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Theistic Evolutionists, Your Position Is Incoherent — But We Can Help You!

In this, my first column for Uncommon Descent, I’d like to address what seems to be a fundamental contradiction running through the writings of many “theistic evolutionists,” and propose an adjustment to their theoretical framework.
 
Critics of theistic evolution (TE) have often suggested that theistic evolutionists (TEs) have to put themselves through mental contortions in order to remain Christian while embracing Darwin.  Yet a person very well versed in TE literature has informed me that many TEs do not appear to feel any such intellectual discomfort.  They reconcile Christianity and Darwin, he suggests, by holding to an “old earth creationist” position, by interpreting Genesis non-literally, and by treating evolution as God’s “creation tool.” 
 
The first two points are non-controversial.  There is plenty of room within orthodox Christianity for the belief that the earth is very old, and for less-than-completely-literal interpretations of Genesis.  However, the proposition that evolution could be ”God’s creation tool” is open to more than one interpretation, and bears closer examination.  Given that most TEs appear to be strict Darwinists with respect to the mechanism of evolution (i.e., chance mutations plus natural selection), critical observers are justified in inquiring about the suitability of the Darwinian mechanism as a “creation tool” for a specifically Christian God.

I would not have a problem understanding evolution as God’s “creation tool,” if TEs conceived of evolution as a “tool” in the strict sense.  A tool in the strict sense is fully in the control of the tool-user, and the results it achieves (when properly used by a competent user) are not due to chance but to intelligence and skill.  But Darwin’s mechanism leaves room for neither intelligence nor skill; it is the unconscious operation of impersonal natural selection upon mutations which are the products of chance.  It follows that Darwinian evolution is not a tool, but an autonomous process, and therefore out of God’s control.
 
This has a theological consequence.  If evolution is out of God’s control, it is incompatible with the notion of providence – the notion that God provides for the future needs of the earth and its inhabitants.  God can hardly, for example, provide for the need of Hagar in the desert, if he can’t even guarantee that the human race, of which Hagar is a member, will ever emerge from the primordial seas.  (The radical contingency of the Darwinian mechanism is captured well by Darwinist Stephen Jay Gould, when he wrote that if the tape of evolution were rewound and played again, the results would be entirely different.  Once God sets a truly Darwinian process in motion, he has no control over whether it will produce Adam and Eve, a race of pointy-eared Vulcans, or just an ocean full of bacteria.)
 
A non-providential God is clearly not an orthodox Christian God, and it therefore appears that theistic evolutionism generates heretical Christianity.  As I see it, the only way for theistic evolutionists to escape this consequence is to argue that mutations seem like chance events from the human perspective, but from God’s perspective are foreordained.  But in that case, “evolution” is really just the actualization of a foreseen design over a very long time frame; the “purely natural causes” spoken of by the TEs are really just the unrecognized fingertips of the very long arm of God.  This view, which we might call “apparent Darwinism,” fails to get God out of the process of natural causation, which was (as Cornelius Hunter has argued) Darwinism’s historical raison d’être.
 
In response to this, TEs could say:  “Well, we are Christians, so of course we believe that these apparently chance events were divinely foreordained and therefore are not ultimately chance events.  Our goal is not to deny the ultimate agency of God, but only to establish that the design of living things, though certainly in the mind of God at the beginning of the world’s creation, is not humanly DETECTABLE, as the ID proponents say it is.  Evolution proceeds as if directed by chance; neither our sense nor our instruments are capable of registering the difference between mutations produced by the hidden hand of God and mutations produced by chance.  Operationally, science must proceed as if chance alone is at work.  There is therefore no legitimately scientific design inference.  Design is a theological interpretation of the natural data, not a scientific one.  And that is why we remain theistic evolutionists, appealing to strictly Darwinian causation in our science and keeping our theological interpretation of nature out of the labs, schools and universities.”
 
This has surface plausibility.  But note that, if this argument is accepted, there is no longer any metaphysical difference between TE and ID.  Given this argument, both ID and TE acknowledge that living creatures are in fact designed by God and brought into being exactly in accord with God’s will.  The difference that remains between TE and ID is not over metaphysics but over epistemology, i.e., over the question:  How do we KNOW that the flagellum or the wing of a bird or the circulatory system is a consequence of design rather than chance?  And here is where TE takes its final stand:  it is only by faith, not by the scientific study of nature, that we can know this.
 
But how does TE verify this doctrine?  Surely the question whether design detection can be an empirical science is itself subject to empirical investigation, and cannot be prematurely settled by any dogmatic pronouncement.  TE is thus obliged to look at the work of those who claim that design detection can be an empirical science, and to consider that claim on its merits, not dismiss it out of hand.  It thus must engage the arguments of Dembski, Behe, etc.  TE is of course free to argue that Dembski and Behe and the others fail to provide an adequate basis for a science of design detection, by pointing to real or alleged flaws in their arguments.  But this still means that TE must abandon a priori epistemological declarations and enter whole-heartedly into the honest consideration of whether design in nature is detectable by scientific means.
 
Thus, we see that the foundational contradiction at the very core of TE (that orthodox Christianity is 100% true, and that the Darwinian mechanism is also 100% true), puts TEs on the horns of a dilemma.  Accept the complete truth of the Darwinian mechanism, and one must deny at least one key Christian doctrine, i.e., providence.  Alternately, accept the complete truth of all the core Christian doctrines, including providence, and “chance” is a fiction, Darwinism is a guided process, there is design, and design may in principle be detectable.  TEs thus have a choice.  If their priority, their most important motivation, is to ban the notion of design from science, they can do so, by affirming that chance rather than providence is ultimately real; the cost is the adoption of a non-Christian theology.  If, on the other hand, their priority is to account for the origin of species and of man within the framework of providence, they must affirm that chance is not ultimately real; the cost is the abandonment of the Darwinian mechanism.   
 
Let me summarize.  It is possible to be a theistic evolutionist without contradiction.  It is possible to be a specifically Christian theistic evolutionist without contradiction.  It is not, however, possible to be a Christian DARWINIST without contradiction.  A Christian Darwinist is bound to maintain logically incompatible positions:  that evolution is both a tool and an autonomous process, that providence and chance are both ultimately real, that design is potentially detectable and that it is a priori indetectable.  This intellectual schizophrenia cannot be maintained.  TEs must decide whether or not their grudge against ID and its proponents is more important to them than the maintenance of a consistently orthodox Christian theology. 
 
TEs, you can join us at no real cost.  You can keep your Christian faith (which incidentally is more highly respected by even non-Christian ID advocates than it is by many of your current colleagues).  You can keep evolution (understood as common descent) and all its evidences, including the fossil record, Darwin’s arguments about biogeographical distribution, and a 4.5-billion-year-old earth.  We don’t even ask you to pledge allegiance to intelligent design; we just ask you to abandon your a priori prejudice that design in nature can’t possibly be detectable, and to join us in investigating the question.   
 
And there’s an added bonus.  You’ll finally be able to abandon the unsavory company of angry, paranoid, condescending atheists like Richard Dawkins, Jerry Coyne, P.Z. Myers, Jeffrey Shallit, and Barbara Forrest.  Talk about the icing on the cake!
 
Think about it.

 

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186 Responses to Theistic Evolutionists, Your Position Is Incoherent — But We Can Help You!

  1. Thomas Cudworth,

    “Our goal is not to deny the ultimate agency of God, but only to establish that the design of living things, though certainly in the mind of God at the beginning of the world’s creation, is not humanly DETECTABLE, as the ID proponents say it is. Evolution proceeds as if directed by chance; neither our sense nor our instruments are capable of registering the difference between mutations produced by the hidden hand of God and mutations produced by chance. Operationally, science must proceed as if chance alone is at work. There is therefore no legitimately scientific design inference. Design is a theological interpretation of the natural data, not a scientific one.”

    As someone who is a TE as far as I know (I suppose I’m also an IDist under the terms listed), I have one objection here.

    I do not believe that science ‘must proceed as if chance alone is at work’. I believe science must proceed without commenting about whether what is seen in nature is the result of chance or intention. To look at a mutation, or aspect of natural history, or fact of the natural world and say ‘that event was chance or unplanned’ is every bit as outside of the scientific realm as saying it was designed or an act of God.

    If you like, I can present to you why I personally (as a commenter here, and nothing more) do not believe ID can possibly prove the work of God. But I wanted to get that out of the way – calling something chance or random or unguided is outside the bounds of science.

  2. Well done, Thomas! Welcome to Uncommon Descent!

    As soon as the TE (or anyone else who takes the anti-ID position) holds that theistic design is undetectable in principle, it’s game over.

    I see nothing to stop the move from that to the undetectability of all design in principle, and the noetic consequences of this position are catastrophic.

    nullasalus,

    To look at a mutation, or aspect of natural history, or fact of the natural world and say ‘that event was chance or unplanned’ is every bit as outside of the scientific realm as saying it was designed or an act of God.

    Very true, but can’t science tell us whether chance or design is more reasonable? It looks like you might be confusing metaphysics with epistemology.

  3. crandaddy,

    I don’t believe so, no. I think very strong arguments can be made for design, mind you – but they wouldn’t fall under the category of science for my money.

    Maybe straight off the bat you should tell me what you consider science to be definition-wise – for myself, I think science is limited to questions that can be posed via repeatable experiments, with a falsifiable hypothesis. Maybe that’s an unreasonable definition, or one you disagree with – I’m willing to be corrected on the point, or at least expand my mind and consider alternative definitions.

  4. Thomas,

    Excellent post and well thought out. Just one minor correction. You say:

    “Given this argument, both ID and TE acknowledge that living creatures are in fact designed by God and brought into being exactly in accord with God’s will.”

    ID does not say that creatures are in fact designed by God. ID permits that as a subsequent conclusion, but all ID says is that some biological systems are designed by an intelligent designer and, extending your sentence, were brought into being in accordance with that designer’s will.

    I know you were posting on a specific question related to theological viewpoints, so not a big deal, but just want to be clear in the description.

    Again, very well-done post.

  5. 5

    You know, I have been very impressed with the work of the Discovery Institute and I was a former theistic evolutionist.

    I just have to say (to those of you in academia) as relatively average person and truck driver out here, that the issue seems pretty simple to me…

    The whole issue was resolved for me when I saw Unlocking the Mystery of Life. Although it wasn’t argued as such, the resolution was implied – I thought- very obviously.

    In a sense, there is a thing known as theistic evolution, but depending upon what we mean by ‘evolution’. In my own debates, I have noticed that ‘unscholored proponents’ of evolution now confess freely that evolution is directionless…

    Don’t you guys get it…? YOur trying to win a culture war with those of us who are quote unquote ‘the unwashed masses’.

    It’s not evolution it’s devolution. And althought the term is not used frequently (enough) it is easily digested by the common man (the people I talk to).

    You boys do what you want, but don’t snatch victory from the jaws of defeat as it were. Just state the matter plainly.

    Darwin’s theory is perfectly scientific and only needs to be altered to accomodate the new discoveries.

    Let’s face it… Darwin was right! Creatures are evolving (ie. adapting) to a changing environment.

    But it is moving in the wrong direction.

    I am no public relations expert, but that is what will sell, and that is what the truth is. It’s simple, and people get it.

    Get it?

  6. Thomas, I am grateful for this post, and you are right, of course.

    You have put it well: “It is not, however, possible to be a Christian DARWINIST without contradiction. A Christian Darwinist is bound to maintain logically incompatible positions: that evolution is both a tool and an autonomous process, that providence and chance are both ultimately real, that design is potentially detectable and that it is a priori indetectable. This intellectual schizophrenia cannot be maintained.”

    I ask the TE’s, quasi TEs, and the TE enablers to study this post carefully and honestly.

  7. Robert Lockett,

    you said

    “Darwin’s theory is perfectly scientific and only needs to be altered to accomodate the new discoveries.

    Let’s face it… Darwin was right! Creatures are evolving (ie. adapting) to a changing environment.

    But it is moving in the wrong direction.

    I am no public relations expert, but that is what will sell, and that is what the truth is. It’s simple, and people get it.”

    I have been trying to convince people here of this for months and it falls on deaf ears. You can not present anything with Darwin’s name on it in a positive light here even if it will reinforce the ID position. Many of the people here have agendas just as the TE’s and Darwinists do and as such have little interest in the truth let alone how to sell the truth to the general public.

  8. @5 and @7:

    Darwinian MICRO-evolution is well accepted and documented (e.g. Anthelmintic resistance in parasites, MR-Staph bacteria in hospitals). Darwin got this right, and IDists do not contend this (to my knowledge). Intelligent design is not about micro-evolution.

    However, the MACRO-evolution of entirely new species or structures is absent of any proof, either in real-world evidence (i.e. fossil records do not support Darwinian macro-evolution, no records of a novel biological structure being produced), nor theoretical proof (i.e. Darwinian mechanisms only degrade or alter existing genetic information; they do not create new information).

    Darwin was definitely not right about macro-evolution (name a single structure/species produced by Darwinian evolution).

  9. Avonwatches,

    I am glad you agree with us. But I will stop it here since this thread is about theistic evolution.

  10. The person to respond to this is Ted Davis if he comes back to this site. He can probably best represent the TE’s at ASA with out too much contentious language.

  11. 11

    @9. Oh, actually I don’t agree with the “marketing” thing. It would just confuse two completely different hypotheses.

    =================
    (On-topic)

    Excellent post. The problem lies in the motivation to marry theology and darwinist evolution together. As is written: “You cannot serve two masters, for you will love one and hate the other”. I guess it’s a question of which one is more important: faith, or a human (and flawed) theory. Which one is fitting into which? At the end of the post, where it says you cannot be a Christian Darwinist without maintaining a set of paradoxes, the question is which of the beliefs overrides the others?

  12. As a TE I see the history of life much like the history of anything. Like Gould, you could argue that rewinding the tape of anything could lead to a different outcome. (world history, weather, our own births, etc.) Either God’s involved with all of it or God’s involved with none of it. I don’t see how it’s theologically sound to say God has to work against nature’s natural course. (which God set in place in the first place)

  13. I believe that God does use a seemingly random process / event for His intended will.

    For theists, we can think about seemingly random events in our lives that when we look back, we thought they don’t seem too random anymore and have a purpose. We can also think about how we are conceived and born in this world. Is it merely a random, unguided, survival-of-the-fittest, and 50/50 chance of male/female process, or is God actually involved in the whole conception process to create a specific person for a specific purpose in this world?

    If evolution is true, then yes, God can use this seemingly random process for His specific will.

  14. 14

    I was astonished that the plaintiffs in Kitzmiller v. Dover had the brazen hypocrisy to choose a theistic evolutionist, Ken Miller, as their lead expert witness in what was supposed to be a lawsuit seeking enforcement of the so-called separation of church and state! That tactic might have backfired had they gotten a judge who was less prejudiced and less gullible than Judge “Jackass” Jones.

    The original post says,

    You can keep your Christian faith (which incidentally is more highly respected by even non-Christian ID advocates than it is by many of your current colleagues).

    Yes, I am surprised that I have taken a liking to fundies like Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis. They make more sense than the Darwinists.

    Also, we should not forget that there are also non-ID criticisms of evolution.

  15. 15

    Jerry, I know that I have had to gaurd against pure pride in my own debates.

    If we as ID proponents (layman and academic alike) are waiting for conscessions by the opponents, we are going to go nowhere.

    Dembski and the others need to forget about being given credit for being right, and simply continue to be right.

    I struggle with this as much as anyone, and feel very unqualified to preach it … but the fact remains, it is not for our glory.

    The acidic nature of the disputes is not helpful. The oposition is always going to think we are fools and many will follow them.

    We must remember that many will listen. The goal is to win souls for eternity, not recognition from the world stuck in time.

    It’s a tough assignment. May God bless us and pour mercy and grace upon our prideful hearts. We can’t forget that that is the only reason we know the truth to begin with.

  16. —–Avonwatches: “At the end of the post, where it says you cannot be a Christian Darwinist without maintaining a set of paradoxes, the question is which of the beliefs overrides the others?”

    Precisely, and we already know which way the TEs will go with that one. Among the heavy hitters, a few reject the whole Biblical paradigm, others reject the fall, and the rest either collectivize or challenge the existence of Adam and Eve. They give lip service to two masters, but they serve only one. In every case, they subordinate their Christianity to their Darwinism, and in no case is it the other way around. Of course, their Darwinist colleagues keep quiet about the sell-out and provide cover by characterizing them as “devout” Christians.

    About the mainstream TEs, I don’t know. I assume that many of them have not been made aware of the contradiction so they don’t feel the need to resolve it by making compromises with their faith. That means that they are not sell-outs to their faith. Being fair minded, they may someday accept the ID paradigm.
    .

  17. Again, I want to repeat a view of mine as a TE: While I consider declarations of design or intention in nature to be outside the boundaries of science, I also consider declarations of purposelessness or true chance to be outside the boundaries of science. And I believe that this is a tremendously important point that most TEs, many ID-ers, and just about every ID proponent seem to miss.

    Dinesh D’Souza has hit on this point in the past as well, and I would ask IDs and TEs alike to think about it in greater detail.

  18. nullasalus,

    You wrote:

    Maybe straight off the bat you should tell me what you consider science to be definition-wise – for myself, I think science is limited to questions that can be posed via repeatable experiments, with a falsifiable hypothesis. Maybe that’s an unreasonable definition, or one you disagree with – I’m willing to be corrected on the point, or at least expand my mind and consider alternative definitions.

    You’re talking about methodological naturalism. I do think that the proper scope of science is a little broader than that. I like the definition of science that Alvin Plantinga has provided; he could probably explain matters better than I.

  19. I don’t think most TE’s actually believe in traditional christianity, therefore the reason they don’t find contradiction in embracing God and Darwin is because their God is not the God of traditional Christianity, nor any religion which teaches about an immanent and transcendent, omnipresent, ommnipotent, omniscient supreme being. Most TE’s have a view of a God who is not involved very closely or at all with life here on earth, they may speak otherwise so as not to be seen as non-traditionalists. I would bet most of them have a view of God like a George Coyne or Pierre Teilhard de Chardin or something similar. If they didn’t they wouldn’t be so inimical to ID, especially with their penchant for theological bashing of ID.. It’s their theology, I believe, which posists a God who is either far away or too impotent or too impersonal to intercede on earth.

  20. Thomas:

    In response to this, TEs could say: “Well, we are Christians, so of course we believe that these apparently chance events were divinely foreordained and therefore are not ultimately chance events. Our goal is not to deny the ultimate agency of God, but only to establish that the design of living things, though certainly in the mind of God at the beginning of the world’s creation, is not humanly DETECTABLE…”

    There’s another major problem with this TE position, which you didn’t bring up. Namely, it trivializes Darwinism, and so is untenable.

    It’s completely trivial to say that the events that led to the existence of humans don’t look intended to us. Of course they don’t. They happened before we existed, so we can’t see them, so they don’t look like anything at all. If that’s all that Darwinism means, then it’s not so much a theory as is a pointless acknowledgment of the fact that we didn’t exist before we existed.

    Also, let’s rephrase the premise of Darwinism, such that “random” is replaced with “only looks random”, and see what we get:

    The species of life, including humans, came about by a process of modifications which seem random to us, selected by environmental factors that weren’t directed as far as we can tell.

    Notice a problem here? Phrased this way, Darwinism isn’t an objective explanation about how the species actually originated, but just a subjective statement about how events that we’ve never observed seem to us. It’s no longer a theory about the outside world, but simply an epistemic statement about our lack of knowledge. Well, maybe I’m way off-base here, but I think that Darwin, and most Darwinists, intend(ed) the theory to be an actual explanation about actual things in the actual world.

    And here’s a further absurdity: It’s the premise of Darwin’s theory that the obvious appearance of design in life is illusory. That is, design is only apparent. Now, if according to “theistic Darwinism” the randomness of Darwinian evolution is itself only apparent, does that mean that it’s only apparent that the design of life is only apparent? What the heck does that even mean? The mind boggles.

  21. crandaddy,

    Thanks for the link, I have great respect for Platinga as a philosopher. There’s a particular part of that entry which stood out to me.

    Indeed, Michael Behe, a paradigmatic IDer and the star witness for the defense, has repeatedly said that he accepts evolution. What he and his colleagues reject is not evolution as such. What they reject is unguided evolution. They reject the idea that life in all its various forms has come to be by way of the mechanisms favored by contemporary evolutionary theory – unguided, unorchestrated and undirected by God or any other intelligent being.

    I want to drive this particular point home, even if I’m repeating myself yet again: While I may believe that science cannot reasonably rule on design, casting evolution as ‘unguided, unorchestrated, and undirected’ is itself a ruling, every bit as much as if it were said to be ‘guided, orchestrated, and directed’. It’s precisely for this reason that, despite my misgivings about the scientific possibilities of ID, I not only sympathize with their philosophical views, but their larger efforts as well. So long as it’s scientific to call evolution and the history of natural science as ‘unguided’ with no qualification, then I would agree that it is every bit as scientific to rule that evolution is, indeed, guided.

    You say my view of science is one of methodlogical naturalism, and frankly, I can truly see how anyone would come to have that view about TEs given certain prominent theistic anti-ID types. My response is that naturalism is as much an intrusive force in science as politics and religion. There is no need within the purely scientific discipline to speculate over whether evolution, the Big Bang, or anything else displays or lacks teleology, purpose, design, intelligence, or otherwise. There is absolutely a need to explore that in theological and philosophical circles.

    So to boil it down, my position is this: ID is borne out of a legitimate gripe with popular representations of science, certainly of evolution and otherwise. I think ID has potential for tremendous success in philosophical spheres (And before discounting the value of this, keep in mind the tremendous influence of philosophers on science, particularly with regards to psychology and otherwise.) And I think the goal of putting naturalism and materialism is a proper one. I just believe that the best way to handle it is to attack the abuse OF the naturalists, and to expand the role of ID in the popular mind.

  22. nullsalus:

    Dinesh D’Souza, for all his virtues, does not understand intelligent design. Under the circumstances, he is not yet qualified to pass judgment either on the process of a design inference or the rationale behind it. It is clear that he does not understand the point that has been already been made here very well. Christianity and Darwin cannot be reconciled.

    Is “design” a scientific concept? I believe that it is, and I would be prepared to argue the case if we were discussing that subject matter. You don’t agree, and I assume that you could provide your rationale if I asked you. Fair enough. We can agree do disagree.

    Most TEs, however, are not content to simply express their objections about the legitimacy of the design inference. They want to institutionalize their disagreement make it a rule of science. Under the aegis of “methodological naturalism,” they seek to discredit ID scientists and define them out of existence. So the real question is this: Are you satisfied with noting your objections and allowing ID its rightful place at the table. Or, would you, like the TE community, enforce your objections and try to kill ID even before it enters the arena.

  23. StephenB,

    And yet D’Souza wrote approvingly of removing the words ‘impersonal’ and ‘unsupervised’ from a teachers’ group position statement regarding the teaching of evolution. (Biology Without Ideology, 4/8/08) I’m not about to say D’Souza is an expert on ID, much less biology in general, but I think two points gain credence. One, whatever he thinks of reconciling ‘Darwinism’ with God, it doesn’t seem that he views evolution as unguided. Two, he recognizes that there is apparently some serious abuse going on with the teaching of evolution, in and out of schools. If ‘Darwinism’ requires the viewpoint that evolution is unguided, lacking purpose, and truly random – then that aspect of Darwinism is itself not science.

    “Are you satisfied with noting your objections and allowing ID its rightful place at the table. Or, would you, like the TE community, enforce your objections and try to kill ID even before it enters the arena.”

    I reject any discrimination or hostility towards scientists (or anyone else) who believe design is present in nature. I found what went on with Guillermo Gonzalez to have been a travesty to say the least. At the same time, I don’t know what ‘rightful place at the table’ means. Should YEC arguments be presented in a science classroom? I’m not a YEC, so I’m biased, but I would say no. Should ID arguments? That’s trickier. Ideally, I would say no – while at the same time making certain that such classes don’t pass off random, purposeless, chance, non-telic ‘description’ of the process as the stuff of science. Learning about evolution would involve learning that there are forces at work that man cannot predict individually, but that the proposed logic and system functions in such and such ways. Frankly, I think one of the best answers to the whole ID classroom debate is a greater emphasis on home-schooling. I have a dim view of public schooling, and I’m not too impressed with my Catholic school experience either.

    Beyond that, I’m not sure what you may mean, though. I get the sense that many atheists see science as ‘theirs’, and that not only should considerations that even vaguely point towards design be downplayed or ignored, but that atheism should somehow be the default view. That I reject entirely.

    I’m still iffy on reference to the ‘TE Community’. I think guys like D’Souza, and many others, are more complicated cases than Ayala is. Even Miller outright admits that his motivation against ID is theological. I cannot decide what to think of Miller’s position. Ayala, as I’ve said before, strikes me as a con man.

  24. —–Deuce: “It’s completely trivial to say that the events that led to the existence of humans don’t look intended to us. Of course they don’t. They happened before we existed, so we can’t see them, so they don’t look like anything at all.

    Yes. Convenience is the name of the game. When chance promises to support the vitality of their naturalism, it’s the real thing, but when it threatens to expose the purposelessness of their theism, it’s a mere perception.

  25. 25

    StephenB said (#22) –

    Most TEs, however, are not content to simply express their objections about the legitimacy of the design inference. They want to institutionalize their disagreement make it a rule of science. Under the aegis of “methodological naturalism,” they seek to discredit ID scientists and define them out of existence.

    This is true. Theistic evolutionist Ken Miller was a plaintiffs’ expert witness in both the Kitzmiller v. Dover and Selman v. Cobb County cases. In both cases, school boards had recently adopted his strongly pro-Darwinist biology textbooks. As sops to critics of Darwinism, both school boards adopted brief evolution disclaimer statements. In both cases, only Darwinism was actually taught in the science classes. Both lawsuits sought to eliminate the evolution disclaimers. Ken Miller has no qualms about urging the courts to ruthlessly and totally suppress scientific (pseudoscientific to him) ideas that he disagrees with.

  26. Naturalism in any guise is unorthodox because it negates sovereignty.

    “Through him all things were made, and without him nothing was made that has been made.” Christ is the logos of being, both the creator and the recreator. Any other ontology is not Biblical.

    “All things work together for good to those who love God.” It seems that all of being has been designed in a way that favors the well-being of the believer. Also God is said to directly intervene in our behalf; most impressively in the incarnation.

    Why does it matter? Two reasons.

    Much of the appeal of the gospel is based on God’s providence and loving-kindness. The shepherd actively watches over his sheep.

    Secondly, with pure naturalism there is no “way.” Being does not reflect the logos, in which case the Bible has no practical wisdom to offer the believer.

    Some people seem to think that the way to spread the good news is to make an accommodation with the world and its vanity. The gospel bears better fruit when it resists the world.

    ID performs a great service in this sense simply by demonstrating the impossibility of Darwin’s myth.

  27. 27

    To the poster: You could also argue that in the past when scientists have attributed a phenomenon to “chance”, it’s principally because they don’t understand the underlying processes. We are beginning to understand the underlying processes of biology and as such, appeals to chance are inhibitory to the advance of science at this point, because it’s basically an appeal to ignorance.

    Or in short, you could simply ask, “Do you enjoy being stupid?” :D

  28. When I saw this post go up I was packing for a vacation. I decided to bring the bible of Theistic Evolution, a compilation by a series of scientists who frequently comment at ASA. It is called Perspectives on an Evolving Creation and edited by Keith Miller. Don’t confuse him with Ken Miller. Keith Miller is a paleontologists and an equal hater of ID as Ken Miller. I had bought it a little over a year ago when the ASA people were here but had not read it.

    I highly recommend it based on the first 100 pages and nothing in the first five or six chapters is unfriendly to ID though later on sections are supposed to support a gradualist view of evolution.

    If one is going to quarrel with the theistic evolutionists then maybe we should read their own writings and see just what they say. As I said the first 100 pages has nothing to contradict ID and in fact it is very sympathetic to how I view ID. The chapter on science by Loren Haarsma is outstanding. There will never be another discussion of just what “chance” means after reading it.

  29. 29
    Thomas Cudworth

    To nullasalus (#1, 17, 21):

    I realize that TE is a generic term which covers a lot of territory, so I was broad-brushing, and I of course respect your right to call yourself a TE while refusing some of my characterizations. However, I think your suggestion — that science should stick with “just the facts, ma’am” and avoid declaring whether an event is due to chance or design — is an inaccurate description of how pure Darwinists (including Dawkins, Coyne, Miller, and Darwin himself) see science. They won’t accept as “scientific” any account of origins which opens the door to design, but they do accept as “scientific” an account of origins which mixes laws of nature (i.e., “natural selection”, which in Darwinism passes for a law of nature of sorts) with a heavy dose of chance (i.e., “random mutations”, changes for which Darwinists neither give nor seek any law-like explanation). Darwinians therefore import an anti-design, pro-chance, metaphysical preference into the practice of science.

    Indeed, in your post #21, you seem to acknowledge that at least some Darwinists, even some theistic evolutionists, have this bias, and you agree with me in deploring it, but I don’t think that any Darwinist, whether an atheist or a theistic evolutionist, can remove the bias; it’s inherent in the Darwinian mechanism and in the Darwinian conception of science. Your plea that theistic evolutionists should not blindly accept “naturalism” is welcome in these quarters, but that puts you at odds with many of the theistic evolutionists, who defend “naturalism” as aggressively as Dawkins does.

    I suspect that you are what I would call a theistic evolutionist, but not what I am calling a theistic Darwinist. You don’t seem to swallow the Darwinian “naturalistic” mechanism uncritically. The whole point of my column was to urge all theistic evolutionists to adopt your less dogmatic position. If the TEs would be content to affirm the fact of evolution, while leaving the mechanism open (i.e., while allowing for non-Darwinian mechanisms), then TEs and a good number of ID people could have productive talks, because a good number of ID people believe that not only microevolution but macroevolution has in fact occurred. The question that TEs and ID people should be asking together is: how can we put the apparent fact of evolution together with the appearance of design in nature? But so far, the TEs are unwilling to concede that the appearance of design in nature is even worth investigating. They just join with the atheist Darwinists in dismissing the appearance of design as an illusion, to be explained away by hypothetical evolutionary pathways, or promissory notes of “future research” into such pathways. And they wonder why ID people are frustrated! The question arises: whose side are the TEs on? The side of materialistic naturalism, or the side of Mind? Classical theists (Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Hooker, etc.) felt no need to fudge; design in nature was to be expected, because nature was created, shaped and ordered by a great Mind. Why, when confronted by the same overwhelming evidence for design, do our modern theists vacillate?

  30. Thomas Cudworth,

    Thanks for the kind words and thoughtful response, first off.

    I absolutely am aware of the imported metaphysics many evolution proponents smuggle in, and I’m as set against that as can be. As I’ve said here, my position is that science isn’t able to rule on design in either direction – and I think that this line has been crossed, repeatedly and broadly, by atheists. It’s one reason why I, as a TE, really can’t fault the ID community for asserting that it’s scientific to see design in nature: Because so many have passed off the claim that there’s no design or purpose in nature AS science. Even if I disagree that such views can be ‘scientific’, I must agree that if one side can do it, the other side can as well. And ‘Well, the mainstream scientific community is majority atheist/agnostic’ doesn’t mean a thing in verifying their metaphysics.

    As for ‘naturalistic’, honestly, I think that word doesn’t really mean anything anymore aside from ‘God wasn’t involved’. And for the record, I don’t think ‘supernatural’ has much of a definition either, and never has. Those words are problematic and frighteningly open to abuse – primarily, in my view, by naturalists themselves. It’s akin to ‘materialism’, which should have died when our knowledge of physics advanced. Heck, even Bertrand Russell thought said advances struck down materialism at its core. Now, someone who wants to call themselves a materialist just expands the definition to include waves, quantum phenomena, and whatever else they want to sans what they do not.

    Anyway, you ask why some TEs resist ID as much as they do. While pointing out one more time that I think Ayala’s take on such is a sham to say the least, I want to offer some possibilities for that – as a lone, unnamed, but sympathetic TE. These aren’t excuses, nor are they necessarily what I believe. But I think they’re what go through the minds of some, maybe many TEs.

    * They associate ID with YEC, and consider YEC not just an incorrect view, but a downright embarrassment that outright impedes their ability to express their faith. I believe in treating YECs with respect, even though I disagree with them. But keep in mind that many atheists love – out and out cherish – the association of YEC with mainstream religion. They consider it tremendously easy to knock down, and to convince others that they’ve knocked it down. Some TEs resent this and see it as a disaster for faith, because someone who believes that either YECs or atheists are right will find themselves choosing the latter option. Further, they consider the YEC position not intellectually respectable, and don’t like having their faith associated with such.

    * Because they don’t believe that evolution (or even ‘darwinian evolution’, a phrase which many people seem to have differing definitions of) or science in general has anything to say either way about religious claims – and believe that ID, even sans-YEC, offers arguments that set their faith up for a religious beating. Take an IC structure, like the bacterial flagellum. I know it’s unlikely to say the least for a number of reasons, but what if such a structure were shown to evolve under laboratory conditions? By the TE view, nothing changes – it’s just one more bit of order in the universe, one more example of secondary causation. But if atheists saw such a falsification (or thought they saw it) they would tout it as proof that there is no God. Meanwhile, if such a demonstration never showed up in the laboratory.. they still have little to gain, because it would just be written off a discovery that could or would come someday, or one they didn’t even need to validate their beliefs. There is, to many TEs, nothing that can science can demonstrate definitely comes from God. It could always be a misunderstanding, or – if necessary – from an alien or other kind of intelligence.

    * I think there are a variety of lesser reasons in play. A desire to prove to the atheists that they, too, can be rational and scientific by aiming their sights on those outside the mainstream. A belief that the whole ID debate is a distraction from arguments that better convince people of God (usually philosophical ones, etc.)

    And let me ask something in turn. Why is there so little effort on the philosophical end of ID? Why do even the philosophers who are pro-ID come at the question from the angle of ‘Well, ID should be considered science’ rather than bypassing that question and arguing that what we know of even mainstream evolution and natural science indicates a Designer? One of my personal frustrations with the ID movement is that the evidence for design, even with the same mechanisms proposed by the most mainstream of darwinists, is overwhelming. Dawkins and others have talked about how the ‘illusion’ of design is so powerful, even within their own theories. It should be easy to mount an argument that, while nature may not prove a particular religion’s faith to be true, the evidence we have renders atheism irrational compared to at least deism, or theist-leaning agnosticism.

  31. Jerry, I have studied many of the prominent TEs, and I am confident that I understand the substance of their arguments. Not all of them are Christian Darwinists. In fact, a very small minority, in the likeness of Edward Oakes, are even critical of Darwin, though they save their fury for ID scientists. Still, most TEs fall into the category of Christian Darwinist, just as Thomas has described them on this post. Consistent with the theme of this post, I believe that TEs really do try to reconcile two irreconcilable world views, a point that I have made from a variety of vantage points. (Even to the point of being irksome, I suppose).

    Clearly, Thomas has done the requisite reading, so his arguments are grounded in a solid understanding of what the TEs are saying. His objections against the TEs formulation are similar to mine, although his approach is more diplomatic and ecumenical. I can’t speak for him, of course, but for my part, an appeal to reread what I have already read will not persuade me that I am wrong. If you think that you can find to integrate Darwinism with traditional Christianity and make it coherent (I am not talking about Biblical literalism), then go for it. I promise I will be respectful of the attempt, though naturally I reserve the right to comment on it.

  32. Oops, that should read, “if you think you can find a way to integrate Darwinism with traditional Chrisiantiy…..

  33. —–Thomas Cudworth: “The question arises: whose side are the TEs on? The side of materialistic naturalism, or the side of Mind? Classical theists (Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Hooker, etc.) felt no need to fudge; design in nature was to be expected, because nature was created, shaped and ordered by a great Mind. Why, when confronted by the same overwhelming evidence for design, do our modern theists vacillate?”

    This is the part that I find most frustrating. All the great thinkers, Augustine, Aquinas, Newton, etc, were design thinkers, but the TEs misrepresent their arguments, twist their words, and try to make them say things that they didn’t say—as if they would have supported the TE’s non-design argument.

  34. Nusullus: “Why is there so little effort on the philosophical end of ID? Why do even the philosophers who are pro-ID come at the question from the angle of ‘Well, ID should be considered science’ rather than bypassing that question and arguing that what we know of even mainstream evolution and natural science indicates a Designer?”

    But I thought that that is precisely what ID is doing. There is no ID denial that evolution occurred—rather, as I tell people, “evolution is evidence”—evidence of design. That was, in Phil Johnson’s words, “Berra’s blunder.” Tim Berra, in his 1990 book, compared the evolution of human technology with mindless Darwinism. What the man missed is that human technology is by design.

    Design is the default position. If it has the appearance of design then it is design—until someone can show us otherwise. Some friends of ID, such as David Berlinski, may not see the design inference as fool proof, but they do see clearly the complete nakedness of Emperor Darwin.

    Further isn’t it true that most if not all ID advocates are not demarcationists—wasn’t this the entire thrust of Nancy Pearcey’s hefty tome, Total Truth? There is no discrete boundary between science and religion and there is no one scientific method.

    As for government schools, I’m with you when you say, “Frankly, I think one of the best answers to the whole ID classroom debate is a greater emphasis on home-schooling. I have a dim view of public schooling …” Nevertheless it would be good to break the education monopoly where a Stalinist cabal dictates exactly what a teacher can and cannot teach. Let the teachers teach! And if the Darwinists don’t like it—home school! That’s what the rest of us have to do.

  35. The problem with TE is that it turns God into a needlessly multiplied entity.

    That is the real heart of the issue.

  36. 36

    Rude,
    “Let the teachers teach! And if the Darwinists don’t like it—home school! That’s what the rest of us have to do.”

    LOL, home schooled Darwinists, Now that would be funny.

  37. “LOL, home schooled Darwinists, Now that would be funny”

    Sure, allow science-teaching the freedom to follow the evidence.

    Darwinism as faith has its rightful place somewhere like here:

    http://www.time.com/time/magaz.....28,00.html

    :-)

  38. I think that the ACLU would be OK with the pledge of allegiance if we changed the wording to, “One nation under Darwin.”

  39. StephenB,

    I have read the first 6-7 essays in the Keith Miller Book and from what I read it is entirely consistent with ID. The authors I have read would allow special creation or what some call the poof scenario. That does not say they think that is how evolution happened but it is within their ideological frame work. I suggest you read the chapters by Lorne Haarsma and Ted Davis. Haarsma’s essay is nothing short of outstanding.

    Don’t use Ken Miller as the poster boy of the TE’s. He is very visible but very suspect because of his financial interests. I have been one of the more frequent demonizers of Ken Miller here and would never consider him a serious TE.

    What is currently driving a lot of the TE’s positions seems to be an abhorrence of YEC’s who they see as having very bad science and very bad theology. They see ID as intertwined with YEC and from what I have seen on this site, I agree. The occasional denial that ID has anything to do with YEC notwithstanding and is only interested in what is designed vanishes quickly in a lot of the discussions here. ID refuses to get serious about the evolution debate and picks and chooses its battles while avoiding others so as to not offend the YEC’s. The YEC’s don’t even believe in evolution which is one reason the whole relationship seems ludicrous to many. ID has teamed up on the evolution debate with a group that says that evolution has not happened. So what kind of credibility can it have with such a strategy. Until ID does get serious, it will have to remain on the fringes. As Nick Matzke has said it is so easy to discredit ID as long as it has its relationship with the YEC’s.

  40. Jerry, I appreciate what you are saying about the capacity of some TE’s to blend in with ID at some level, and I tend to agree. Not all of them are created equal, and I can co-exist with the old time TEs that simply integrate Christianity with some kind of guided evolution (macro or micro).

    Most TE’s, however, fall into one or more of at least seven possible errors:

    Error #1: Arguing that Christianity and Darwinism (general theory) are compatible). As Thomas has pointed out, that marriage doesn’t work. That is why Christian Darwinists always subordinate their faith to Darwinist ideology. They don’t end up denying the fall or the existence of Adam and Eve for nothing. They may be theists, but their compromised version of Christianity has been fatally wounded.

    Error #2: Joining in with Darwinists to impose methodological naturalism as the official methodology for science. Thus, they want to take ID out of the game even before it enters the arena. The name of the game is to discredit the idea of design as a scientific construct and rule it out in principle.

    Error #3: Confusing young earth creationism with intelligent design. There is simply no excuse for this. If they make that mistake, then they are scandalously uninformed and not worth taking seriously. Their obligation to understand and to not misrepresent the other side should weigh heavily on them, because their errors can compromise and ruin someone’s career. Our side doesn’t have that kind of power.

    Error #4: Attacking ID on the grounds that it violates the principles of Divine Causality. Many TEs misread Augustine and Aquinas and putting words in their mouth to justify their anti-design bias. In fact, almost all of the great scientists have been design thinkers.

    Error #5: Attacking ID on the grounds that [A] a good God would never have designed the world. (Design is heartless) Or [B] A competent God would never have designed life in any direct way. (It is beneath the dignity of a “greater God.”) These assumptions are grounded in wishful thinking. God could have countless reasons for doing things in an ID fashion. In any case, science should not be ideology driven.

    Error #6: Playing fast and loose with contingency, calling it objective when they want to maintain Darwinist materialism, and calling it subjective when they want to explain away a seemingly purposeless God.

    Error: #7: Arguing that a design inference is a mere intellectual phenomenon, meaning that images of reality have nothing to do with reality itself and so design must be an illusion. This is also very common and is not unrelated to the Darwinian proposition that design is an “illusion.”

    If the TE doesn’t make any of these errors, then he is OK with me. I don’t mind it if he doesn’t believe in intelligent design as long as his rationale is not based on one of those seven errors, and as long as he doesn’t persecute ID. Almost all TEs make at least one of these errors, and many stumble over five or six of them. In the old days, and with the old TEs, it wasn’t that way. That is what anti-intellectualism has done to our culture.

    For the most part, TE arguments are incomprehensible, mostly because they are also nonsensical. That is why when I ask people to summarize a given TE’s formulation, they begin to realize that they can’t do it. It isn’t their fault. It is just that they are realizing, perhaps for the first time, that the arguments don’t hang together well enough to summarize. So they always refer me back to the author himself, whom I have often already read and critiqued.
    Of one thing you may be sure. If a person [A] is arguing on behalf of a reasonable proposition and [B] if he truly understands it, then [C] he can wade through the complexity, distill it to its basic essence (without oversimplifying it), and explain it so that a twelve year old can understand it.

  41. Rude,

    First off, I’d agree that the lines of science are rather fuzzy.

    But, saying that design is the default position doesn’t really hit at my question. For one, not everyone believes that – in fact, many scientists (and certainly most atheists) have devoted themselves to positioning atheism as the so-called ‘null hypothesis’. Second, while Johnson’s comeback was powerful to say the least, that’s a very brief exchange. I simply have not seen the philosophical argument for design capitalized on out of the ID camp. Meanwhile, from Dawkins to Quentin Smith to others, there is an endless amount of philosophical harping about how ‘Clearly God wouldn’t make this world’ or ‘Nature, when you study it, seems meaningless and purposeless’ and elsewise. Their arguments are weak, abysmally so. And I do not see the ID camp challenging them on philosophical grounds.

    Again – I am more than happy to get abuse of science out of schools. I think any descriptions of nature as purposeless, of evolution as blind, or of natural history as chance, are philosophically loaded – and should be removed, while the science and natural history itself remains. The problem is that I favor this tact over what I see as the ID alternative – keeping those descriptions in there, and trying to balance it out with ID.

    Let me add another difficulty I see. How many people have you encountered that utterly butcher what ID proposes, or constitutes as an idea? Now, just how much clearer do you think ID is going to be presented by most public school science teachers?

    In a way, the whole public school debate is, for me, a non-issue. Very little actual education seems to happen there. Books, articles, websites, groups, and most especially parents – those stand a better chance of properly communicating the weaknesses of ‘chance’ and ‘without design’ claims. I sympathize with the desire, but I think it’d be a mistake to bet too heavily on it.

  42. Jerry wrote:

    The YEC’s don’t even believe in evolution…

    By “evolution” do you mean universal common descent? If your statement boils down to “YECs don’t believe that humans and apes evolved from a common ancestor” then you’re correct.

    YECs (from what I gather) reject naturalistic OOL scenarios, and they object that there is sufficient hard evidence for a macroevolution scenario. They have no problem with microevolution. So when you say that YECs don’t believe in evolution, it presents as an equivocation.

    Evolution: the notion that all life is the result of chance, necessity, and Darwinian processes. (Includes OOL)

    Evolution: the notion that all life developed via Darwinian process from a single common ancestor. (Excludes OOL)

    Evolution: the observation that species change over time via a combination of natural and genetic factors. (Excludes Macroevolution)

    Let’s remember that ID attempts to be specific about which definitions are proven, suggested, or unreasonable to assume. One of the advantages of the ID debate is that it exposes the prevarication of the term “evolution” so I think a descent into ambiguity in this term’s usage is unfortunate.

    There’s nothing within the scope of ID that goes specifically against the young earth view that a variety of species (including humans) were created at the genesis of life. And ID’s position that the anthropic prinipal (and the PPH) is very suggestive of deliberate fine tuning does nothing to assault YEC either.

    All the YEC hating in the world isn’t going to unite diametrical ID and Darwinian viewpoints. If one must make enemies of their friends to make friends with their enemies, then they’re consorting with madness. YEC is not incompatible with ID — no matter how unpalletable one might find the young earth view; however philosophical materialism and Theistic Darwinism are completely incompatible, and both are ID’s sworn enemy.

  43. Sorry, spelling correction: unpalatable

  44. I have a negative reaction to dissing TE on the basis of inconsistency. Isn’t there an equally great inconsistency in discussing Christianity without God? If Christianity includes prayer, then it cannot be Darwinist, Deists don’t pray either. In fact, I would use prayer as a de facto definition of theism. So the inconsistency in TE is not between Christianity & Darwin, but between prayer and Darwin.

    Finally, YEC can do science, albeit with some really strange things happening 6000 years ago. But are they all that more strange than a singularity 13.7 billion years ago? They can still do 99.9% of the science taught in graduate schools today, albeit with caveats about “apparent age” versus “real age”. But we’ve been living with “apparent purpose” versus “real purpose” for 150 years, and still have managed to do good science. So cut them some slack, and stop getting hung up on metaphysics. After all, you only need metaphysics when you’re doing paradigm shifts.

  45. —–Appollos: “All the YEC hating in the world isn’t going to unite diametrical ID and Darwinian viewpoints. If one must make enemies of their friends to make friends with their enemies, then they’re consorting with madness. YEC is not incompatible with ID — no matter how unpalletable one might find the young earth view; however philosophical materialism and Theistic Darwinism are completely incompatible, and both are ID’s sworn enemy.”

    This is very well put.

  46. StephenB, thanks. I find it difficult to believe that ID’s ostracizing of YEC will cause the TE/TDs to abandon their view that design detection in living organisms is heretical and unscientific.

  47. Appollos,

    As far as I know the YEC’s say all was created 6000 years ago. Each species was created then and then I guess all were on the Ark. From the Ark, they allow that some micro evolution took place but I am not the one to say how much. But in that time, not much micro evolution could have happened. How did the tens of million species happen in this short time? By micro evolution? Not by any process I am aware of.

    The YEC’s can claim that they accept micro evolution but how did all the species of the earth arrive? It all took time which the YEC’s cannot accept and if ID ignores the time issue it is not a serious contender in the evolution debate and should stay out of it. The age issue prevents ID from being a serious science. It doesn’t prevent Behe by the way since he recognizes time is his work. A big sticking point with the TE’s is the age issue.

    Was the YEC hating comment directed at me? If so it is inappropriate. I do not hate anyone and admire a lot of YEC’s for their values, but not their science and theology. I happen to believe that ID’s association with YEC impedes the acceptance of ID amongst those who count, the average person. I actually believe the YEC’s are very selfish in this debate and are only looking at enhancing their own religious position by entering into a debate they really do not believe in. I have no desire to convince the Darwinists or the ID bashers but those who might accept ID in the general population. There is a fixation here with Panda’s Thumb and TE’s when the fixation should be on the average person. Those are the ones I would like to convince, not the YEC’s, the TE’s or the Darwinists.

  48. jerry wrote:

    Each species was created then and then I guess all were on the Ark. From the Ark, they allow that some micro evolution took place but I am not the one to say how much. But in that time, not much micro evolution could have happened. How did the tens of million species happen in this short time? By micro evolution? Not by any process I am aware of.

    The YEC’s can claim that they accept micro evolution but how did all the species of the earth arrive? It all took time which the YEC’s cannot accept and if ID ignores the time issue it is not a serious contender in the evolution debate and should stay out of it.

    Come on jerry, really? First, let’s define a species. After you do that, we can assess how many OBSERVED species we’ve counted, then we can move on to estimates. After that, let’s see how quickly we can “speciate” given your definition of “species.”

    Now I’m not up on the latest YEC Baraminology, but my understanding is that there were original created kinds, hence “bara + min”. These are groups that can reproduce with others of the same kind. So dogs, wolves, coyotes, etc…all would be considered a kind.

    Now we know that in around 50 years grey foxes can change morphologically and behaviorally to become almost indistiguishable from domesticated dogs (google “grey fox domestication”), so who is to say that 4000 years of such radiation can’t produce all the variation within the kinds we see today?

    It is an empirical question, the kind that IDers love. I see nothing unscientific about having a hypothesis that all animals descend from groups dating back less than 10,000 years. It is falsifiable, open to investigation and can lead to more questions…even if it turned out to be false.

    Methinks your man smells like straw.

  49. Hi Jerry,

    “Was the YEC hating comment directed at me? If so it is inappropriate.”

    Well no, and I think that was pretty apparent contextually. After all, it was hypothetical, and a generalization — and I’m under no illusion that you personally are in a position to unite TE and ID by hating YEC.

    As far as I know the YEC’s say all was created 6000 years ago.

    Yes that’s one of the views, others suspect 10,000 years or more — even others suggest 100,000s. Regardless it’s irrelevant to the ID debate. That YECs generally accept ID, and that ID doesn’t chastise or ridicule them for it, is not that surprising to me. The age of the universe has practically nothing to do with design detection. I have yet to hear a compelling argument that it does.

    How did the tens of million species happen in this short time?

    I could ask you to explain how it happened with a long time span. I doubt you could do it justice, nor anyone for that matter. Since neither of us can answer the question, from a short or long term perspective, I’d say it’s moot — especially considering it has no direct relevance to the ID paradigm. Additionally, I’m not here as a YEC apologist, I’m here as an ID supporter. If my support does damage to the movement, I’ll withdraw it when those leading the movement make it clear.

    The YEC’s can claim that they accept micro evolution but how did all the species of the earth arrive?

    I would imagine that YECs can accept microevolution because it’s directly observable and testable, just like anyone else can. I believe many YECs accept the concept of front-loaded genomes, same as many old-earth ID proponents, so it’s not that hard to imagine (that seems like a popular scientific tool these days) the unfolding of species diversity based on already-present genomic information. This is an ID compatible view.

    The age issue prevents ID from being a serious science.

    There is no ID “age issue” and I’ll be shocked if I’m the only one who holds this view. There are no aspects of design detection nor design inferences that require long geologic ages. The “design” issue is what limits Intelligent Design, a nice built-in catch 22. As long as ID posits the possibility of purposeful design by an intelligent agent, it’s going to cause apoplexy among the materialist and Darwinist elite, period.

    I do not hate anyone and admire a lot of YEC’s for their values, but not their science and theology.

    I have yet to see any sort of exegetical discourse that demonstrates the bad theology of a literal interpretation of the book of Genesis.

    Peace and grace, I’m off to Bible study. :o

  50. 50

    Just a few responses to Thomas’ original post. I will respond as though the post was directed at me, but please don’t assume that I speak for other evolutionary creationists. My focus is on why I can’t “join” you in the ID movement.

    1. I embrace evolutionary explanations because they have explanatory power. For the same reason, I embrace naturalistic explanations for the development of the human brain, and for the causation of cancer, and for the formation of the Grand Canyon. All of these explanations involve mechanisms that are referred to as “random.” In fact, randomness and chance are interesting topics for Christians of all kinds and in nearly every aspect of scientific inquiry (if not all of life). In my view, to focus on these issues exclusively in the context of biological evolution is a huge mistake. If I thought the ID movement were really about wrestling with the notions of chance, providence and design in the analysis of God’s world, I’d be happy to join the conversation. It’s not, and I’m not.

    2. I’m astonished by the casual claim that “Darwinian evolution” is “out of God’s control” because of the role of “chance.” Leaving aside some pretty clear statements about chance and God’s providence in Scripture, I find the statement to be either a tautology (“Darwinian evolution is out of God’s control because Darwin/Dawkins said it was”) or a pronouncement regarding God’s sovereignty that is anathema to me as a Christian (and especially as a Reformed Christian). In grumpier moods, or after reading some of the more obnoxious comments on this blog, I would suggest that such talk approaches blasphemy, but in any case I would not count myself among Christians who talk that way about God’s world and his work. It’s one thing to say you don’t buy the Darwinian explanation, or to say that you’re confused about the working of God’s purposes in the midst of seemingly random events; it’s another to declare that there are processes that God can’t “control.”

    3. Regarding design, I don’t have any desire at all to “ban the notion of design from science.” In fact, I’m quite comfortable discussing design and wondering about the ways it can come about. I find most of the ID movement’s claims about “complexity” and whatnot to be unconvincing (and Behe’s work in TEoE is disastrously flawed), but I don’t think the question is either silly or inherently unscientific. (Perhaps this means I’m not the kind of “TE” you have in mind.) On questions of design, my main difference with your movement is probably summarized aptly as follows: I think design is the question, and you think it’s the answer. But this means I’m just not that interested in your movement’s goals.

    4. Unlike many on this blog, I don’t harbor hatred for atheists, not even “unsavory” atheists, and I actively seek opportunities to interact with skeptics. I have many friends and very close collaborators who are atheists, and I just joined a collaborative blog that seeks to create constructive conversations among believers and skeptics, on scientific topics. Even if we agreed on everything else, your movement (or at least the corner of the movement represented by this blog) would be something I would carefully avoid, not only because I despise the culture-war rhetoric, but because the people you hate are many of the people I love.

    Now, please let me sign off by saying that while I’ll never join your movement, I do want to be counted as a “friendly critic” who is willing and able to identify areas of common ground between us. You approached some of that common ground in your post, and I thought it was worth a try responding in my first comment at UD. Sorry about the length…

  51. Jerry: In spite of its ongoing campaign to sell Darwinism to the public, the academy gets nowhere. Most people still believe in either intelligent design or creationism. So, it isn’t the general public we need to convince, it is the up and coming scientists, philosophers, theologians—those who are serious about a life of the mind. They are the ones who define education, culture, public communication, fashion—and yes, science itself. Few of them are gullible enough to buy into the obviously radical dogma of Dawkins and co.

    What they are much more likely to buy into is Christian Darwinism, which is nothing less than radicalism posing as reasonableness and temperance. That is why the TEs (the Christian/Darwin variety) are so dangerous and why anyone they teach is so vulnerable. There is just enough sugar in their confection to make young Christians swallow the poison whole and join the ranks of the anti-ID militants. Thus, will the Christian Darwinists breed a whole new generation in their own image and likeness—a new crop of intractable ideologues who, like their mentors, will tell everyone how “devout” they are as Christians even as they abandon the tenets of their faith, embrace naturalism, and join a new generation of ID persecutors.

    That is why we should regard them as our adversaries and give the YECs a break. Yes, there are some YECs who go off the deep end and make us look bad, but that is not the only reason or even the main reason we get stigmatized. Anyone who cares knows the difference between creation science and ID. If Darwinists and TEs do not get it, whose fault is that? The information is just as available to them as anyone else. If you and I know the difference, then they should know the difference. Why should we waste our time trying to educate them on a matter? Are they so logically challenged that they can’t figure out the difference between a presupposition and an inference? (Wait, don’t answer that)! In any case, we should be less concerned with converting old Christian Darwinists and more concerned about recruiting young skulls full of mush. The best way to do that is too call our enemies out and fight them in the arena of public opinion. As Vernon Johns once remarked, “If you see a good fight, get in it.”

  52. Atom,

    you said

    “so who is to say that 4000 years of such radiation can’t produce all the variation within the kinds we see today?”

    You cannot be serious in your answer. Are you actually saying that because some species are conflated by different variants, that the concept is worthless. It is a very strained answer and one you cannot possibly believe. Your use of artificial selection is a cop out and you say I am using a straw man. Any examples of natural creations of species in recent times to indicate that such a thing could happen so fast. And all the species creation in nature at an amazing rate under men’s noses without them reporting any of it. I would have thought it would have made the epic poems as well as the ancient writings.

    Start looking at the geographical dispersion of species and let me know how that could have happened in the time since Noah. It could have with millions of years of micro evolution but no way in 4,000 years.

    By the way 4,000 years ago civilizations were flourishing in Sumer and Egypt and their writings did not indicate different types of animals emerging. No historical writings did.

  53. Apollos,

    I am sorry but age is definitely part of evolution and ID’s attempt to be a science. The whole explanatory filter is based on deep time because it could not be legitimate if it did not use the time frame of the age of the earth in billions of years. If it rejected things as not natural because it could not happen in 6,000 years then it would be the laughing stock of the science world. Dembski or anyone here would not be taken seriously by anyone when they tried to use such an argument.

    The UPB is based on billions of years and is an essential part of the EF. So if ID is to be consistent and say something is designed then it must use an old earth and an old universe as part of its rationale. So those who say ID has no opinion on the age of the earth are denying ID as potential science.

    The waving of the hands about age is a game and if ID continues to perpetuate it then it will remain a laughing stock among reputable scientists. To say that life’s variety could have happened by natural processes in 5,000 years since they left the ark defies all reason. No wonder no one takes ID seriously if they claim such could happen.

    No ID has to acknowledge an old earth to be serious about science.

  54. Jerry,

    I think you’re mistaken about the EF and the UPB, but I’ll accept correction. The 10^150 bound allows for a billions year old universe, it doesn’t require it. There’s a big difference. Again, nothing about a design inference requires billions of years.

    To say that life’s variety could have happened by natural processes in 5,000 years since they left the ark defies all reason.

    Who insists on a purely “natural” process, besides those who reject the notion out of hand? There’s nothing natural at all about the events surrounding Genesis 6-9.

    Since I’m not out to impress anyone, I’ll be content with the crazy notion that my Bible provides me a reliable account, from its first page to its last. Besides scorn and ridicule, I can think of no negative social consequences of trusting the account as provided, and remaining cautiously tentative when considering what I think I know about it. I’m content to continue this 3000+ year old tradition.

    The waving of the hands about age is a game and if ID continues to perpetuate it then it will remain a laughing stock among reputable scientists.

    I see no hand waving, only the pragmatic acknowledgment that age calculations have no pertinent part in ID hypotheses. If you think that the “old earth” pinch-of-incense is going to liberate ID from the scorn of TE/TDs and materialists, you are mistaken.

    Cosmological age is not the crux of objections to ID with any of its opponents, as most of them understand it’s irrelevance to ID’s arguments. The same conflate ID with creationism merely to color their sophistry — the same insist that ID must ostracize the Biblical fundamentalists, knowing it would weaken ID’s grass roots support.

    The notion of Intelligent Design, that “certain features of the universe and living systems are best explained as the result of an intelligent process” is where the trouble lies, and they who hold that view will find few friends among those promoting Darwinism, young earth or no.

    Peace out. :wink:

  55. Hey jerry,

    First, you still haven’t given me your definition of a species. It isn’t a “strained” answer, it is a question. A necessary one. We would need to know it before we begin discussing possible rates of “speciation”, obviously.

    jerry wrote:

    And all the species creation in nature at an amazing rate under men’s noses without them reporting any of it. I would have thought it would have made the epic poems as well as the ancient writings.

    Where were the epic poems about the grey fox domestication or the domestication of the cow? Morphological change can indeed happen under men’s noses without them paying great mind to it. Your sarcasm doesn’t strengthen your point.

    Start looking at the geographical dispersion of species and let me know how that could have happened in the time since Noah. It could have with millions of years of micro evolution but no way in 4,000 years.

    The pattern of distribution is as much a pattern of extinction as it is of radiation. For example, marsupials existed once on all the continents, but now appear mainly in Australia. There were two types of camel in the Americas, forms of Elephant, horses, etc. All gone. So again, I’ve seen no knockdown argument against YEC using biogeography.

    And since time is your issue, you’d have to make assumptions about radiation (speciation) rate; but to do that, you’d need to identify your mechanism. What mechanism do you think is the main driver of your speciation? (The level of “speciation” you’ve yet to define.) A pre-loaded “explosion” could happen relatively quickly, if designed that way.

    By the way 4,000 years ago civilizations were flourishing in Sumer and Egypt and their writings did not indicate different types of animals emerging. No historical writings did.

    Not just in Mesopotamia, but in the Americas as well. They were domesticating grains and doing breeding experiments on these continents at that time. Yet even the morphological change the men themselves caused wasn’t celebrated or noticed; we know it from archeology. So again, don’t expect front page news when different variations of animals emerge over periods of thousands of years.

    This is not to assert the YEC stance; it is only to show that your “knock down” arguments against it don’t really hold much water. Maybe they seem much stronger in your head (or else you probably wouldn’t write them), but either way, you should lay off the YECs until you come up with something stronger.

  56. Just so you’re aware, Ken Miller and Denis Lamoureux are tossing around terms over at Science & Religion today. Ken Miller has rejected the term “theistic evolution” …
    http://scienceandreligiontoday.....onist.html … and Denis Lamoureux makes his pitch for “evolutionary creation” … http://scienceandreligiontoday.....onary.html … and then, of course, Francis Collins has his “BioLogos” … http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BioLogos

  57. —–Steve Matheson: “I’m astonished by the casual claim that “Darwinian evolution” is “out of God’s control” because of the role of “chance.” Leaving aside some pretty clear statements about chance and God’s providence in Scripture, I find the statement to be either a tautology (”Darwinian evolution is out of God’s control because Darwin/Dawkins said it was”) or a pronouncement regarding God’s sovereignty that is anathema to me as a Christian (and especially as a Reformed Christian). In grumpier moods, or after reading some of the more obnoxious comments on this blog, I would suggest that such talk approaches blasphemy, but in any case I would not count myself among Christians who talk that way about God’s world and his work. It’s one thing to say you don’t buy the Darwinian explanation, or to say that you’re confused about the working of God’s purposes in the midst of seemingly random events; it’s another to declare that there are processes that God can’t “control.”

    It would help if you would be a little more explicit in your objections. What do you mean about the “role of chance” in Scripture and what is your assessment of that role? Are you saying that design by chance is a Scriptural concept? If so, how would one square such a notion with the Biblical teaching that God had each individual in mind prior to the creation? How could the finished product match the Creator’s original intent.

    Either evolution is an intended, consciously planned process (non-Darwinian), in which case there is only one possible outcome, or it is an unintended, unconscious,

    chance process with no plan (Darwinian), in which case there are many possible outcomes. It there are many possible outcomes, then the finished product will likely not match the Creator’s intent.

    Put another way, we must choose between teleological evolution and non-teleological evolution. Either an organism’s development (as well as its ecological environment) proceeds according to a directed, internal principle, in which case the results are predictable, or it proceeds randomly and without direction by adapting to an ever-changing environment, in which case the results are unpredictable. It can’t do both at the same time an under the same formal circumstances. No one is saying that God can’t control his own process. The problem is that some want to impose on God a Darwinian process, which is, by definition, a non-control process, and then try to make it fit in with a picture of God under control.

    In effect, Christian Darwinists are saying that God planned an unplanned process, which is untenable, to say the least. At some level, they sense the inherent conflict and try to fix the logical difficulty by introducing an illogical solution. (“For us, it is a Darwinian process, but for God it isn’t.”) For anyone who believes in macro-evolution, the there is only one logical solution. Abandon the idea that God used a chance-driven process, and embrace the idea that he used a purpose driven process.

  58. Jerry,

    Apollos (54) and atom (55) have answered some of your objections to YEC as a viable theory of natural history. I would just sharpen a few points. If God helped with the stocking of Noah’s ark with animals, one might expect that He would have selected for genetic diversity in the animals that went on board, so that a form of front-loading of diversity would have happened. To take the example of canids, if within the last few thousand years we can get St. Bernards, chihuahuas, and greyhounds from the same basic stock (which seems undisputed), who’s to say that we can’t by (more natural) selection get wolves, coyotes, dingos, African hunting dogs, and perhaps even foxes? Why, if we are only required to sort through genetic material instead of create new material, should it take millions of years?

    I agree with atom (55) that the definition of a species is important. Since wolves, coyotes, and apparently foxes can all interbreed with dogs, are they all one species? In that case we would be looking at interspecies variation.

    Perhaps more important, though, is your apparent ignorance of the stakes involved. I am quite comfortable with your rejection of YEC. Reasonable people can differ, and I feel no need to demonize you because we do. Among others, Dembski, Behe,and Steve Meyer have made clear their disagreement with YEC, particularly regarding age (and I respect them). But notice that it has made absolutely no difference in their reception by Darwinists, whether atheist or theist. Do you really trust that if only you can purge yourself of those pesky YEC’s, the scientific community will welcome you with open arms? Has it happened before? Why should they start now? This was pointed out by Apollos (42 & 46) and StephenB (45).

    Those who are claiming that this is your real problem do not have your best interests at heart, to put it delicately. They hope to do two things. Politically, they hope to transform you from a solid majority into a minority. To refresh your memory, roughly 45% of the American populace believes that God created mankind sometime in the last 10,000 years. These are not all YEC’s, as it leaves open the possibility that a long evolutionary process produced the rest of life and God intervened only once. Without further data, we can’t say how that split goes, but let’s say that it is 25 % YEC, 10% OEC, and 10% undecided. But all of them are ID.

    Then there is some 35% that believe that God used a long evolutionary process to produce humans. Again this is a mixed bag. Behe could fit here, but so would most TE’s. Let’s say that on the question of detectability of God’s activity these split 10% TE, 15% ID Behe-style, and 10% don’t know. Then there are 10% God had nothing to do with it types. In fairness, some TE’s could fit here, although one would think that most of them would not want to put themselves in this category, as “nothing” is pretty absolute. That leaves about 10% on the sidelines. Let’s say that those 10% are mostly split between positions 2 and 3.

    Now, if the question is, “Is there evidence of God’s activity in nature?”, then one has perhaps 30% saying “no” and 60% saying “yes”. But if the YEC’s and those leaning in that direction can be discredited, then the ratio increases to 30/25, and if OEC’s can also be discredited the ratio rises further to 30/15. Then the atheists, who control academia, can overwhelm the TE’s, by using a divide and conquer strategy. The TE’s can be tolerated as dhimmis, occasionally trotted out as tokens to show that academia doesn’t really have any prejudices against religion, while the scientific establishment is kept clean from known ID advocates, so as to reinforce the claim that ID is not science. (It is too bad, from this perspective, that Behe has tenure, but perhaps his department can put out a memo saying that he is all wet.)

    Theoretically, Darwinists hope to get you to firmly denounce YEC’s, then start pestering you with questions about why God created life forms just to allow them to die, and create a lot of suffering in the process. They will ask why God created malaria and parasitic wasps. If you are an OEC they will ask you if you believe in common descent for all other forms of life, then ask why you would reject common descent for humans. They hope to push you into the TE camp, to either live there as a dhimmi, or to drift the rest of the way, as Howard Van Til apparently has and become an atheist. That’s the history behind the movement, and I’ve seen those tactics used both in low-level and high-level discussions.

    The danger for them is that if they don’t truly convince you to reject YEC out of hand, when they start using these theological arguments on you, you just might reconsider YEC, as it doesn’t have these theological problems. So the first question they want answered is age, not the detectability of intelligence. And they want you to reject all help from those who don’t believe in long ages, as then you are a minority instead of a majority.

    If you think that rejecting YEC will lend you respectability, just ask yourself why Behe, Dembsik, or Meyer are not more respected. Ask yourself why Gonzalez lost his job. These people have been very clear as to their disagreement with YEC. If it didn’t stop Darwinists from giving them a hard time, why should Darwinists treat the rest of the movement any better? Don’t you recognize snake-oil salesmen when you see them?

  59. 59

    Theistic evolutionists like Ken Miller try to appease atheistic evolutionists by viciously attacking Intelligent Design and other scientific (or pseudoscientific, to them) criticisms of evolution. Ken Miller was a plaintiffs’ expert witness in two lawsuits (Kitzmiller v. Dover and Selman v. Cobb County) against evolution-disclaimer statements in public schools where only evolution was actually being taught. Winston Churchill defined “appeaser” as “someone who feeds a crocodile, in the hope that it will eat him last.” Sure enough, PZ Myers came out with a Pharyngula blog article titled, “Ken Miller, the creationist.”

    ID-proponent Michael Behe believes in an old earth and common descent. IMO the only real difference between Behe and Ken Miller is that Miller believes that random mutation and natural selection have unlimited capabilities.

  60. 60

    To StephenB @57:
    Thanks for the response. It seems there are just two issues to tackle here.

    1. You asked about my view of chance in Scripture. I note that God’s people commonly used the casting of lots to make decisions (choosing the scapegoat, selecting Judas’ replacement, choosing Saul as king) and Proverbs 16:33 seems pretty clear to me: “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” My claim is not that “design by chance is a Scriptural concept.” My claim is much more basic: the notion that “random” processes, including Darwinian evolution, are “out of God’s control” is indefensible. Thomas Aquinas, I gather, would agree.

    StephenB, I can’t even imagine why a Christian would want to make that assertion about God’s action in the world, even if that person had never read about the deliberate use of random devices in the Bible and God’s claim to control those devices. A Christian who talks like that is one who views God and the world very differently than I do.

    2. The rest of your response, it seems to me, can be summarized in this phrase: “The problem is that some want to impose on God a Darwinian process, which is, by definition, a non-control process, and then try to make it fit in with a picture of God under control.” As I noted in my first comment, this claim (that Darwinian evolution is necessarily a “non-control” process) is nonsense. The best you can do is label it true “by definition” and then haul out quote-mined proof texts from confused atheists. (I’m not saying that you’ve quote-mined; I’m only saying that the only support such an assertion can possibly muster is the existence of those who agree.) What you most certainly cannot (honestly) do is demonstrate that God does not (or cannot) work through events or processes that we label “random.”

    Now again, let me point to the common ground here. Neither of us believes that the marvels of creation came about by “accident” or through a process that God “can’t control.” I’m pretty flexible on questions of what God knows and when, and I’m interested in kenosis and other models of God’s interaction with creation that make room for creaturely freedom. But like you, I reject the notion that creation unfolds outside of God’s control. And that means that some of what your movement claims to value is also valuable to me.

    But one last thing. Do you feel compelled to reject and/or oppose scientific models of axonal pruning or synapse elimination or X chromosome inactivation or erosion or fertilization or meteorite impacts or generation of antibodies that invoke the concept of randomness? Can you see why I (as a developmental biologist) would hesitate to follow you down this road?

  61. 61
    Thomas Cudworth

    Steve Matheson (#50):

    Thank you for your polite and forthright post.

    You misunderstood my argument at one point. In your point #2 you suggested that I was limiting God’s power. Not at all. I was presenting the inner logic of pure Darwinism, Darwinism as understood as radically dependent upon chance (see my paraphrase of Gould). In pure Darwinism, outcomes are open-ended. So let’s suppose a Christian adopts pure Darwinism. For such a Christian, if God creates the universe in exactly the same state on two different occasions, different creatures will evolve in each universe. His act of creation is not determinative, because of the wild card of chance. God is helpless before chance; there can be no providence. This is not my personal doctrine of God. It is the theological absurdity that follows logically if the Christian insists on strict Darwinism.

    So I certainly wasn’t blaspheming, but merely setting limits to what evolutionary doctrine can claim if it wishes to remain compatible with historical Christianity. A Christian evolutionist must say, straightforwardly and without weaseling, that Darwin is at least partly wrong about the mechanism of evolution. Chance and natural selection, even if they were sufficient to explain the biological phenomena (which they aren’t, as has been shown ad infinitum by Denton, Behe, Dembski, Wells, Meyer, Berlinski, Sewell, etc.) would be unacceptable theologically to any orthodox Christian. Yet I have never heard this stated by Collins, Miller, Ayala, or Lamoureux. I have never heard them raise this theological problem, and I have never heard anything from them but unqualified and obsequious assent to the naked Darwinian mechanism. If they have denied any part of the Darwinian mechanism, show me where and I will retract.

    On another point, I don’t harbor hatred for atheists as such. Other things being equal, I prefer an honest atheist like Dawkins or Sagan to a nebulous, liberal Christian who isn’t sure what he believes about God or creation (which describes some TEs), or an ultra-conservative evangelical Christian who compartmentalizes reality into religion and science, thus protecting his evangelical faith from any criticism based on science (which describes other TEs), or a conservative or liberal Christian who puts Christianity and Darwinism together only by adulterating his Darwinism with his theology, or vice versa, and isn’t logical enough to see that this is what he’s doing (which describes still other TEs). Of course, I DO dislike atheists who lie and distort and mislead people about the teachings of ID and the motives of its proponents, atheists like Scott and Forrest and Myers and others. But in those cases, it is not as atheists that I dislike them, but as cowardly and power-seeking human beings. I am fine with atheists like Thomas Hobbes, Bertrand Russell and Carl Sagan. I would rather have lunch with any of those three gentlemen than any of the four TEs I named above.

    On your last point, I welcome all friendly critics of ID. I haven’t found many among the TEs. Of the few TEs who get out in the secular world, where ID blood is being shed daily, most of them do as much damage to the careers and personal lives of ID scientists as the atheist Darwinists do. I’m accustomed by now to thinking of TEs as Judases, or at best as Neville Chamberlains. So if you are friendly to us, i.e., actually respectful of our desire to investigate possible design in nature, and can refrain from treating us as bad scientists and bad theologians for wishing to do so, it will be a refreshing change.

  62. You are one of the few TEs that have come here to make your case, so, for that reason alone, I am grateful for your participation. After reading Thomas Cudworth’s excellent response, I hesitate to comment because I don’t want to distract you from answering his points, which, in my judgment, are more definitive and deserve more attention than mine.

    Still, I do have a few thoughts.
    With regard to the theory of “Kenosis,” Van Till uses it to argue against intelligent design. As he puts it, “If the cross does indeed reveal the character of God’s own self, then we will expect to see a similar emptying, a similar self-limitation of God, in all divine activity, including the creation and preservation of the universe.” Even if we accept the premise that kenosis defines God’s creative act, it doesn’t follow that such self giving would manifest itself in a pure, unadulterated naturalistic process. In any case, the concept is far too limiting as a paradigm for creation.

    Do I believe in “kenosis” as one description of God’s character? Of course, I am a Christian. Do I believe that this attribute should be applied to all of God’s creative acts as suggested by the theory of “functional integrity?” Not at all. God has countless good attributes. He chooses, for example to be intimate with his creatures, a quality that, if applied to creation, would imply intermittent intervention. In point of fact, God does intervene in salvation history and he does it often. We also know that God isn’t laid back, meaning that he pursues man in hopes of bringing him out of bondage. All these and countless other Divine qualities make one thing clear: It is remarkably short sighted to define God by one single attribute and even more short sided to apply this limited perspective to God’s creative act. Indeed, if we are going to take Scripture seriously, we should concentrate on the part that actually does comment on the relationship between God’s creation and our perception of it. Psalm 19 and St. Paul’s letter to the Romans (and other passages) point out that God’s creation has been made “manifest,” meaning that design in nature is detectable.

    Now, with regard to Stephen Barr’s notion that, according to St.Thomas Aquinas, we must abandon the ID paradigm and embrace the naturalist paradigm. Oh, how I wish people would stop putting words in Aquinas’ mouth and read him with some comprehension. First, let me unload the shocker, and then we will proceed from that point. St. Thomas Aquinas believed that God created each of his creatures whole and complete. In point of fact, he was a young earth creationist. Case closed.

    I will, however, make one other supplementary point. Aquinas five proofs for the existence of God are obvious indicators that he believes that we can begin with empirical observation and draw design inferences. Not only are his arguments consistent with intelligent design theory, they confirm Scripture’s account that God’s handiwork has been made evident. Those who think that Aquinas was anything other than a design thinker are seriously misguided. Taking it one step further, those who argue against design detection in his name are approaching the threshold of slander.

    Can God use chance to effect his designs? Yes, In this instance, I will plunge in boldly with a few facts and a few speculations. God has what is known as his “ordained will” and his “permissive will.” His ordained will is not open to chance, because, in those instances, the finished product must match his intent exactly. He conceived you and I, for example, even before the creation of the world, so he did not leave our formation to chance. He didn’t just want some form of “human intelligence,” he wanted you and me. In that case, he allowed for only one possible outcome. His permissive will, on the other hand, seems open to chance, and, under the circumstances, many possible outcomes are possible. Whatever the outcome, He can work with it and create something good out of it.

    God took a risk, for example, creating mankind, knowing in advance, that disaster would occur. It was not his ordained will, that it occur, but it was his permissive will. With regard to God’s disciples casting lots to make decisions, we cannot be sure that the outcome constituted God’s ordained will, meaning that it may not have been his first choice. We can only be sure that it was consistent with his permissive will and therefore something he could work with. Otherwise, he would not have permitted them to throw the dice. In all cases, of course, God knows what the outcome will be. He does not, however, cause all of those outcomes, as is evident from the fact that we have free will and do all kinds of things that violate God’s intentions. Obviously, none of this has anything to do with science, but then, again, few of the TEs objections are scientific. A telling point, don’t you think.

    This brings us to the final point with your comment:

    —–“What you most certainly cannot (honestly) do is demonstrate that God does not (or cannot) work through events or processes that we label “random.”

    As I tried to show, God CAN use random events. The problem is, however, TEs insist that God does EVERYTHING that way. What they are saying, in effect, is that since God may have allowed a snowflake or a moon crater to form by law and chance, He MUST have created a DNA molecule the same way. That is pure ideology. I suspect that it was one of the reasons what this whole notion of “functional integrity” was conceived.

    You can protest all you want and say that Darwinism does not mean pure contingency, but that is exactly what it does mean. Darwinism, is, by definition, non-directed. There is simply no way out of that. ID, to the extent that it argues for evolution, argues for a purpose driven evolution. Darwinism argues for a purposeless evolution. If you want to say that God may have used “Darwinian like-processes” such as random variation and natural selection to create life, you can make that case only if you concede that those processes are guided by an internal principle that drives them toward a purposeful end, which is another way of saying that they are non-Darwinian processes. Put simply, if the RV+NS process has a purpose, it is non-Darwinian. Biblically compatible evolution knows where it is going; Darwinian evolution does not know where it is going.
    As I tried to point out, Darwin’s scheme does not proceed from an internal principle to direct it toward an end. It that were the case, it would be teleological evolution, which is precisely what ID argues for and what TEs militate against. The problem is, that TEs use the language of teleology (purposeful evolution) while arguing on behalf of non-teleology (Darwinian evolution). That pretty much sums up Stephen Barr’s confusion, by the way. He uses the vocabulary of purpose, insisting that “design is built in to the evolutionary process,” implying direction, but then he argues on behalf of undirected natural causes—neo-Darwinism.

    I am sorry that I was not able to download the scientific articles that you provided. Could you summarize their arguments?

  63. A small correction: Stephen Barr asserts that “design is ‘inherent’ (not ‘built in’ as I mistakenly wrote) in the evolutionary process. I don’t think the difference matters, however.

  64. 64
    Thomas Cudworth

    I echo StephenB’s thanks to Steve Matheson. It’s not often we get polite, articulate TEs here who will take the time to explain their position to us, without rancor against ID supporters. I hope Steve Matheson will always feel welcome to drop in and offer us constructive criticism, even if we give some of his arguments (and some of the arguments of his fellow TEs) a bit of a hard time. The only way we can learn from each other is through positive dialogue like this. For TEs and ID supporters just to sit safely on their own web-sites, preaching to the converted and spending their days in self-congratulation, is a waste of time. Without exchange of ideas, there’s no intellectual growth, and no political healing.

    As for StephenB’s last comments, they are excellent, and make a first-class supplement to my argument. I provided only a bare bone outline of the theological issues at stake; Stephen has provided some important details. I agree with him that, if “chance” is to be worked into a Christian scheme of things, it has to be done through some such distinction as the one he makes between the permissive and the ordained will of God. This would allow for evolution to take some unexpected byways, and thus to contain an element of chance. But the ordained will of God cannot be thwarted, and God’s design, in the long run, always overcomes chance. So any evolutionary process proceeding from an orthodox God will in the long run fully realize God’s aims, and that means that the evolutionary process overall will be a vehicle for design. Just as Israel is going to escape from Egypt no matter what stalling actions Pharaoh takes, so the human brain, circulatory system, camera eye, etc. are going to have exactly the design God intended no matter what dead ends and detours evolution encounters along the way. Neither Dawkins nor Gould, despite their differences, interprets the evolutionary process as directed in this way. And Miller, if he claims to be 100% Darwinist (as he has claimed), must follow their interpretation, which of course necessarily corrupts his Christian theology. (Perhaps this is why, despite claiming to be a pure Darwinian, he speculates about some very un-Darwinian notions such as God “hiding” behind quantum indeterminacy and subtly influencing things in a way that science cannot detect.)

    Again, very good post, Stephen. In fact, good posts from pretty well everyone. I’ve learned from reading them all.

  65. 65

    I’ll respond to both Thomas and StephenB here. First, to the moderator: thanks for posting my comments. The discussion has been profitable, and I take it that Thomas and StephenB would agree. Please note that I am mirroring my own contributions on my blog, Quintessence of Dust, and will continue to do that, at least so that others can participate in the conversation. (I don’t moderate comments.) In answering both Thomas and StephenB, this post got pretty long, and I would understand if you asked us to move it elsewhere. Just let me know.

    To Thomas @61:

    I do think that your statements appear to bracket God’s power, but you didn’t mean to say that, and I think I see why we’re struggling to understand each other here. You discuss “pure Darwinism” and “strict Darwinism” and “the naked Darwinian mechanism.” Here you are referring, I gather, to random mutation and natural selection with a further stipulation: that no divine guidance of any kind is involved. (We could substitute ‘design’ or ‘teleology’ here and my point would be the same.) And you are, I think, correct in identifying that -ism with Mr. Darwin, as Prof. Hodge so ably demonstrated. Hodge was right: “Darwinism,” so defined, is atheism. This may mean that I’m not a Darwinist, but a Grayist. (I would be most pleased to bear that name if I thought anyone else would get the allusion.) The point, though, is this: your criticism of Christians who embrace “Darwinism” only makes sense if those Christians embraced the Darwinism that Hodge railed against, which he correctly identified as atheism. And that means your criticism reduces to this: Christians shouldn’t be atheists. I’m struggling to understand why you think so many Christians are that stupid, which we’d have to be in order to embrace the “Darwinism” that you condemn. With all due respect, you should reconsider a line of argument that can only imply abject stupidity (or perhaps evil) on the part of the Christians that you name. For my part as a Christian evolutionist, I’ll gladly make the statement you call for: Darwin was indeed “partly wrong” about the “mechanism of evolution,” because he insisted on ateleology, with neither scientific nor metaphysical justification. Trivial.

    So, Thomas, I’m not at all sure who these Christian TEs are who embrace atheistic Darwinism. I’m pretty sure they don’t exist. In any case, I’m not one of them, and my intention here at UD is to speak only for myself.

    With the understanding that I do not seek to speak for others, I will say that I reject your accusation against three of the four Christian scholars you singled out. Francis Collins contradicts you on page 205 of The Language of God; Ken Miller in chapter 8 of Finding Darwin’s God, and especially on pp. 238-9; Denis Lamoureux refers explicitly to evolution as a “teleological natural process ordained by God.” I don’t know Ayala’s work on this subject well enough to know where he stands, but I very much doubt that you have gotten him right. Perhaps I have misunderstood you again, but whether you retract your accusations or not, I can’t currently take them seriously.

    My point about atheists was meant only to note that the viciousness of the rhetoric on UD constitutes a major deterrent to me with regard to your movement. I would not count myself among Christians who engage in such practices. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have lunch with you. I’ll even buy.

    Finally, thanks for making me feel welcome as a “friendly critic.” I don’t buy your martyr case, and I’m mostly amused by the apocalyptic martial prose, but I also don’t doubt that people have been treated unfairly. More importantly, I won’t call you a bad scientist or a bad theologian for thinking about design. I may, on the other hand, point to bad science or bad theology (mostly bad science) done in the name of ID, and you and your friends are going to have to do a better job of distinguishing criticism of ID ideas (some of which are spectacularly bad) from diabolical attempts to destroy you and anyone who looks like you. (Bill Dembski botched this badly in his fatwa-like rant from two weeks ago; read it carefully and see if you can understand my disgust.)

    To StephenB @62:

    I’m not sure what to do with most of your comments, except to thank your for taking the time to lay out your thoughts and to do it with a measure of respect. Just a few responses, then I’ll answer your question at the end.

    1. I do not belong to any particular school regarding God’s work in the world. Kenosis is interesting — that’s all I said. Your thoughts parallel mine for the most part. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that Psalm 19 and Romans 1 imply that “design in nature is detectable,” but that might be because I’m suspicious of the word “design” here. I suspect that your claim regarding those scriptural passages is indicative of some very significant differences in outlook between you and I.

    2. Your rebuttals of Stephen Barr are interesting and informed, but my purpose in citing his piece was to highlight Aquinas’ very clear pronouncements regarding chance and providence. That was all.

    3. You write: “God CAN use random events. The problem is, however, TEs insist that God does EVERYTHING that way.” Well, StephenB, obviously I’m not a TE. I’m not sure there’s any such thing as a Christian TE, by your reckoning, and I’m not sure there’s anything more for us to discuss on this particular topic.

    4. You asked about the various phenomena I listed as examples of scientific explanations that invoke randomness. Here’s a brief overview.

    a. Axonal pruning is widespread during vertebrate brain development, and is preceded by the overgrowth of axonal projections into a target field. These projections are guided by various mechanisms into that target field, but once there they find themselves in competition with an excess of other axons. These so-called exuberant axonal projections are postulated to fill the target field randomly, meaning that they display no discernible pattern. Pruning (also termed selection for obvious reasons) occurs following competition, which usually involves electrical activity of the axons. Analagous processes are involved in the elimination of excess synapses, and even excess neurons.

    b. Mammalian females have two X chromosomes, while males have only one. Since gene dosage seems to be adjusted such that one X chromosome is enough for any given cell (which makes sense given that male cells have only one to start with), one of the two X chromosomes in every cell in a female’s body is inactivated. (This occurs during early development, and results in the organism becoming a chimera of areas that express the maternal X chromosome and areas that express the paternal version.) Because the exact chromosome that will be chosen in any given cell cannot be predicted, the process is referred to as “random.” Evidence in favor of this view comes from the examination of coat color in cats and mice.

    c. Erosion…the Grand Canyon…think fractals. And meteorites…if I say that meteorites are falling “randomly” onto the earth’s surface, would you think I was making an atheistic metaphysical claim? Or would you understand me to be saying that there seems to be no discernible pattern?

    d. Random (meaning unbiased) fertilization is the basis of Mendelian genetic analysis. If I ask you about the probability of your getting cystic fibrosis based on your parents’ known status as carriers, I’m assuming random fertilization. And when geneticists see non-Mendelian inheritance patterns, they don’t think “design.”

    e. The genes that encode antibodies (in mammals, at least) are generated by a frenzy of genetic shuffling during embryonic development. The shuffling involves some non-random processes combined with an error-prone process that randomly generates vast combinations of antibody structures.

    Apparently random processes are ubiquitous in biological systems, especially during development, and I’m a developmental biologist. Is it clear why I’m completely turned off by all the nonsense about random vs. God’s work?

  66. 66

    It’s come to my attention that Steve Matheson has continued posting on this thread on his own blog, Quintessence of Dust. I don’t know why he’s chosen not to continue here; it’s a nuisance for people interested in the discussion to follow the arguments if the debaters are in two different places. To the best of my knowledge, he hasn’t been “kicked off” UD, as he and his comrades at QoD speculated that he might be. (Why would we kick him off? He’s been polite and intelligent, and he’s stuck to the issues.) So Steve, if you are reading this, would you please post your latest substantial replies to StephenB and myself here at UD, so we can do justice to them and reach all our readers?

  67. I think that Steve M. gave some real food for thought. But the linked Miller’s post is over simplistic.

    Okay, he rejects the term “theistic evolutionist” because chemists don’t have to endure the same indignity. There’s nothing more to it.

    However, nobody successfully argued that Priestly’s or Lavoisier’s developments on oxygen made God
    unnecessary. Boyle’s Law wasn’t
    heralded as a death knell either.

    Obviously a number of parties to the French Revolution thought the notion of God was old fashioned–and in comparison to the progress of Science, less promising. But that was simply a soft rejection.

    In addition, there’s no “Theory of Chemistry”. There’s nothing about chemistry to support. Chemistry is not an explanation about past events, but a field, a collection of theories and patterns explaining repeatable phenomena. In fact, nothing is Chemistry unless the precise macro or micro effect is repeatable–not just explainable by expansion on every single fact that could point the way to it.

    Besides, Ken Miller can be described as a “theistic evolutionist” not by practice. But it is a decent attempt to describe his worldview. Nobody seriously argues that they believe (or have no doubt) that Chemistry and God are compatible behind the scenes. So although there are numerous theists who are chemists, the idea of “Theistic Chemist” can’t crack anyone’s threshold of concepts striking enough to name.

    However there are a number of atheists and theists who don’t think that evolution is reconcilable with God. So such a contrast is stipulated by a term.

    There’s a difference, like it or not.

    But of course the most interesting thing is that the headline reads “Ken Miller Is Not a ‘Theistic Evolutionist’”. So it’s a fact. Why? Because Miller himself says so, with the light dismissal I analyze above. So, the argument is Miller is not it because he stipulates so.

    See Jesus gave us this principle called The Golden Rule. Nixon was not “not a crook” because he stipulated so. We fall into certain categories regardless of stipulation. The opponents of ID call ID-ists “creationists” because they believe that ID-ists fall into this category. And they don’t care how many of the ID camp have stipulated that they are not 1) religious or 2) they are not creationists.

    But if Ken Miller’s breeziest of stipulations can be taken at face value, then we ought to at least hear ID-ists out on their own self-definitions. Miller needs to at least acknowledge the fact that there is a vehement resistance to the validity or relevance of self-definition which has been characteristic of the rules of this game. But it doesn’t appear that there’s even a hint of that consideration from either Miller or the writer.

    People on the theo-evo side need to become serious on having all parties heard on their own terms–or at the very least understand why they just can’t just parry labels cast upon them with a Carlin-esque question.

  68. Steve Matheson,

    Three things:

    I hope you stick around because it would be great to have someone like you with which to discuss both biology and evolution. In general nearly all of us here do not believe there is any naturalistic mechanism that can explain macro evolution or the origin of life. That is why we opt for design events as the only answer for what I believe are truly mysteries.

    As a starter you said

    “and Behe’s work in TEoE is disastrously flawed”

    Discussion of this would be an eye opener for us because we believe no one has laid a hand on his arguments just as we believe no one has every really answered his examples of Irreducible Complexity.

    Second, on your blog the commentators made a big deal out of your comment

    “I think design is the question, and you think it’s the answer.” I am not sure I understand what this means. Maybe you could expand on this. Are you asking why are things designed, how are things designed, if things are designed, who is the designer, etc. What is the question you allude to. If it is some place else, I missed it.

    Third, I have disagreed with some of the bannings from this site but in general most who have been banned have made some seriously negative ad hominems or continued in some persistent pattern of non response or continued irrelevant arguments.

    I have never seen anyone banned because they offered embarrassing questions or just because they disagreed with the trend of thought.

    You mentioned Ted Davis. He appeared here last week and was treated very cordially even though his comments on ASA indicated he thought he may not be. I hope he returns often because the dialog should be fruitful just as I expect it will be fruitful with you if you continue to post here periodically. Especially if it is on the science of evolution or any other area of biology we could benefit from.

  69. Okay, I was too generous to Miller. I just watched the Colbert Report clip again. He clearly says ID’s relabeled “Creationism”, so he’s directly involved in shoving the label “Creationists” down the throats of ID proponents, regardless of their stipulations.

    If his point on the Colbert report was that the Bible is not scientifically accurate (but spiritually so) and that Augustine recognized that Genesis wasn’t Science, isn’t that only an answer to someone claiming that Genesis was Science? Isn’t that an answer only to Biblical literalism?

    I’m a quasi-literalist, fideistic fence-sitter on whether ID is Science, but I don’t notice a whole lot of implications for Genesis in “Specified Complexity” or the argument why if nature exhibits a design through such a principle, it implies God made man from dust and set him in a garden.

    Ken, I guess I can leave the Science to Scientists, but you got to leave the argument to somebody who knows how to argue. However, in your closed-off little cloister world where everything makes sense to the initiates, it shouldn’t affect decisions in the popular arena other than by sound general arguments and not appeals to some hidden esoterica–which for various reasons, I’m not privy to–lest the spirits get angry choke off the flow of technological goodies (which never relied on changing body forms in the first place).

  70. 70
    Thomas Cudworth

    Steve Matheson:
    Thanks for continuing to post here. I do think I should reply to some of your comments, and the reply has to be longish:

    1. I am aware that no theistic evolutionist is so stupid as to think that Christians can also be atheists. You are, however, being unjust toward my intention. Many Christian writers on “theology and science”, including many TEs, are well-trained only in the sciences; often they are not trained to a high level in theological reasoning (Miller and Collins certainly are not), or in philosophical reasoning (which is often necessary to follow theological reasoning). So it is quite possible that a sincere Christian could unknowingly and unwittingly adopt premises which, though not explicitly atheistic, are implicitly atheistic. One goal of my posting was draw out the implications of pure Darwinism for those TEs who think that pure Darwinism and pure Christianity are compatible. If you are already enlightened enough to have realized this, then my article was not for you, but I don’t think you should begrudge it to those whose level of logical and metaphysical reasoning has not yet reached yours, and who may still be entertaining contradictory positions.

    2. We agree that the Darwinian mechanism is at least partly wrong. However, this admission is not, as you say, trivial. If it were trivial, no one would need to fudge about it. Yet neither Miller nor Collins nor Ayala nor Lamoureux, to my knowledge, ever explicitly states what you and I have just agreed upon. They thus leave the impression (even if it is not exactly what they believe) that you can simply incorporate the Darwinian mechanism into theistic evolution as the tool which God used to create living things. I think they should not leave this impression. I would like to hear clearer statements concerning not just where they AGREE with the Darwinian mechanism, but where they DISAGREE with it.

    3. Regarding your reference to Collins. I will give you a partial retraction: Collins is at least aware of the potential theological problem. However, his answer to the problem is neither firm nor ultimately helpful. Let’s look at the phrasing (emphasis added) of his alternative to the “chance” interpretation: “IF God is outside of nature…”; “God COULD also know every detail of the future”; “evolution COULD appear to us to be driven by chance, but from God’s perspective the outcome WOULD be entirely specified”. Why all the hypothetical language from a committed Christian theologian? Doesn’t sound like he’s fully persuaded of his own counter-interpretation to “chance” to me. But let’s say he is; let’s say that it’s just Collins’s style that’s unclear here, and that he really means to say, more firmly: “Evolution APPEARS to be driven by chance, but its outcomes ARE SPECIFIED by God.” In that case he would be a traditional orthodox theologian, affirming the complete and providential control of God over all that occurs. But what then? That’s exactly what I addressed in the second part of my article – the part on which you haven’t commented much. In the second part I show that if you really believe that, then you believe in design “at a distance”, as opposed to design “on site”, but you still believe in design. That would mean that TEs, or at least, TEs who follow Collins, are “intelligent design” theorists of a sort, who have a particular evolutionary account of how the design got into nature. And I’ve said clearly that I don’t find that position either illogical or un-Christian.

    On the other hand, this position of Collins does not explain (1) why he should think that design is not detectable in nature by scientific means; (2) why he, like Miller and others, should go after ID people with a determination almost as great as the determination with which he goes after YECs. What is he so hot and bothered about, if an ID person says: “I think nature is designed, I think you can see the design, and I think God put it there”? Why the hostility? And why is he endorsing Ken Miller’s new book, lending his prestige as head of the Human Genome Project to a book that he knows is even more concerned with savaging ID than it is with savaging YECs? You don’t seem to be catching the polemical subtext that’s going on here. These guys have a visceral dislike of ID that’s not adequately explained by any theoretical differences they have with many of the ID theorists. And that visceral dislike is poisoning the public discourse in the country, especially when it comes from celebrated figures like Collins and Miller. They are egging on the culture wars, not helping them. If you dislike the culture wars, you should be trying to rein in these guys, your fellow biologists. You can phone or write or e-mail them, and ask them to be less angry, less polemical, and less inclined to impute theocratic political plots to ID theorists; you can also ask them to stop posing as theologians and to focus exclusively on the scientific arguments for and against design. Can we count on your help in this regard?

    4. Regarding Lamoureux: I have read the article which you cite. I have no problem with most of it. He does say what you say. But that’s only half of what I want to hear. He nowhere in the article repudiates or even qualifies the Darwinian mechanism, and thus he leaves the impression that the Darwinian mechanism is not only sufficient to explain biological reality, but is entirely consistent with the orthodox Christian theological position which he defends. I’m not satisfied.

    5. Regarding Miller: He said explicitly on the PBS special on evolution, which post-dates Finding Darwin’s God, that he was both an orthodox Christian and an orthodox Darwinist. This quotation was used to great effect in the propaganda surrounding the Dover Trial. Use Google and you’ll find the phrase easily. As for the passage you cite from FDG, it proves my point: he solves the problem about “chance” by asserting an entirely private theology (the technical term for that is “heresy”), a theology built upon ideas cobbled from Ian Barbour and whoever else takes his fancy. My whole point was that if you stick with orthodox Darwinism, your Christian theology has to give at some point. This doesn’t bother Miller. And in fact, it doesn’t bother me; Miller can be as heretical as he wishes, as long as he stops misleading both Catholics and the secular public by saying that it is possible to be 100% Darwinian and 100% orthodox. If he’d just admit that he’s winging it, and making up his own theology as he goes along, that would clear the air sufficiently.

    6. Regarding Ayala: Both Ayala and Miller have explicitly argued that they want to save God from being responsible for the problem of evil by taking God completely out of the business of creating living forms; if impersonal “nature” creates living things through evolution, they argue, God’s hands can be kept clean. But (and here again the logical and metaphysical amateurism of TEs shows through) that could only be true if nature were completely autonomous, which again would be a Christian heresy. In the orthodox view, if evolution occurs, God must ultimately be behind it; God is therefore also responsible for evil, at least, for all the organic evil which attends evolution. (We’ll leave aside for the moment the evil for which human beings are responsible.) You will find the references to Ayala and Miller, and Behe’s able counter-argument, on Behe’s Amazon.com Edge of Evolution discussion site.

  71. Steve Matheson: I appreciate the fact that you clarify your points and define your objections in meaningful terms. As one politician once remarked of another, “I think I can do business with this man.” Also, your summary of the scientific theories were excellent and most edifying.

    None of us, as far as I can tell, are suggesting that Christian Darwinists are Christian atheists, so I am not sure where you are going with that. In effect, they are Christians who unwittingly embrace an atheist system, which, of course, is not the same thing. To believe that natural forces can create the illusion of design is to believe in an atheistic formulation. It is the alternative view that God was responsible for the design.

    As I stated earlier, Christian Darwinists use the language of teleology, while arguing on behalf of teleology. This is why they contradict themselves so often. Let me provide three quick examples of the kind of double-mindedness that I am talking about.

    KEN MILLER

    In Finding Darwin’s God:
    Mankind is “not the inevitable result of evolution”…”is an afterthought”…”a minor detail, a happenstance in a history that might as well have left us out.” (Our appearance here was most unlikely—a lucky break.)

    In Just A Theory:

    “But as life reexplored adaptive space, could we be certain that our niche would not be occupied? I would argue that we could be almost certain that it would be — that eventually evolution would produce an intelligent, self-aware, reflective creature endowed with a nervous system large enough to solve the very same questions that we have, and capable of discovering the very process that produced it, the process of evolution.” (Our appearance here was inevitable)

    FRANCIS COLLINS

    On the one hand, Collins insists that a DNA molecule exhibits “The language of God.” This is all very inspiring and illuminating, or so it would seem. Later on, however, he informs us that, in keeping with Darwin, that the design of life is only an illusion, or, to put it another way, design is not detectable. So, now we have a strange doctrine indeed, which gives us first the good news and then the bad news. The good news is that God has provided us with a language in nature. The bad news is that the language doesn’t communicate anything.

    DENIS LAMOUREUX

    “I believe that God created life, including humanity, through an ordained and sustained evolutionary process, which even reflects intelligent design. God created through a designed evolutionary process.”

    (The design produced the process) Theism

    “Intelligent design could emerge through an evolutionary process in the same way that it is manifested through an embryological process in the creation of a beautiful baby bearing God’s Image. Intelligent design could emerge through an evolutionary process in the creation of a beautiful baby bearing God’s image.”

    (The process produced the design) Darwinism

    *In defense of Lamoureux, he does state explicitly that design is real, which does separate him from the other two. Further, he agrees that the Biblical view of creation confirms the point that God’s handiwork has been made manifest. That means, or should mean, that we can detect design. But then we have to wonder what that means.
    Like Stephen Barr, he suggests that the design is inherent in the evolutionary process. Barr, though, at least realizes that a design that emerges from a process can only be an “apparent” design, just as Darwin came to realize it. Lamoureux, on the other hand, seems to believe that a design that emerges from a process is detectable, and real, which is untenable. Imagine saying that, “the blueprint of my house emerged from the construction.” Consider the prospect of an artist’s conception emerging from his painting. Things don’t work that way. Obviously, the design must ALWAYS precede the process, just as form must always precede matter, just as the information in a DNA molecule must always precede the pattern of its nucleotides. So, in the end, Lamoureux is just a confused as his colleagues.

  72. Sorry, I meant that Christian Darwinists use the language of teleology while arguing on behalf of NON-teleology.

  73. 73

    Thomas @66:

    As long as my posts are sent through moderation, they will be out of sync with yours and with my blog, neither of which are similarly held up by the magistrate. (I do most of my bloggy work at night, perhaps after he/she/they have gone offline.) You can be assured that I would not move the conversation without notice and/or consent. In the meantime, if you find the delay annoying, talk to the moderator.

  74. 74

    Thomas:

    Heh. My comment on moderation-induced delays appeared immediately. I guess I’ve been promoted. Woo hoo! [Tips hat to moderator.]

    The first comment from a new user is automatically moderated by WordPress. After the first comment is approved subsequent comments are automatically not moderated unless an administrator intervenes for some reason. -UD Admin

  75. 75

    Note to UD Admin @74: my first 3 comments were moderated, and it was the delayed appearance of that third comment that caused Thomas (comment #66) to get the impression that I had moved our discussion to my own blog. So you should check your procedures; they clearly don’t work as you claim.

  76. 76

    Thomas @70:

    First a note to all: I attempted to post a response to jerry here last night, but it hasn’t gone up and I don’t know why. You can read it at my blog, but I hope we’ll get it up here soon.

    I think I will let this be my last word on the topic of randomness and how various TEs handle it, and I’ll try to keep it brief. But if there’s something specific you’d like me to address, by all means point it out.

    You have made it quite clear, I think, what you want “TEs” to do. But you have failed to convince me that this is anything but completely trivial, and I have judged your complaint to be unimportant. To summarize my own position: Darwin’s “mechanism” was natural selection acting on random variation. Darwin, without any scientific or metaphysical support, added non-teleology to his mechanism, and the result is something that you and I seem to agree to call “Darwinism.” Christians, we agree, can’t embrace that thing we’re calling “Darwinism.” (Non-Christians, even non-theists, might choose to reject “Darwinism” for the same reasons, namely that it incorporates unjustified metaphysical pronouncements that don’t add explanatory force.) But since Darwin added his metaphysical proviso without justification, and since the proviso does no explanatory work, it can (and should) be removed as unceremoniously as it was added. The consequences of this move are of course not trivial, but the move itself is completely trivial.

    Again, I don’t speak for any of those other folks, but I surmise that one reason they don’t provide the disclaimers you desire is that they, like me, are concerned that they will be misunderstood. The term “Darwinism” is, in my opinion, very often deliberately meant to confuse. In our conversation here, it’s gone well, but only because I made it very clear, right from the beginning, what I meant by “Darwinism.” This distinction is rarely made clear, but it’s hugely important. Without it, a person reading your post, referring to our agreement “that the Darwinian mechanism is at least partly wrong,” might reasonably conclude that I am unconvinced of the explanatory power of natural selection acting on random variation. Perhaps because I’m a scientist, I can barely imagine interpreting “the Darwinian mechanism” in any other way. But that’s what you and I have done here. The potential for misunderstanding is significant, and I haven’t even factored in the ID movement’s fondness for martial rhetoric and propaganda.

    And Thomas, I do not take seriously your comments about people like Francis Collins “poisoning the public discourse in the country.” It’s not that I think Ken Miller is right about everything (hardly), or that I think Collins hasn’t missed some pitches. No, the basic problem is that your movement has no moral credibility with me. You are speaking from within a blog that represents everything I loathe about the movement. You are whining about “hostility” in a blog that revels in the belligerent taunting of my colleagues and that breezily describes people like me as “spineless appeasers,” “Neville Chamberlains,” or “dhimmis” while asserting that we have entered a “pact with the Devil.” Your movement’s contempt for evolutionary creation has been communicated all too clearly, and if I were you I’d be much more focused on building and maintaining scholarly relationships with those who are willing to be responsible critics, or even on forcefully disclaiming your movement’s many abuses of science and scientists, than I would be on feigning victimhood in a culture war in which you are enthusiastic participants.

    I am committed to working hard at maintaining collegiality in discussions with folks like you and StephenB and jerry, in my role as “friendly critic.” But if you want me to be a friend, you’ll have to change your approach significantly. At the very least, you should re-examine my original post, regarding some very important problems I have with your movement, and consider whether the conversation is going in the right direction.

    But lest you think I’m not listening: yes, you can count on me to criticize bogus or unfair arguments by TEs, and yes, I think there are times when interesting discussions of design and God’s action are lost in the fog of culture war.

  77. Steve Matheson, (76)

    There are some of us (see comment 54) in ID-land who agree that a blanket charge of such things as TE’s in general being “spineless appeasers” is unwarranted, and are willing to say so publicly.

  78. Steve Matheson,

    First off, let me commend you. I really consider your position regarding TEs to be very similar to what I’ve argued here in the past, and you argue rationally and deliberately. It’s refreshing to see.

    But let me say something in the defense of ID, both in general and on this site.

    I’d agree that ‘Darwinism’ (among others in this debate) is a slippery term that needs to be well-defined before being discussed. And naturally I’d agree that ‘Darwinism’ itself tends to be spiked with a whole lot of metaphysics, and that it’s trivial (and important) to make the distinction between science and philosophy. But this confusion did not start with ID proponents, or even YECs. It’s been going on for quite awhile now, and purposefully so – and I find it hard, even as a TE (Though I’ve been told I qualify as an IDer for making the same distinctions you do) to fully blame the ID movement for reacting so strongly to a concept that has been purposefully… I’d say well-poisoned. I’m sure mistakes are made, and I certainly have my disagreements with both tone and specific claims at times.

    What it comes down to for me is this. I’m very glad that you’re taking the tone and measures you are in this thread. It needs to happen far more often. But at the same time, I hope you understand that this ‘culture war’ is a very recent development, and came after decades of relatively uninterrupted and unquestioned mixes of science with anti-theistic philosophy. And frankly, I don’t think that a tame-tongued, polite, but still forceful ID movement would result in a lot of the hostility of the opposition going away (Though it would certainly be welcome – there is no need to divide IDers and TEs unnecessarily). What is many times being defended IS the mix of metaphysics and science as science purely. For all the talk of ‘defending science’, I strongly feel that some scientists and certainly many saber rattlers are more concerned about defending their own abuses of science.

  79. 79

    Steve Matheson (#76):
    Thanks for your posting. Let me clarify a few more things:

    1. Just so you know where I personally am coming from: I am not a YEC, an OEC, an evangelical Christian, or a fundamentalist Christian. I don’t want creationism forced into the schools. I don’t want ID forced into the schools. I think the Dover Trial verdict was right (even though the Judge’s uniformed rantings about ID, science and theology were unnecessary and largely wrong). Nor do I have a mission to promote orthodox Christianity (though I do have a mission of intellectual clarification, i.e., to challenge people who are speaking heresy and pretending it’s orthodox Christianity, which, e.g., Miller undeniably does). Further, I have nothing against Darwinian theory per se, provided it’s not regarded as dogma. I’ve made a point of reading a great deal of Darwin, and I actually admire him much more than any of his modern defenders, whether Neo-Darwinian or TE. I think his explanation of origins is far from adequate, but I find him scrupulously honest about admitting countervailing evidence (something that modern neo-Darwinists seem to have a great deal of trouble doing); further, his civilized tone ought to (but doesn’t) put many of his nasty and belligerent modern groupies to shame.

    2. My position is similar to that of Behe in Edge of Evolution. That is, I have no serious problem with the notion of common descent; I admit a role for both natural selection and mutations in generating species, and possibly higher divisions; but I doubt the capacity of neo-Darwinian mechanisms to produce complex new organs and body plans, both on theoretical grounds and on the grounds of the massive lack of evidence that such mechanisms can produce anything other than minor evolutionary changes. I am capable of defending this position at quite a high level, if need be, but this is not the place for such detailed argumentation. For now, let me say only that my reasons for these positions are scientific and philosophical, and have zero to do with religion. If you are looking for a parallel to my position, think Antony Flew. Like Flew, I was a one time a Darwinist; it was the evidence, looked at in the light of philosophy, that convinced me of the reality of design in nature.

    3. You have a lot of anger against this site, based on past postings you have seen on it. Keep in mind that I am not the incarnation of UD. This is the first time I have ever written a column for it. I cannot be made responsible for every comment that has been made on it over the years.

    4. Yes, I have seen here, from time to time, comments that are overly partisan in the sense of being utterly uncritical of ID or harshly accusatory against TE. I have tried not to imitate them, but, being human, I too may have slipped now and then into a polarizing manner of speaking.

    5. You perhaps have missed many of the discussions on UD where some ID proponents and some YECs have engaged in quite heated debate. The picture you are presenting, of ID proponents and YECs as going together like hand and glove, is far from the case.

    6. I am quite willing to agree that all TEs cannot be treated the same. (I think I said that at least once already!) I have focused my critique of TE on, shall we say, the more vocal and famous (or notorious) advocates of that line of thought. There may be a hundred moderate and reasonable (but silent) TE people for every one of those that I have named. If so, I wish they would post more often on this site, explaining their TE position, and not merely defensively, but set forth as a positive position, explaining how it sits with respect to (1) pure Darwinism; (2) God’s mode of interaction with nature; and (3) the question whether design in nature is detectable. If we ID people could see TE set forth as a positive proposition, rather simply as a set of aggressive attacks upon ID and YEC, we might find that we have more in common with it than we think. I leave it up to you and your colleagues to offer to us this sort of positive account of TE.

    7. However, since you are concerned about abusive treatment, I’d like to put the case of Michael Behe to you. Here is a complete gentleman who tries to take the high road in argument, who never initiates ad hominem exchanges, and who is admitted even by his foes to be a nice human being. I have read both of his books with extreme care. They are not polemical books. Yet, for writing these books, Behe has been abusively treated literally everywhere: by the journalistic establishment, by the members of his own department, by the self-appointed guardians of “science” among both NDEs and TEs (I have seen Ruse and Lamoureux angrily and condescendingly tag-team against him), by smart-aleck grad students egged on by their professors, by bloggers everywhere, by reviewers on Amazon, by Wikipedia writers, etc., etc. In some cases, what has come from these people’s mouths is unfair; in other cases, rude; in other cases, vile. Yet I haven’t seen any prominent (or non-prominent) TEs speak against this abuse of Behe. When they aren’t putting in a bit of abuse themselves (especially Miller), they are sitting on the sidelines, while the mainstream press, the NCSE, and the atheist lobby crucifies the man. I am reminded of the saying that all that it takes for evil to triumph is for enough good men to sit and do nothing. Being a Christian requires standing up against injustice.

    I am not asking TEs to agree with Behe about his science. But it would be nice, if once, just once, in a major secular medium (New York Times, New Republic, National Review, etc.) a respected TE stood up and said: “I don’t agree with Dr. Behe about evolution, but the behavior of some of my Darwinian colleagues, including some Christian Darwinian colleagues, has been nothing short of barbaric, and the verbal form of their “defense of science” has in fact brought science into disrepute, and has embarrassed me personally as both Christian and scientist. In particular, I call upon the Biology Chair of the University of Minnesota at Morris to discipline P.Z. Myers for vulgarity and polemics unbecoming a serious scientist, and I call upon Coyne, Ruse, Dawkins and others to apologize for the mean-spirited elements in their reviews of Behe’s books.” When has a TE ever done this? If you register my point and agree with me, you could start by acknowledging, here and now, that Behe has been treated shabbily and that your TE comrades have done very little in a public way to address this. I would be much more sympathetic with your complaints about abuses against TEs by UD posters if you would show more concern about the much more public abuses wrought upon Michael Behe (and, mutatis mutandis, upon many other leading proponents of ID, and even upon sympathetic neutrals).

    8. I understand your point about the ambiguity of the word “Darwinism”, and I understand why TEs might not want to publically criticize “Darwinism”, for fear that the public might think they are abandoning “evolution” (i.e., common descent) entirely. But this is easily handled. They can do exactly what Behe does in Edge of Evolution, i.e., define exactly what they mean by evolution and by Darwinian mechanisms, and state exactly how “theistic evolution” differs from the Darwinian variety. It might also help if they acknowledged places where they AGREE with ID theory AGAINST “pure Darwinism”. If they are concerned about “not being misunderstood”, as you say, surely it would be a major blow against public misunderstanding to make it clear that there is a 3-way disagreement (ID vs. NDE vs. TE), not just a 2-way one (ID vs. “science”, where “science” is represented by both NDE and TE). The latter is the impression TE writers often convey.

    9. As for your last paragraph, I thank you very much for it, and applaud your intentions.

  80. As I have stated in the past, Theistic evolutionits can be a perfectly legitimate and logical in their position if they will simply acknowledge that an internal principle guides the process, which can be Darwinian like without being Darwinian. Pure Darwinism rejects the internal principle on the grounds that is teleological. That is precisely why its advocates militate against ID. ID implies the INTENT behind the evolutionary process, and the TEs(the ones we are complaining about) will have none of it. So, my question to Steve Matheson is a simple one: Do you accept the internal guiding principle of don’t you? Does evolution have a goal or doesn’t it? Miller, Collins et al say, in concert with their neo-Darwinist friends, that it doesn’t? That is what makes them hostile to ID. Each time we get down to wire on these matters, the discussion stops. Why is that?

  81. Steve Matheson,

    I tried to post your comment after copying it directly from your site and it did not post. There must be some word or phrase that did not make it past the filter.

  82. Steve Matheson,

    I will try to post your reply in stages to see what may have caused the filter to stop your post.

    Let me start with your comment on the design is the question comment.

    “I think design is the question, and you think it’s the answer.” Here, basically, is what I mean. In your first paragraph, you note that you and others here “do not believe there is any naturalistic mechanism that can explain macro evolution or the origin of life,” and so you “opt for design events as the only answer.” Design, for you, is the answer, and the question was how did these biological systems come about? In between, we find your conclusion that the phenomena in question cannot be explained naturalistically.

    I start with the same question: how did these biological systems come about? At the same time, I notice design, “purposeful arrangement of parts,” even “prodigies of nature.” As I already mentioned in my first post here, I’m quite happy discussing design, and completely reject the suggestion that design has no place in science. Baloney! Design is what we’re trying to understand. Design is the question. Here is this biosphere, filled with mind-blowing nanomachines and indescribably intricate processes. Do we need a mathematically-inclined philosopher to coax the specter of “design” out of modern probabilistic theories? Do we need an underinformed biochemist to locate “design” through analysis of mutation rates in Plasmodium falciparum? Good heavens, no. It’s right there; it’s everywhere. Detecting design, for me, is almost effortless, natural, automatic. (Consider the vocabulary of cell biology, which we can further discuss later.) And so I identify “design” as the very thing I’m trying to understand. My question becomes how did all of this design come about?

    I think, then, that we can identify at least two crucial ways in which our thinking diverges. First, design for you is the stuff you use to fill explanatory gaps — it’s the answer. For me, it’s the thing we seek to understand — it’s the question. Second, you are convinced that “naturalistic” explanation of natural history is not possible. I’m not at all convinced of this, and in fact I expect God’s world to be largely amenable to natural explanation. In other words, I expect that naturalistic mechanisms can account for biological evolution, just as I expect that they can account for embryonic development and for, say, autism. Did that answer your question?”

    I believe you are creating distinctions that do not exist. For example the phrase “design for you is the stuff you use to fill explanatory gaps”

    No it isn’t. We are not necessarily committed to an interactive design event for anything except for possibly the Big Bang. It is an option for why somethings have happened, nothing more but seems to be arbitrarily excluded for anything else by nearly everyone in the scientific community. What we are arguing against is the elimination of an intelligent input to “what appears to be designed” as a possible mechanism. There are a lot of people who support ID who would be quite comfortable with a naturalistic mechanism for OOL and all of macro evolution. What we see is seemingly intractable problems with each so have opted for an intelligent input as a viable option. Many of us would be quite welcome to such an explanation. But what we find to explain a lot of phenomena are incoherent explanations and massaging of data that don’t hold up under scrutiny. What is presented as slam dunks are really quite iffy explanations.

    I have mentioned I am reading Keith Miller’s anthology on evolution and so far in the first 100 pages see nothing to contradict the position that there could have been a direct intervention at some time or other. Loren Haarsma would prefer that such a solution did not exist for reasons I agree with but admitted it should be a possibility.

    If you have time over the next several months to discuss these issues with some of us here, then I believe we could all benefit. I believe you will find that many of us are not inflexible and have no pre determined commitment to any specific explanation. For my self I always believed that Darwin’s ideas made sense but did not know that much about them to think critically on what they entailed. In the last 9 years I have spent a lot of time reading about it from all sides and see an amazing consistency on what is presented and it is not very supportive of neo Darwinism for anything more than micro evolution.

    I will see if this posts and then try another section of your original post.

    Thanks for the time of your response.

  83. Stephen Mateson,

    you said in your currently excluded post

    “First, re banning on this site, I’ve heard from too many decent people on this topic to believe that the policy here is a good one. And the claim that people are banned due to “ad hominems” is laughable, as anyone who reads this blog knows all too well. I’ve been warmly welcomed, and that’s all that matters in this conversation, but please don’t ask me to defend your venue. It is what it is, and I happen to think it’s a mess — let’s leave it at that.”

    Well, let’s disagree on this. I have been posting here for over 2 years and by the way have been banned twice and put on moderation another time. As I have said I think some of the bannings are too quick but I never saw one for objecting to ID and asking embarrassing questions. Quite the contrary, I have seen many anti ID posters get banned after they become frustrated with their inability to make their case and then they resort to ad hominems.

    A year and a half ago two from ASA, David Opderbeck and George Murphy, were banned because they made disparaging remarks about Denyse O’Leary and the people here. The exchanges are still posted and can be read. A third member of ASA claims he was banned but I never saw the exact exchange that led to it. This is Rich Blinne.

    Here is the comment that got George Murphy banned

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

    This is after we asked George Murphy over a dozen times to discuss science and not theology. He just pointed us to Ken Miller who we have no respect for. You could see George Murphy getting frustrated here because we would not discuss the theological underpinnings of ID.

  84. 84

    To StephenB @80:

    I don’t think we’re going to make much more progress, since I don’t think I’m making it clear enough to you that I see God and His world differently than you do. You seem unwilling or unable to reflect on what I have already said and to account for my words in your responses to them. Perhaps I haven’t been clear enough on my position with regard to “pure Darwinism,” but I think it’s more likely that you won’t accept the fact that I don’t see “design” the way you do, and that I reject your preferred assumptions regarding “randomness” and God’s work.

    I will offer these final thoughts in response to your post, and then you can have the last word if you wish. This does not mean that I won’t discuss other topics with you, or that I’m leaving UD for good, but it does mean that you have exhausted my patience on this subject.

    1. I don’t know what an “internal principle” is, and at this point I really don’t care, but if you want to know what I think of “pure Darwinism” you can re-read what I’ve already written here.

    2. There are multiple reasons why “Pure Darwinists” and “Miller, Collins et al” are hostile to ID. If you think your movement is controversial solely because it “implies the INTENT behind the evolutionary process,” then you’re wholly deluded. I am opposed to your movement, and I’m not a pure Darwinist. Unsuccessfully it would seem, I have tried to explain why.

    3. I’m a pretty good Calvinist, so I believe that our world belongs to God and was created by Him. And so I do think that all things were brought into existence by His hand. Because I’m only a pretty good Calvinist (i.e., not a perfect one), I wonder about the idea of freedom and how it works out in creation. I am undecided about how exactly to explain or account for creaturely freedom, and I’m content to consider it one of many mysteries. For now, I am unwilling to commit to a puppet-show universe with no freedom, and equally unwilling to commit to open theology (as I understand it). As I hope you can see, my thinking on this issue does not lend itself well to the simplistic dichotomies that you seem to favor. That’s not my problem.

    4. I didn’t come here to argue about what Francis Collins and Ken Miller believe or say. I came here to explain why I, a fellow Christian and practicing biologist, do not support your movement. Because our conversation went well, without any of the ugliness that characterizes the broader cultural confrontation, I now consider myself a fully-minted “friendly critic.” That’s a pretty big step, I think, but it doesn’t mean I have a whole lot more patience with the generally obnoxious tenor of this blog, or of the Discovery Institute, and it sure doesn’t mean that I will waste my time listening to a lot of whining about culture-war body counts. Count me as a friendly critic, perhaps even occasional defender, but not as a friendly audience for melodramatic portrayals of ID persecution, and certainly not as a scapegoat for the sins of whoever it is you can’t stand.

  85. Stephen Matheson,

    The part which prevented your comments answering my questions to get posted was in the comments on Behe. My guess it is the links that caused the problems. When I tried to post that part of your comments it again failed to post and in the past links sometimes cause problems. So I will try to post it in parts to get your comments up for all to read since I believe this part of your answer will generate discussion and strictly on the science of what Behe has proposed.

  86. Here is the first part of Stephen Mateson’s comments on the Edge of Evolution.

    “And what about Behe’s The Edge of Evolution? Writing carefully about his errors is not easy; evolutionary genetics is challenging under the best of conditions, and laypersons are understandably poorly-equipped to grasp the necessary details. I have been planning a series on my blog, and this conversation might get that project moved up on the to-do list. I’ve explained some of the most dramatic errors on my blog, and I’ll add three further comments here.

    1. In TEoE and elsewhere, Behe presents a highly simplified vision of adaptation and microevolution, in which only beneficial mutations are maintained in populations. He gives the impression that a population would only harbor a given mutation or polymorphism if that change had been specifically favored by selection. This is a substantial mischaracterization of evolutionary genetics, overlooking some very important aspects of eukaryotic genetics. There are several mechanisms, well-known to geneticists but almost universally neglected in popular discussions of evolution and inheritance, that can lead to the maintenance of a non-adaptive or “non-beneficial” allele in a population, especially in a sexually-reproducing diploid population (like, say, Plasmodium falciparum). Moreover, during evolutionary and/or environmental change, the beneficial-ness of a particular allele can change completely. Beware of simple evolutionary stories in which adaptation can only proceed in happy little steps from good to better to best. Genetics is more complicated (and interesting) than that.”

  87. From Stephen Matheson on the Edge of Evolution

    “2. The book’s central argument is based fundamentally on population genetics, but ignores the work of the world’s most prominent and accomplished geneticists. Allen Orr, for example, is precisely the kind of expert whose work should be the focus of Behe’s analysis, but Behe’s references to Orr’s work are minimal. He leaves untouched the entire field of evolutionary genetics, merely cherry-picking two of Orr’s papers. The point is this: a serious consideration of evolutionary genetics — never mind a complete rewriting of the entire field — should show marks of serious engagement with existing ideas. TEoE doesn’t even try to do this. And most tellingly, Behe hasn’t been able to get population geneticists to endorse his book, or to follow up on his assertions. Did he even ask Allen Orr to read the manuscript before going to press? Has he asked Allen Orr to critically review the book, the way any real scientist would seek critical feedback before (or after) advancing a big new idea?”

  88. Hey moderators, the third paragraph from Stephen Matheson about the Edge of Evolution will not post. If you can dig it out of the spam bin, put it up. I have read it several times and cannot figure out what is in it that is causing the problem.

  89. 89
    Thomas Cudworth

    Steve Matheson (#84):

    I’m disappointed by your latest reply to StephenB. Over the past week, we – meaning both you and all the respondents to my original posting – have worked so hard here to establish a civil tone, and to get a conversation going that focuses on the substance of the issues, not the politics of culture war; yet now you seem to have reverted to a culture war mode. You keep reminding us of all the bad things that ID and YEC supporters have done on this blog, rather than focusing on the subject matter at hand. Those of us who have been trying to encourage your constructive criticism have tried to forget about past injuries on both sides and get on with discussion of science and theology. We’ve asked about real vs. apparent chance events, about the relationship between God and the Darwinian mechanism, and so on. This is what we want to hear your thoughts on, and the thoughts of any of your colleagues. But instead, we’re being treated to a barrage of complaints about what others have written on this site in the past, in some cases months or years in the past. Can’t we rise above this and discuss the issues?

    I feel impelled to add that you show a bit of oversensitivity about small injuries (petty sniping, being kicked off of a blog) while displaying insensitivity toward big ones (like the fact that, say, Guillermo Gonzalez lost a job, despite supercompetence in his field, due to his ID sympathies). Losing a job, a salary, a career, is a little bigger blow to take than having one’s pride wounded by disagreement or eviction from an internet talk group. I read the little history of Calvin College’s attitude towards evolution that you wrote. Let’s suppose that Calvin College had denied you tenure, instead of granting it, on the basis of its disagreement with your evolutionary views, even though your teaching and research records were outstanding. How would you have felt? And how would you like it if your department had put a sign on its door saying that it disavowed your views, and in effect that you were an embarrassment to the institution? And how would you like it if an arrogant, self-centered, attention-seeking grad student with the most vulgar manners insulted you repeatedly in public, and then, when you retorted — long after even Job would have yielded to provocation — with a very mild and dry put-down, you were accused all over the world of being “sexist”, and that accusation was immortalized in Wikipedia, a “reference” tool consulted by millions?

    What you seem to fail to perceive is that ID is not a politically powerful movement. It can do little harm to those who oppose it, beyond verbal abuse. Darwinism, on the other hand, is a view endowed with vast wealth, political prestige, and the levers of administrative power in the world of science and academia. It has the power to humiliate, to ostracize, to crush, to take away salaries and research grants, and to ruin careers (and with that, in many cases, lives and marriages). And it has proved that it will use that power ruthlessly, as it has done to numerous YECs, OECs, and ID supporters. You do not have to worry, as you are safely ensconced in an institution which allows you a high degree of freedom in both in your science and in your musings about science and theology. But I’d expect a little more empathy for the less fortunate from a Christian biologist who teaches at a Christian college. Again, I’m disappointed.

  90. 90

    Jerry if you would please take a closer look at what Behe is saying here. You have chance and contingency as the two operation of the modern neo-darwinian synthesis. It is no surprise that laws of physics and symmetries ARE required for even the most reductionist views of evolution to work hence even the atheist pales in the face of answering how the those symmetries “evolved” as he has nothing else to appeal to but multiverse of which we have absolutely no evidence, no intuition and no concept of how infinite probabilities can give you ANYTHING.

    So Behe’s book is focusing on where evolution does and does not cover the bill, that is “purchase” SC.

    I emailed Behe a little while back to get his view on what exactly he thinks DID happened if not chance and necessity. I asked him if “the laws of physics” are what he appeals to, to do the design work. Behe gave me an excellent answer. He basically said, “The laws of physics (if you mean by laws like the ones of Newtonian physics) are themselves few and far in between not only in what they can explain but in actual number.”

    In other words, even with our interpretations of how symmetries (i.e. designs) come about there is still “a lot of room” where both necessity AND of course randomness cannot get the job done.

    This is a FACT of evolutionary theory. If scientists are unwilling to endore the thrust of Behe’s main work it’s because they have other metaphysical commitments outside of defining the obvious boundaries or “Edge” of what evo can explain.
    This is a perversion of any scientfic disapline- and the mark of Dogma.

    As the old saying goes “A man’s got to know his limitations” and what’s true for a man should be equally true for his theories.

  91. 91
    Thomas Cudworth

    Jerry:

    I appreciate the fairness that motivates your efforts to dig out Steve Matheson’s post about Behe, which was apparently blocked from being posted here. But I’m wondering if we should be addressing this subject under our current title. The original post was about internal contradictions in TE regarding Darwinism and God’s providence. If we start debating population genetics and Behe’s Edge of Evolution under this title, aren’t we going way off topic?

    I’m not against someone posting a new topic, with a new title, like “Matheson vs. Behe’s Edge of Evolution” – provided Mr. Matheson gives permission to have his words quoted in the new lead column. But I don’t think we should pursue this subject further here.
    Please understand that, as far as I know, I have no authority to tell anyone what to do, or even to cut off discussion on my original posting, so if people want to go ahead and talk about Matheson vs. Behe, I won’t make a fuss about it. But I’m recommending that we save the new topic for another column, and stick, on this particular page, with the original theme of TE and Darwinism.

  92. 92

    The idea of theistic evolution is merely PC for either theism or Darwinism Evolution with some religion on the side. Religion does not square with Darwinian Evolution but evolution does (in the proper form) square with theism.

    So the word theistic evolution is vacuous because it doesn’t tell us anything about the person except that they “claim” to believe in God and “some definition” of evolution.

    In reality most or all IDists are theistic evolutionists. But the problem is that people like Ken Miller use the term not to being the two realms together into a synthesis but to separate them and keep them apart to support an extreme interpretation of the first amendment which states and I quote

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    Clearly it DOES NOT HAVE THE WORDS “Separation of church and state” anywhere in it.

    So if theistic evolution is used to compartmentalize theology and evolution then it is a negative connotation and has a different meaning than if it means a unity of the two.

    Either way “Theistic Evolution” is non-substantive and vacuous. and clearly PC.

    It has nothing to do with ID. You can be a TE and not believe in ID and you can be a TE and believe in ID. IT doesn’t matter. However know this, that most people who believe in a “theistic God” not a “Deistic” one, will NOT call themselves theistic evolutionists because evolution is for most theists a demeaning term for God’s plan.

    This is why I as some one who believes in God and evolution to some extent do not call myself a theistic evolutionist and am very suspicious of those who do. Especially in light of how much abuse evolution has gotten from the methodological materialists.

  93. 93

    That is as loyal and devout theists most of us are not inclined to think God “evolved” his plan- but that his pan transcends matter chance and necessity- that it is “instantiated” but not evolved. And that the final product was designed and realized or completed but not incidental.

    Evolution (the non random kind) seems moot when you are a true Theist.

  94. 94

    Thomas @89:

    I’ll be glad to leave the discussions of culture-war casualties behind. If you read my response to StephenB again, you might find that you have been too harsh in your judgment of my words. (In fact, I think your comment that I “reverted to culture war mode” is patently unfair.) But either way, I’m still committed to our discussion, and I will let your comments stand as they are, if that means we’re done with that particular diversion.

    I’ll add that while I think you’ve been unfair in your characterization of my comments, I don’t think you meant to be rude or disrespectful, and I’m still glad to be a part of the conversation. I’ll also add that we should all work on being patient with each other: we have substantive disagreements on emotionally-charged questions of real import. We should expect each other to behave civilly, but we oughtn’t be surprised to see some sharp disagreement. I’m okay with that (or I wouldn’t be here), and I think you need to be okay with that.

    I propose that we wrap it up, for now anyway, perhaps by looking over the previous installments to see if there are any questions we’d still like to ask each other. I’ll start, if that’s okay.

    Do you see design in the processes of human embryonic development? (I do.) If so, do you think that a Christian developmental biologist who embraces naturalistic explanations of these processes should be expected to affirm that s/he believes that Psalm 139 speaks the truth?

    This is not a trick question; I’m very curious about how the whole natural vs. God thing works out for ID thinkers when considering biological phenomena other than evolution.

  95. 95

    Steve asks,

    “This is not a trick question; I’m very curious about how the whole natural vs. God thing works out for ID thinkers when considering biological phenomena other than evolution.”

    The answer is that for some hey and for some nay.

    The explanitory filter usually is the clincher and I would guess that depending on how you applied it to embryonic development certain features especially the emryo itself, IS designed.

    A good question inlight of modern politivs is “at what stage does the embryo NOT display design?”

    I for one would love to hear Dembski on this one!

  96. 96

    To Thomas @91 and jerry @85ff:

    I think Thomas is right that dicussion of TEoE is off topic here, and he’s right that if we’re going to explore the subject, we should do it under another thread. While I don’t object in principle to my words or name being used in a thread title, I would join the conversation only under some pretty clear conditions. I have two concerns about opening up a new thread devoted to my criticism of TEoE. My biggest worry is time; my family is taking a brief vacation to Boston next weekend, and I’m already swamped with important unfinished projects. I would need to limit the time I spend on the discussion, and given that it’s already 4 on 1, I can imagine that it would be very difficult to keep pace. The other concern is the nature of this venue. The conversation would not be an open one, given the moderation policy. I’m deeply uncomfortable with this place, not just because it’s hard to see how it would be fair to me, but because I’m so completely opposed to the casual censorship employed here. Bill calls it his “playground” so maybe it’s not the right place for the kind of discussion we might want to have. Is this clear, and what do you think?

  97. 97

    Steve Matheson (#94):

    Yes, I see design in human embryonic development, and in all embryonic development, and in fact in all biological processes. I mean real design, not apparent design.

    As for Psalm 139, you didn’t specify a verse number or give a quotation; obviously you want me to compare or contrast something in that Psalm with my notion of design, but you’ll have to tell me directly where to look. I’m guessing it’s the line about the lowest parts of the earth, but please just quote me the exact lines and tell me exactly what is the potential conflict between faith and science that you want me to consider.

  98. Thomas, I think he might mean Psalm 139:13

    For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
    (NIV)

  99. H’mm:

    Meyer, in that infamous PBSW paper, on Embryonic dev’t and its implications:

    In order to explain the origin of the Cambrian animals, one must account not only for new proteins and cell types, but also for the origin of new body plans . . . Mutations in genes that are expressed late in the development of an organism will not affect the body plan. Mutations expressed early in development, however, could conceivably produce significant morphological change (Arthur 1997:21) . . . [but] processes of development are tightly integrated spatially and temporally such that changes early in development will require a host of other coordinated changes in separate but functionally interrelated developmental processes downstream. For this reason, mutations will be much more likely to be deadly if they disrupt a functionally deeply-embedded structure such as a spinal column than if they affect more isolated anatomical features such as fingers (Kauffman 1995:200) . . . McDonald notes that genes that are observed to vary within natural populations do not lead to major adaptive changes, while genes that could cause major changes–the very stuff of macroevolution–apparently do not vary. In other words, mutations of the kind that macroevolution doesn’t need (namely, viable genetic mutations in DNA expressed late in development) do occur, but those that it does need (namely, beneficial body plan mutations expressed early in development) apparently don’t occur.6

    TE’s, over to you . . . if chance + mechanical necessity are enough to explain the matter, HOW?

    [In short, I am raising the point that on inference to best and empirically anchored explanation, fine-tuned, functionally specified, complex information is as a rule, the product of intentional design. And for excellent reasons associated with the relative isolation and rarity of islands of function in configuration spaces. Random walks from arbitrary initial points have serious limitations as search algorithms under those circumstances. Cf Dembski and Marks on Active Information.]

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Frosty, there is a well-known Constitution that does explicitly stipulate separation of church and state. The 1976 USSR Constitution. That is, the point was to implicitly establish atheism as the ruling worldview; and the cost to liberty was notorious. (TE’s need to assess how they will proceed to ground fundamentally moral concepts such as “rights” in a world in which the atheists are given the ultimate veto on policy. Especially given the basic conundrum faced by evolutionary materialism on grounding morality and mind. The currently raging culture wars are abundantly illustrative of the patent absurdities that result. but then, when one lives in Plato’s Cave, one can imagine or assert that the absurd is the real.]

  100. PPS to Steve

    I think, on long observation, that your “casual censorship” remark is not a fair characterisation of UD.

    A truer and fairer one, would be that there is a general — and too often unacknowledged — problem with irresponsibility, abuse and incivility in the discussion of this matter [largely coming from evolutionary materialist thinkers/advocates and their fellow travellers], and that by insisting on a modicum of civility, UD has fostered a climate of reasoned discussion. (On this, I speak from too much and too painful experience, both here and elsewhere.)

    There have been occasions on which the moderation or banning has been overdone, but that is understandable given the sort of behaviour we are talking about. [And, I have observed willingness to re-think on a significant fraction of cases when things have gone too far. Even though I have my own reservations, too.]

    Please, think again.

    GEM of TKI

  101. Thomas Cudworth,

    I was only trying to post Stephen Matheson’s comment here. He said it didn’t get posted so I was trying to get it posted in pieces to see why it failed to post. It was long and it finally was something in his last paragraph that caused it to fail.

    I am quite willing to leave the Edge of Evolution alone on this thread and have it possibly be another thread where someone takes Stephen Matheson’s position. That would be interesting.

    However, the nature of Darwin’s ideas and how they relate to one’s beliefs on evolution amongst those who oppose ID is fair game on this thread. That is why I brought it up because it relates to macro evolution and that is the real issue of ID along with OOL. It brings up the interesting question of why ID should be skewered because we believe certain scientific findings are consistently misapplied. I think that is part of your position also and I was trying to encourage debate on the topic.

    Since this topic too could go on for ever, I will drop it here but someone should try to engage someone like Stephen Matheson to debate it on another thread in the future. We generally fail to find someone who is willing to defend naturalistic processes for macro evolution. Stephen would be an ideal person to have a dialog with and I hope he participates on this topic in the future.

  102. Jerry, the problem is that TEs do not like to face the problem of incoherence, which was the original topic under discussion. They will happily join in a new discussion on any off topic comment and use that as means of avoiding the hard questions already on the table. That is what seems to have happened here.

  103. StephenB,

    That is my experience too but maybe Stephen Matheson can shed light on why he accepts a naturalistic viewpoint for macro evolution. Hopefully, we can have a dialog on it.

    Here are some interesting quotes about/from Stanley Jaki, a priest and world respected cosmologists:

    The scientific evidence does not prove the existence of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. “I firmly hold that evolution has not been proven as a scientific theory ought to be proven: by detailed observation or replication of the individual steps.”

    The great gap in evolutionary theory, he said, was the total absence of intermediate species between genera, families or phyla.

    (Interestingly. Fr. Jaki said he believed in evolution for “essentially metaphysical and theological reasons”, and particularly, his belief that the infinite wisdom and power of God would not have required him to constantly interfere in the processes he himself had created.)

    He said, “Rabid evolutionists like Stephen Gould, T.H. Huxley, Sir Peter Medawar and others, are using the assertion that evolution has been proved scientifically, for other purposes: to deny the existence of God, and to assert that we are just the product of random processes.”

    He said, “Evolutionary theory also doesn’t explain the purposeful behaviour of human beings. In fact, it says that everything is purposeless: this is the standard materialist evolutionary theory.

    “However no scientific theory can include the notion of purpose: it can only study aspects which are measurable. Free will, understanding, and similar qualities cannot be measured scientifically.” Some modern theories of the origin of the universe have been put forward to justify the materialist evolutionary view, he said.”

  104. I respond to StephenB (number 40):

    “Error #3: Confusing young earth creationism with intelligent design. There is simply no excuse for this. If they make that mistake, then they are scandalously uninformed and not worth taking seriously. Their obligation to understand and to not misrepresent the other side should weigh heavily on them, because their errors can compromise and ruin someone’s career. Our side doesn’t have that kind of power.”

    Stephen,

    We agree about where most of the power is. I wrote two long, pointed letters to the president of Iowa State, defending Guillermo Gonzalez’ ability and intellectual freedom. We’re on the same page with that part.

    I also agree that ID is not YEC, and I’ve written about that in traditional print media with gatekeepers, and haven’t gotten any bonus points from your opponents for that.

    However, IMO there are good reasons why your opponents can play that card (ID = YEC), even if they are wrong about the content of the card.
    To give here just one reason, the history and collection of authors for the book, “Of Pandas and People,” speaks volume to this point. Many here probably know all about this–and, if so, then you can see where I’m going with that.

    As I said here in another thread, the tone and tactics that often emanate from the IDM can sound a lot like the tone and look a lot like the tactics that emanate from the YEC camp.

    If however ID had from the start been clear and clean about some key points in the historical sciences–whose legitimacy, frankly, seems to be questioned by many in the ID camp–this particular card could not be played. (And it’s an ace, not a deuce, given the history of this issue in the courts and the weight of the scientific evidence on the non-YEC side.)

    What needed to happen, IMO, a long time ago, was for people to say, “hey, if we’re going to promote the scientific detection of design, then we need to make sure that everyone realizes we accept the big bang (from which the best design arguments come, IMO), we accept common descent of humans and other organisms, and we accept an earth that’s been around for billions of years before we arrived on the scene.”

    That would, IMO, have circumvented this problem that you now seem to have.

    But, as noted above in one or two places (and as I’ve written in publication), then a lot of the popular support for ID would just not exist. ID would be advancing truth, but at the expense of political support.

    That’s my two cents on that one.

  105. 105

    jerry, I’ve explained my position already on this thread. As I told StephenB, I’m still open to answering questions about my specific ideas, but I’m not open to lengthy discussion of the positions of others. StephenB has opted out, by reverting to culture war mode (to borrow a phrase from Thomas, who I’m hoping will soon scold StephenB for his crudely disrespectful tone toward me). But if, after reading my previous comments, you still have a question, then let’s hear it. And as I’ve requested before, please keep in mind that I can’t sustain a free-for-all with even one of you, much less a whole gang. Please, if only because you think I should be treated courteously as a visitor to your gated community, think of me as a person and not as just another of StephenB’s “TE’s”, and give me the space to discuss points of interest without being used as a scapegoat.

  106. Testing. I sent another post in twice in the past 15 minutes, and I’ve haven’t seen it yet…

  107. Steve Matheson: This thread is less about your being a friendly ID critic and more about our being friendly TE critics as is clear in the title.

    Still, I will make a brief point about your criticisms, which are non definitive by any means. In your original post, you stated that you do not agree with the ID science, that is, in terms of “complexity” and “irreducibility,” but you did not say why. So you didn’t really give reasons as you suggest. You simply registered your protest. Anyone can say that they don’t agree with a proposition. As it stands, I don’t have a clue about why you can’t accept Dembski’s paradigm and Behe’s paradigm, because you have not provided one.

    Now, onward to the theme of the thread. Several of us have provided good solid reasons for charactering TE as an incoherent world view, reasons which you have not answered. Indeed, that is the theme of this thread, one which you seem to resent and yet cannot refute. I presented three specific examples with Miller, Collins, and Lamoureux, all of whom have contradicted themselves. You remained silent about my examples. I didn’t just pull these examples out of the blue; I chose them because they are YOUR guys.

    Again, I explain that evolution either contains and internal principle or it doesn’t. Your response is that you don’t know what in internal principle is and you care even less. If had used the word “programmed,” would that have helped. God either programmed evolution or he didn’t. Are you aware of the fact that Collins and Miller, in Darwinian fashion, do not believe that evolution was programmed by the creator because, like most TEs, they reject teleology in principle? That is what Darwinism means (pure Darwinism, if you like); it means NO PROGRAM. ID insists that, if God did create through evolution, that either he directed or programmed the process it. For programmed evolution, we use the term “front loaded” to describe the unfolding of an “internal principle.” So, I put it to you. Do you believe that evolution was programmed or don’t you? If you do, why are you celebrating Collins and Miller who do not believe it? Further, why are you not interested in the fact that Lamoureux, YOUR example, contradicts himself on this matter, as I have already shown.

    You say that you disagree with my notion of design, and yet what you don’t realize is that you have TWO notions of design, one for your science and one for your theology. That is one of the reasons that your movement is incoherent. For my part, ID can resolve the problem of God’s sovereignty and man’s free will by appealing to God’s ordained will and God’s permissive will as I did at That way, contingency is real for God and for us. Once again, you have no comment on that matter.

    Finally, you say that you accept “naturalistic explanations” for the human brain, but that evades the issue. That is irrelevant. The real question is this: Do you accept naturalistic explanations for the “human mind?”

  108. … still haven’t seen it.
    Does anyone know why I should (appparently) be moderated?

  109. 109

    StephenB, you have had the last word. I don’t intend to answer it, because it is largely unrelated to anything I’ve written and displays a brazen lack of respect for my simple requests regarding this conversation. Please feel free to interpret my ending of the conversation with you in any way that suits you. I have registered your contempt, and have given it the consideration it is due.

  110. 110

    Thomas @97: please advise on how we should proceed regarding the issues jerry has raised (discussion of TEoE). Also, thanks for the response to my question; I’ll get back to you this evening (EDT) sometime.

    kairosfocus@99: my question is not about evolution, it’s about embryonic development. The quote from Meyer is dealing with evolution. At this point, I can’t even consider opening a discussion of Meyer’s ideas alongside other threads, but if you want to read overviews of the kinds of mutations that Meyer claims “don’t happen,” try some of the reviews on my blog. And I will explain my opinion of the moderation policy later. For now, suffice it to say that I find UD to be poorly suited to the kind of discussion that I prefer.

  111. Ted,

    It may very well not be a moderation issue. I’ve had posts not take for reasons yet to fathom.

    If it is a moderation issue, the mods aren’t shy about saying so.

  112. Ted,

    It is probably not a moderation issue or your tests would not get posted. Steve Matheson posted a long comment to me and it would not post. I took it and copied it from his website and posted under my name and it would not post.

    I then posted each section and each posted fine till the last paragraph which would not post. It seemed like an innocuous paragraph but there must have been something in it that caused the problem.

  113. Steve Matheson: I did not exhibit any contempt toward you. I simply raised issues about the incoherence of your position and you regarded it as contempt. It is not cruel an unusual punishment to hold people accountable for their views and their willingness to conform to the principles of right reason. Contrary to your opinion, you don’t reserve the right to reframe an issue that was already on the table in ways that serve your own ends.

  114. Still haven’t seen my other post, which tries to clarify the design/evidence/divine governance issues. I won’t try to recreate it, though I may try again to post it later.

    Responding here to StephenB (113):
    Stephen, IMO one of the main reasons for ongoing frustration–on both ends–in any ID/TE conversation has to do with how an issue has been put on the table, to borrow your words.

    If Steve Matheson wants to frame the issue as he sees it, not as you see it, it’s his prerogative to do so. Phil Johnson and others, from the beginning of the conversation about ID, have framed the issue in a certain way–such that anyone who thinks that “random” processes play an important role in the history of life has ipso facto (a) denied the purposefulness of the universe; (b) denied “design” in the history of biology; and (c) abandoned any Christian theism worthy of that label. Phil is of course a master rhetorician–that’s his professional expertise, and the word “rhetorician” here is not a pejorative. But if you get to define the terms, then at some point some folks will may to take issue with those definitions.

    It is not cruel and unusual punishment, to point this out.

    Once terms (such as “design,” “random,” and “Darwinism”) have been defined in a certain way, then anyone whose views do not fit into those boxes can be dismissed as incoherent; but that label might well be simply a consequence of making definitions that are carefully designed (to borrow a word) to force people into boxes that won’t hold their views.

  115. I correct a typo in my post above: But if you get to define the terms, then at some point some folks may want to take issue with those definitions.

  116. Steve Matheson,

    I have lots of questions but recognize your time limitations and reluctance to engage several people because as soon as you take any point of view there will be several challenges to it. I also may not be the best person to present some of the critical questions.

    Here is my point of view on evolution as short as I can make it and why I chose the question I did.

    Darwin’s ideas work fine for what we call micro evolution and this is what most people who accept evolution are really referring to when they understand evolution or survival of the fittest. The reason I say this is what most people refer to is because when we ask people, this is what they provide, including some important advocates of Darwin’s ideas as the mechanism for the origin of all species.

    Such a process in reality has produced mainly minor changes to a species, even in the long term. So changes to single celled organism or adaptations of multi-celled to a changing environment is well accepted and uncontroversial for most who support ID.

    Darwin’s ideas and all the modern variations of it (let’s call it gradualism) do not explain many of the changes which have been seen in the fossil record which indicate the introduction over time of complex functional capabilities into the animal world (we will call this macro evolution). I will leave out plants.

    Actually I know of none that gradualism explains. So as of the present there is no coherent theory to explain the arrival of new species with complex functional capabilities that were not present prior to their appearance. They appear on the scene with no obvious predecessor.

    I leave out the origin of life issue at the moment because there is a change in magnitude for the difficulty of the problems with resolving this issue.

    Hence any specific questions I have about evolution will be limited to macro evolution. Let’s be very general.

    Is there empirical evidence that gradualism can explain the arrival of new species that have complex functional capabilities? If so what are some examples and the evidence to support these examples?

    Feel free to reject or modify the question to something you believe is more relevant.

  117. —–Ted Davis: “Responding here to StephenB (113) “Stephen, IMO one of the main reasons for ongoing frustration–on both ends–in any ID/TE conversation has to do with how an issue has been put on the table, to borrow your words. If Steve Matheson wants to frame the issue as he sees it, not as you see it, it’s his prerogative to do so.”

    Well, sure, anyone can reframe any issue at any time. But sometimes that privilege is used as an excuse to avoid answering simple questions. If we can’t define terms and stay with those definitions, rational discourse is impossible. If I frame an issue and ask a question in a specific context, I think I deserve a fair answer to a fair question in that same context, as long as I have sufficiently defined MY terms.

    I don’t think that there is anything ambiguous or unfair about this question: Do you believe that God programmed the process of random variation and natural selection to unfold according to a plan? In other words, does evolution know where it is going? If you do believe that it knows where it is going, then why do you militate against ID, which agrees with that proposition and side with Darwinists who don’t agree with that proposition? If you side with neither, then is your position not incoherent since there is no third option? Evolution cannot be guided and unguided at the same time.
    When TEs ask me how I explain God, design, and contingency, I answer the question on their terms, as I did with my comments concerning God’s ordained will and God’s permissive will. I answer their questions on their terms, but when I ask my questions on my terms, they change the focus and tell me that I am asking the wrong questions. Either that or they discontinue the discussion on the grounds that I am being discourteous. Excuse me, but I call that evasion.

  118. Ted

    You’re not being purposely moderated. Probably 5 or more links in your post or else you used a spam trigger word.

    I cleaned up the spam word list of some holdovers that are no longer necessary and bumped the URL count to 10 or more.

    We no longer have a spam queue so anything that gets marked as spam cannot be recovered. Instead of battling spam by sorting through it looking for comments that Akismet didn’t flag correctly I modifed WordPress so that trackbacks are no longer accepted. Faking a trackback was how all the spam was getting through. Try posting your comment again and see if I reduced the restrictions enough to allow it this time.

  119. —–”Ted Davis: However, IMO there are good reasons why your opponents can play that card (ID = YEC), even if they are wrong about the content of the card. To give here just one reason, the history and collection of authors for the book, “Of Pandas and People,” speaks volume to this point. Many here probably know all about this–and, if so, then you can see where I’m going with that.”

    I will grant a couple of points with regard to TE error #3 (confusing Creation science with Intelligent Design) followed by a somewhat broader point about the distinction between motives and methods.

    Yes, the history of the authors of “Of Pandas and People” could constitute a reasonable stumbling block for some TEs, at least in the beginning. Also, the fact that some YECs disdain the Darwinian model, even when it is proposed as a Divine means for producing biodiversity, could condition some TEs to react negatively.

    Still, serious thinkers should be able to distinguish motives from methods. Anyone who reads the textbook, “Of Pandas And People,”the book that you allude to, will quickly discover that it is an ID textbook that goes to great lengths to separate itself from a creation science world view. In other words, the substance of the book’s contents, when read with care, cannot possibly be misunderstood as creationism. This applies even to those infamous pre-published drafts that became famous at Dover, a fact that ought to have always been front and center in this discussion.

    Most rational people understand that a book which contains over one hundred thousand words cannot be made into something that it is not by simply redacting a mere one hundred words or so. The reason the words were changed way back when was so that the headings would perfectly match the Supreme Court’s redefinition of the vocabulary to be used. It had absolutely nothing to do with a stealth attempt to morph a creation science textbook into a intelligent design textbook, a task that could only be accomplished by rewriting the entire book. So obviously, the authors’ motives were to clarify not to obfuscate.

    The fact that so many people, one judge included, were interested in those one hundred words, which did not alter the books theme in any way, and were not interested at all in the one hundred thousand words which did define its central argument, is telling don’t you think?

    Here is a question of similar magnitude? If the TEs we are discussing are so interested in motives, even at the expense of analyzing content, why were they not also interested in the motives of one Barbara Forrest, whose book, “Creationisms Trojan Horse,” seems to have shaped the way that they think about this issue. To be more precise, why do they not consider the fact that Forrest is a proud board member of the New Orleans Secular Humanist Association and that maybe her assessment of the book’s authors is less about their motives and more about hers? Even more, why do they not become at least a little suspicious about her insane notion that ID advocates seek to establish a Christian theocracy?

    By the way, thanks for reading my list of (7) TE errors. Any comments on the other six?

  120. Stephen, I am fully aware of Barbara Forrest’s religious views, but they do not invalidate what she discovered about the history of the Pandas book, any more than your religious views invalidate any facts you may state.

    Some of the finest attacks on atheistic extrapolations of evolution into religion, incidentally, have been written by people who are or were Christians who accept evolution–Ken Miller (in Finding Darwin’s God, and again during his testimony at the Kitzmiller trial) and Howard Van Till (in his book, Science Held Hostage). These sorts of writings seem often to be ignored by ID advocates, particularly when it is said that TE advocates never challenge “Darwinists.” I have no idea why that type of writing does not count.

    As for creating confusion with creationism, the “Reply to Francis Collins’ Darwinian Arguments for Common Ancestry of Apes and Humans,” by Casey Luskin and Logan Gage, appended to the new book, Intelligent Design 101, does seem to me only to further confuse things. Mike Behe agrees with Collins that the genetic evidence for common descent is conclusive; Mike wrote a chapter in this book, yet this apparent disclaimer is also in the book. Common descent is not a trivial matter, and the number one objection of creationists (both YECs and also OECs) has always been against common descent–without that, indeed, there would be no antievolution movement.

    If ID is really open to common descent, as is often claimed (and I think even claimed again in this book), then why do so many ID books make such a point of trying to refute it?

  121. Now, Stephen, as for alleged “evasion,” let me briefly quote one of the most thoughtful TE advocates I know, namely Bob Russell. I quote his essay on “Special Providence and Genetic Mutation” in Keith Miller’s book.

    “God can be understood theologically as acting purposefully within the ongoing processes of biological evolution without disrupting them or violating the laws of nature. Indeed, as its transcendent Creator, God has made a world that is open to divine action, and as its immanent and ongoing Creator, God acts in nature! God’s special action results in specific, objective consequences in nature, consequences that would *not* have resulted without God’s special action. Yet, b/c of the irreductibly statistical character of quantum physics, these results are entirely consistent with the laws of science, and b/c of the (ex hypothesi) indeterminism of these processes, God’s special action does not entail a disruption of these processes. Essentially what science describes as variation at the genetic level without reference to God is precisely what God is purposefully accomplishing, working invisibly in, with, and through the processes of nature.”

    etc.

    One might disagree with this, of course, but I don’t see any evasion here, Stephen. Rather, I see a conception that does not fit into your categories.

    I do encourage you to read some of Russell’s work, including his recent book, “Cosmology from Alpha to Omega,” and engage his ideas directly rather simply as I quote them here.

  122. Finally, Stephen (for now), I place below a post on the ASA list from Loren Haarsma, whose work I praise in the post that has gone missing. Loren is a TE. Do you regard his points as fair and balanced, perhaps even reasonable?

    Certain criticisms of Intelligent Design and Theistic Evolution are
    frequently recycled. These criticisms arise from common
    over-simplifications and misunderstandings of I.D. and T.E. I’ve written
    the following in hopes it will promote more nuanced and accurate
    discussions of these views.

    Four Common Myths about Intelligent Design
    –Myth #1: Intelligent Design just isn’t science.
    –Myth #2: Intelligent Design is a science stopper.
    –Myth #3: Intelligent Design is just creationism in disguise.
    –Myth #4: Intelligent Design has a theology of “god-of-the-gaps”
    and “episodic deism.”

    Four Common Myths about Theistic Evolution
    –Myth #1: Theistic evolutionists don’t confront atheism.
    –Myth #2: Theistic evolution is essentially deism; it doesn’t have
    God acting as a creator in any meaningful sense.
    –Myth #3: Theistic Evolutionists embrace “methodological
    naturalism” in science because they don’t believe in
    miracles (or are embarrassed about miracles).
    –Myth #4: Theistic Evolutionists support evolution because they are
    worried about their jobs or their scientific
    respectability.

    This is a lengthy document, so rather than send it to all by email,
    here is a link:
    http://www.calvin.edu/~lhaarsm.....rMyths.doc
    Feel free to repost parts of it to this list if you want to discuss
    specific parts.

    Loren Haarsma

  123. 123
    Thomas Cudworth

    Steve Matheson (#109) and StephenB (#113):

    I don’t want to get into refereeing small frictions here. A degree of small friction is inevitable, as I’m sure Steve Matheson will agree, since he’s said (rightly) that some sharp disagreements between the various positions exist. Certainly we must try to banish outright rudeness, insults, and lies from the discussion, but I think that if we stop to analyze every minor verbal bruise and scrape that occurs here, and try to assign blame, we will end up quarrelling over trivia.

    I did not understand StephenB’s comments to be personally insulting or even disrespectful. Perhaps they were a wee bit impatient, but again, we all want answers from each other, so let’s allow for a little impatience on both sides.

    Focusing on the issue at hand, I think that what StephenB is driving at is best expressed in this paragraph (#117):

    “I don’t think that there is anything ambiguous or unfair about this question: Do you believe that God programmed the process of random variation and natural selection to unfold according to a plan? In other words, does evolution know where it is going? If you do believe that it knows where it is going, then why do you militate against ID, which agrees with that proposition and side with Darwinists who don’t agree with that proposition? If you side with neither, then is your position not incoherent since there is no third option? Evolution cannot be guided and unguided at the same time.”

    I think Stephen is saying that many theistic evolutionists do not offer clear or direct answers regarding the question and the issue he raises in this paragraph. And I find the same frustration, which is why I wrote the original lead article which we have been discussing. That is why you find us continually recurring to the statements of Collins, Miller, Ayala and Lamoureux. We find them confusing and ambiguous, and, since they are smart guys and presumably could be direct and clear if they chose to be, we are tempted to characterize them as evasive, and to wonder about their motives.

    But you say you want to speak not for them but for yourself. That’s fine with me, and I presume with everyone here. So forget those others for the moment. I’d like to put it to you, Steve, certainly without contempt or rancor: (1) Do you believe that God programmed the process of random variation and natural selection to unfold according to a plan? (2) If so, how is this plan intellectually distinguishable from what ID proponents mean by “design”? (3) If the two things are not distinguishable, then what is your objection to ID (or at least to that wing of ID theory which accepts an old earth, aspects of Darwinian mechanisms, and common descent)?

  124. 124

    Thomas @97:

    My question for you can be restated as follows.

    1. Psalm 139 states clearly that God is intimately involved in the creation of human bodies. I long ago concluded that this Psalm (specifically verses 13-16) means (among other things) that God claims every aspect of the development of human bodies. I can’t imagine these verses being taken to mean anything else (re the formation of human bodies).

    2. Developmental biologists like me study the processes that create mammalian bodies, and our findings have unquestioned explanatory force (by, for example, revealing mechanisms behind developmental diseases and pathology). The assumptions are typically naturalistic, meaning that “methodological naturalism” is employed as a working framework. Seemingly random processes such as those I alluded to in comment #65 are widespread. Despite myriad unanswered questions, including some truly vexing problems, developmental biologists like me labor under the assumption that mammalian development — including human development — is naturally explainable.

    Hearing #2, do you now doubt my commitment to #1? Do you think you should ask me if I really believe #1? Do you see a conflict here?

    3. I’m a Christian developmental biologist, so I hold to all of the above; namely, I believe that God knit me together in my mother’s womb, and I believe that my development occurred through natural — even seemingly random — processes.

    And yet no one has asked me to pass the “programming” test. Indeed, no one has ever expressed even the slightest surprise that I am a TE: a theistic embryologist. Now, I think that’s interesting. Because I think the Bible is just as clear on God’s “direct” involvement in my formation than it is on his “direct” involvement in the formation of the first humans. But no one gets agitated about all the compromising, spineless, pathetic theistic embryologists. Why is that?

  125. I will answer the following two questions above, as if I were Bob Russell, based on the essay I cited above.

    (1) Do you believe that God programmed the process of random variation and natural selection to unfold according to a plan?

    YES, although “programmed” suggests more front-loading than Russell might endorse–he sees divine action as continuous and ongoing. The plan may be “programmed” in a certain sense, but God is active as it unfolds in time.

    (2) If so, how is this plan intellectually distinguishable from what ID proponents mean by “design”?

    ID proponents insist (unless I badly miss the mark) that this design (which I would see as the plan in question 1) must be demonstrable scientifically. Russell does not agree, since the sources of variations are, from the scientific point of view, “random” quantum events.

    Does this help, or not? Does it represent a third way?

  126. I will now attempt to repost the entry that went into cyberspace. I’ll do it in parts.

    PART ONE:

    Let me also now affirm what’s been said back up there a couple of times: if you want to understand/engage a serious theology of creation by a serious TE, then you would do well to go read the essay by Loren Haarsma in Keith Miller’s book, Perspectives on an Evolving Creation. In a word, it’s splendid.

    I would challenge anyone here to show what is not orthodox in Haarsma’s theology, as expressed in that volume.

  127. PART TWO:

    The chapter isn’t on the web, so anyone who wants to take up that challenge will need to go to a library and order a copy by inter-library loan. Most regular libraries won’t have it. Of course, you could buy a copy of the book…

    A few years ago, I was involved in a really heavy discussion of this issue–divine sovereignty over nature, and whether or not God’s sovereignty extends to causing “random” events–on a private ID list. I was almost the only one there defending a TE position, but it was a very interesting exchange from my perspective. Ultimately, I keep coming back to the book of Job. I haven’t a clue how God sustains the bands of Orion — well, OK, it apparently involves gravitation, but that’s simply our word for what God is doing, not how God does it. Large parts of nature appear to operate on the basis of “random” events, leaving ID and evolution completely out of this and sticking only with the physical universe. Do I know how God governs those events? Not a clue. Do I believe that God governs those events? Yes. Can I prove scientifically that God designed the events that emerge from the apparently “random” substratum? Not on your life.

    This isn’t a trivial response, although it may appear to some that it is. These are very deep waters, and we navigate them only in the fog.

  128. —–Ted, You could have pretty much picked any prominent Christian Darwinist, so Russell will serve to make my point as well as anyone. Let’s analyze his incoherent position by repeating the quote which you provided:

    “God can be understood theologically as acting purposefully within the ongoing processes of biological evolution without disrupting them or violating the laws of nature. Indeed, as its transcendent Creator, God has made a world that is open to divine action, and as its immanent and ongoing Creator, God acts in nature! God’s special action results in specific, objective consequences in nature, consequences that would *not* have resulted without God’s special action. Yet, b/c of the irreductibly statistical character of quantum physics, these results are entirely consistent with the laws of science, and b/c of the (ex hypothesi) indeterminism of these processes, God’s special action does not entail a disruption of these processes. Essentially what science describes as variation at the genetic level without reference to God is precisely what God is purposefully accomplishing, working invisibly in, with, and through the processes of nature.”

    Russell conceives science in this context as (Darwinism), which, by definition, is a purposeless, mindless process. As George Gaylord Simpson put it, “Man is the result of a purposeless and natural process that did not have him in mind.” When confronted with that very quote and asked if it was true, Russell responded, “for science yes, for theology, no.” In effect, he splits truth in two, one truth for God, another for us. Like most TEs, Russell uses the language of teleology while arguing on behalf of non-teleology as is evident from his quote and from his response to the question about purpose.

    In effect, Russell is saying that a purposeful God used a purposeless process. He is solely vested in the Darwinian concept of contingency. So, according to him, contingency is real for us, but it is not real for God. Did life on earth unfold by chance or by design? According to the natural sciences and Darwin’s theory of evolution, it was by chance. That means that the results would be unpredictable. According to the Judeo-Christian tradition, it was by divine design. That means that the result would be predictable. That is why I asked the earlier question that everyone evades. So here it is again: Do you believe that God programmed evolution to unfold predictably according to plan? If so, then how do you reconcile that with the Darwinian paradigm that evolution proceeded unpredictably and without purpose? Russell, whom you characterized as “one of the most thoughtful,” wants to have it both ways. I have higher hopes for you.

  129. 129

    Thomas @123

    First of all, if you are as flexible as you sound on the tone around here, I expect I will never again see the kind of lecture you dispensed in comment 89. George Murphy was right: the environment here is plainly dysfunctional. That is not an intended insult to your person. It is an observation, made by many others, about the immature and unhealthy ethos of UD. Take the hint, guys: this place is a mess.

    But now I think I’ll make you happy. Here are answers to your questions.

    1. Do you believe that God programmed the process of random variation and natural selection to unfold according to a plan?

    I’m not sure how it works, and I don’t like your terms, but I’ve rejected the extreme (as I see it) of open theism, and that leaves me with a goal-directed creation. “Programming”? I dunno. A plan, a will? Yes, absolutely.

    1. If so, how is this plan intellectually distinguishable from what ID proponents mean by “design”? It’s not. I would think that’s obvious. I was talking about my openness to design talk and to “common ground” from the very beginning. And you think you’re frustrated?

    3. If the two things are not distinguishable, then what is your objection to ID (or at least to that wing of ID theory which accepts an old earth, aspects of Darwinian mechanisms, and common descent)?

    For a short starter list of my problems with your movement, see comment #40. I’ve referred to it repeatedly. I thought it was very clear when I posted it, and I think it’s quite clear now. I could add to it, but I’m exhausted by the effort of communicating here, and I’m also out of time.

    Are you confused by the difference between design, intelligent design, and the ID movement? That’s where you want to look for the reasons why people like me, who ought to be your friends and allies, see your movement as destructive and unworthy of support.

    Look again at what I’ve written, and at what Ted Davis wrote, recently and especially last week. Lay aside your grievances (against — and on behalf of — people who aren’t even in the conversation) and try to deal with me, just as a guy who confesses Jesus as Lord, who works full-time as a research biologist and professor at a Christian college, who knows more about genetics and developmental biology than (perhaps) everyone you know (and certainly more than Mike Behe), and who took the time to come into your private and privileged conversation to explore common ground.

  130. Finally (for now), I respond to the original essay in this thread, which is very thoughtful. Here are a few of the parts where I differ with Mr Cudworth (whose surname, incidentally, is identical to that of a Cambridge neoplatonist whose views on the creation he might not share, and who wrote a lengthy treatise on this).

    (1) “This view, which we might call “apparent Darwinism,” fails to get God out of the process of natural causation, which was (as Cornelius Hunter has argued) Darwinism’s historical raison d’être.”

    It is not clear to me that ID escapes this charge, either. Doesn’t ID put God right into the process of natural causation, insofar as “Design” becomes a cause on the same level as scientific mechanisms?

    Whereas, for Russell and many other TEs, God is not seen as a cause like other causes, but rather as the cause of those causes. I think George Hunter was confused about this.

  131. (2) “The difference that remains between TE and ID is not over metaphysics but over epistemology, i.e., over the question: How do we KNOW that the flagellum or the wing of a bird or the circulatory system is a consequence of design rather than chance? And here is where TE takes its final stand: it is only by faith, not by the scientific study of nature, that we can know this.”

    I also differ with this. I agree with this much: (a) ID affirms that science, not faith, makes the design inference; and (b) quite a few TEs might say that it is “only by faith” that we can infer design.

    My own view is intermediate to this, and so is that of Polkinghorne and some others. I say that science can help us make some design arguments, but that any inference to purpose in the universe (which is the bottom line for a design inference, IMO) involves more than science. It is not “only by faith,” but “partly by faith” and “partly by reason, informed partly by science.”

    The design inference IMO is ultimately metaphysical, not scientific–even if science helps us to reach that metaphysical conclusion. Without a prior idea of who the designer is, I would say, it’s not really possible to say that the universe is purposeful–whether or not any of it appears to be “designed.”

    And, metaphysical arguments are not hard and fast “proofs,” hence not as useful as some in the culture wars would like them to be.

    This is, in part, what is meant when some folks will say that they affirm “id” but not “ID.” It reflects a different overall attitude toward design arguments and their efficacy. And, a different view of how “design” relates to mechanisms, which science can study directly.

    Again, the nuances here are important–they are important in how views are being pigeonholed and characterized. It’s important to do that as fairly and accurately as possible; I think we all agree on that.

  132. Ted, why not just treat ID as pure science? Why not just say here’s a methodology, it makes empirical claims, attention must be paid?

    No theology is needed.

  133. I need to go to bed, and then I’ll be away for a few days. Once more, Stephen, I’ll reply to your terminology and the bifurcation behind it that I do not accept. Here we go.

    “According to the natural sciences and Darwin’s theory of evolution, it was by chance. That means that the results would be unpredictable. According to the Judeo-Christian tradition, it was by divine design. That means that the result would be predictable. ”

    Wrong, Stephen. IMO.

    God already knows many things that we cannot predict. Does this mean that none of those things that God knows and that we can’t predict, are part of God’s intentions? That none of them are “designed”? Surely, the first century Jews did not see the possibility of a “crucified Messiah” as part of God’s intentions–indeed, a crucified Messiah was for them an oxymoron. I would say, however, that there was more going on than they could ever see.

    I confess, Stephen, to holding a “voluntarist” view of God, in terms of our knowledge relative to God’s. I don’t think that ours really embraces God’s, very much. God, IMO (and also that of Boyle, Newton, and many other classical thinkers), was not obliged to create us at all–not at all. We exist contingently, not of necessity, and God can freely do what God wants to do, whether or not we can predict it or see it as part of a grand design. Indeed, God’s ways are often mysterious.

    To sum up: my theological attitude seems to be quite different from yours. This may well affect how we view ID and TE, although I don’t think it necessarily determines where one might come out on that.

  134. 134

    Steve Matheson (#124):

    You’ve asked us to treat you as an individual, and not as some faceless representative of TE. Fine; but I’ll ask you to treat me in the same way. And that means that I can’t answer your final question, because I can’t speak for all ID proponents.

    Regarding Psalm 139, you’re asking the wrong guy. As I tried to make clear in a paragraph on which you didn’t comment, I owe no allegiance to any narrow or literalist or doctrinaire reading of the Bible. My view of the Bible creates no problem here. I see no contradiction – at any level that matters — between developmental biology and what the Psalmist writes. The Psalmist is writing poetry, and poetry expresses a subjective or affective perception of the world. Poetry is not intrinsically irrational or anti-scientific, but it isn’t meant to duplicate what science does. The Psalmist no doubt misconceives how development happens, just as other Biblical writers thought the earth was flat, but that makes no difference. The Psalmist is expressing debt to God for his existence, and that’s a valid religious response no matter what science tells us about the details of the developmental process. Whether God stitched me up personally, or set up an automated stitching plant with the goal of producing me 3 billion years later, I still owe my existence to him. In this light, focusing on any “errors” in the Psalmist’s science is silly, and I deplore the years of pointless battles between atheists and fundamentalists over passages like that.

    I’ve already stated that I, and many other ID supporters of a theistic bent, have no argument in principle against the notion that even human bodies were created by naturalistic processes – provided that it’s understood that those naturalistic processes were established by God with the long-term goal of the emergence of man specifically in mind. (Of course, whether said naturalistic processes are capable of producing human bodies can be questioned, but that’s a scientific argument, not a theological one, and my original posting was not about the scientific credibility of neo-Darwinism, but about the logical consistency of it with certain theistic teachings, such as the doctrine of providence.)

    There may be others here (perhaps the majority; I have no way of knowing) who disagree with me here, and interpret the Bible differently, or insist that ID is compatible only with one-time miraculous events. To them I would say: ID is indeed compatible with one-time miraculous events, but it is also compatible with other scenarios, including fully naturalistic scenarios. And I refuse to fight with YECs or anyone else over the means by which the design in nature was realized, when the larger battle – i.e., over whether the design in nature is real, or only an illusion accepted by ignoramuses who don’t understand Darwin – is still undecided.

  135. —–Ted Davis: “I confess, Stephen, to holding a “voluntarist” view of God, in terms of our knowledge relative to God’s. I don’t think that ours really embraces God’s, very much. “

    Yes, that is precisely what I am getting at. When the great scientists of the past commented on this subject they insisted that they were in tune with a rational universe created by a ratioinal being and that further investigation would confirm the point. Indeed, it was their perception that they were “thinking God’s thoughts after him” That is what provided the impetus for the whole scientific enterprise. That is not to say that we know everything that God knows. Obviously, such a notion would be ridiculous. What these great scientists believed is that God left clues for discovery, and that those clues represented in some way the mind of God. There was no talk of science having one idea of contingency and God having another idea of contingency. Such a notion challenges the whole notion of a rational universe. What is to prevent us from also saying that God’s notion of laws are radically different from our laws or from saying that God’s notion of reason or logic is different than ours. It would be an intellectual madhouse.

    —–“God, IMO (and also that of Boyle, Newton, and many other classical thinkers), was not obliged to create us at all–not at all. We exist contingently, not of necessity, and God can freely do what God wants to do, whether or not we can predict it or see it as part of a grand design. Indeed, God’s ways are often mysterious.”
    Of course we live contingently and not out of necessity. Yes, God’s ways are mysterious, but they do not violate the principles of right reason. They may be, indeed they are above reason, but not contrary to it. That is why it is so misguided to suggest as Russell and others do that evolution is purposeless from a scientific perspective but purposeful from a theological perspective. If God’s creation is indeed, purposeful, then science should not be constructing arbitrary rules for subverting that fact. Methodological naturalism, however, the TE methodology, does that very thing. Along with Darwinism, TEs standards are inflexible—No hint of teleology allowed—period.

  136. —–Ted: “The design inference IMO is ultimately metaphysical, not scientific–even if science helps us to reach that metaphysical conclusion. Without a prior idea of who the designer is, I would say, it’s not really possible to say that the universe is purposeful–whether or not any of it appears to be “designed.”

    Let’s explore that. Why is the concept of functionally specified complex information metaphysical? rather than scientific? How can it be that recognizing the “design” in an ancient hunter’s spear is anything other than an empirically anchored inference. If a DNA molecule looks like a “factory,” or a “machine,” why would one suggest that the patterns that prompted those descriptions were metaphysical in nature? How is it that random variation and natural selection can be thought of as scientific formulations but “irreducible complexity” and cosmological or biological “fine tuning” can only be thought of as philosophical constructs.

  137. —-Ted: “Stephen, I am fully aware of Barbara Forrest’s religious views, but they do not invalidate what she discovered about the history of the Pandas book, any more than your religious views invalidate any facts you may state.”

    You seem to have missed my point that the substance of the book, Of Pandas and Peoople, was not changed from a creation science textbook to an intelligent design textbook as she alleged. It was an intelligent design textbook all along. This is not a question of interpretation, but a simple point of fact as is evident from the opening paragraphs.

    So, it seems fair to suggest that her ideology clouded her judgment inasmuch as she dishonestly asserted that the authors intended to morph a CS textbook into a ID textbook. Did you also miss my point about the publisher’s reason for making the changes? I will repeat. Their purpose was to clarify, not to obfuscate, so Barbara Forrest’s fantasies about their intentions to sell Creation science as ID is easily refuted by reading the book and not by simply looking at the changed headlines. What is it about what I have just said that you find less than credible?

  138. 138

    StephenB,

    “That is why it is so misguided to suggest as Russell and others do that evolution is purposeless from a scientific perspective but purposeful from a theological perspective.”

    How would you react to: Evolution is purposeful from a theological perspective, but science is incapable of deciding whether or not it’s purposeful from a scientific perspective?

  139. 139
    Thomas Cudworth

    For Ted Davis (#130):

    Thanks to Ted Davis for joining us. His replies, as in a previous recent discussion, are probing and challenging without being rancorous or scrappy. I think his challenges here can advance everybody’s mutual understanding.

    Ted wrote:

    “Doesn’t ID put God right into the process of natural causation, insofar as “Design” becomes a cause on the same level as scientific mechanisms?”

    For some ID proponents, it does, but not for all. Dembski has said, in more than one place, that ID can be compatible with wholly naturalistic explanations. This means that the design, which proceeds from the mind of the designer, can be instantiated or actualized via naturalistic means. And Behe has been willing to entertain, at least for the sake of discussion, a “front-loading” possibility, by which the design could have been inserted indirectly, at the beginning, inside the natural properties of matter, so that God wouldn’t have to intrude afterwards. ID as such, therefore, does not require a break in the chain of natural causation. So yes, for some ID people, God can be the cause of the causes, rather than the direct cause, and that would agree with your author Russell. But note that on this understanding, it is “chance”, not design, which is ultimately illusory — the exact opposite of the picture painted by Dawkins.

    I think what confuses people here is that many ID proponents have assimilated ID to a conventional understanding of Genesis, and, while that is permitted by ID, it isn’t required by it. All that is required is that design can be shown to be a better explanation than the materialistic hypothesis (which rules out design a priori and therefore has to rely inordinately upon genuinely fortuitous events).

  140. —–nullasalus: “How would you react to: Evolution is purposeful from a theological perspective, but science is incapable of deciding whether or not it’s purposeful from a scientific perspective?”

    I think I could live with that formulation so long as the words “so far” preceded the word science and if we acknowledge that the Darwinist framework is not neutral on the subject, as it injects purposelessness in the evolutionary process.

  141. 141

    StephenB,

    Fair enough. Personally, I’m still amazed at the whole issue of purposelessness in ‘Darwinism’. As in, I am shocked that a judgment of ‘purposeless’ has been able to be passed off AS science. Much less scientists themselves.

    But, ah well. That ground’s been covered before.

  142. 142
    Thomas Cudworth

    Ted Davis (#131):

    Your interesting remarks on purpose are compressed, and therefore I may misunderstand them. Still, permit me to respond, and let me know if I’ve misunderstood you.

    First of all, it’s never been my understanding that ID asserts or even implies that “the universe is purposeful”, if that means that there is a purpose, a “reason why” for the universe as a whole. Old-fashioned Scottish Presbyterians would say that the purpose of the universe is to glorify God. Hegelians would say that the purpose of the universe is the progressive incarnation of the World Spirit. ID people would say that such grand statements of purpose belong to philosophy or theology, not science.

    ID is concerned with “purpose” only in a technical sense, a sense which we see in Greek philosophy. The Greek word “telos” means a goal or end or purpose. The predominant Greek philosophers, Plato and Aristotle, articulated the notion of “telos” in nature in great depth. Aristotle, son of a physician, was particularly interested in the arrangement of means in relation to apparent ends which was visible in the structure of living things. ID is in one sense a continuation of the Greek, in particular Aristotelian, tradition.

    Now it’s of course possible to over-read “ends” or “goals” or “purposes” into natural events and structures. Behe admitted this clearly in Darwin’s Black Box when he criticized Paley for subjectivizing the notion of purpose in nature, rather than restricting it to cases where the interaction of parts is clearly required for function. So, while natural theology of the Paleyan type was sloppy about finding “purposes” everywhere, ID theory tries to be much more rigorous, not speaking of “purpose” except in relation to the function of complex integrated systems, which appear designed and therefore to require the input of intelligence to exist. In fact, ID can probably get along without the word “purpose” altogether, and stick with “design”.

    The contention of Behe, Dembski, etc., is that “purpose” in the sense of “design for function”, can be detected scientifically, at least in some cases. And I believe that in their heart of hearts, many TEs agree with ID people about the existence of design in the structures of living things. The dispute thus seems to be, at least in part, whether we shall call this design inference “scientific”, “religious”, “theological”, or something else. I think a strong case can be made that it’s scientific, but in any case it’s not religious or even theological. The inferences are utterly independent of revelation, and are at least very close to scientific inferences. If I had to retrench, I’d call them philosophical inferences, but strong philosophical inferences, and inferences based on the known facts of science and mathematics. Further, I’d say they were inferences fit not for fools or ignoramuses, but for very competent philosophers, mathematicians, computer programmers, biochemists, astrophysicists, engineers and other intelligent and well-trained people. Finally, I’d say that they are inferences which ought to be discussed openly (not endorsed, but discussed openly) whenever they naturally surface in relation to a the subject at hand, whether in science class or other classes, and which ought not to be forbidden in public institutions by atheist-dominated lobby organizations or by scientifically, historically and philosophically incompetent judges.

  143. 143
    Thomas Cudworth

    Ted Davis (#121):

    I have serious scientific doubts about quantum-level changes being able to alter the genome sufficiently to account for evolutionary change, but I won’t take up that line. Rather, I’ll accept the indeterminacy speculation as a plausible one, and look at its implications. What it boils down to appears to be this:

    1. God does indeed act, but hides his action (of genetic variation and manipulation) behind quantum indeterminacy.

    2. Therefore, while God is actually altering the course of nature, his action cannot be detected by scientific methods; all the investigator will find is chance variations plus natural selection.

    3. Therefore, “science” must content itself with Darwinian explanations (though the Christian will privately maintain the reservation that the source of variation is really, but indetectably, God).

    Let’s go over this. What does this mean? First, it means that there is in fact design in nature, and that there are in fact no chance events in the march of life, because God is guiding it. So ID is in one major respect right, and there should be no friction between ID and TE on that score.

    Second, it means that God is in fact “The Great Mutator”, which was the sarcastic title Jerry Coyne gave to his nasty review of Behe’s EOE. This means that Jerry Coyne should be just as sarcastic to TE people as he is to Behe and ID, which raises the question why he isn’t writing 7,000-word diatribes in The New Republic against TE people. More generally, it raises the question: why do atheist Darwinists regularly find ID people a dangerous threat, yet regularly let TE people live in peace, even when they hold the same doctrine? I think we can see the answer from point 3 above. The TE people will never intrude their private belief – that the mutator is God, not chance – because they want to be good scientists and not mix up science with theology. Therefore, what happens is that the TE people play the game whose rules are established by the atheist Darwinists. And within those rules, “chance” counts as a “naturalistic” cause, not a supernatural one. As long as the TE people defer to the atheist Darwinists on this point – i.e., maintain silence about their notion of the real cause of the “chance” events — they can remain scientists in good standing, because the atheist Darwinists feel no threat from them. They can be hired, granted tenure and research money, and even become department chairs and deans. The ID people, however, cannot be tolerated, because (a) they will not, within the practice of science, hide their suspicion that the “chance” events may often be caused by a designer, who could well be God; and (b) they will not, within the practice of science, hide their opinion that the pure Darwinian mechanisms are inadequate to explain the facts of biology.

    Third, the indeterminacy approach apparently justifies excluding ID from “science”. But does it really?

    The great misunderstanding about ID is that it offers up “design” as an efficient cause. This misunderstanding is unfortunately perpetuated by many ID proponents themselves. But Bill Dembski has formulated things rightly; in No Free Lunch, he explains that ID is not a causal theory, but an explanatory theory. ID is not an attempt to isolate the particular actions, physical or metaphysical, by which design becomes instantiated in nature. It is an attempt to show that certain phenomena in nature cannot be explained without reference to design. It is, in Aristotelian terms, not about “efficient causes”, but about something more like Aristotle’s “formal” and “final” causes.

    In this light, the indeterminacy scenario, which insists that God’s actions are indetectable and therefore cannot be established by design theorists, does not succeed in proving that ID is unscientific. ID has never claimed to be able to catch God in the act, or to show how the design is actualized. ID claims only to be able to verify the results of God’s activity — wherever, whenever, or however it occurred. ID claims that God’s tinkering with genes under the cover of quantum indeterminacy (supposing that was how evolution was effected) has produced measurable, detectable design, with astonishing regularity, throughout the living kingdoms. And it argues that genuine chance mechanisms, as opposed to apparent chance mechanisms, could never have produced this symphony of design. It therefore argues that pure Darwinism is, overall, wrong, because it is rationally and empirically untenable.

    Of course, ID leaves room for watered-down Darwinism, i.e., some microevolutionary changes. But the great reorganizations, it argues, are beyond the reach of the pure Darwinian mechanisms. And in this it is entirely compatible with the “God hiding behind quantum indeterminacy” scenario put forward by several TEs. So again, there should be no bad blood between ID and TE here.

    In sum, any TE who takes the indeterminacy scenario seriously actually agrees with ID on much, and disagrees with the Darwinians on the crucial point of the adequacy of the Darwinian mechanism. This being the case, I would like to see an “indeterminacy TE” issue this public statement: “The great reorganizations of living structure are beyond the reach of pure Darwinian mechanisms, as conceived by Dawkins, Gould, and Darwin himself. I therefore postulate some intelligence acting, underneath the cover of quantum indeterminacy, which subtly shapes the genomes and creates radically new body plans.”

    Is there any TE who would be willing to say this at a secular scientific conference? Or publish it in a letter to the editor of the New York Times, just after an atheist Darwinist reviewer has savaged yet another ID book as unscientific “creationism”, amidst wild allegations of theocratic plots? I would think that this would be a minimum moral obligation for anyone who honestly holds to the above indeterminacy scenario. But as I’ve remarked, TEs are not noted for public statements of the kind that are likely to anger or even rankle believers in the self-sufficiency of the Darwinian mechanism, and this timidity, however it is to be explained, remains a sore point for ID proponents.

  144. 144

    Just to highlight one point here, in these long and thoughtful exchanges…

    I’ve repeatedly mentioned my personal skepticism with the scientific project of ID on this site. I just don’t think design is detectable, even if it (as I believe) is there. Not in a scientifically falsifiable way. That question is the stuff of philosophy and theology.

    But I’d like to ask fellow TEs contributing to this thread: If ID explanations (And not just YEC ones, but any and all claims of seeing design and purpose in nature) are unscientific, why does it seem like the exact opposite – the claim that design certainly is NOT present in nature, that evolution had and has NO purpose – gets a pass? If design can both be present in nature yet not detectable, that automatically rules out establishing the absence of design. You don’t need to decide in either direction to learn the science, much less to practice it in the laboratory.

    Which leads me to another question: Are the TEs in this thread (who I’d like to speak for themselves, since I really want to hear their response) claiming that ID proponents should just accept evolution and natural science being taught as purposeless and without design? Do they view such descriptions as an unwarranted mix of science and philosophy? If not, why not? And if so, are they willing to come down on atheists who try to pass off the lack of design or purpose in nature as the stuff of scientific discovery – at least as hard as they do on ID proponents of even Behe’s common-descent-accepting stripe?

  145. Thomas Cudworth:

    I really like your summaries in #142 and 143, and I agree on most that you say.

    I can accept that the design inference has a philosophical aspect, but indeed all science has. The definition itself of what science is remains a philosophical, and unsolved, issue.

    But first of all, there is a part of the ID arguments, that is the falsification of the darwinian theory, which is perfectly standard science. We need no argument of design or designer to falsify existing explanations for biological information: we just have to show, as ID has repeatedly done, that they are both logically inconsistent and empirically unsupported.

    That would leave us with no explanation for biological information. That, in itself, would be a far better scientific scenario than the present one, where almost everybody believes that such an explanation exists in the form of darwinian theories, which is completely wrong.

    But ID goes beyond that, and makes an alternative explanatory theory, based on the concepts of design and designer. I understand that’s the point where most have philosophical difficulties. And yet, the design inference can be expressed in a really simple empirical way, so that the philosophical implications are kept to a minimum.

    Let’s say that the design theory is just based on three steps:

    1) The empirical observation that a specifical property can be defined, which is functionally specified, complex information (CSI). That definition is completely empirical, unless one has problems with the definition of function, which IMO can easily be formalized. The complexity aspect has been well formalized by Dembski and others, and I don’t think it can be criticized in any way.

    2) The empirical observation that CSI can be observed only in two sets of objects: human artifacts and biological beings.

    3) The perfectly reasonable hypothesis that the same causal process, or a very similar one, may explain those observations.

    With that formulation, not only nothing needs to be affirmed about the designer of biological information, nothing needs to be said also about the nature of the causal process, both in biological information and in human artifacts. I would like to affirm again here, as I have often done, that IMO the origin of CSI in human artifacts is as mysterious as its origin in biological beings, in the sense that, although we certainly know the agent in the case of human artifacts, we understand nothing of the process.

    Finally, there is obviously no necessity, for the theory, to understand the detailed mechanisms of the process, in other words to “catch the designer in the act”.

    With that, I am not saying that it would not be good to know more about the designer and the process. Indeed, I believe that more (but probably not all) about those issues will be scientifically understood in the future. What I am saying is that nothing of that kind is necessary to make the ID formulation correct and complete.

    That’s the core of ID. I can agree that all discussions about purpose and similar aspects are more philosophical and, though they can benefit from the ID framework, they go beyond it.

  146. SteveM

    A couple of remarks (and not to try to initiate a long exchange):

    1] Meyer vs McDonald:

    I note in 110, you attributed the relevant remarks to MEYER. In fact, he was citing/summarising a 1983 article by McDonald at that point.

    Further to that, the remarks in question are:

    McDonald notes that genes that are observed to vary within natural populations do not lead to major adaptive changes, while genes that could cause major changes–the very stuff of macroevolution–apparently do not vary. In other words, mutations of the kind that macroevolution doesn’t need (namely, viable genetic mutations in DNA expressed late in development) do occur, but those that it does need (namely, beneficial body plan mutations expressed early in development) apparently don’t occur.

    Your link fails, and — 25 years after McDonald wrote — I do not easily see a relevant list of [a] observed AND [b] beneficial, [c] embryologically early, [d] body-plan transforming mutations in your blog, or for that matter elsewhere. [The sort of body-plan level change that would transform the embryo of a cow into that of a whale or the like. That is, you need to show OBSERVED cases of such embryological transformation, all at once or with known to be viable intermediates.]

    I would expect that any such cases would be hugely headlined, and would thus be easily accessible all over the Internet. But, it seems to me and many other observers, that they are curiously persistently missing, when the classic — and too often highly misleading — icons of evolution are/have been put forth over the past 150 or so years, right up to today’s textbooks and museums etc.

    Kindly, enlighten me on what I have missed.

    2] Link to Ps 139 and human embryological development

    Ps 139 speaks to God’s omnipresence, sovereignty over and observation of the embryological process, among other things such as foreknowledge of our inner thoughts etc.

    In the embryologically relevant verses:

    13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,I know that full well.
    15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

    –> It is plain that God is declared to be the one who created the Psalmist and knows his whole life story from the outset [i.e The Eternal accesses and knows all of time and space directly], controls the span of his life, even through the intricacies of the development of life in the womb.

    –> This process — as we now know — is of course, finely-tuned, functionally specified, and embeds huge quantities of complex information tied to a genome of ~ 3 bn base pairs.

    –> It thus shows its authorship in an intelligent agency, per inference to best, empirically warranted observation on the origins of such FSCI.

    –> If you dispute this, kindly show me a case where random/chance processes and mechanical necessity have observably and reliably produced such FSCI, not 6 *10^9 bits worth [human genome as a storage unit] or even 500 k – 1 Mbits worth [smallest cells, more or less], but just in excess of 500 – 1,000 bite worth [Dembski UPB, extended to take in a reasonable allowance for islands of functionality].

    –> In short, I am saying that the FSCI massively evident in embryology is testimony to agent at work, and also that we have excellent reason to see that chance plus mechanical necessity are probabilistically impotent to achieve the origin of such systems, on the gamut of the observed cosmos.

    –> Such generic inference to design, and onward to the nature of the relevant designer as intelligent, is empirically anchored, and not a matter of a priori assertion that such agency is actual, only that such agency — per our own life experiences — is possible. That is, it is evidence that our lives come from and reflect the characteristic marks of agency, not chance + mechanical necessity.

    –> Metaphysical, after the fact inferences to a quasi-infinite wider cosmos, with sub-cosmi with randomly distributed physics and opportunities for life to emerge are blatantly philosophical speculation, not empirically anchored science.

    3] Design inference

    In short, we have empirically anchored, even self-evident reason to see that design is manifest in the facts of cell-based biological life. Such can be denied, but only on pain of absurdity.

    (Theologically interested parties may wish to cf Rom 1 on this, esp vv 18 – 23. But the argument is primarily an empirically anchored inference to agent action per characteristic hallmarks of such design.)

    In particular, it is not empirically credible that codes, algorithms and intricate implementing machinery can arise by chance processes acting on mechanical necessity in matter, on the gamut of the observed cosmos. For probabilistic resources would be exhausted long before that.

    But, per our own direct conscious experience, agents routinely produce such information, and indeed the machines to carry it out — cf the PCs we are all using.

    4] Incoherence of theistic evolutionism

    My first problem is as just outlined: TE runs into all the problems of NDT in accounting for the origins of FSCI, as it takes on board the mechanisms of NDT as its basis for accounting for body-plan level biodiversity. Thus, coming out the starting gate, it is empirically unfounded.

    Second, the typical TE inference that design is at most inferred behind the veil of chance processes adequate to create the observed biodiversity of today and the fossil record, is a case — pardon the directness — of verbal gymnastics. If chance is adequate to account for what we see, any speculation that invisibly behind the chance we have God at work is metaphysical speculation, not science.

    Speculation that immediately falls to the lance of Occam’s Razor. (That is if chance can credibly account for what is observed, there is no good reason to look beyond chance for an otherwise invisible agent. And, the evolutionary materialists full well know that.)

    But in fact, it is plain — and has been plain ever since we have known of the intricate complexity of information systems and of cell based life as an instance of such — that chance plus mechanical necessity simply cannot account for the origin and body plan level diversity of life.

    5] Theological footnote:

    Finally, it is fair comment to ntoe that TE runs into a problem, if it intends to be a Biblically anchored Judaeo-Christian system of thought:

    Psalm 19:

    1 The heavens declare the glory of God;the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

    2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.

    3 There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.

    Thus, in the Judaeo-Christian view, the very heavens above speak to us about their origin . . . .

    Rom 1 is even more blunt:

    18The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

    21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

    GEM of TKI

  147. but science is incapable of deciding whether or not it’s purposeful from a scientific perspective?

    I’d just like to note that when we claim evolution is random, Darwinists object vociferously.

  148. Great post, Thomas Cudworth

  149. Trib:

    Passed back. A couple of observations from a handy online dictionary [Am H D]:

    ran·dom (rndm)
    adj.
    1. Having no specific pattern, purpose, or objective: random movements. See Synonyms at chance.
    2. Mathematics & Statistics Of or relating to a type of circumstance or event that is described by a probability distribution.
    3. Of or relating to an event in which all outcomes are equally likely, as in the testing of a blood sample for the presence of a substance.

    Idiom:

    at random

    Without a governing design, method, or purpose; unsystematically: chose a card at random from the deck.

    And:

    chance (chns)
    n.
    1.
    a. The unknown and unpredictable element in happenings that seems to have no assignable cause.
    b. A force assumed to cause events that cannot be foreseen or controlled; luck: Chance will determine the outcome.
    2. The likelihood of something happening; possibility or probability. Often used in the plural: Chances are good that you will win. Is there any chance of rain?
    3. An accidental or unpredictable event.

    Next:

    pur·pose·less (pûrps-ls)
    adj.
    Lacking a purpose; meaningless or aimless.

    CONTRAST:

    pur·pose (pûrps)
    n.
    1. The object toward which one strives or for which something exists; an aim or a goal: “And ever those, who would enjoyment gain/Must find it in the purpose they pursue” Sarah Josepha Hale.
    2. A result or effect that is intended or desired; an intention. See Synonyms at intention.

    Now, good old Materialism-leaning ‘prof Wiki” on Natural Selection:

    Natural selection is the process by which favorable heritable traits become more common in successive generations of a population of reproducing organisms, and unfavorable heritable traits become less common, due to differential reproduction of genotypes. Natural selection acts on the phenotype, or the observable characteristics of an organism, such that individuals with favorable phenotypes are more likely to survive and reproduce than those with less favorable phenotypes. The phenotype’s genetic basis, genotype associated with the favorable phenotype, will increase in frequency over the following generations. Over time, this process may result in adaptations that specialize organisms for particular ecological niches and may eventually result in the emergence of new species. In other words, natural selection is the mechanism by which evolution may take place in a population of a specific organism.

    That seems a pretty good fit to terms such as “chance” and “random,” as well as “purposeless,” to me.

    GEM of TKI

  150. KF, without design there is no purpose.

    Of course, when the Designer is rejected, man who is made in His image, will attempt to create a purpose of his own.

    And he will end up with death camps and gulags.

    And if a Darwinist wants to insist that the purpose of life is to survive until procreation, well, he’s just as wrong as the one who accepts the inherent nihilism in that worldview but perhaps more pathetic.

  151. I believe all the philosophical discussions are interesting but the real issues are much more concrete and are not addressed by some.

    Change did take place in living organisms. Darwin’s title was about origins. New species arose. And the only evidence we have of that is the fossil record. If there were no fossil record there would be no book by Darwin because the concept of a new species would be mute. We only have evidence for new species from the fossil record and not from any other experience. We have lots of evidence of variety but not new species. Of course biology would observe the closeness of several species and make hypothesis about possible relationships but the origin of new species would be pretty much a dead issue. And so would evolution.

    But since we have a fossil record and it was in its infancy during Darwin’s time we are forced to speculate about what it means. All the philosophical talk on this thread flows from the patterns that have been observed in the fossil record. We should recognize that. These philosophical discussions are the direct result of empirical data and yet we neglect that empirical data as part of the discussion. So I find it uncomfortable when reading all the responses and the empirical data that is the underpinnings for it are ignored.

    I have yet to get a TE to discuss the empirical data and their philosophy or point of view. We most often get philosophical or theological discussions without much discussions of the data. But that is what ID doesn’t do much at all but instead looks at the empirical data and discusses their positions based on that. Without the empirical data ID would not exist as a movement, science or world view.

    So I will make my case simply. If the origin of species were “random” or purposeless, we would expect to find certain patterns in the fossil record as well as certain patterns in the current range of species in the world. If God guided the progression of species by secondary causes such as quantum manipulation, we would expect to find a different pattern. It would not be the same pattern as the random purposeless process. Most people assume that it would be the same pattern as the random purposeless one but it would not be. If God guided the progression of species by more direct causes, then we should find a different pattern. The data underlying one’s philosophy will then be empirical and which pattern of species origin best supports each conclusion. In each way there is a trail. God would have left a pattern if He was the cause and if He wasn’t there would have been a different pattern.

    So we can philosophize all we want but eventually one has to go back and look at the real world and what is it telling us.

  152. Jerry, unfortunately, all of TEs objections are philosophical and theological in nature. These kinds of objections cannot be refuted by empirical evidence, because they are not empirical in their formulations. If you are uncomfortable with philsophical discussions, that is your privilege, of course. But these discussions have their place and they matter just as much if not more than the scientific discussions. Without philsophical first principles, there would be no such thing as science. The principles of right reason can exist without science but science cannot exist without the principles of right reason. This discussion is about reason itself. Few things matter more.

    In keeping with that point,this blog covers ID from a multitude of perspectives and its texture is not nor was it meant to be solely scientific in scope. If that was the case, it would be just another web site. Its founder is grounded in philsophy, theology, and mathematics, and each of these disciplines deserve some attention. We can’t inject empirical science in every discussion, especially when it is the philsophical and theological underpinnings of science that are being violated.

  153. StephenB,

    “We can’t inject empirical science in every discussion, especially when it is the philosophical and theological underpinnings of science that are being violated.”

    And what else was I doing.

    Again I point to your lack of reading comprehension. You pounce on one word or maybe two which you take out of context and then proceed to some unwarranted conclusions. It seems the intent is to prove someone wrong rather than to understand their position and whether there is some insight there. Maybe there is none but you did not address my problems with the discussion.

    I made the point that the philosophical discussions were based on certain empirical evidence and it was lost as the philosophical discussion went on. How that leads to your diatribe that I do not appreciate philosophical discussion, I do not know.

    My understanding of philosophy and theology is that it is always based on empirical data and how to interpret it. Two great examples are Plato and Aristotle. Once philosophy gets away from its empirical underpinnings it is nothing more than a meaningless mind game and whoever is the cleverer at making a point or putting the other person down.

    It is one of the reasons philosophy is currently relegated in this world to a class C minor league status when it was once the Queen of the Sciences. As empirical findings became available, philosophy slowly sank out or relevance because it did not explain the empirical data. What passes for philosophy is often the verbal mind game I mentioned.

    I think the TE’s are very guilty of this and I constantly read the ASA blog and see it all the time,

  154. Ted, I found the articles by Haarsma interesting and full of useful thought stimulators. In truth, I found the second article even more interesting since if gives the author a little more time to stretch out and provide his own take on the matter.
    There is simply too much there to comment on, but I will zero in one point because it is so important to him and to most TEs—

    Self Assembly:

    This, it seems to me, the main TE argument, which seeks to integrate the idea of “inherent design” with the notion of randomness. Here, I must revert back to an earlier question: Does evolution proceed according to an internal principle that directs the entire process with an end in mind? Or, does it proceed by way of randomness just as Darwinian naturalistic processes would indicate? Or to simplify further, which principle is calling the shots?

    Does the process self assemble according to the wishes of the designer, in which case only one outcome is possible, or does it self assemble in a random way, in which case many outcomes are possible.

    If we are to be true to the Christian world view, we must hold that the finished product will match the designer’s intent perfectly. Only one outcome is acceptable, because God formed us in his mind prior to creating us. So, if he is using a process to accomplish that end, the finished product must match the intent perfectly. The process must produce more than mere homo sapiens, or mere human intelligence, it must generate nothing short of you and me. If, for example, the final result produces something that turns out to be almost like you and me that would be quite an accomplishment, even a Divine accomplishment, but it would not qualify as the act of a Christian God who knew us before we were formed in our mother’s womb.

    If we are to be true to the Darwinist scheme, or what TE’s call naturalistic processes, the outcome must remain in doubt, meaning that randomness must be given full play. That means that the process must allow for many possible outcomes. The modern evolutionary synthesis confers creative powers on the process itself and part of that power is its capacity to use time, trial, and error. In other words, an organism developing that way is adapting to the external environment; it is not to growing and maturing according to some internal plan for development. It is not possible to rely on solely random processes and, at the same time, match an intended result.

    Consider that two definitions offered by kairosfocus on this thread

    ran•dom (rndm)
    adj.
    1. Having no specific pattern, purpose, or objective: random movements. See Synonyms at chance.
    2. Mathematics & Statistics Of or relating to a type of circumstance or event that is described by a probability distribution.
    3. Of or relating to an event in which all outcomes are equally likely, as in the testing of a blood sample for the presence of a substance.

    Idiom:
    at random
    Without a governing design, method, or purpose; unsystematically: chose a card at random from the deck.

    And:
    chance (chns)

    a. The unknown and unpredictable element in happenings that seems to have no assignable cause.
    b. A force assumed to cause events that cannot be foreseen or controlled; luck: Chance will determine the outcome.

    2. The likelihood of something happening; possibility or probability. Often used in the plural: Chances are good that you will win. Is there any chance of rain?

    3. An accidental or unpredictable event.
    Next:
    pur•pose•less (pûrps-ls)
    adj.
    Lacking a purpose; meaningless or aimless.

    CONTRAST:

    pur•pose (pûrps)

    1. The object toward which one strives or for which something exists; an aim or a goal: “And ever those, who would enjoyment gain/Must find it in the purpose they pursue” Sarah Josepha Hale.

    2. A result or effect that is intended or desired; an intention.

    What the TE does is to use the language of purpose (teleology) while arguing on behalf of randomness (Darwinism). If the process is directed to self assemble with an end in mind, then it is not self assembling in a random way. If it doesn’t allow for many possible outcomes, then it isn’t random. That is one of many reasons why Christianity is incompatible with Darwinism.

    Now I am sympathetic to the TEs insistence that God’s plans musts allow for some contingency, otherwise there can be no such thing as free will. That is why I think that Christians can think of God’s plans in terms of his “ordained” will and in terms of his “permissive” will, On the subject of salvation history, for example, there is an element of risk: God’s ordained or perfect will is not always carried out. Through his permissive will, bad things are allowed to happen, but he is able to turn those things into good. Still, bad things do happen. We know, for example, that God found it necessary to reserve a place called hell for those who refused to do his will. It was his perfect will that “all men be saved,” but this is not likely to happen. In other words, the final result cannot be exactly what God intended. That doesn’t detract from his infinite power, it simply reflects the fact that, in the moral realm at least, he gave us a small portion of that power so that we could use it to choose our own fate.

    We may even be able apply this kind of reasoning to God’s act of creation in a limited way, but we must keep one thing uppermost in our mind: unlike the moral context, the physical allows no room whatsoever for an undesirable outcome. The finished product must be exactly what God wanted, meaning that when God first formed us in his mind, he knew that, when he created us and by whatever means, the finished product, you and me, would match his intent or his specifications perfectly, with no room for variation or error. That is why I continue to press with the question about whether an organism’s fate depends on its capacity to mature or unfold according to plan, or whether its fate depends on adapting randomly to an external environment. Its fate is determined either from the inside, meaning the way it unfolds according to an internal principle (programmed evolution), or from the outside, meaning the way it adapts randomly to the environment (unprogrammed evolution). In the first instance, its fate has already been decided; in the second case, we don’t know until we get there. Christianity says that is the former; Darwinism says it is the latter. In cannot be both.

  155. Jerry

    Pardon, I am back. (Answering some back-forth emails today . . . )

    SB was pointing out that there are some issues that may arise incidental to a discussion of empirical data but which are then actually logically prior.

    In fact, ever since Darwin’s day and beyond, there was enough to see the fossil record as one of gaps and jumps in form, with stasis and disappearance in some cases, in others, endurance of forms to this day. Darwin hoped that his branching tree of life would be filled in when new data came in, but in fact that is less in prospect today after millions of fossils and 1/4 million or so fossil species if memory serves, certainly tens of thousands.

    But, more to the point, the issue is that once FSCI is encountered, we have one reliably observed source for it: agency, through deliberate, targetted action, i.e design.

    More than that, as my always linked pp 1 point 6 discusses, we have good reason for why we reliably see agency as the source of design, and why we see design as being characterised by functionally specified, complex information.

    The Evolutionary materialists contend that chance plus natural selection can account for such design, but run into all sorts of barriers when they are forced to show that apart form question-begging worldview level impositions [as say methodological naturalism usually turns out to be]. TE’s seem to want to say that design is only conceptualised — a la Kant I suspect on the noumenal vs phenomenal — not empirically observable. ID thinkers hold that design is an empirically detectable phenomenon, once we can see certain diagnostic factors.

    I think it is fair to say on the strength of common sense reality, scientific-statistical work and related principles and techniques of design detection, that the ID thinkers are right. We do have good empirical evidence of design once we see FSCI, and that stands until and unless we see reliable signs that chance + mechanical necessity without agent action can reliably give rise to such.

    It is a mark of the basic strength of the core case, that it is as a rule objected to on a priori grounds, distortions and strawmen, and irrelevancies. That should be telling us something.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Am H Dict again:

    de·sign (d-zn)
    v. de·signed, de·sign·ing, de·signs
    v.tr.
    1.
    a. To conceive or fashion in the mind; invent: design a good excuse for not attending the conference.
    b. To formulate a plan for; devise: designed a marketing strategy for the new product.
    2. To plan out in systematic, usually graphic form: design a building; design a computer program.
    3. To create or contrive for a particular purpose or effect: a game designed to appeal to all ages.
    4. To have as a goal or purpose; intend.
    5. To create or execute in an artistic or highly skilled manner.
    v.intr.
    1. To make or execute plans.
    2. To have a goal or purpose in mind.
    3. To create designs.
    n.
    1.
    a. A drawing or sketch.
    b. A graphic representation, especially a detailed plan for construction or manufacture.
    2. The purposeful or inventive arrangement of parts or details: the aerodynamic design of an automobile; furniture of simple but elegant design.
    3. The art or practice of designing or making designs.
    4. Something designed, especially a decorative or an artistic work.
    5. An ornamental pattern. See Synonyms at figure.
    6. A basic scheme or pattern that affects and controls function or development: the overall design of an epic poem.
    7. A plan; a project. See Synonyms at plan.
    8.
    a. A reasoned purpose; an intent: It was her design to set up practice on her own as soon as she was qualified.
    b. Deliberate intention: He became a photographer more by accident than by design.

  156. kariosfocus,

    I am not sure I understand the point of your comment. There is really nothing in it I disagree with and you have made it numerous times before but it does not pertain to the point I was making.

    The point I was making is that there would not be any meaningful discussion of evolution without the evidence in the fossil record. Do you disagree with that.

    That once a discussion on evolution proceeds, whether philosophical, theological or scientific. it must not digress into anything that is not supported by the fossil record and other empirical data which is the basis for the idea in the first place or else it is only a mind game.

  157. Jerry, you assume a great many things and then become offended when someone challenges one of those assumptions.

    You wrote: “My understanding of philosophy and theology is that it is always based on empirical data and how to interpret it.”

    That is not even close to being the case. Maybe the problem has less to do with my reading comprehension and more to do with the fact that you carry around a lot of unwarranted assumptions that you don’t even know that you have.

  158. 158
    JunkyardTornado

    KF:

    You brought up some passages from the Bible, presumably because they demonstrated to you, theologically at least, how TE is an untenable postion. But that you would bring up these passages was highly ironic to me, because I have considered them specifically before, and what they indicate to me is entirely different from what they indicate to you.

    Psalm 139… 13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,I know that full well.
    15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 16 your eyes saw my unformed body.

    OK the passage seems to imply that God personally fashioned you in the womb. But we know that the process that actually accomplished this was completely automated, mechanical, unsentient, unaware and “unintelligent”. And yet God chose to characterize this purely mechanical process of epigeneisis as if it were him personally that was acting. Is this not redolent of the postion of TE, which would say that God acted through another blind process extant in the physical universe with the ultimate outcome being mankind.

    You completely neglected commenting on the most provocative aspect of the above passage – “My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth“. David is describing some sort of physical process taking place the center of the earth that ultimately resulted in Mankind! Is that not what it says? Furthermore, God’s role in that particular process is characterized in the passage as passive. David says in the passive voice that he was woven together in the center of the earth, not that God personally did it, but that God merely looked on. So to me, this passage bespeaks very strongly of God acting indirectly through mechanical physical processes extant in the physical universe in order to create the world. (Note: I recall reading briefly in a commentary speculation to the effect that the “center of the earth” was no more than a poetic metaphor for the womb. However, if you really respect the Bible as being divinely inspired you start to see these supposed metaphors as having great significance. Consider the prophetic elements of David’s Psalms when he inavertently and completely unaware, prophecies specific details of the suffering of Christ, even though David was in actuality talking about his own personal predicament.

    Your other passages:

    Psalm 19:
    1 The heavens declare the glory of God;the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
    2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.
    3 There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.

    Does not ID essentially consider the universe as Junk DNA? Wasn’t that was the whole point of calculations concerning probabilistic resources in the universe, to say that no physical process out there has any relevance to the origin of human beings. And yet here, the Psalmist is characterizing the heavens as highly intelligent, and capable of “speech”, in some sense and displaying knowledge. Once again, doesn’t TE say that God acts passively through phyisical mechanisms extant in the universe.

    Regarding Romans 1, TE would not deny that God has invisible qualities that are manifested in what exists in the universe. After all, they are not athiests. Even the Romans 1 passage you quoted describes the creation in a passive voice, i,e, ” what has been made”

    18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
    21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

    Once again, the heavens themselves are potrayed in scripture as equally marvelous as mankind. In what sense are they thus, and to what end? What have the heavens accomplished that would justify the laudatory praise of them in Psalm 19 above? The latter part of Romans 1, reagarding glorifying birds and animals: The passage did already say that such things are a direct reflection of God’s glory, so in actuality, its a rather subtle transition that is not at all easy to articulate, wherein someone starts literally worshipping phyiscal things as if they were deities. Several days ago ba77 quoted a long poem that was rhapsodizing about sunsets and how the majesty of God was reflected in them. But consider the prevalence of sun (and moon) worship in the ancient world. Consider how Job in the Bible in attempting to exonerate himself said (paraphrased – look up “moon” in Job): “If I have beheld the rising moon so that my heart was enticed, and I lifted my hands in recognition, that would be a thing to be accursed.” But here you had BornAgain77 going on and on about how great the Sun was. So the point is, that the transition to idolatry (while I’m not denying it) is rather subtle. I’m not sure that a philosphical conviction regarding the importance of physical mechanisms as intermediaries in the creative proces is a clear example of idolatry. It seems to me that people idolize man when they assert that creating a 747 is essentially a supernatural act and directly comparable to how God himself functions.

    And briefly, regarding an unrelated comment you made previous to the above:

    (KF:) “…beneficial body plan mutations expressed early in development) apparently don’t occur.
    Your link fails, and – 25 years after McDonald wrote – I do not easily see a relevant list of [a] observed AND [b] beneficial, [c] embryologically early, [d] body-plan transforming mutations in your blog, or for that matter elsewhere. [The sort of body-plan level change that would transform the embryo of a cow into that of a whale or the like. That is, you need to show OBSERVED cases of such embryological transformation, all at once or with known to be viable intermediates.]“

    Since you allow for changes happening “all at once” as sufficing, then what about the Cambrian Explosion? (Just and observation.)

    ———-

    I started to post the following several days ago, and then decided not to for reasons that may be subsequently apparent. I’m just adding it here, not as a response specifically to anything that you, KF, said. Parts of the last paragraph may be seriously in error, so hopefully that should be an adequate enough disclaimer.

    Thomas Cudworth wrote
    God is helpless before chance; there can be no providence. This is not my personal doctrine of God. It is the theological absurdity that follows logically if the Christian insists on strict Darwinism…
    A Christian evolutionist must say, straightforwardly and without weaseling, that Darwin is at least partly wrong about the mechanism of evolution. Chance and natural selection, even if they were sufficient to explain the biological phenomena (which they aren’t, as has been shown ad infinitum by Denton, Behe, Dembski, Wells, Meyer, Berlinski, Sewell, etc.) would be unacceptable theologically to any orthodox Christian.

    It’s kind of late, and I haven’t really carefully studied your entire post, but I’ve seen variations on the above argument floating around for the last few days.

    There’s something you’re missing about the sovereignty of God, that if you are a Christian, I would say was inexcusable, except for the fact that the huge majority of Christians do miss it, for whatever reason. Most Christians are absolutely committed to something that they term “free-will” that is not actually developed anywhere in the Bible as a doctrine.

    On the contrary, God in the Bible is portrayed as being absolutely sovereign over the outcome of all events. The ultimate example of this is the death of Christ which would be perceived by man as the ultimate evil, but God in fact planned it all along, and turned it into the ultimate good (for starters in the Resurrection). But whatever the vagueries and seemingly meaningless twists and turns of the affairs of men, God is always behind the scenes with an ultimate outcome in mind, and something completely unexpected, they no one in creation would have ever anticipated.

    “The lot is cast but its every outcome is from the Lord”. This verse is one of many portraying God as the supreme master, even over apparent randomness. Ultimately God is in control of everything.

    So if God is in control in the seeming randomness of the affairs of men, why not in nature as well.

    I tend to see the physical universe, the created order, as being directly tied somehow to the rebellion of Satan (And actually I very well could be mistaken here, but its a framework I’ve been viewing things in, and its hard to get away from). But anyway, suppose that the rebellion of Satan was a catalyst for a mass unleashing of chaotic energy we call the physical universe, where that chaotic energy was tapping into the Godhead in a random fashion. I tend to see nature as 50% randomness and 50% diety. But anyway, the unfolding of the physical universe is a drama that has been watched with great interest, both by the powers of darkness (Satan and his Angels) and the powers of light, with both sides having a keen interest in the outcome. But then out of this chaotic phantasmagora we call the physical universe occasionally emerge things that are a direct reflection of the eternal beauty of the Godhead, for example Man. I would guess it defies comprehension even to the powers of darkness how such an event could have possibly happened, but it did happen, and ultimately God knew all along it would happen. This last paragraph may actually be heresy, I don’t really know. It could probably be stated more artfully as well, and perhaps someone already has. Just to close the loop here, in regards to the ultimate outcome: Even rebellion, chaos, and the powers of darkness serve a purpose in God’s ultimate plan, but after the powers of darkness have served their purpose, they will be judged, and consigned to eternal torment, along with the powers of evil that exist on earth, and then only good will be left, for all eternity. And please no one ask me to debate this.

    —————

  159. Jerry:

    Sorry to have to be insistent, and to repeat what I just said:

    SB was pointing out that there are some issues that may arise incidental to a discussion of empirical data but which are then actually logically prior.

    SB, in that sense, we do as a matter of personal path begin to ask about phil matters out of our puzzling experience of the world, and so we discover that there is more than mere “experiences” or “facts.” Indeed, we encounter thigs that are true based on experience, some thast are true based on definitions, and some that are true as a matter of the self-evidence provided by our experience as conscious, intelligent, moral agents in a real world. When we turn our backs on these last, we end in absurdities.

    So, it should be plain that I think both sides here have a point.

    But the undelrying point is that on ID related issues, the experience points tot he reality and credibility of design in some telling circumstances. To rejectt hat EM and TE thinkers often end up imposing a priori grids that block the natural conclusion form say seeing FSCI. They then proceed to impose these rules as demarkacviton lines between science and not-science. Question-beggingly.

    However, right from the beginning, phil matters lie at the heart of scientific research programmes, indeed, there are almost always key unobservables in major scientific theories: Ever seen energy directly, or an electron? Etc?

    G

  160. PS: Ouch on spellcheck . . .

  161. I applaud the many thoughtful posts above, and wish that the circumstances of life (which for me at this time include some serious challenges that I will not discuss on the internet) and the choices I’ve made (to do as much as I am able to do in the limited time God gives me to help create a new history of science & Christianity) did not prevent me from responding carefully to each and every one of you. This type of interchange is stimulating and helpful–helpful not only to me, I hope, but also to others.

    There is however only one of me, and only a small part of me can be here. I apologize for disappointing many who will go unanswered. Please do not interpret my silence as meaning that your questions and points are not worth replying to–quite the opposite in most cases. Not all of the threads here are like this, IMO, and the same goes for PT or the ASA list.

    If you wish to infer anything from the silence that most of you will have to receive, please apply the maxim that silence gives consent–even when it would lead you to the wrong conclusion. In many cases, it would.

    I am able right now to reply to a single partial paragraph, from Mr Cudworth, as follows:

    “If I had to retrench, I’d call them philosophical inferences, but strong philosophical inferences, and inferences based on the known facts of science and mathematics. Further, I’d say they were inferences fit not for fools or ignoramuses, but for very competent philosophers, mathematicians, computer programmers, biochemists, astrophysicists, engineers and other intelligent and well-trained people. Finally, I’d say that they are inferences which ought to be discussed openly (not endorsed, but discussed openly) whenever they naturally surface in relation to a the subject at hand, whether in science class or other classes, and which ought not to be forbidden in public institutions by atheist-dominated lobby organizations or by scientifically, historically and philosophically incompetent judges.”

    Amen. We entirely agree here, and I’ve written to this effect in national magazines. My views on intellectual freedom, the monopolistic nature of public education, and the legitimacy of asking the kinds of questions you are asking are not hard to locate.

    The one exception I would make here is that I don’t believe Judge Jones was incompetent–assuming that he is intended as the target at the end of this passage. He took what was presented to him by the very capable attorneys for the plaintiffs, studied the relevant precedents that were shown him by the plaintiffs (esp through the structure of their case), and connected those dots. I understand why many here are angry about him making a wider rather than a narrower ruling, but frankly the plaintiff’s case was not adequately rebutted in his courtroom, and he acted IMO with judicial restraint: existing case law, quite clear in its conclusions, was applied to a new case that was shown by the plaintiffs to be related to those earlier cases.

    I disagree with some parts of his ruling, but if there was ignorance on his part, IMO it was b/c the defense was unable adequately to rebut, and b/c the facts in Dover (as many here realize) so closely tied ID to YEC, in that time and place, that any positive outcome was simply unlikely.

    Ms Forrest’s testimony has already been discussed here. Let me add this. Suppose we say that Pandas was an ID book from the get-go. If so, then ID smells even more like YEC than I had even realized. I have the edition cited in the Dover case, not the original (though I saw that many years ago), and even there in that version favorable references to the conclusions of the historical sciences are so rare (as I recall, not having the book in my hands) that it’s almost impossible to tell where the authors (collectively) are coming from on a very fundamental issue that is central to YEC: the very legitimacy of the historical sciences as means of investigating natural history. The YECs utterly reject their legitimacy. Most IDs I have interacted with do not. Why that is not clear in the book, IMO, can only be understood by the “big tent” approach, which would involve some leading YECs in the project and ensure that the book is (almost) completely unobjectionable to schools that want to advance YEC.

    The same thing happened when (for example) the book, “The Privileged Planet,” which IMO is one of the better popularizations of science on the market, was converted into a DVD. I attended the Smithsonian showing of that film, and it was clear to me during the film and from overhearing comments from YEC advocates afterwards that none of the “old earth/universe” assumptions that are ubiquitous in the book had made it into the DVD. I liked the book so much, partly b/c of the way in which it took so much good science and explained it so clearly to us non-experts, while raising the kinds of larger questions about design that are discussed with so much interest here. None of that made it in, as best I can recall.

    That had to be a deliberate choice, somewhere, and IMO a regrettable one. It’s no accident that you can find (in some cases, used to find) the DVD for sale on creatinist web sites, but not the book. Some Christian booksellers, likewise.

    My point in saying this is as follows. If the ID program is content to be agnostic about the historical sciences — the DVD being a nice example, Pandas another — then it can’t object too strongly when it’s lumped in with the folks who just reject the historical sciences. Futhermore, the agnosticism means that ID has no alternative theory to compete with “Darwinism,” which does have an historical narrative tying together the stars, the earth, and life on the earth. (OK, maybe it’s wrong, but it’s a grand narrative that will need to be *replaced*, not simply critiqued, if ID wants to replace “darwinism” in the schools.)

    To be perfectly honest, this is a very big reason why I am not able to identify with ID myself. I agree that ID can make compelling arguments about detecting design (though I’ve indicated my belief that this goes beyond science while drawing on science), and in at least two cases (cosmological fine tuning and DNA) I also agree with the examples on offer. But, I just can’t accept the willing agnosticism about large parts of what I see as very good science. I don’t see that changing, and it’d probably be too late for me if it did, anyway.

    That isn’t (as you’ve gathered) my only major reservation, but that one’s fatal in my case.

    I may be gone for awhile now; I was fully honest about some of those other challenges.

  162. kairosfocus:

    “However, right from the beginning, phil matters lie at the heart of scientific research programmes, indeed, there are almost always key unobservables in major scientific theories: Ever seen energy directly, or an electron? Etc?”

    Thank you for bringing the attention to that point. This morning I was just thinking of how difficult it is to trace boundaries between philosophy and science, and how instead almost everybody seems so sure to know where they are.

    Once philosophy and science were one and the same thing. I am not too sure we have gained much with our present, often gross, distinctions.

    The first point is, IMO, that both philosophy and science deal in essence with the nature of reality. It is important to remark that, when we start on our path towards truth, or if we want to be more humble towards knowledge, we really have no idea of what reality is: if we want to be serious, we cannot start dividing reality in subsets before even having started to understand what it is like: this is scientific reality, that is philosophical reality, that is religious reality, and so on.

    Reality is, probably, nothing else than what really exists. Our knowledge of reality is a different thing, more a map than the territory, and we should always be aware of that.

    Science, even in a very modern sense, cannot even be defined without using philosophical categories. On the other hand, philosophy cannot be serious if it does not take into account our present scientific knowledge. Epistemology is an important middle field, whose importance is fundamental for religion, science, philosophy, philosophy of science, and practically any cognitive activity.

    It is sad to observe how the general culture today takes for granted a concept of science, and of scientific method, which is at best gross, at worst frankly stupid, uncultured and irritating. Science seems to be the new source of popular certainty, the new God of the masses. Practically every day we can see some magazine in the news-stand stating something like: “What does science tell us about that issue?”, as though science were the new Sibilla, the new guideline from the Powers that be, the ultimate rockstar or priest.

    It seems that Polanyi, Kuhn and Feyerabend have never reached the general culture, not even indirectly, and have never got to the titles of newspapers, which are easily populated by the likes of Dawkins.

    That kind of science has nothing to do with what I regard as science. My science is humble, is made more of uncertainties than of truths, more of sicere desire to understand than of the desire to have already understood, more of a sense of mystery as ultimate connotation of reality, than of the trivial mystery of not having yet understood all the details.

    Science is the product of human mind, and as such, although it arises from observation and facts, it is utterly populated of human mental creations: forces, energy, particles, fields, charges, and so on. Nothing of that probably exists. They are just maps. But they are good maps, and they have opened our way towards deeper understanding, and we ought to be grateful to the people who drawed those maps.

    But there are other maps, ugly maps, for which we are not necessarily obliged to feel the same gratitude. Maps filled with false references and unlikely monsters which are intended only to make the path more difficult. Those maps hide and do not reveal, they deny what exists instead of trying to explain it. And, even if they deny purpose, they definitely have purpose, although it is not a good one at all.

    Those maps are all around us, and are highly praised everywhere. It is to us not to be fooled by them, and to stick to what is cognitively sound.

    The territory, obviously, is all another matter.

  163. 163

    Ted, I have no idea what you are talking about. You life challenges, however bad they may be, have nothing to do with ID. I found absolutely NOTHING redeeming about your post. ID is not taking science too far. If it was then we would not be able to have any faith in a SETI like program, yet there is perfectly good reasons to think SETI would be very successful if ETs used waves to communicate information.

    I wish you the best in your battle against whatever it may be that you are confronting. However you are never going to do ANYTHING to strengthen others faith if you go around denigrating other’s persuit of capital T Truth. And that is what both Christianity and ID share in common and are all about.

    You also said,

    “The one exception I would make here is that I don’t believe Judge Jones was incompetent”

    “Incompetent” here does not refer to Jones’ IQ. It refers to his understanding of ID and Evolution, of which he had next to none. This is not an opinion it is an obvious fact that is supported by all of the circumstantial evidence.

  164. Hi Jerry, picking up the tail end of your discussion here I was about to respond to this:

    And the only evidence we have of that is the fossil record. If there were no fossil record there would be no book by Darwin because the concept of a new species would be mute. We only have evidence for new species from the fossil record and not from any other experience.

    I was intending to rebut your claim that the fossil record is evidence and the inspiration for the theory of evolution when I decided to look over the rest of your posts. I completely agree with you – the fossil record does not support the gradualistic claims of Darwin, neo-Darwinism, gradualism of any kind, or the addition of God to Darwinism.

    Stephen B is right about first principles and the philosophy and theology underlying arguments, but I fear he did miss your point – if I am getting your point myself.
    He says TEs’ arguments are philosophical but it looks to me that he misses the point that their philosophical arguments are piggy-backing on the shabby philosophy of darwinism which is not supported in the first place by the evidence. I can understand not wanting to argue, again and again after all these years the inability of the fossil record to evidence Darwinism, or Theistic Darwinism, but the point of the contradiction is well-made and the reminder is necessary.

    On the other hand, you obviously have some back issues with StephenB and I think that is colouring the exchanges both of you are having. And I saw nothing in Kairofocus’ response to you that did not agree with what I took to be your point (prior to your downgrading of philosophy to class C).
    That Darwinian evolution fails scientifically and empirically is not contradicted by showing that it fails philosophically as well.
    A little more charity in reading and responding all around would seem in order from my observation.

  165. 165
    JunkyardTornado

    If I could just add one other thought (while waiting for both thoughts to emerge from moderation, and also wondering pointlessly what infraction was unwittingly committed to account for my recent demotion to the ignominious realm of the Monitored):

    Consider the fact that in the most Orthodox of Christianity and Biblical interpretion, God is not incessantly present in our world. He is not in control at this time in anyway remotely the same sense he will be ultimately, otherwise there would be no reason for his prophecied coming.

    So stated informally, God is not at our disposal to dial up and request and interview – “Please make it clear, Lord, that you did indeed create us, and what that method was, etc. He is perfectly willing to stand off at a far, far distance, and let man argue and speculate and debate and philisophize endlessly about how it all happened. And if we fall silent for a moment in fatigue, and stop and listen, all that can be heard is the profound unending cosmic Silence of the universe. So there is this profound disengagement we perceive of the Godhead in our present world. Things do run along as they will without his active involvement. Would it defy credulity to suppose the creation itself had attributes of this same disengagement?

    This came off more sacreligious than I had intended, and perhaps reflect adversely on my current spritual state of mind. But it is nevertheless a point of view, and a plausible and coherent one, I think.

    Let’s get even more provocative. If God is not actively involved continually, then who is? Would it be hard to imagine that Satan was the intelligent designer responsible for a lot of what we see in the world (Certainly we can attribute some designs to evil I.D.) So if Satan is the designer, the fact that he is isn’t cause to venerate him, and better yet why not just ignore him. So the materialists may have it right, marginalize the contributions of that particular “intellgent designer”. Actually, I think the devolving coherence of this particular post may speak to the diminishing and marginal benefits of pure philosophy.

  166. Kairosfocus:
    gpuccio:

    T hanks for your usual well-thought out perspectives. This may be a good time for me to slow down and wait a bit before I respond to others’ comments, even when I don’t think they have done justice to mine. None of us come to these discussions totally free of biases and prejudices, myself included. At times, we need role models to show us how to engage in spirited discussions without allowing personal comments to creep in. Both of you exemplify the very best of this kind of internet behavior and when I read your posts I always feel that I should spend less time talking and more time listening.

    I agree that the artificial division of disciplines is unrealistic, especially since many of them obviously overlap in important ways. Indeed, we spend much of our time refuting arguments from ideologues who err precisely because they try to make unrealistic divisions between disciplines.

    As is evident from my comments, I place high importance on the subject matter under discussion, the theme of which was framed as an argument, namely, that theistic evolution is inherently incoherent. So, to me, the challenge was to point out the contradictions involved in trying to wed Christianity with Darwinism. It isn’t often that TEs come here to dialogue, so it seemed appropriate to ask some hard questions about their rationale. Sometimes I even apply this standard to those in our own camp who sometimes find reasonableness in the TE arguments.

    I don’t mind it if I offend someone with what I say, if what I say is true, but I don’t want to make enemies because of the way I say it, even if it is true. It is when the latter occurs that I tend to regret my hasty comments and offer my apologies, and that has happened more than once. I suspect that this would happen far less often if I followed both of your examples and tried to preserve my adversaries’ sense of self esteem with the same vigilance that I preserve my own.

  167. StephenB,

    you wrote about my comment:

    “My understanding of philosophy and theology is that it is always based on empirical data and how to interpret it.”

    the following

    “That is not even close to being the case. Maybe the problem has less to do with my reading comprehension and more to do with the fact that you carry around a lot of unwarranted assumptions that you don’t even know that you have.”

    I suggest you give examples where there were fruitful philosophical and theological discussions that did not depend upon their relationship to empirical data. As I said Plato and Aristotle were trying to interpret the empirical data they saw in the world. Each speculated on the meaning of the data but would never wander/wonder off somewhere that didn’t have its basis in the real world. Even speculation about God and His intentions and existence is underpinned by empirical data that one is trying to make consistent. Aquinas’ Quinque Viae depend upon empirical data for their arguments. If they were not real world based, they would have no purchase.

    The design argument flows from empirical findings. If it didn’t the whole process would be vapid and truly be a joke.

    I was making the point that the arguments were drifting away from the empirical basis for them and I still believe they were. Some of the discussions did not reflect the empirical data that started the discussions in the first place. It seems that once a discussion gets to a philosophical or theological bent, empirical data often goes out the window. It can never leave because it is the basis for the discussion.

    It is like, here is what I believe so don’t confuse the issue with facts.

  168. Hi StephenB,
    Kudos and ditto.

  169. Grabbing a moment, I’ll reply briefly to this point by Stephen:

    “Jerry, unfortunately, all of TEs objections are philosophical and theological in nature. These kinds of objections cannot be refuted by empirical evidence, because they are not empirical in their formulations.”

    I’m really puzzled by this–I’m not saying this as a polite way of expressing scepticism about its sincerity, which I accept. I’m really puzzled.

    I’ve read many books & articles by advocates of various forms of TE, in which scientific arguments for evolution are reviewed or even advanced.

    Perhaps, Stephen, you are not counting these when you say this, since ID is said to be open to common descent, etc. Well, OK, but so many essays and books by ID advocates seem to oppose common descent that IMO when a TE argues for common descent from scientific evidence, in my book that can be seen as an objection to ID that is based on science.

    If we were to eliminate all of the ID books and articles that do not argue against common ancestry, then indeed I think there might not be many (perhaps not any) objections to ID by TE advocates, based on science rather than philosophy or theology.

    I’m not sure about that thought, but it seems accurate to me. What is your thought about mine, Stephen?

    In reviewing quickly the table of contents from Keith Miller’s book, Perspectives on an Evolving Creation, (I would say that is mostly a TE book), I see that quite a few of them aren’t anti-ID at all: they simply advance views related to an overall TE perspective, without trying to refute or dismiss ID (just as there are many ID works that simply advance ID, without discussing TE). Some do directly reply to scientific aspects of ID, esp the essays by Miller, Terry Gray, and David Campbell. Do these count, relative to your claim? If not, why not?

    One of the other essays, on evolution and original sin, is even written by a fellow of TDI–my colleague Robin Collins, for whom I have the highest respect. But that’s obviously not scientific in thrust, and there’s nothing about ID in it.

  170. Ted Davis:

    I think most of us here do accept common descent, at least as the best theory at present about that specific aspect. I have sometimes, like others, expressed some reservations about universal common descent, but not out of any religious conviction (as I have said many times, there is nothing against common descent in my religious views), but just because I believe that, while common descent is at present the best explanation for most of the available evidence, still there are some aspects of the evidence itself which could suggest different explanations, and we should not forget that.

    In other words, OK for common descent, but with open eyes. I think that we should take into account both common descent and common design as possible explanations of functional homologies, and that we have still much to do to explain on a common descent basis the amazing discontinuities in evolution, especially the “explosions” of the Cambrian kind.

    I just believe that scientific theories must always be open to critical discussion. No scientific theory is ever truth. Not darwinian evolution, not common descent, not gravity, not ID. They are theories, all of them. Good or bad theories, but theories just the same.

  171. Ted Davis,

    Thanks for joining our conversation. And thanks especially for your letters to the president of ISU regarding Guillermo Gonzalez, mentioned in (104). I can only wish that that activity were more general in the TE community.

    I also appreciate your comment about the distinction between ID and YEC, and your willingness to say so publicly, which, given the present political climate in science, took some courage.

    However, you (IMO) display a misunderstanding of the facts when you say,

    What needed to happen, IMO, a long time ago, was for people to say, “hey, if we’re going to promote the scientific detection of design, then we need to make sure that everyone realizes we accept the big bang (from which the best design arguments come, IMO), we accept common descent of humans and other organisms, and we accept an earth that’s been around for billions of years before we arrived on the scene.”

    The leaders of ID, with the exception of Paul Nelson, have made very clear that they accept the Big Bang as the (overwhelmingly) best explanation of the large structure of the universe, and in fact made use of it in their argumentation. They also accepted an earth that was billions of years old. More to the point, they accepted a fossil record of life that was billions of years old. I know, because I was observing this as a YLEC, and now a YEC (but not [yet?] a YUC). (BTW, be careful how you pigeonhole even here. Some of us YEC’s have come to our convictions largely because of scientific, not theological evidence).

    However, common descent needs a nuance teased out of it. To quote you again (120),

    If ID is really open to common descent, as is often claimed (and I think even claimed again in this book), then why do so many ID books make such a point of trying to refute it?

    A distinction should be made here. There are at least three groups of hypotheses that should be considered in this regard:

    A. Humans are directly descended (that is, through parent-child relationships, from a creature (“ape”) intermediate between humans, chimpanzees, and gorillas, with no causes of the changes other than natural sources of variation such as point mutations, insertions and deletions, and heritable epigenetic changes, all of which were random, natural selection sorting through these changes, and genetic drift adding more randomness. This, AFAICT, is the orthodox Darwinian view.

    B. Humans are directly descended from an ape, but with some non-random variations in addition to those mechanisms included in hypothesis A. Perhaps some point mutations were guided by quantum interference or guided cosmic ray interactions, for example, which would not require violations of the “laws of nature”, but only of the randomness which is supposed to be a part of quantum variation according to standard theory. Or perhaps an intelligent force interfered with which hominids were eaten by lions or died from malaria, so that we have artificial selection rather than natural selection. Or perhaps both, or some other interference. The point is not the exact mechanism; the point is that there was guidance towards a predetermined goal.

    C. At some point God, or at least some being with vastly greater intelligence than ours at present, stepped in and created a pair of hominids from whole cloth, or as the Genesis record says, from dust.

    Hypothesis C is clearly compatible with YEC, with OEC, and even with some other forms of ID. It cannot, however, by any rational definition, be called common descent. Hypothesis A can clearly be called common descent. Where does hypothesis B belong? By one definition, it is common descent; by another one, it is not.

    As I understand it, Behe currently favors Hyp B. That’s partly because he sees continuities in DNA between humans and chimps, for example, that he finds difficult to explain by design, but much easier to explain if they are the remnants of a common ancestry. However, he sees the speed of unassisted evolution as far too slow to reasonably account for the differences between humans and chimps given the standard geologic time scale, so he cannot buy Hyp A.

    Some others would not be as impressed by the similarities between chimps and humans, and would say that common design accounts for most of them, and degeneration accounts for the rest. Some might be agnostic between Hyp B and Hyp C, or might lean towards Hyp C (or Hyp B). Still others might opt for Hyp C on the basis of Genesis, while acknowledging that the scientific evidence is ambiguous regarding these possibilities. All of these people might agree that Hyp A is inadequate from a scientific standpoint.

    Believing Hyp A is necessary, but not sufficient, for believing classical Darwinism. Believing that Hyp A is inadequate is sufficient, but not necessary, for belief in ID. The question I would ask is, is belief in Hyp A necessary to be a scientist?

    If so, is that true for other controversial areas, such as the origin of life or the cause of the Cambrian explosion? Can one do science only under the assumption that one can never in principle find any discernible purpose (outside of human and animal purpose)? If so, is there any purpose?

    If not, why the persecution (which you have noted and spoken out about)? Is it fair to blame this all on the non-acceptance of common descent, especially when people like Behe explicitly accept common descent, as long as the concept of complete randomness is not smuggled in with it?

    The animus and deliberate distortions from many adherents to Darwinian evolution, including some TE’s, does not seem to be well-explained as a reaction to a 1925 law. This leads me to believe that more is going on here than their account of the controversy would indicate.

    There are two other misunderstandings that should be cleared up. In (125) you say,

    2) If so [if "you believe that God programmed the process of random variation and natural selection to unfold according to a plan], how is this plan intellectually distinguishable from what ID proponents mean by “design”?

    ID proponents insist (unless I badly miss the mark) that this design (which I would see as the plan in question 1) must be demonstrable scientifically. Russell does not agree, since the sources of variations are, from the scientific point of view, “random” quantum events.

    Some ID proponents, such as, if I read him correctly, StephenB, would say that for theological reasons involving, among other things, Psalm 19 and Romans 1, design must be demonstrated scientifically. Indeed, if the theological point is valid, Divine design must be reasonably demonstrated. But many in ID would not go that far. But many of us, myself included, would much prefer to say that it is theoretically possible to detect design in some cases, and that there are in fact some cases where design has in fact reasonably been detected. My own personal favorite is the origin of life. Attributing to us the belief that “design . . . must be detected” seems to us to “badly miss the mark”. We believe that in fact it has been detected, rather than that for some deeply held philosophical reason it has to be detected.

    To be completely fair to StephenB, his reasoning might be simply that if one accepts the Bible as authoritative, the implications of Psalm 19 and Romans 1 require that Divine design be the most reasonable explanation for the data, and rather than stating that design must be detectable, he may simply be saying that if one is a reasonably traditional Christian, one must believe that design must be detectable. I will leave it to him to clarify this point.

    Of course, once design has been detected, one then must deal with the philosophical consequences. Some of those consequences seem to be damaging to science conceived as studying a system closed to outside (supernatural) activity. But the problem with that system, at least IMO, is more empirical than theoretical.

    In addition, you say, (131)

    My own view is intermediate to this, and so is that of Polkinghorne and some others. I say that science can help us make some design arguments, but that any inference to purpose in the universe (which is the bottom line for a design inference, IMO) involves more than science. It is not “only by faith,” but “partly by faith” and “partly by reason, informed partly by science.”

    I want to point out how very close you are to ID. Official ID theory states that we can detect design, but not necessarily who (or Who) the designer was, or how he/she/it/He did it or for what purpose. To take a theoretical example, if we find obsidian arrowheads on Mars, we can be reasonably certain that they were designed. We will not know who (Martians? Some prankster in NASA? Angels? Demons? God?), or why (to hunt Martians? to prove that design can be detected? to embarrass us?), or even to a certain extent how (by flaking Martian obsidian? by flaking terrestrial obsidian? by pouring molten obsidian into a mold? by creation ex nihilo?). But we can be reasonably certain that they weren’t formed by volcanic eruptions or meteorite impacts, unless some intelligence is capable of guiding meteorites very precisely.

    So most ID people would agree with you that while “science can help us make some design arguments”, the extension of those design arguments into “purpose” requires faith; evidence-based faith, perhaps, but faith nevertheless. Are you a closet ID proponent?

  172. 172
    Thomas Cudworth

    Ted Davis (#160):

    Thanks for another thoughtful posting. I’m sorry that personal matters will keep you away for a while.

    Regarding the Dover Trial, I was not denying the judge’s competence as a lawyer and judge. In fact, I thought he conducted the trial portion very fairly, giving both sides equal time, being reasonable about procedure, and showing extensive knowledge of the relevant case law. He was also right to grill the lying school board witnesses personally, and his final decision to throw out the Dover policy as religiously motivated was undeniably the correct legal decision.

    When I said that the judge was incompetent, I was referring to his understanding of philosophy, science and religion. It is clear that his understanding of the theoretical and religious issues was wholly derivative from the events of the trial; his statements in his final decision betrayed a level of knowledge of these subjects that was lower than that of the average interested lay person. It is not surprising, therefore, that in his general remarks about the nature of science, the relations between science and religion, and the epistemological status of intelligent design, he was easily led by the nose by the plaintiffs’ lawyers and witnesses.

    Beyond this, I heartily applaud everything you said about the Dover Trial. The defense was conducted poorly. Not that there was any hope of acquitting the plaintiffs, who clearly had religious motives, but with regard to distinguishing ID from YEC and with regard to the scientific status of ID, the defense could have done much better. They failed on so many counts it is hard to keep track. In general, I agree with your analysis.

    Your points about the connection between YEC and ID are worth pondering. It is definitely true that YEC support has given ID more political traction than it would otherwise have had. It’s also the case that the connection between the two movements has given the foes of ID a larger target area. I say this not to be critical of YEC people, but simply as a point of political analysis: many Americans dislike YEC and therefore can easily be led to dislike ID for its association with YEC. This is why foes of ID throw around the word “creationist” so liberally, even though they know that many ID supporters would strongly deny that they are “creationists” in the intended sense.

    The political difficulty is that it is hard to see how YEC and ID could do anything other than what they are doing. They are both opposed to Darwinian orthodoxy, and even for partly overlapping reasons. They are both trying to combat an absurd series of interpretations of the First Amendment which has been politically slanted in the direction of secular humanism and has given Darwinism an absolute power over educational establishments which it should not have. As long as judges, lawyers and atheist pressure groups insist on making ID a political and constitutional issue, when it should be an intellectual and academic issue, the YEC and ID people have little choice but to ally with each other, sharing financial and intellectual resources to combat the common enemy. I certainly wish it were otherwise. I think any science teacher who sees a pedagogical advantage in doing so should be allowed to discuss the main contentions of ID, as a minority scientific viewpoint, provided that no religious proselytization goes on. But the current legal and judicial temperament in the USA is not rational, and will not permit of such local, common-sense decision-making. The culturally left-biased elite and media place no trust in the good will of the vast majority of schoolteachers, and they have no respect for the intelligence and inherent sense of proportion of most students, who are not easily brainwashed when discussion is truly open. They’ve thus created the current atmosphere of bellicose secular humanist litigiousness. Under such circumstances, ID and YEC supporters have had to become political animals, as a means of survival. The litigious Darwinists, the NCSE and so on, have created the very monster—the alliance of YEC and ID — that they fear. I can hardly feel sorry for the NCSE, and I can hardly be angry at the YECs and ID people for allying.

    Regarding your hesitations about embracing ID: I’m not asking you to become a card-carrying supporter of ID as a movement. You’re welcome to find some of the cultural context of ID as unpleasing as you like. Obviously it is the same cultural context of ID which Steve Matheson finds distasteful. I can live with that, though I’m wondering why Steve doesn’t find the repulsive cultural context of neo-Darwinism, as exemplified on Pharyngula, Panda’s Thumb, Dawkins’s website, Amazon.com and Wikipedia, even more distasteful. I suggest, however, that you consider the presentation of ID that I’ve offered here, especially in my last three replies to you above, as something closer to the theoretical core of pure ID. I think that the theoretical core of ID is pure science, or at the very least a philosophical analysis very closely allied with scientific investigation, and I also think it’s compatible with at least some formulations of theistic evolution. And finally, for those who care about such things as orthodoxy and heresy, ID’s lack of theoretical fuzziness about the status of design in nature appears to provide a guard against certain theological deviations which are not well fenced out by some forms of theistic evolution.

  173. Ted Davis,

    you wrote about my comment:

    “Unfortunately, all of TEs objections are philosophical and theological in nature. These kinds of objections cannot be refuted by empirical evidence, because they are not empirical in their formulations.”

    the following

    “I’m really puzzled by this–I’m not saying this as a polite way of expressing skepticism about its sincerity, which I accept. I’m really puzzled.

    I’ve read many books & articles by advocates of various forms of TE, in which scientific arguments for evolution are reviewed or even advanced.”

    Ted, first of all thank you very much for your participation. I hope those who run this site let you post threads here in the future where you can control and frame the content to your desire and we can react. And you could invite your students to participate. Having people like you and Stephen Matheson come here and post your comments can only be helpful.

    Now to your comments. In the various times that someone who is a TE or claims to be a TE comes here and expresses their opinion, I have yet to see anyone of them defend the empirical basis for their position. That does not mean there aren’t several but David Opderbeck, George Murphy and Richard Blinne all came here and only wanted to discuss theology and not science.

    Not that theology is not relevant but it is not what most of us are interested in and our theologies could be quite different from each other. So any discussion of theology here has to be limited or else it will be food fight. George Murphy made the same comment yesterday on ASA about our hypocrisy in not debating theology. He should have a running exchange with Bill Dembski who is trained in both theology and science as George Murphy is and not us. I am certainly not going to debate an ordained minister on theology. It would be a joke.

    Peter Falk was here briefly and I have read his book but his only suggestion before he left was to read Sean Carroll’s book. I then read Sean Carroll’s book and it could have been a book supporting ID for what I could get out of it. Nowhere did it support gradualism or any other mechanism for macro evolution.

    I read the ASA comments frequently and have yet to see any rigorous debate about the science behind evolution. I have started reading Keith Miller’s book and like it so far (first 120 pages) but so far it could be an ID book as well as a TE book. Which I find interesting. I know Keith Miller’s chapter is to come and will react to that after reading it.

    Common descent is completely consistent with ID. The only quarrel is over the mechanism for change since ID supporters do not see gradualism able to generate macro evolution. So given common descent, what is the mechanism for macro evolution. Common descent is a conclusion from the data and in no way points to any mechanism for change.

    Bye, and as the song goes in Oliver, “Be Back Soon.”

  174. Jerry,

    The phenomenon you are describing, namely the necessary act of beginning with an investigation of empirical data, is real enough, but it has more to do with methodologies than foundations. I suppose that you can argue that some philosophical proofs begin with observation, which is a reasonable objection, but I don’t think that it is decisive. Priority in time is not synonymous with priority in importance. The rules of right reason can exist without science, but science cannot exist without the rules of right reason. Logic precedes investigation in importance. In any case, I will give you the last word, because I am more interested in dealing the TE errors than extending an intramural disagreement.

  175. Ted Davis,

    On looking at (160) I get the even stronger impression that you believe in ID, specifically with regard to cosmological fine tuning and with regard to DNA. I think it is fair to say, welcome to ID. Yes, you believe in common descent (is it unasssisted common descent?), but as you know, that does not exclude one from ID.

    One point deserves emphasis now. If DNA required some kind of intervention, and cannot be explained completely by random processes acting in concert with natural law, then the standard textbook explanations of the origin of life are inadequate (or more colloquially, wrong; technically, at least partly wrong). The same goes for the philosophical positions of such atheists as Dawkins, Dennett, or PZ Myers. It also means that any TE that agrees with them on the scientific evidence (such as the former position of Howard Van Till) are also wrong.

    It also means that there is no theoretical reason for excluding design from natural history. If random variations and natural selection seem inadequate, after careful study, to account for the Cambrian part of the fossil record given the Precambrian, one is reasonably entitled to accept intelligent intervention here too, rather than resort to a strained naturalistic explanation or “nature of the gaps” promises (“we don’t know precisely how now, but science is sure to explain it naturalistically in the future”). If random variations and natural selection seem inadequate, after careful study, to explain the transition from apes to humans, we need not assume a naturalistic explanation anyway. In fact, it is possible that, after careful consideration, one might reach the conclusion that natural history has made enough mistakes that the entire enterprise will need to be completely rebuilt. The recognition of ID does, in fact, question the “legitimacy of the historical sciences as means of investigating natural history”, at least to the extent that that the exclusion of intelligent design in principle is part of the historical sciences. (Whether more fundamental rebuilding is warranted is a question for another day.)

    I can understand your discomfort when ID is presented without a swipe at YEC. However, please recognize that even those who clearly state their disagreement with YEC are still vehemently opposed. It strains credulity to believe that Guillermo Gonzalez would have been acceptable to the faculty at ISU if only the DVD had not come out. He was turned out for ID, not for agreeing with YEC, which he clearly did not agree with in the book. My personal advice to those ID adherents who do not believe in YEC is to clearly state their differences with it, so as to decrease the confusion as much as possible. But I am under no illusions as to whether that will stop the charge that ID adherents are closet creationists. It will only make more obvious the opportunistic nature of that charge.

    I would second Thomas Cudworth’s (170) comments.

    As far as responses are concerned, I (unfortunately) fully understand the time limitations that can happen for all kinds of reasons, some public and some not. I also think that careful responses are preferable to prompt or frequent ones. I try to practice that, which is why my comment 169 missed your comments 160 and 167.

    The only comment on (167) that I would make at this time is to ask you to clarify your use of common descent. Do you mean common descent as with a parent-child relationship, or with a parent-child relationship and no other factors than random variations (including genetic drift) and natural selection? How often do you see arguments that state something like “with these 5,372 changes, and resting at these 17 intermediates, one can get from a chimpanzee brain to a human brain, and this appears to be within reasonable probabilistic limits for random mutations”? Are they not rather more like “humans and chimps have the following 1,539 bases in common, with 13 changes, and they have no function, so there is no reason that a designer would have put them both in there, so we have evidence for descent with modification without intelligent intervention”?

    The latter kind of argument would give evidence for common descent, but not for the absence of design, without highly questionable theological/philosophical assumptions, and StephenB (152–or jerry; see 171) would be perfectly fair in calling them philosophical and theological arguments. The former would be much more direct evidence for the absence of design. I doubt that they are common, but would be open to being proved wrong in that assumption.

  176. Charlie, thanks for your comments. The question about why TEs try to integrate Christianity with Darwinism is interesting one. I suppose that the only way to settle the matter for sure is to enlist the aid of a sociologist and just do a study. My perception is this: Their notion that [A} a Good God would never have done it the ID way (the design is hearless or [B] a competent God would never have done it the ID way (a greater God shouldn’t have to intervene) drives their ideology and leads them to embrace Darwinism as a way to justify what they perceive to be a “bad design.”

    I could be wrong, of course. It could be the other way around. Maybe they really did get conned by the Darwinists and decided to subordinate their religion to it as an afterthought. One thing sure, their main selling point is their mistaken claim that Christianity and Darwinism are compatible, and they don’t hesitate to use it on new Christian recruits.

  177. StephenB,

    You said I could have the final word but there is never any final word here.

    I don’t think the empirical data supports a gradualistic approach to evolution. Whether it be the mindless purposeless approach proposed by Darwin and his heirs or a semi teleological approach espoused by TE’s (and by the way they are in disarray on this and have no common accepted opinion). Nor do I· think God directed a gradualistic approach either through secondary causes or by direct maneuvering of the genomes through direct action or indirect actions of quantum manipulation. How it was done, I haven’t a clue but the evidence does not support any gradualistic approach. I have yet to find a TE who will defend the gradualistic approach in writing nor anyone at the ASA site that will defend it either. When I finish Keith Miller’s book, I may have a better perspective. Nor interestingly any Darwinist who comes here will coherently defend it either. I find this interesting.

    By the way I do not buy your dichotomy of mindless purposeless vs God controlling every move. I believe God could use so called random events to create anything He wants if He also designs the system that processes the random events. Not everything in the system would be random as the whole process could be directed through initial conditions and boundary constraints. I said this before on another thread and no one seemed to understand it. I used the concept of a valley with one entrance and one exit and while there are many paths through the valley they all must eventually lead to Rome or the one exit. The trek through the valley could be a random process but constrained as to outcomes. I actually don’t believe this was how it was done for the major changes to evolution but there is no reason to think God could not have done it this way. This idea was brought up before several times before under the rubric “designed to evolve” when the evolve here means a somewhat random process such as sexual reproduction and selection pressures but constrained by the initial conditions (for example the initial DNA sequences) and the boundary conditions (e.g. structure of the genome and its capability for change plus environmental conditions)

    I happen to believe that micro evolution is such a God designed system that uses random events but constrained by the content and structure of the genome and selection to produce new variants and eventually new species. I happen to believe it is a magnificently designed process and explains most of the life on the planet but is limited and cannot account for macro evolution or as some would say new functionally specified, complex information. The new species produced would be very similar to the old ones. It may produce most of the 300,000 beetle species but not the ability of an insect or vertebrae to fly. This is my opinion and it could change with new information or become even more reinforced as new genomes are sequenced and we find out how little natural selection has done in the last several million years. You notice I said several million years which means I believe that age is an essential part of ID and by refusing to acknowledge it, ID has become self limiting as well as opening itself to criticism it shouldn’t have to bear. I know people here don’t want to hear this but I am with Ted Davis on this.

    You failed to see the significance of my call to recognize the empirical evidence in the debate with TE’s on the various philosophical or theological options. If any of the options are true, then each would imply a different pattern in the fossil record and the current biological world. Each philosophical position has implications which can then be verified by looking at the empirical data. People have their pet theories but if the real world does not support it, then one has to admit the problem. As I said the real world does not support a gradualistic approach for macro evolution. I asked the same question of Ted Davis and Stephen Matheson but neither has responded as yet. I hope they do because we could all stand to learn how they think on this all important topic. Maybe I am wrong about gradualism but so far no one has taken it on.

    By the way on ASA some are criticizing you which I think is unfair because they have been silent on a lot of the key issues we believe are important. If they weren’t so silent then they might have a point. It is interesting the criticism here is making them think a little more about how vocal they should be. But we also criticize a lot of people here on this blog without giving them the chance to respond. However, I doubt that someone like Ken Miller would ever come here to respond.

    They are doing a little soul searching at ASA and will have to see if anything will come of it. They do not know how to define what a TE is and some seem to be unhappy with the title. I have read their blog for over a year now without seeing much progress there on dealing with those who criticize them except to mock the criticizers. Ted Davis is a major exception and has been a defender of ID people without embracing the concepts. What he has said here, he has said on ASA. Another is Loren Haarsma who currently has a thread about myths about ID and myths about TE. So far as I can see Davis and Haarsma are two extremely upright people and have captured ID better than most of the rest at ASA. Haarsma is probably making many at ASA think more clearly about ID.

    As a final note, let’s just say what I believe is true about the empirical data could change with new data. I enjoy the give and take here and have learned a lot because of it so my understanding has changed a lot since first posting here. That is why I was glad to see Ted Davis and Stephen Matheson come here so we can get some intelligent counter opinion. You are right, I don’t like philosophical discussions. I had 12 credits of philosophy in college and thought it was mostly bull****. Since that time I have grown to love Plato and really can’t see the importance of Aristotle though I believe he was instrumental on the issue of natural law which I endorse. I have gone through several Teaching Company courses on philosophy and sometimes my head spins at what they are trying to say. But Socrates is the man!!

  178. 178

    Well, I thought it would be rude to leave without saying goodbye.

    To all correspondents: I see occasional carping about this or that question that didn’t get answered by me or by Ted. Step back and think, and give us both a break. This thread is enormous, and some (such as jerry) took note of what I tried to get you all to see: there’s no way for me to sustain a massive open forum while meeting my other obligations.

    But… at least some of the questions and topics are important and worthy of further discussion. I don’t know where or when, but I am keen on continuing dialog with you all on these various topics. There were/are some rough spots, but I see abundant opportunities to explore common ground and to reduce unedifying tension and hostility, and I am grateful for the reception I received. There is no question I am afraid to answer, and nothing I have seen in this thread that I am unwilling to address. (That doesn’t mean you get to write multiple-choice exams for me, and Ted Davis in comment 114 nicely addressed that recurring problem.)

    To Thomas, I think we made progress toward understanding each other, and I hope my answers to your questions were helpful. My point about theistic embryology didn’t get through, but we can revisit that sometime soon if you’re interested.

    To jerry and Kairosfocus:
    I share your interest in the thorough discussion of evolutionary science. This was neither the time nor the place. But there can be a time, and a place. In the next few weeks, I’ll come up with a plan, probably on my blog, for addressing some of the questions you raised. If that plan doesn’t work for some or all of you, I’m confident we can come up with something that will work. UD is not a place for open discussion, and is not the right place for such a conversation.

    StephenB: we got a little off track there, and I wish I had noted specifically how I objected to your behavior, so we could have an opportunity to work it out and move forward. One hindrance to this is the pervasive pseudonymity of this place, in which I can’t contact you privately. My M.O. would be to send private email, and that (in my experience) almost always leads to understanding and reconciliation. You did annoy me, and I really don’t like your style, but we were doing well there for a while and I’m sure we can do it again. Please consider accepting my apology for gruff shortness, and I’ll look forward to further conversations with you.

    It’ll be at least 2 weeks before I can consider entering another serious discussion here, but feel free to contact me anytime with private questions or to explore ideas for more deliberate interaction.

  179. Steve Matheson: I have been rethinking my approach to our dialogue and wondering where I might have gone wrong. If I get a next time, and I hope that I do, I think that I will just slow down, relax a little bit more, and just let things air out without leaping right back in. A friend recently advised me to wait an hour before posting, especially at those times when I feel most compelled not to wait. That’s good advice and I think I will apply it. One thing sure, I don’t want my ego to get in the way of meaningful interaction. These things take time, patience, courtesy, and CHARITY. You will get more of that from me next time.

  180. Jerry, I promised to give you the last word, but you introduced some new topics so I will cast the net a bit wide without going to deep. Also, I am going to strive mightily to achieve a high level of diplomacy, so tell me how I do. This will be a lighting round, so don’t take my brief replies as evidence of limited perspective.

    —–“By the way I do not buy your dichotomy of mindless purposeless vs God controlling every move. I believe God could use so called random events to create anything He wants if He also designs the system that processes the random events……”

    If you introduce teleology at any level, then you are not talking about what I am talking about. I don’t think that total randomness can produce much of anything. With regard to constrained randomness, I guess my position that is the more you constrain it the closer you come to a purposeful resolution. I must say this, however. I was speaking solely in terms of God programming an evolutionary process to unfold according to a plan. I never say anything about “God controlling every move?” With all due respect, I have never misread anything you said on a level of that magnitude. That comment causes me to suspect that you didn’t grasp my points at all, which may be my fault, by the way.

    —-“ I said this before on another thread and no one seemed to understand it. I used the concept of a valley with one entrance and one exit and while there are many paths through the valley they all must eventually lead to Rome or the one exit. The trek through the valley could be a random process but constrained as to outcomes. I actually don’t believe this was how it was done for the major changes to evolution but there is no reason to think God could not have done it this way………

    Yes, I recall your comments. For me, the issue is not whether such a process could produce intelligent life, which I doubt very much. What I was discussing constitutes a far greater challenge than simply getting from nascent life to intelligent life. The issue is whether it can produce a finished product perfectly in accord with a well conceived specification. In other words, will such a process take us from the idea of Jerry (as formed in God’s mind) to the reality of Jerry? I don’t think contingency, (even constrained) can climb a mountain like that. So, we have a disagreement. I guess that means that every time you bring it up, I will deny it and every time I deny it you will affirm it.

    —-“You notice I said several million years which means I believe that age is an essential part of ID and by refusing to acknowledge it, ID has become self limiting as well as opening itself to criticism it shouldn’t have to bear. I know people here don’t want to hear this but I am with Ted Davis on this.”

    I don’t think that the age of an organism has anything at all to do with making a design inference. I don’t mind hearing you say it, I just don’t agree with it. We don’t need to know anything about the history of an ancient hunter’s spear to detect its design. In my judgment, the whole point of the design inference is that human, superhuman, or Divine artifacts all leave the same kinds of clues.

    —-“You failed to see the significance of my call to recognize the empirical evidence in the debate with TE’s on the various philosophical or theological options. If any of the options are true, then each would imply a different pattern in the fossil record and the current biological world. Each philosophical position has implications which can then be verified by looking at the empirical data. People have their pet theories but if the real world does not support it, then one has to admit the problem. As I said the real world does not support a gradualistic approach for macro evolution. I asked the same question of Ted Davis and Stephen Matheson but neither has responded as yet. I hope they do because we could all stand to learn how they think on this all important topic. Maybe I am wrong about gradualism but so far no one has taken it on.”

    I don’t think that I gave your points a fair hearing. I was very tuned in to the theme of the post which was, “TEs your position is incoherent, but we can help you.” I probably should have been a little more flexible about discussing what, to me, was a peripheral issue. Not every comment needs to be about incoherence.

    —-“By the way on ASA some are criticizing you which I think is unfair because they have been silent on a lot of the key issues we believe are important. If they weren’t so silent then they might have a point. It is interesting the criticism here is making them think a little more about how vocal they should be. But we also criticize a lot of people here on this blog without giving them the chance to respond. However, I doubt that someone like Ken Miller would ever come here to respond.”

    I did ask some very hard questions and I did press. All I can say is if that if they think that is rough treatment, they have led very sheltered lives. Even so, I would be very open- minded toward criticism of my behavior from any UD blogger. That means that I am not committed to my present style of discourse. Taking it one step further, if I thought that I made this website look bad, I would seriously reevaluate my role here. My attitude about ID is this: If I become more of a liability than an asset, I need to bow out. I want ID to succeed.

    —-“They are doing a little soul searching at ASA and will have to see if anything will come of it. They do not know how to define what a TE is and some seem to be unhappy with the title. I have read their blog for over a year now without seeing much progress there on dealing with those who criticize them except to mock the criticizers. Ted Davis is a major exception and has been a defender of ID people without embracing the concepts. What he has said here, he has said on ASA. Another is Loren Haarsma who currently has a thread about myths about ID and myths about TE. So far as I can see Davis and Haarsma are two extremely upright people and have captured ID better than most of the rest at ASA. Haarsma is probably making many at ASA think more clearly about ID.

    I agree that those two carry themselves very well.

    —-“As a final note, let’s just say what I believe is true about the empirical data could change with new data. I enjoy the give and take here and have learned a lot because of it so my understanding has changed a lot since first posting here. That is why I was glad to see Ted Davis and Stephen Matheson come here so we can get some intelligent counter opinion. You are right, I don’t like philosophical discussions. I had 12 credits of philosophy in college and thought it was mostly bull****. Since that time I have grown to love Plato and really can’t see the importance of Aristotle though I believe he was instrumental on the issue of natural law which I endorse. I have gone through several Teaching Company courses on philosophy and sometimes my head spins at what they are trying to say. But Socrates is the man!!”

    I can sympathize with those who have to endure philosophical instruction that doesn’t relate to daily life. Good philosophy is really nothing more than amplified common sense. If one is grounded in it, everything changes for the better. Bad philosophy, which is the norm today, is worse than nothing at all. There are three classes of people: educated, uneducated, and badly educated. To be badly educated (educated in the wrong philosophy) is worse than being uneducated. Socrates does rock doesn’t he?

    I, on the other hand, need to work a little harder at interacting fruitfully with those that I disagree with. In other words, I must learn to preserve their self esteem with the same vigilance that I protect my own. In communication, they call it “saving face.” Maybe you can let me know when I am pushing too hard or if I am being unfair. Since we often disagree, I gather that I will get a lot of practice. One thing sure, it is unwise to make enemies when it is unnecessary. I don’t know about constraining “randomness,” but I think a good case can be made for constraining passions.

  181. 181
    Thomas Cudworth

    Steve Matheson (#178):

    Sorry I didn’t get whatever point you were trying to make about embryology and the Psalm. I thought that my answer was direct and clear, but obviously I was not answering the right question. I took it that you were arguing that the literal meaning of the Psalm contradicts the known facts of embryology, but that you didn’t think you were less of a Christian for sticking to scientific embryology nonetheless. And I was trying to agree with you. And I understood you to be making a general point, i.e., that modern Christian scientists shouldn’t be bound by other apparent scientific inaccuracies which appear to be endorsed by certain statements in the Bible. And I was trying to agree with you about that, too. But, since I’d told you already that I wasn’t a Biblical literalist of any kind, I wasn’t sure what larger goal you were driving toward by making these (for me) non-contentious points. Neither my original posting nor any of my subsequent arguments depended on reading Biblical statements as scientific authorities.

    I am glad that, despite your past negative experiences with UD (which you certainly did not let us forget!), you felt welcome here, and that you now realize that UD people do not reflexively kick newcomers out of a discussion merely for disagreeing, not even when the newcomer accuses the lead writer, quite unjustly, of “whining.” I hope you will jump in on new threads from time to time, whenever you see points of theoretical interest to you. As you can see, we have many well-read and thoughtful writers posting here, who love to wrestle with theoretical propositions and reason out their implications.

    I am sorry you don’t like the pseudonymity of the place. At the risk of being accused of “whining” again, let me remind you that for many ID proponents, pseudonymity on the internet may well be the difference between acceptance into or rejection from a graduate program in the life sciences, between being hired as a biologist or having to drive a cab for a living, between being granted tenure as an astrophysicist or having to look around for one-year contracts for the rest of your life. That’s something that people in your position, i.e., tenured professors, don’t have to worry about. It’s also something that, generally speaking, TEs don’t have to worry about. When the Iowa States of the world start treating ID proponents as well as your college treats TE proponents, then we’ll drop pseudonymity – not before.

    I do thank you for all your answers and clarifications. You’ve helped us make a start toward addressing the root causes of the unfortunate conflict that has arisen between ID and TE. Hopefully, with good will and open minds on both sides, we can continue to find common ground.

  182. Jerry @177–

    Jerry: After Plato, all other philosophers seem like an anticlimax. So I’m onside with you (as you might expect from my nom de plume). And Plato has been a great inspiration for many of us who champion intelligent design. But don’t overlook Aristotle’s natural philosophy, either. Compared to my master, Plato, he was a bit of a blockhead on some things — couldn’t do math to save his life, and, despite his best efforts, astronomy just wasn’t his forte — but he is the greatest of the ancient thinkers on the subject of teleology in biological systems, which is a subject near and dear to the hearts of all intelligent design theorists.

    T.

  183. Gentlefolk:

    A very good onward discussion overnight.

    On a note or two, or three:

    1] Phil and the empirical:

    My take here — cf Hasker et al — is that phil is in the end about analysis of worldviews. To do so, it has to look at empirical adequacy, coherence and explanatory power and elegance. So, it may start from experience and questions, and it may in part come back to further experience, but there is much more to it than that, and it turns out that as SB stresses, there are many things that turn out to be priors, in the sense of the underlying logic of right reason.

    2] ID and design detection vs mechanism:

    Given the significance of identifying THAT there has been design as detected through credibly reliable empirical signs, it5r is sufficient for many purposes to address this issue as a core challenge. To challenge an identification that there is recognisable design, that it has not identified or specifically addressed the mechanism, seems to me pretty far off the mark. The latter is an onward question — “now that we credibly know that there was design, let’s reverse engineer it.”

    3] Pandas, follytricks, Judge Jones, ID and creationism

    Let’s get back to basics. First, here is the statement that was denounced:

    The Pennsylvania Academic Standards require students to learn about Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and eventually to take a standardized test of which evolution is a part.

    Because Darwin’s Theory is a theory, it continues to be tested as new evidence is discovered. The Theory is not a fact. Gaps in the Theory exist for which there is no evidence. A theory is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a broad range of observations.

    Intelligent Design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin’s view. The reference book, Of Pandas and People, is available for students who might be interested in gaining an understanding of what Intelligent Design actually involves.

    With respect to any theory, students are encouraged to keep an open mind. The school leaves the discussion of the Origins of Life to individual students and their families. As a Standards-driven district, class instruction focuses upon preparing students to achieve proficiency on Standards-based assessments.

    Regardless of motive-mongering [with underlying hysterical or cynical slanders on theocracy; recall here some of the (now too often unknown, ignored, dismissed or suppressed) roots of modern liberty and democracy!], the above is utterly unexceptional, and — apart from an irrational, secularist agenda-driven law and policy environment — would not even be controversial.

    Further to this, Judge Jones’ ruling in the parts on ID in general, plainly was demonstrably a copycat from the ACLU et al; crude errors of fact and all. That was incompetent or worse than incompetent, and plainly tyrannical in implications.

    Next, Pandas took a major bum rap, as StephenB pointed out above.

    –> In a rational environment, if one in the editorial process cuts out words that could be read one way and replaces with language that more explicitly says something else, it is the later that DEMONSTRABLY is what you were trying to say.

    –> in the case of Pandas, the language was edited to stress the differentiation between ID as a nascent movement and the then far more better known Creationism.

    –> This was also done to conform to law in contemporary rulings.

    –> It is paranoia or intentional slander that would read that as trying to sneak Creationism in the back door. And given Ms Forrest’s wider patterns of claims and behaviour, sadly, I must think it the latter.

    –> She has utterly discredited herself so far as I can see, given gross dereliction of intellectual duty on even so basic a point as the definition of ID.

    –> here is what Pandas actually explicitly states in the published edition, which is what students would have seen:

    This book has a single goal: to present data from six areas of science that bear on the central question of biological origins. We don’t propose to give final answers, nor to unveil The Truth. Our purpose, rather, is to help readers understand origins better, and to see why the data may be viewed in more than one way. (Of Pandas and People, 2nd ed. 1993, pg. viii) . . . .

    Today we recognize that appeals to intelligent design may be considered in science, as illustrated by current NASA search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). Archaeology has pioneered the development of methods for distinguishing the effects of natural and intelligent causes. We should recognize, however, that if we go further, and conclude that the intelligence responsible for biological origins is outside the universe (supernatural) or within it, we do so without the help of science. (pg. 126-127, emphasis added)

    –> Could anything be plainer than that?

    _____________

    Bottomline: our civilisation is in deep, deep trouble. Putting on my theological hat, Romans 1 trouble.

    On the incoherence of theistic evolutionism as currently practiced, I think TC and SB have made their point, at least in general terms.

    G’day, all . . . off to a hot seat in a local lion’s den!

    GEM of TKI

  184. StephenB,

    One quibble, two points. Read the paragraph again about the Valley.

    I said

    “I actually don’t believe this was how it was done for the major changes to evolution but there is no reason to think God could not have done it this way.”

    In other words I believe that God could create intelligent life this way if He wanted to but that He didn’t. To say He couldn’t is to arbitrarily put some limitations on God and I am not sure where that would lead. The evidence says He didn’t do it this way. To do it that way the initial conditions and boundary constraints would have to be very different than what He chose to do. He could still arrange to have Stephen and Jerry in His mind from all eternity.

    I then go on to say that such a system does exists and it essentially guides micro evolution. It does not have just one exit but the number of exits are numerous but limited. This system guides most of the changes to life we see in this world. It is powerful and so obvious and why it is so easy to accept Darwin in all his glory because the system works right before your eyes for this limited form of evolution. All the Darwinists say is add one more ingredient and you got everything and that ingredient is “deep time.”

    Well deep time is an essential part of micro evolution but it is still limited for many of the reasons you, Behe and many others have listed. But none the less micro evolution is still great design. By keeping the big tent, ID is forced to give up this magnificent design process which I believe could go a long way to its greater acceptance.

  185. Jerry, just one quick point of clarification. When I use the language describing what I believe to be possible or impossible, I refer not so much to God as reason itself. I place no limits on God’s power, but I do contend that God cannot violate his own nature by lying or contradicting himself. So, when someone proposes something that, in my judgment, violates the law of non-contradiction, I characterize it on those terms, even if it is their scenario for the creative event itself. So, I will always take exception when someone suggests that I am trying to limit God’s power when I am simply saying that a thing cannot be true and false at the same time and under the same formal circumstances. In any given situation, I could be wrong in making that charge, of course, but the fact remains that some scenarios really are impossible because of their self contradictory nature.

  186. 186

    Ted Davis wrote, “As for creating confusion with creationism, the ‘Reply to Francis Collins’ Darwinian Arguments for Common Ancestry of Apes and Humans,’ by Casey Luskin and Logan Gage, appended to the new book, Intelligent Design 101, does seem to me only to further confuse things.”

    Why does our Response to Francis Collins confuse things? Our Response to Francis Collins makes it very clear how the situation works:

    Many assume that if common ancestry is true, then the only viable scientific position is Darwinian evolution—in which all organisms are descended from a common ancestor via random mutations and blind selection. Such an assumption is incorrect: Intelligent design is not necessarily incompatible with common ancestry.4 Even if all organisms on earth share a common ancestor, it does not follow that the primary mechanisms causing the differences between the species must be blind, unguided processes such as natural selection. Nonetheless, Darwin’s tree of life (see fig. A.1) is an “icon of evolution” and therefore deserves careful examination.5 (ID 101, pg. 217)

    Since we find Collins’ arguments for human/ape common ancestry to be weak, nothing we write serves to “confuse” how ID interacts with common ancestry. We recognize that ID can be considered compatible with common ancestry but also write, “Nonetheless, Darwin’s tree of life (see fig. A.1) is an ‘icon of evolution’ and therefore deserves careful examination” and after a long analysis, conclude that Collins “arguments in favor of human-ape common ancestry are simply unconvincing.”

    I don’t see any reason for confusion and I think that Ted Davis’s charges here are fair at all.

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