn’t know that you were limiting the mind-reality correspondence to perceptions. I thought that the problem was inferences drawn from perceptions–that the point was the ability to infer ID as part of reality. That would require more than mere perceptions.”

    I don’t think I proposed such a limitation. You asked the following questin:

    “If there is no radical divide between reality and the mind, how is it that two people can obtain such different views of reality?”

    I took that as a question about perception, so I tried to answer it on those terms.

    In any case, my larger point is that we really are perceiving and not merely conceiving. It seems to me that that distinction is germane to the topic of apprehending design in nature.

    —-”How are you able to define what “normal” is for a mind? I agree that PS is abnormal, but what is “normal?” I think that the whole mind-reality question is fraught with difficulty.”

    You agree that PS is abnormal, so you must have a sound notion of what really is normal, or you would not be able to detect the difference. Still, I don’t consider it profitable to dismiss philosophical or epeistemological realism on the grounds that some people are paranoid schizophrenic.

    If you want me to concede that not everyone is stable enough mentally and emotionally to make a design inference, I will happily grant the point. Indeed, I submit that radical skepticism is, in itself, a kind of mental pathalogy. One of the benefits of intelligent design is its capacity to restore mental health to a society that has lost its way, both phychologically and philosophically.

    What the academy is doing to ID scientists represents a kind of mental pathology. Normal, well adjusted people don’t act that way. Normal people are adventurous, curious, open to new ideas. Abnormal people close themselves off from reality and resort to skepticism, cynicism, and dogmatism.

    Once again, I ask ID advocates, or, as is apparently your case, ID critics, to read Adler’s article. I am primarily concerned with the Hume/Kantian origin of radical skepticism.

  101. In all the time I’ve been lurking here I’ve not seen anyone present any convincing reason to prefer a non-material designer over a simple alien from a galaxy far far away.–Megan.Alavi

    Why does it matter?

    (ID does not try to answer ultimate questions)

  102. @ JosephB

    [“If there is no radical divide between reality and the mind, how is it that two people can obtain such different views of reality?”

    I took that as a question about perception, so I tried to answer it on those terms.]

    “Views” had to do with “worldview” not strictly perception.

    “In any case, my larger point is that we really are perceiving and not merely conceiving.”

    I would say that at the basic level, we truly perceive, though even that statement is fraught with traps for the unwary. However, we also have presuppositions and rational thought that organizes our perceptions.

    “You agree that PS is abnormal, so you must have a sound notion of what really is normal”

    Not at all. I have no idea how to define normal. I may know that one thing is abnormal, but that doesn’t help me define what is normal.

    Let’s consider someone under the influence of LSD. It has been shown that such a person would generally be better able than someone not under the influence to complete words where only the bottoms of letter were visible. There are other such examples available that are problems for mapping reality to normal perception. We haven’t even started to get into the whole problem of inductive inference yet.

    “Indeed, I submit that radical skepticism is, in itself, a kind of mental pathalogy.”

    I would say that denial of a designer is a condition of the soul which is not derived from insanity. Foolishness is always sin; insanity might not be sin.

    “Abnormal people close themselves off from reality and resort to skepticism, cynicism, and dogmatism.”

    Like David Berlinski? He’s a radical skeptic, though brilliant. I find that I often learn much from your “insane” skeptics. Skepticism is a great tool. Please note that I don’t equate skepticism with mere childish mockery. I believe that most people only become Christians nowadays when they are challenged by skeptics and investigate the facts about Christ. I believe that skeptics are a major tool in God’s plan to save people.

    “What the academy is doing to ID scientists represents a kind of mental pathology.”

    The whole witch hunt phenomenon among some evolutionists is unhealthy, I agree. People, including scientists and university professors, are often stampeded into doing foolish things. When science is regarded with the same intensity as religion, this can get very nasty.

    Also, inferring conditions from results is irrational, no matter who does it. “…what is lacking cannot be counted” (Ecclesiastes 1:15)

    “There is no remembrance of earlier things…” (Ecclesiastes 1:11)

    As time passes, historical information is lost unless a society preserves it. In geology, natural process destroy the evidence; the more time passes, the more opportunity for natural processes to destroy evidence and add misleading evidence.

  103. Consciousness is a miracle.

  104. —–thogan: “I would say that at the basic level, we truly perceive, though even that statement is fraught with traps for the unwary. However, we also have presuppositions and rational thought that organizes our perceptions.”

    For me, the issue is this: Does our mechanism for perceiving mislead us or not. I say no. I further submit that Hume/Kant were mistaken when they said yes. As evidence, I offer Adler’s brilliant refutation.

    —-”I find that I often learn much from your “insane” skeptics. Skepticism is a great tool. Please note that I don’t equate skepticism with mere childish mockery. I believe that most people only become Christians nowadays when they are challenged by skeptics and investigate the facts about Christ. I believe that skeptics are a major tool in God’s plan to save people.”

    “Insane” might be too strong of a word, but, yes, those who wallow in skepticism probably have some kind of dispositional problem that prevents them from perceiving design in nature. Thomas Jefferson thought it was a “self evident” truth and helped build a republic on that same proposition.

    Some kinds of skepticism are indeed, healthy. It is a great mistake to believe many claims that come to us in the name of science, philosophy, religion, of any other discipline. The trick is to be skeptical about those things that really are an enigma. The question, “What happens with the electron?” is not of the same texture as “Is there design?”

    As G.K. Chesteron put it, “the purpose of opening the mind is to close it on something solid”(Truth)In my judgment, a perpetually open mind, especially on a life defining issue such as design, is hot rational. When a preponderance of the evidence is on the side of belief, you go with it, unless there is a compelling reason to remain skeptical.

  105. I’ve had a hard time posting lately, so I will be brief.

    Twice in my life I was able to “see” and “hear” (but not talk or act) what I was NOT looking at or listening to. In one case, I “saw” and “heard” what happened immediately AFTER I “saw” and “heard” it without the use of my eyes or ears. (That is, I basically “saw” and “heard” the future.)

    mike1962 writes: “Consciousness is a miracle.” Indeed, it is. Our “minds” and “bodies” are normally united and process things in harmony; but the “mind”, a spiritual reality, is not to be confused with a “body”, a more-or-less physical reality. We humans are made up of that composite. When we die, that composite is broken apart. We’re promised to be reunited with our bodies some day. In the meantime, we perceive reality in a spiritual way, thus making “intelligence” a spiritual, not a corporeal, reality. Hence, if we’re looking for an “intelligent” being, then we’re looking for some being that has a spiritual nature. So, I would think that any committed materialist would be unilaterally opposed to ID simply on this basis. And lots of Darwinists, as we know, fall into that category.

  106. to thogan (86) (and to Megan.Alavi), I’ve wanted to affirm the importance of what you and others have said about witnesses. I can’t help but think of John’s opening statement of his first epistle.

    “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that …” – 1 John 1:1-3a

    to Megan.Alavi, convergent testimony from multiple eye witnesses and other historical evidence would be examples of considerations not within science itself, which concerns the regularities of nature.

  107. StephenB @ 104

    [—–thogan: “I would say that at the basic level, we truly perceive, though even that statement is fraught with traps for the unwary. However, we also have presuppositions and rational thought that organizes our perceptions.”

    For me, the issue is this: Does our mechanism for perceiving mislead us or not. I say no. I further submit that Hume/Kant were mistaken when they said yes. As evidence, I offer Adler’s brilliant refutation.]

    How do you account for illusions?

    Perhaps there is a special case for inferring design, but it will take an additional axiom, just like induction does. I further stipulate that induction requires causality and can only be applied to the conditions.

    “As G.K. Chesteron put it, “the purpose of opening the mind is to close it on something solid”(Truth)In my judgment, a perpetually open mind, especially on a life defining issue such as design, is hot rational. When a preponderance of the evidence is on the side of belief, you go with it, unless there is a compelling reason to remain skeptical.”

    For me, skepticism means to “test all things.” Once tested and approved, there is no reason to remain skeptical without an anomaly.

  108. ericB @ 106

    Truly, that section in 1 John is a key to epistemology. I go back to Numbers and Deuteronomy, “Out of the mouth of [two or three] witnesses every word shall be confirmed.” This passage has broad application in law, history, and science. Deuteronomy adds the instruction that the judges are to question the witnesses thoroughly, which is to say, to test them. We see the application of these ideas about witnesses throughout the New Testament. Confirmation of one witness’ testimony by another’s and careful questioning of witnesses are key ideas in my epistemology.

  109. 109

    I’ve read this entire thread and I find the idea that a rational reason for the lack of limb-regrowth miracles has been given laughable.

    Conclusion: Whoever the “designer” is they’ve no interest in curing amputees. It appears it prefers to spend it’s time only curing things that potentially can cure themselves.

    And in addition to that I see it as an insult to the religious amputees out there that no matter how hard they pray, how hard they want a cure , no matter how many people pray for them, that for *whatever* reason they don’t deserve a cure.
    What sort of “designer” excludes a group of people who could most do with it’s help?

    pah.

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