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N. T. Wright on Epicurus, Deism, and Darwin

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36 Responses to N. T. Wright on Epicurus, Deism, and Darwin

  1. How much does God involve himself in the world according to the Bible? As a reader of the Bible, I have noted that the Bible directs a lot of attention to chronicling miracles. Supernatural events that defy the normal physical laws. The authors of the Bible know that these events are extraordinary and that they are miracles caused by God intervening in the ordinary course of events in the world. If the authors of the Bible did not understand that things in the world behave according to certain orderly laws created by God, they would not be able to distinguish a miracle from a normal event, nor would they see miracles as something exceptional to take note of and write about. A case in point would be the miracle of the floating axe head. The authors of the Bible knew that an axe head does not float. That is why they knew that a floating axe head was a miracle and something to write about for all posterity. Had they no knowledge of normal physical laws, they would have not identified the miracle.

  2. A good job of slotting Darwin’s suppositions into his world, and why such views are (equally as) prevalent today, but problematic when we come – theologically at least – to seeking to marry evolution and creation (the God who used pain, death, extinction, etc, as all part of a “natural” process deemed ‘good’). “Creation” by such a system leaves us not only with the problem of evil, but (as I believe Jonathan Miller once put it) the god of Auschwitz. Biblical theology is replete with the miraculous, including the origins of a mature universe. The denigration of that state occurs with the fall and the ‘bondage’ of the physical realm to decay until the time of redemption.

  3. Slightly off topic:

    The End of Darwinism: And How a Flawed and Disastrous Theory Was Stolen and Sold, by Eugene G. Windchy.

    http://townhall.com/columnists....._of_darwin

  4. I recently wrote a little on a related topic, on how Darwin’s theories were in some sense a product of his time. The post is on Darwin, racism, and 19th century anthropology and can be seen here.

  5. “Once God get’s pushed out of the process, then of course what happens must happen from within rather than from outside. Then you can caricature the idea of divine intervention because if you are a deist or epicurean you have this distant God who if He is going to do anything in the world would have to reach down and would have to incongruously mess around and then go away again.”

    Compare this to the Kors lecture that I transcribed over a year ago

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-190514

    At that time I made the following comment about science

    “One objection to the use of science to show the necessity of intervention is just what is phrased in the Kors lecture about the need to repair the system and what that means about the designer. But the elimination of that concept of God repairing the system and exalting him to even greater heights has led us to our current circumstance where God is not needed.”

  6. In case people missed it, at the end Wright mentions the 1755 question and the problem of evil. 1755 was the year of the Lisbon earthquake, one of the greatest natural catastrophes in history and one of the watershed periods in human history. People all over Europe began to ask why did God allow such a horrific event as this earthquake to happen and this led intellectuals to question the existence of God even more.

  7. 7

    The 1755 Lisbon earthquake may have been designed. It’s speculation that it was natural. We don’t have a complete model of how the Lisbon earthquake occurred. Besides, nobody I know was there to see it. Calling it natural is a just-so sotry.

  8. 8
    CannuckianYankee

    David,

    The 1755 Lisbon Earthquake was a catalyst for the modern science of seismology, which concerns the natural causes of earthquakes. Hardly a just-so story. But I think you knew that; you were just being facetious.

  9. 9
    CannuckianYankee

    BTW, methinks the Bishop is wright.

  10. Bishop N. T. Wright’s remarks really hit the nail on the head, as regards the philosophical roots of Darwinism.

    I’d like to make a few comments.

    (1) On God “reaching down into the world”: this deist metaphor arose because God is conceived of as being merely the first in a long chain of causes upholding the events which occur in the world around us, whereas the traditional Christian view is that God (A in the schemas below) works concurrently with each secondary cause. In other words, God’s involvement in the world is not like this:

    A -> B -> C -> D -> E

    but like this:

    A -> B
    A + B -> C
    A + C -> D
    A + D -> E

    Professor Alfred Freddoso makes this very point in a review of Professor Peter van Inwagen’s The Place of Chance in a World Sustained by God. I hope readers won’t mind if I quote an extract:

    Nonetheless, medieval religious thinkers agree almost unanimously that a central element of orthodox theism is the doctrine that God is an immediate cause of every effect brought about in the created universe, that every such effect results directly from an action of God’s. Some of these thinkers go so far in the opposite direction as to claim, astonishingly, that God is the only genuine efficient cause (as opposed to merely “occasional” cause) of such effects–this is the position called occasionalism, and it numbers among its advocates such luminaries as al-Ghazali, Gabriel Biel, and, later on, Malebranche and Berkeley. Most of the scholastics, however, endorse what I will call concurrentism, according to which natural effects derive immediately from both God and creatures. That is to say, in addition to conserving natural entities and their causal powers, God must act with or co-operate with those entities in order for them to bring about their characteristic effects. These effects thus result from God’s action and from the action of the relevant created things.

    (2) Evil

    One consequence of this concurrentist view, as the bishop noted, is that it seems to make God a lot more responsible for natural evils, such as the Lisbon earthquake.

    As readers are well aware, William Dembski has recently written a book, available at http://www.amazon.com/End-Chri.....038;sr=1-4 (to read an extract, click here ) addressing this question. Another writer I would recommend is David B. Hart, especially his article, Tsunami and Theodicy which is available at http://web.archive.org/web/200.....rticle=166 . In brief, natural disasters force us to take the doctrine of the Fall -be it that of the angels or that of our first parents – much more seriously. Something is amiss in the world, and we all know it in our bones. Perhaps atheists feel this more keenly than most people.

    Another thing that needs to be borne in mind is that if the Juedo-Christian doctrine of the Devil is correct, and if Satan has enjoyed a measure of freedom to wreak havoc in the natural world, then we might expect certain features of the natural world to have been malevolently designed to make it look as if there were no God.

    (3) Miracles

    Jehu argues that Biblical writers were well aware of the existence of natural laws:

    If the authors of the Bible did not understand that things in the world behave according to certain orderly laws created by God, they would not be able to distinguish a miracle from a normal event, nor would they see miracles as something exceptional to take note of and write about…

    I’m quite sure that people in Biblical times were well aware of the distinction between natural and unnatural occurrences, but I’d question the assumption that they had a notion of a universe governed by laws. The Greeks had this notion because they saw God as a mathematician; however, I’m not so sure that the Jews would have envisaged miracles as exceptions to natural laws. It seems more likely to me that they would have defined miracles as effects beyond the power of natural causes to produce, which is apparently the definition preferred by Professor Freddoso in the review article I cited above:

    I would think … (i) that a miraculous effect is brought about either, as above, by an omission on God’s part or by God’s acting by Himself directly on some created entity, and, further, (ii) that a miraculous effect is such that the created entities present in the circumstances cannot bring it about, at least not at that very time. So, for instance, God acts directly to accomplish in Mary’s womb what would normally be accomplished by the sperm, viz., the fertilization of an ovum.

    The reference to “omission on God’s part” may puzzle some readers, but it gets to the heart of why Christian thinkers took exception to the view (which Freddoso labels “weak deism”) that God simply sits at the top of a chain of secondary causes when bringing about states of affairs in the world. One consequence of “weak deism,” which Christian writers have always found objectionable, is that in order to perform certain miracles recorded in Scripture, God would have to overpower or struggle with or overcome His own creatures. A concurrentist view avoids the theological impropriety entailed by the deistic view, as Professor Freddoso argues:

    Think of Shadrach sitting in the fiery furnace. Here we have real human flesh exposed unprotected to real fire, and yet Shadrach survives unscathed–even though the fire is so hot that it consumes the soldiers who usher him into the furnace. How, on the weak deist view, can God save Shadrach? Only, it seems, by either (i) taking from the fire its power to consume Shadrach, which is inconsistent with the soldiers’ being incinerated but in any case amounts (or so the anti-deists all claim) to destroying the fire and in that sense overpowering it; or (ii) endowing Shadrach’s clothing and flesh with a special power of resistance, in which case God is opposing His creature, the fire; or (iii) placing some impediment (say, an invisible heat-resistant shield) between Shadrach and the flames, in which case God is yet again resisting the power of the fire. By contrast, on the occasionalist and concurrentist models, God accomplishes this miracle simply by withholding His own action. The (real) fire is, as it were, beholden to God’s word; He does not have to struggle with it or overcome it or oppose it. The fire’s natural effect cannot occur without God’s action, and in this case God chooses not to act in the way required. An elegant account, and one that does not in any way give any creature a power that God must oppose.

    The foregoing point may seem excessively metaphysical to some, but metaphysics matters. What this means is that God is literally part and parcel of the definition of each creature. We cannot give an exhaustive account of the nature of any created being (e.g. in terms of its causal powers, dispositions or the laws it obeys) in terms that exclude God. Ontology and theology are inseparable.

    For instance, we cannot say that fire burns by its very nature; we can only say that it burns when in “default mode,” so to speak – when God chooses to act in His accustomed way. And likewise, iron axes will sink in water, unless God chooses not to act in His accustomed way. When axes float, it is not by virtue of their own natural powers.

    We have come to take for granted the regularities that underlie our everyday existence, but the atheist’s belief that things carry on as usual because it is their nature to do so, is, at bottom, pure superstition. The atheist’s faith in the reliability of natural causes is anthropomorphic; it is tantamount to reposing trust in natural causes, as if they had a “character” all of their own, which they could never fail to live up to. However, you can only trust a Person. The regularity of the cosmos is the expression of a gigantic act of will on God’s part. Such a view might sound childish and metaphysically uncongenial to some, but it is the only view that makes sense.

    (4) The Lisbon earthquake

    David Kellogg writes:

    The 1755 Lisbon earthquake may have been designed. It’s speculation that it was natural. We don’t have a complete model of how the Lisbon earthquake occurred. Besides, nobody I know was there to see it. Calling it natural is a just-so story.

    Obviously you wrote that with your tongue very firmly in your cheek. However, I’d like to point out that atheists cannot exclude the possibility that the 1755 earthquake was designed either – it may have been caused by malevolent aliens. Neither can Christians exclude a priori the possibility that Satan had a hand in it. What I would say, however, is that the 1755 earthquake is an atrociously bad parallel to the way in which ID proponents infer design in living things.

    No, we don’t have a complete model of how earthquakes occur. But earthquakes do happen every day. Big ones happen too – there was a very big one on Boxing Day in 2004, which triggered a terrible tsunami, as we all know. We can still interview survivors of the 2004 tsunami.

    Evolution happens every day, but it’s small potatoes. Nothing we have observed in the past few hundred years adds up to the kind of evolution required to make a living cell. The DNA in living cells is far in advance of anything our best scientists have come up with, as Alex Williams explains in an article here . As he puts it:

    DNA information is overlapping-multi-layered and multi-dimensional; it reads both backwards and forwards; and the ‘junk’ is far more functional than the protein code… No human engineer has ever even imagined, let alone designed an information storage device anything like it. Moreover, the vast majority of its content is metainformation—information about how to use information. Meta-information cannot arise by chance because it only makes sense in context of the information it relates to.

    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. If, as you say, time, necessity and chance suffice to make a cell, then I for one would like to see a model of how they could all combine to do that.

  11. 11
    CannuckianYankee

    Dr. Torley,

    Hey, thanks for an excellent post. I’ll have to read Dembski’s and Hart’s books.

    Do you think that since we’ve only hit the tip of the iceberg regarding our knowledge of the code in DNA, do you perceive that the chance improbabilities for producing that code will multiply exponentially with the discovery of new DNA information? What do you think the limits of that probability we will need to reach before we can say that we’ve crossed over the empirical line supporting intelligent design? (or have we already crossed over that line?) Will it be something that the naturalists will be forced to accept, or will there be another way around the evidence?

    I ask this because it seems that naturalists have a very valid reason (within a naturalsitic perspective) to deny God (despite scientific evidence to the contrary) given the calamities and suffering in the world. I think it’s an incomplete perspective, of course, but I can see why more empirical evidence might not pursuade, given this cunnundrum.

    Given the best empirical evidence, it seems that the naturalist’s perspective is still stuck on the religious rejection of a God who “wouldn’t make the world as it is.” Isn’t that the real issue?

    Perhaps I need to read those books before you answer.

  12. Hi Cannuckian Yankee

    Thank you for your reply. I haven’t read Dr. Dembski’s book yet, but I’m definitely looking forward to it. About three years ago, I believe he posted a 50-page outline of his theodicy on the Web, and that got me interested. It’s certainly the most original theodicy to appear in a long time. But I guess we’ll have to wait for the book to come out, to see how his thinking has developed since then.

    I would heartily agree with your comment:

    Given the best empirical evidence, it seems that the naturalist’s perspective is still stuck on the religious rejection of a God who “wouldn’t make the world as it is.” Isn’t that the real issue?

    You ask whether further evidence of design could possibly persuade a philosophical naturalist of the existence of a Designer, given the suffering in the natural world. I think it could.

    First, I think it would need to be shown that the most pervasive features of the natural world (including the biological world) were free from any built-in flaws that would entail the kind of suffering we see in the animal world today. This is quite plausible. After all, suffering is only found in the animal kingdom, and only among a relatively small number of animal taxa at that (mammals, probably birds, and just possibly some reptiles, cephalopods and crustaceans). Designed structures like ribosomes, on the other hand, are found in all living creatures. So the hypothesis that theists might want to defend is that any pervasive features of organisms which also exhibit specified design, were created by a benevolent Deity.

    Second, to persuade naturalists that this hypothesis is actually true will indeed take a lot of evidence. Here’s one thing that would do it, I think.

    Biomimetics is a growing field of science, as scientists discover that living organisms contain many structures that are very similar to mechanical devices designed by scientists. What if it turned out that: (i) every machine ever designed by humans had some biological analogue; (ii) in all cases, the biological analogue functioned as well or better than the human version; (iii) the biological analogue was actually optimally designed, given the limitations imposed by the parts they made use of and the biological constraints of their host organism?

    A naturalist might explain (i) as the result of nature having billions of years and zillions of organisms to experiment around with; but (ii) and (iii) would be completely unexpected discoveries.

    Even more unexpected would be the discovery of some sort of index in organisms’ DNA, enabling scientists to know what part of their DNA to examine, to find the code for absolutely any given mechanical design that we might submit to it, though presumably there’d need to be a limit to the number of parts in the design.

    Possibility (iv) is probably a bit far out – some might say it would be too much of a “bonus” from on high, and it might even make for lazy scientists. Still, it would be fascinating if it were true.

  13. 13

    vjtorley, I posted this elsewhere. You might be interested in a series of sermons being delivered this summer at Boston University’s Marsh Chapel. This series, called Darwin and Faith, is two weeks old (my first link is to the podcast, the second is to the Marsh Chapel website). I imagine you’ll find the views problematic, but you might also find them interesting.

  14. Regarding David Kellog’s post in 7 wherein he states:

    “The 1755 Lisbon earthquake may have been designed. It’s speculation that it was natural. We don’t have a complete model of how the Lisbon earthquake occurred. Besides, nobody I know was there to see it. Calling it natural is a just-so story.”

    Kellog seems like a sharp enough fellow so I have to chalk this up to facetiousness. Being a sharp enough fellow, I’m sure he knows that ID isn’t inferring design simply because no one was there to see it or because we don’t have a complete model for the event. For Kellog to be in any way serious with this post, he would have to be extremely ignorant regarding ID — and being the nice guy that I am, I’ll give him credit for not being that ignorant. It would require extreme ignorance of ID to seriously portray ID as merely “we weren’t there to see it so it must be designed.” Being the well-informed, objective person that he is, I’m sure Kellog knows that ID only seeks to operate in the same arena as other design detection sciences (SETI, archeology, cryptography, forensics, etc.). In any of those sciences, a reliable design inference is allowed as long as the evidence fits the established math, science, and reason for doing so. ID simply seeks to establish the math, science, and reason necessary to support reliable design detection within biology. Reasonable people can certainly disagree as to whether ID has achieved this lofty goal as of yet — but no reasonable person would attempt to dumb ID down as Kellog has *facetiously* done in his post. Good one, David!

  15. At 3:11, he says “The irony is, that… none of this means that Darwin’s scientific observations were wrong, or that his conclusions from those observations were wrong, necessarily.”

    So what is Wright’s position, that Darwin wasn’t wrong, or just the Deist culture in which he operated didn’t make his conclusions necessarily wrong?

  16. 16
    CannuckianYankee

    Dr. Torley,

    “First, I think it would need to be shown that the most pervasive features of the natural world (including the biological world) were free from any built-in flaws that would entail the kind of suffering we see in the animal world today.”

    Sorry for the late reply. I read the whole post and didn’t know what to make of it – until I read it over again, and discovered the above.

    The presence of suffering seems only a reality for organisms that have makeups similar to humans – having brains, nervous systems, hence – the ability to feel pain. It’s not so in all biological organisms.

    Now if we look at this from an “optimal” perspective, it appears that the “intent” is not to generate suffering necessarily, but to generate “awareness,” and I might even suggest: to generate the feeling of pleasure. So your argument of a benevolent desginer from that perspective makes some sense.

    And furthermore, it also suggests that biological structures are not currently functioning optimally – I may be jumping ahead here, but; evidence for the fall?

  17. 17
    CannuckianYankee

    Dr. Torley,

    Another observation along that line – why would evolution “create” the human brain in all of its complexity, only for the brain to function at such a low capacity given it’s ability for far greater output? It would seem that the brain is not functioning optimally either. Of course Darwinists posit a different explanation for this – as they don’t particularly accept optimization, but it still seems curious.

    I would posit that this phenomenon too is evidence that at one time the human brain functioned much more optimally as it was designed to. Perhaps early humans were closer to Einstein than the 3 Stooges.

    This seems like a more rational perspective than “a god would not have made the world the way it is.” Perhaps it’s because God did not make the world the way it is. Something happened. Again, I may be jumping ahead a few steps.

  18. Nakashima wrote:

    “At 3:11, he says “The irony is, that… none of this means that Darwin’s scientific observations were wrong, or that his conclusions from those observations were wrong, necessarily.”

    So what is Wright’s position, that Darwin wasn’t wrong, or just the Deist culture in which he operated didn’t make his conclusions necessarily wrong?”

    I’ve been looking for some clarity here, and the nearest, so far, is in this sermon given by Wright at Westminster Abbey on September 30th in 2008:

    ‘I don’t dispute that Darwin put his finger on a massive truth. In terms of social policy and awareness, he was part of a quite different movement which has been part of our problem, part of the unwisdom which has brought us to our present plight. This is the debate we ought to be having. Get the biology right; fine. But don’t assume that you can read off social ethics and imperatives from that biology. The two need to be separated out, so that we can have the real debate, which is about whether we are creatures of blind chance, programmed to be selfish, or whether we live in God’s world, called to wise and humble service’.

    So he appears to be saying that in terms of Biology, Darwin is correct, but that Darwin’s personal presuppositions were flawed. OK, but if that’s the truth, where does life being produced by natural selection (chance mutation) actually leave us, and how is that different to the belief of those Darwin favored? It certainly does not leave an opening for the designer of Genesis, so I cannot see that making such a distinction really helps Christian theology at all – you’re still left with a ‘god’ who makes death and suffering a natural part of the evolutionary process, and who needs that?

  19. “you’re still left with a ‘god’ who makes death and suffering a natural part of the evolutionary process, and who needs that?”

    We are into the problem of evil again and which has been debated many times here and geometrically more times elsewhere. In all these debates, no one has ever been able to define evil. At least I have never seen it defined. I have seen people define classes of evil but not what is evil itself.

    Maybe there is a purpose to it that we fail to understand or are incapable of understanding. The very fact that we have to debate it may have a purpose.

  20. I wasn’t attempting to open a debate on the problem of evil.
    Wright is a theologian who, I therefore presume, believes in a Creator and Redeemer in some fashion -
    what concept of God does a theologian hold when certain concepts (in this case, those derived biologically from Darwin) are deemed true, and how does that impact upon the key suppositions of a theological framework, particularly regarding the character of God, the intent of creation and the place of any salvic purpose?

    I fail, perhaps, to understand why such a theology is not viewed as heterodox, but apparently acceptable amidst places where, it appears, the causes of death and suffering derived from theology itself are no longer deemed valid.

  21. Mr Howard,

    That is an interesting quote from the sermon, however I don’t see that it really clarifies Wright’s stance. First he says Darwin had a finger on a massive truth, and you have separate out the biology from reading that into a social directive. So far, so good – a lot of UD posters should listen to him.

    But then this immediately follows:
    The two need to be separated out, so that we can have the real debate, which is about whether we are creatures of blind chance, programmed to be selfish, or whether we live in God’s world, called to wise and humble service’.

    If this debate is not about the biological reality of Darwin’s massive truth, what is it about? I have to assume our souls or our minds, either of which can be seen as undetermined by evolutionary forces (though clearly influenced by them).

  22. I totally agree that the debate is about the reality of who and what we are, but from a theological perspective, can you really marry Darwin’s ‘massive truth’ (the biology) to a viable framework which validates the Biblical understanding of God as Creator and Redeemer. Wright clearly believes that you can, no doubt leaning towards some manner of theistic evolution. I would view such ‘design’ as undermining the value of a theological perspective – the ‘god’ of evolution certainly has little place for the manner of redemption defined in Christianity.

  23. 23

    Nakashima,

    ——”I have to assume our souls or our minds, either of which can be seen as undetermined by evolutionary forces (though clearly influenced by them).”

    How does your soul get brought about through evolution? And if it’s brought about by evolution, how is your soul undetermined by it? And if your soul is undetermined by evolution, how can you see that it is influenced by evolution?

  24. Mr Hayden,

    These are excellent questions, and I hope you can send them in the direction of NT Wright. I’ve included souls with minds to be inclusinve of what I thought might be Wright’s primary concern.

    I’d like to thank Dr Dembski for publishing this post and bringing Wright’s views to our attention. I assume they have his approval.

  25. “I assume they have his approval.”

    I would not bet the ranch on it. Wright said a lot of things, so to assume that anyone agrees with the complete package is not warranted.

    My guess is the reason for posting this is the interpretation of the history of the time. Wright admits he knows nothing about the details of evolution but does understand the tenor of the times.

  26. @jerry:

    Maybe there is a purpose to it that we fail to understand or are incapable of understanding. The very fact that we have to debate it may have a purpose.

    Agreed. I find the perspective argument as philosophically compelling as just about any other.

    If a seed had some sort of awareness, what might its perspective be of the farmer? The farmer shoves it into a dark, cold, lonely place and then heaps dirt over it. Then the farmer drowns it with water until it eventually rots, decays, and falls apart. Surely, the farmer is the most cruel and unjust creature imaginable, to torture the seed so and to visit such evil upon it.

    But the seed has no idea what it is meant to be or what it is about to become thanks to the ministrations of the farmer.*

    *Of course, eventually the farmer may eat the ears of corn that are the seed’s babies, but that’s beside the point of this particular analogy. :D

  27. @Nakashima-san

    I’d like to thank Dr Dembski for publishing this post and bringing Wright’s views to our attention. I assume they have his approval.

    Many of your posts bear a semblance of thoughtfulness that I respect. This one falls short of your usual standards.

    Are we to also assume that you agree with everything espoused by someone you choose to quote? Darwin’s racism, etc.?

    One suspects you are just trying to stir up trouble and controversy where none exists. Why would you want to do that?

  28. Mr Phineas,

    If i quote someone, I try to be careful with showing why. If Dr Dembski posts without comment, I admit to being ata loss for his exact reasons. It is enigmatic, and while it maintains an element of deniability, I prefer to take the act of posting as blanket approval. Dr Dembski could easily have added “Nice analysis of the intellectual currents around Darwin, but Wright is wrong after 3:11.”

    I admit that the quality of my comments is variable. However, if there is ever any doubt, you can tag my comments “uppity”, “troublemaking”, “not taking things seriously”.

  29. @Nakashima-san

    I admit to being ata loss for his exact reasons.

    Do you also admit to being deliberately obtuse in choosing to assign a reason that allows you to stir up the most trouble?

    Here’s the thing: people who actually have the facts on their side don’t need to play such petty little games. This sort of post exposes your insecurities about your own position. If you hadn’t posted it, I would have thought you more secure than you evidently are.

  30. Mr Phineas,

    I don’t think it deliberately obtuse to suppose that Dr Dembski agrees with a theologian whose statements he posts without comment.

    With respect to Wright’s opinions themselves, I’m not feeling insecure. They are like Dawkins talking about religion – someone speaking outside their area of professional expertise.

    I did intend to get a fuller discussion started of Wright’s total position, because I think that is important.

  31. @Nakashma-san

    I don’t think it deliberately obtuse to suppose that Dr Dembski agrees with a theologian whose statements he posts without comment.

    Are you truly operating from a place of such extreme ignorance that you must grasp at the smallest implications or vague impressions for a glimpse into what Dr. Dembski believes about Darwin’s scientific observations? If so, your ignorance is of your own choosing.

    I still think your ignorance is feigned, since you don’t strike me as the type to enter into protracted discussions without having availed yourself of at least a cursory glance at relevant information. But I suppose I could be wrong.

  32. 32

    Phinehas,

    You must be careful. Nakashima is setting you up. He is playing a role. Just like Dr. Dembski posts a topic here at UD that seems serious and then tricks all the Darwinists by saying it is really just a parody, so is Nakashima doing. Remember how Dr. Dembski tricked all those at Baylor with that nasty letter then revealed his parody . . . so too will Nakashima.

  33. Wright was describing how the TE position arose. Darwin did not create the TE position but gave it aid and comfort whether his ideas are true or not. Whether Wright is a TE or not, I do not know. Dembski is on record describing the problems with the TE position and that he has serious problems with it especially its embrace of Darwin’s ideas.

    I took from the video that Dembski was providing someone’s opinion about the origin and support of the TE position and since he is on record as being against the TE position, he is not countenancing Wright’s views if in fact he is a TE. I suggest people might re read my comments #5 and #6.

    The TE position is very comforting to those who hold it. But if it is not in sync with the world, then they have real problems because as Dembski and others have pointed out they are in bed with the atheists on something that contributes to atheistic belief. And how ironic that is especially since it has no basis in reality and could not have come from God. The TEs think they need Darwin in order to have a truly great God and one free of generating evil but Dembski and other ID supporters have shown that they do not have Darwin. So the TEs denigrate ID almost as much as the Darwinists or atheists. Both desperately need Darwin for their world views. Otherwise both the TEs and the atheist’s world views collapse.

  34. Mr Phineas,

    I read Dr Dembski’s LCI posts here on UD and responded constructively to him. He is arguing that evolution happens, but that the mechanism of information injection needs further investigation. I can see how that position fits with Wright’s comments.

  35. Mr Jerry,

    What is the difference between a TE and a Darwinist?

  36. Darwinist is a term used here to describe those who ascribe to Darwin’s ideas as the sole or main mechanism for evolution and further that they then use this conclusion to push a metaphysical agenda which is atheistic. And since there is no God according to the atheist He couldn’t have a role in anything that has happened in the universe. This world view then drives their science and limits the possible explanations for all phenomena. The term is also used by some to describe anyone who believes all of evolution is essentially driven by Darwin’s ideas but don’t make metaphysical claims based on it.

    A TE is one who believes in an all powerful God and that naturalistic means were used by God to guide us to our present state in the world by an initial design, primarily the initial and boundary conditions of the Big Bang. This initial design led to the formation of this planet, life and evolution to man. They believe that God can affect what happens in this world but that He generally chooses to operate through secondary causes. Christian TEs believe God interferes/d at various times directly but not to change natural laws (for example, some believes He operates through quantum events.) There is a whole range of positions and it is not possible to find one consistent definition of what a TE is since they cannot define it themselves. I suggest one go to the ASA forum and read past discussions on it or read books by Francis Collins, Ken Miller or Darrel Falk.

    A book written on science by TEs is Keith Miller’s Perspectives on an Evolving Creation

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

    The essays by Loren Haarsma are outstanding.

    Both the terms Darwinist and TE are not exact but can be used to generally describe broad classes of individuals and their assessment of science and particularly evolutionary biology. Both these positions flowed from the Enlightenment and Wright was commenting on this when he said all they were looking for is a theory like Darwin’s to complete their view of the world and explain life. I am sure Darwin knew this since he was part of this Enlightenment heritage.

    Both group’s concept of science seem to be driven by ideology rather than an open mind to all possibilities. In that way I often lump Darwinists, TEs and YECs as groups whose science is driven by ideology.

    We have been down this road many times before.

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