Home » Intelligent Design » TheoEvo vs. ID — Hey, who started this anyway?

TheoEvo vs. ID — Hey, who started this anyway?

Ken Miller compares ID proponents to “welfare queens” (go here) and Karl Giberson denounces ID proponents for “smearing” theistic evolutionists, citing this blog (go here).

Besides displaying desperation, these people have no evident sense of irony. Miller has for years been dipping his hand into the public till, which continues to underwrite sales of his textbooks.* And Giberson, in defending Miller and Francis Collins, seems to forget that they are ones charging ID proponents with threating America’s soul and future (go here).

So, it’s okay to for theoevos to cast ID in apocalyptic terms, but it’s not okay for IDers to call them on it. Give me a break. As Denyse O’Leary has put it, theistic evolution is a solution to a problem that no longer exists. Bankruptcy is hard. Get used to the pain.

——–
*Here are some quotes from seven of Miller’s biology textbooks, textbooks underwritten with your tax dollars. As you read these quotes, ask yourself where is the “theo” in Miller’s “theoevo.”

(1) “[E]volution works without either plan or purpose … Evolution israndom and undirected.”
Biology, by Kenneth R. Miller & Joseph S. Levine, pg. 658 (1st edition, Prentice Hall, 1991)

(2) “[E]volution works without either plan or purpose … Evolution is random and undirected.”
Biology, by Kenneth R. Miller & Joseph S. Levine, pg. 658 (2nd edition, Prentice Hall, 1993)

(3) “[E]volution works without either plan or purpose … Evolution is random and undirected.”
Biology, by Kenneth R. Miller & Joseph S. Levine, pg. 658 (3rd edition, Prentice Hall, 1995)

(4) “[E]volution works without either plan or purpose … Evolution is random and undirected.”
Biology, by Kenneth R. Miller & Joseph S. Levine, pg. 658 (4th edition, Prentice Hall, 1998)

(5) “[E]volution works without either plan or purpose … Evolution is random and undirected.”
Biology, by Kenneth R. Miller & Joseph S. Levine, pg. 658 (5th ed. Teachers Ed., Prentice Hall, 2000)

(6) “Darwin knew that accepting his theory required believing in philosophical materialism, the conviction that matter is the stuff of all existence and that all mental and spiritual phenomena are its
by-products. Darwinian evolution was not only purposeless but also heartless–a process in which the rigors of nature ruthlessly eliminate the unfit. Suddenly, humanity was reduced to just one more species in a world that cared nothing for us. The great human mind was no more than a mass of evolving neurons. Worst of all, there was no divine plan to guide us.”
Biology: Discovering Life, by Joseph S. Levine & Kenneth R. Miller (1st edition, D.C. Heath and Co., 1992), pg. 152

(7) “Darwin knew that accepting his theory required believing in philosophical materialism, the conviction that matter is the stuff of all existence and that all mental and spiritual phenomena are its
by-products. Darwinian evolution was not only purposeless but also heartless–a process in which the rigors of nature ruthlessly eliminate the unfit. Suddenly, humanity was reduced to just one more species in a world that cared nothing for us. The great human mind was no more than a mass of evolving neurons. Worst of all, there was no divine plan to guide us.”
Biology: Discovering Life, by Joseph S. Levine & Kenneth R. Miller (2nd edition, D.C. Heath and Co., 1994), p. 161

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82 Responses to TheoEvo vs. ID — Hey, who started this anyway?

  1. Bill,

    You can hear and see Miller calling us anti-American welfare queens on the Colbert Report video I put up this morning. What the hell is his major malfunction?

  2. My problem (as a Christian who doesn’t swallow Neo-Darwinism), is not with the fact that Theistic Evolution is random.

    Proverbs 16:33 says, The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD. In other words, seemingly random events could be unfolding according to a Divinely-ordained programme. Theologians have debated how God’s sovereignty and human free-will can co-exist since the year dot.

    So, theologically, there is no problem with the seemingly random side of evolution.

    The problem with *some* theistic evolutionists is that they are two-faced. One the one hand they deny ID – that there is any discernable Divine design or purpose evident in creation (or, at least, in biology). On the other hand, they turn round and say (when amongst Christians or when talking to the media as spokesmen for theo-evo) that they believe that there is a God who is behind creation (ie. they do subscribe to a form of ID).

    This approach seems to be a purely political tactic. It is a tactic to keep their reputation intact in the face of the atheists/materialists who have a ‘take no prisoners’ attitude to those who deny methodological atheism.

    I think the weakness of their position will become ever more untenable as they are caught in the cross-fire between the materialists and the IDists. The materialists will attack them for believing in God on a ‘blnd faith’ basis, while the theists will attack them for their theodicy: saying that God used the ruthless process of ‘nature red in tooth and claw’ to do His creating.

    Phil Johnson’s attempt to get them on board by using a big-tent ‘Intelligent Design’ approach has clearly failed and needs to be abandoned. Instead, just as these theo-evo’s repeat a political mantra (ID is creationism), so too, ID needs to encapsulate its opposition to these ID-denying theo-evos in a smart catchy line that exposes their hypocrisy and shifts the agenda of the debate so that they are on the defensive.

  3. I think the “welfare queen” tag is hilarious, coming from people who live on the tax dime while strenuously fronting points of view that the vast majority of taxpayers don’t accept, AND hassling any scholars who do.

    That far better fits the Miller crowd.

  4. Karl Gibeson wrote:

    I am sick and tired of seeing genuine Christians smeared by creationists

    Me too. I don’t like creationists smearing Mike Behe because he accepts common descent.

    Karl Gibberson:

    Bill Dembski is blasting theistic evolutionists on his blog now.

    Yeah!

    And on it goes. Is it any wonder that Christianity grows less attractive to our culture? We can’t even get along with ourselves, much less welcome those outside our faith. Shame on all of us for how this conversation is conducted. —Karl Giberson

    Who is conducting a smear campaign here, Karl? Do you consider the highly paid IT professionals, attorneys, and medical doctors on this blog “welfare queens”.

    By the way, you wrote: “How to be a Christian and believe in evolution”

    Well, I think one can profess to be a Christian and profess to be a Darwinist. One can also profess to be Christian and believe in epicycles, phlogiston, and geocentrism.

    The point of the intense disdain toward cretain TE’s like Ken Miller is that he resorts to fabrication, falsehood, misrepresentation (even under sworn oath) in order to defend Darwin’s false theory (and his pocketbook). What happened to scientific integrity?

  5. andrew: Theoevos have been outside Phil’s tent for more than a decade. It’s been by mutual consent. What’s more recent is theoevos not allowing ID as a legitimate Christian option. My new book UNDERSTANDING INTELLIGENT DESIGN (co-authored with Sean McDowell) addresses this:

    As you attempt to argue for intelligent design against Darwinian evolution, you’ll discover a strange thing: some of your most ardent opponents will be religious critics who claim that by accepting intelligent design you are actually denying the Christian faith. Come again? That’s right, they’ll claim that intelligent design is a religious heresy and that you need to renounce it before you can be a Christian. Your initial reaction to this charge may be to think these people are mad—after all, weren’t all the great theologians of the past basically in favor of ID? But, in fact, these religious critics of ID are quite sane, and it will help here to understand where they’re coming from. Forewarned is forearmed.

    To be fair, in writing this passage, Sean and I were addressing extreme religious evolutionists such as Francisco Ayala. I suspect that Ken Miller would not deny that ID proponents can be Christians. But it might be worth checking.

  6. I would have preferred peaceful co-existence with the TE’s. My first choice was to agree to disagree—to seek common ground—to dialogue in a spirit of friendliness and mutual respect.

    But it was they who decided to go on the attack, defending their materialist atheist friends. It was they gave theological respectability to the atheist lie that ID scientists smuggle religion into their science. It was they who appeared in a court of law for the sole purpose of institutionalizing that lie, even as they swore on a Bible to tell the truth. It was they who helped perpetuate the insane idea that the ID project to secure its rightful place at the table was, at bottom, a covert plot to establish a theocratic tyranny. This same nonsense, by the way, came from the same ideologues who really do bully design theorists in the academy and who really have established an academic tyranny of their own.

    Now, they have decided to up the anti by suggesting that we are a danger to the culture. But we are the only ones who are willing to uphold that culture because, unlike them, we agree with the main teaching in Declaration of Independence. We actually take seriously that idea we were designed to be free, as the “laws of nature” and “nature’s God” inform us. On the other hand, they are the ones who are offended by these ideas. They are the ones who deny that Jefferson was a “design” thinker, or that we were created in the “image and likeness of God,” or that we have “natural rights,” or that these ideas could be “self-evident.” They are the ones who are a danger to society, because they are the ones who deny the basic principles upon which a well-ordered-society is grounded.

    In any case, it is the TEs who have abandoned the Christian world view. According to the Bible, God reveals himself in scripture AND in nature. This is not some mere exegetical reflection, it is an undeniable declaration of fact. To deny it is to take an anti-Christian position. If a design is not detectable, then it can hardly be a revelation.

  7. TE’s aren’t loonies. They’re spineless appeasers. They know wearing on their sleeve a belief in a personal living God who can make miracles happen with a wave of His hand will make them look like superstitious fools among the “higher” scientists. National Academy members, the higher scientists, are 71% positive atheists, 22% agnostics, and just 7% who profess a faith in God. Plain and simple, TE’s are caving in to pressure from the majority of the most accomplished scientists. Wimps. If Judas was alive today he’d be a TE.

  8. As someone sort of caught between the ID and TE “camps,” I really don’t understand all this chest thumping and name-calling, from either side. When you boil it down, there is very, very little difference theologically or pragmatically between say, Mike Behe and Francis Collins. In truth, they both accept “evolution” if that just means common descent, and they both accept “ID” if that just means God designed the universe (even, for Collins, down to cosmological fine-tuning).

    Bill, I’m not really sure why you think the “problem” TE tries to address “no longer exists.” Even if one accepts strong ID arguments, there is a huge leap from there to separate, special creation of every “kind,” including humans, and the problems of how and when sin and death entered the creation remain unresolved. It seems to me, this is where most of the really difficult theological and Biblical / heremneutical problems that TE tries to address lie.

  9. becke,

    The main difference between TE’s and ID is Darwinian macro evolution. TE’s accept it without much criticism and many have put their theological underpinnings on it as the “way” God designed life. ID says no way and that there is no evidence scientifically for Darwinian macro evolution.

    At the same time there is a belief amongst most ID people that Darwin’s ideas lead to atheism. Obviously the TE’s cannot admit this. Thus, the rancor between them.

  10. —–becke: “Even if one accepts strong ID arguments, there is a huge leap from there to separate, special creation of every “kind,” including humans, and the problems of how and when sin and death entered the creation remain unresolved.”

    Where did you get the idea that ID necessarily posits a separate, special creation of every kind. Guided evolution is well within the bounds of ID.

  11. 11

    With atheists holding all the high positions of power in academia and the National academy, it has become popular to say that belief in God is unscientific, i.e. it is a belief in superstition, yet
    It is amazing to find that most major scientific discoveries were actually at the hands of fervent Theists, and thus, in final analysis, genuine atheists seem to be the ones in intellectual poverty, with very unscientific beliefs that have prevented any truly major breakthrough discoveries on their part on which they can brag.

    Famous Scientists Who Believed in God

    http://www.godandscience.org/a.....faith.html

    Nicholas Copernicus (1473-1543)

    Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1627)

    Johannes Kepler (1571-1630)

    Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)

    Rene Descartes (1596-1650)

    Isaac Newton (1642-1727)

    Robert Boyle (1791-1867)

    Michael Faraday (1791-1867)

    Gregor Mendel (1822-1884)

    William Thomson Kelvin (1824-1907)

    Max Planck (1858-1947)

    And if we go even further we can make a good case that Christianity was essential for science to develop in the first place

    Christianity and the Birth of Science

    http://www.ldolphin.org/bumbulis/

    excerpt:

    THE EVIDENCE

    Clue #1. The founders/fathers of modern science were shaped by a culture that was predominantly Christian.

    The founders of modern science were all bunched into a particular geographical location dominated by a Judeo-Christian world view. I’m thinking of men like Louis Aggasiz (founder of glacial science and perhaps paleontology); Charles Babbage (often said to be the creator of the computer); Francis Bacon (father of the scientific method); Sir Charles Bell (first to extensively map the brain and nervous system); Robert Boyle (father of modern chemistry); Georges Cuvier (founder of comparative anatomy and perhaps paleontology); John Dalton (father of modern atomic theory); Jean Henri Fabre (chief founder of modern entomology); John Ambrose Fleming (some call him the founder of modern electronics/inventor of the diode); James Joule (discoverer of the first law of thermodynamics); William Thomson Kelvin (perhaps the first to clearly state the second law of thermodynamics); Johannes Kepler (discoverer of the laws of planetary motion); Carolus Linnaeus (father of modern taxonomy); James Clerk Maxwell (formulator of the electromagnetic theory of light); Gregor Mendel (father of genetics); Isaac Newton (discoverer of the universal laws of gravitation); Blaise Pascal (major contributor to probability studies and hydrostatics); Louis Pasteur (formulator of the germ theory).

    If an appreciation for math and the cause-and-effect workings of nature were sufficient to generate modern science, how does one explain the historical fact the the founders of modern science were all found in a *particular* culture that just happened to be shaped by a Judeo-Christian world view? Instead of measuring energy in joules, why don’t we measure it in platos or al-Asharis?

    Of course, the cynics would claim these men were not *really* Christians. That is, they really didn’t *believe* in Christianity, but they professed such beliefs because they did not want to be persecuted. This is the “closet-atheist” hypothesis. But it doesn’t square with the facts.

    Many of the founders of modern science were also very interested in theology. If you read Pascal, this is obvious. Mendel was a monk. Newton often said his interest in theology surpassed his interest in science. Newton did end his Principles with:

    “This most beautiful system of sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being…This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all; and on account of his dominion he is wont to be called Lord God.”

    As Charles Hummel notes,

    “Newton’s religion was no mere appendage to his science; he would have been a theist no matter what his profession.”

    Boyle set up Christian apologetics lectures. Babbage and Prout contributed to an apologetics series called the Bridgewater Treatises. Aggasiz, Cuvier, Fleming, Kelvin, and Linnaeus were what we now call ‘creationists.’ When I speak about Biblical beliefs that paved the way for science, I will use both Kepler and Pasteur to highlight two specific examples.

    Furthermore, many of these founders of science lived at a time when others publicly expressed views quite contrary to Christianity – Hume, Hobbes, Darwin, etc. When Boyle argues against Hobbe’s materialism or Kelvin argues against Darwin’s assumptions, you don’t have a case of “closet atheists.”

  12. Jerry — but Behe accepts “macro” evolution, as do many other ID advocates.

    What Behe says is that Darwinian “macro” evolution, including human evolution, is a fact, but that it can’t account for all the biological structures we observe in nature.

    Likewise, the explanatory filter doesn’t say “no way” to “macro” evolution — it just says that the “information” content of the genetic code points to intelligence — whether the designer developed the code gradually or not.

    Some ID’s (e.g. Mike Gene) accept just about all of “macro” evolution except for a “front loading” of information.

    The dispute between most TEs and most IDs is about the meaning of “chance,” God’s action in nature, and natural theology (what we can know from God’s action in nature). These are important differences, but they don’t IMHO touch on the really hard issues for traditional Christians.

  13. StephenB said: Guided evolution is well within the bounds of ID.

    I respond: Yes, I completely agree. So, this is why I don’t understand the rancor from either side between TEs and IDs. “Guided evolution” is also well within the bounds of TE. At the end of the day, the differences between the two “camps” are tiny compared to our common differences with materialists and atheists.

  14. becke,

    There is another major difference between ID and TE’s that I see, Theologically the traditional God of Judeo Christian theology is thought of as omnipotent. During the enlightenment as the laws of nature became revealed a revised image of how God accomplished his works developed. One way was that all was set in motion from the beginning and there was no need for God to constantly interfere to repair or reset this intricate clock that He started at the beginning of the universe.

    The TE’s hold to this view and include evolution in this world view. ID says the evidence does not support this view for evolution and the TE’s reply that this means ID holds to a lesser God because of the necessity of constant intervention. There are other issues such as evil and theodicy that get brought up and discussed by some here.

    TE’s often challenge ID on theology as well as on science.

  15. becke: I suggest you raise your concerns on Karl Giberson’s blog. I agree that God could have created a world in which he covered his tracks so that his design of the world is scientifically undetectable. ID says there’s evidence that renders design scientifically detectable. TEs can’t seem to handle the very possibility.

  16. Jerry — I think you are confusing TE with Deism.

    All of the Christian TEs I know reject Deism. They instead refer to primary and secondary causation, and see God as ominpotently and actively engaged in guiding evolution for his purposes, though without radical intervention that would leave a trace against the stochastic pattern of ordinary development. Many of these TEs also accept a particular, “spiritual” intervention by God in the creation / impartation of the humnan “soul” and / or the imago dei.

    Some Christian TEs I know might approach this through more of an open theism model, which views these ideas of causation differently. But none accept Deism.

  17. becke,

    I am not sure Behe accepts Darwinian macro evolution. I believe he says there is no evidence to support it but neither is there any evidence to support any other mechanism. In the Edge of Evolution Behe specifically undermines Darwinian macro evolution.

  18. jerry,

    Actually, TEs at least can (and I know some do) admit that the way evolution is commonly presented encourages atheism. It’s one of my biggest complaints with the topic, and I think nonsense and philosophy is routinely shoehorned into its explanation. Calling evolution ‘unguided’ is, for my money, unscientific unless you have a test for guidance/design. So is calling fundamental aspects of it ‘random’, which is a loaded word – from our perspective it may be random for all practical purposes, but that’s different from well and truly random.

    I’m also not sure ID proponents MUST reject macroevolution. I could be wrong, but doesn’t Behe accept this? I can’t see how he couldn’t yet still accept common descent, but I could be wrong on this point.

    Now, with that said: Unless there’s something going on here (quotes being taken out of context, etc, and I have no reason to believe so at the moment) the quotes provided from Miller and Levine’s books are pretty damning. And I will outright admit that Ayala has always struck me as, frankly, a con man: I honestly suspect that his past takes on evolution and God (Which amounted to ‘Darwin did God a service because creation is so utterly terrible and depraved that only a monster could have allowed it, but thanks to Darwinism it means God didn’t create it’) amounted to well-poisoning. Making a evolution seem to describe such a ludicrous and horrible world that atheism was the only sane option, and offering up a ‘reconciliation’ any sane person would reject as described. Miller I have less knowledge of, but at this point I wouldn’t be surprised if he played the same game.

    On the other hand, maybe someone can help me out here. Just who ARE ‘The TEs’? Because Miller and Ayala are just two guys, and terrible examples. Dinesh D’Souza is certainly another TE, but he takes the tact that evolution is routinely and horribly abused in description by atheists to support philosophy that the science simply cannot do. Michel Heller was quoted here once as he won the Templeton prize, but he seemed to take an Augustinian view that there is actual chance from the perspective of God. Collins is a TE, but I recall him having some praise for Dembski and generally trying to stake out a position as a TE sympathetic to ID. In fact, most of the TEs I can think of tend to regard ID more with polite disagreement than outright hostility. Again, I could be wrong – I’d love to see more examples of this hostility. I know the American Scientific Affiliation had some issues with ID, or so I recall.

  19. becke,

    That is not what I get from reading the ASA blog or reading the books they recommend. Why does it make a difference whether God used primary and secondary causes and aren’t these really the same anyway once you know the pre determined outcome? I always found this a specious argument, Anyway the evidence does not point to secondary causes.

    Interesting you would use the word “many” and not all when referring to the creation of humans.

  20. Bill (#15) — I’ve raised issues I have with Giberson and his new book directly with him on the ASA list. I agree 100% that the slights from the TE “side” are equally unwarranted.

    To me, though, God “covering his tracks” isn’t a fair statement of most TE views. Is any stochastic process in nature an instance of God deceiving us by “covering his tracks?” When we say a new-born baby is a special gift from God, are we making God a liar because from our human perspective what sperm fertilized what egg seems random?

    I agree that TEs who argue that God cannot have left empirical evidence of design in nature overstate their case. But likewise, it seems an overstatement to me to say that God must have left empirical evidence of design in nature (apart from the ordinary human experience of beauty, awe, and such in the presence of nature’s grandeur).

    Whether such “traces” exist in DNA or some other biological structure seems to me an empirical question that can only be settled by looking at the data, not by preconceptions about what God “must” or “must not” have done.

  21. Er, ‘that there is no actual chance from the perspective of God’ that is.

  22. Could somebody please tell me that if God guided evolution either by primary or secondary causes and then covered his tracks, how each such event is not an example of special creation?

  23. Jerry said: Why does it make a difference whether God used primary and secondary causes and aren’t these really the same anyway once you know the pre determined outcome?

    I respond: No, they aren’t the same. There’s a long tradition in Christian theology concerning primary and secondary causation. Read, e.g., Aquinas’ Summa Contra Gentiles. It’s been an important argument against attributing evil, particularly human evil, to God.

  24. Jerry said: Could somebody please tell me that if God guided evolution either by primary or secondary causes and then covered his tracks, how each such event is not an example of special creation?

    I respond: well, “covered his tracks” isn’t accurate. But otherwise — exactly! It isn’t all that different, IMHO.

  25. Hi. This is a serious question, and not a joke. I have honestly been too embarrassed to ask someone face-to-face in fear of being too naive:

    do TEs believe in praying for the sick, or anything else?

    that is, they don’t seem to think God gets involved in nature. So, do they think he gets involved in cancer? Would he reach down and cause someone to be healed? If so, doesn’t this violate their whole argument about God being hands-off?

    I’m not sure how the bridge that gap. I didn’t really feel satisfied with the theistic evolution paper in Mere Creation, so I was unable to get any guidance there and hoped that someone here could respond.

  26. —–becke: “I respond: Yes, I completely agree (That ID allows for guided evolution.)”

    “So, this is why I don’t understand the rancor from either side between TEs and IDs. “Guided evolution” is also well within the bounds of TE. At the end of the day, the differences between the two “camps” are tiny compared to our common differences with materialists and atheists.”

    I don’t agree. I think that you are dismissing the main area of contention. It is precisely the notion of “guided evolution” that TEs cannot tolerate. There is no teleology in Darwin, and Darwinism is the defining principle for most TEs. So I am not getting your point here.

  27. Interesting to note that in Psalm 77:19, God does indeed cover his tracks:

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

    I love that verse!! What God does is His perogative.

  28. Becke -

    I think the problem is that you are failing to distinguish between Darwinian macro-evolution and plain macro-evolution. Behe, for instance, believes in macro-evolution, but not Darwinian macro-evolution.

    That is, genomes were front-loaded with information to guide the changes that were made. That is an ID option. However, what these TheoEvos are saying is that this option is simply un-Christian.

    But if you look at the evidence, the evidence is clearly against Darwinian mechanisms, and the amount of non-descent-based homology (called convergent evolution by most biologists) is staggering, and indicates that some other factor is in play. The three main options are (a) close your eyes and pretend that this isn’t significant, (b) there are common design patterns that a creator used in creating organisms, or (c) life was pre-loaded with the information to build these types of structures. (a) is the only non-ID option. What these people are saying is that choosing (b) or (c) or some combination of all three is simply un-Christian.

  29. becke: ID doesn’t say that design must be detectable in biology. It says look to see whether it is — and upon examination the evidence seems to confirm that it is. What have you read of the ID literature? There’s nothing in my book THE DESIGN INFERENCE to suggest that nature must answer our questions about design in nature one way or another. It’s Miller and Co. who have skewed the dialectic by urging that God is “scientifically undetectable” (the phrase is his — see FINDING DARWIN’S GOD). I’m surprised that you see ID as charging God with deception when he acts through stochastic processes. To say that we can detect design in some cases doesn’t mean that God doesn’t act when we can’t detect it.

    I think you’re posting too much on this thread. Please limit your posts.

  30. Becke. Thanks for your thoughtful contributions.

    You said “TEs who argue that God cannot have left empirical evidence of design in nature overstate their case.”

    This is exactly the claim that separates TE and ID. With this claim they intentionally divorce themselves from the inclusive ID camp. They cannot accommodate Mike Behe in their camp either. The detection of design by any means other than a mystical feeling is anathema to those in the TE camp.

    Also you say “it seems an overstatement to me to say that God must have left empirical evidence of design in nature”

    Of course that would be a silly statement and you will never find that claimed by any prominent ID proponent.

    ID is a target of ridicule first and foremost only because the philosophical difficulty that arises if one agrees that there is an objective way of detecting design.

  31. Bill, I wasn’t intending to charge God with deception at all. You implied in comment #15 that the TE view has God “covering his tracks” (at least that’s how I understood what you said). My response is that a stochastic process doesn’t mean God is “covering his tracks” in some kind of deceptive way — which I think we agree about? To me, this means that if God created life as we know it using stochastic processes, it’s unfair to say God is then “covering his tracks.” It just means God chose to use stochastic processes, as he evidently often does.

    I’ve read the Design Inference and many of your other essays, as well as most of Mike Behe’s work — which is one reason I was surprised by the “covering his tracks” reference to the TE position.

    I agree with you 100% that when TE’s say God’s creative activity must be always and entirely stochastic, they are overstating their case. I am not defending Ken Miller — I personally have no taste for his rhetoric.

    johnnyB — you mention convergent evolution. I’d classify Simon Conway Morris and his book Life’s Solution as TE. If you’d classify that as ID, that’s fine with me. It illustrates that the “boundaries” between TE and ID can be quite permeable. If you think all TE’s can’t tolerate “guided evolution,” then I think you misunderstand the nuances of different TE positions. I know some prominent TEs who are Calvinists and who believe emphatically that God guided each step.

    TomRiddle — most of the Christian TEs I know believe in miracles and intercessory prayer. Some I know personally are quite “charismatic” in their theology in this regard. There is no conflict in this position — I think even most Christian IDs believe that God ordinarly does not do miracles. Life generally happens according to the usual laws of nature and God’s providential guidance is not usually directly empirically evident. But sometimes God does heal or guide in sudden, miraculous ways, as he chooses to do so.

    Since I’ve been admonished about not posting too much, I’ll bow out. Thanks for the conversation. My hope and prayer is that people who follow Christ will be able to debate and discuss these questions without flames and wars.

  32. becke: My phrase “covering his tracks” keys off of Ken Miller’s “scientifically undetectable.” ID starts with the possibility, not the necessity, of detecting design and leaves open that there can be forms of design that are undetectable. Miller advocates the necessity of design’s undetectability.

  33. 33

    Slightly off the topic of Miller’s apparent schizophrenia of beliefs,

    Belief in a universe which has rationality at is core is the fruit of the Theistic Philosophy which holds that the universe is the product of a rational mind. Materialism, which holds that chance is ultimately responsible for the universe and life, offers no such rational core to its basis and in fact impedes science. For example, Einstein’s greatest blunder was the cosmological constant he inserted in his equation to reflect the steady state “materialistic” theory for the universe.i.e. materialism was the true source of his greatest blunder.

    “God does not play dice!”
    Einstein

    “God is known by nature in his works and by doctrine in his revealed word”
    Galileo

    as well I found this book that looks very interesting

    Scientists of Faith

    http://www.rae.org/scifaith.html

    excerpt:

    Everyone knows that science and the Christian faith are incompatible-right? Secular thought often portrays religion as the enemy of science, but the truth is that many of the world’s greatest scientific discoveries were made by persons of faith, seeking to honor God and His creation. Scientists of Faith relates the personal stories of forty-eight scientists and provides a brief overview of each person’s contribution in their own particular field. Included are such notables as Johannes Kepler, Blaise Pascal, Michael Faraday, Gregor Mendel, and George Washington Carver.

    I recommend looking at the list of scientists on the site it is truly a impressive list. It makes me wonder if there are any atheists at all who may have founded any uncontested branch of science.

  34. TE’s are not all of one mind, all you can say about what they all have in common is that they claim to believe in some type of Godhead and some form of evolution. Besides those 2 claims of common ground there is a wide variety of opinion depending on how they percieve God. How they perceive God determines how they perceive evolution. Really TE’s are advocates of a religious philosophy more then anything else. Whereas ID’s are more then anything else advocates of a scientific paradigm leaving religious philosophy out of it.

    There two approaches to evolution is what is causing the friction between the two types of people.

    The TE’s are mostly criticial of ID based upon theology and philosophy. Some try to argue against ID based upon science, but invariably they come across as either arrogant and foolish (Miller) in their attempt to earn a living off of supporting the atheist establishment in their attack on religion, or they come across as out of their league when it comes to the science.

    They have a view of God which can’t allow God to be intimately involved in our world because that would bring in the problem of why God “allows bad things” to happen. Therefore their God is not involved in our world to any great degree either because he isn’t able or doesn’t want to. And they claim that that idea is theologically superior to the implication of ID of a God who is intimately involved in our world, at least in the design of life forms.

    To them a God who doesn’t want to get involved or cannot get very involved in our world is a superior type of God then a God who can and does get involved in our world.

    Why?

    Because a God who can and does get involved in our world is not the type of God who fit’s into their theological conception. It’s not only their inability to deal with the “problem of evil”, it’s also that many of them have an idea of a God who may be impersonal to one degree or another. Their God may be some kind of energy being, some kind of cosmic spirit without a mind or intelligence or personality, without omnipotence and without omniscience. Not all TE’s have the same view of God even though they may claim to be a Christian, or a Jew etc. For example there are many different types of “Christian” philosophies and Jewish philosophies. Some advocate–like the former Vatican astronomer George Coyne–a theology where God is some unknowable cosmic love spirit something-or-other which set the universe into motion, then having nothing to do with the universe after that, no design or rhyme or reason of any type, just sat back and watched evolution happen for billions of years to see what would happen, and then sends love vibes to humans when humans come into existance by chance. From that extreme negligible type of God to varities of that or other impersonal or impotent or uncaring types of conceptions of God can be found among TE’s.

    Why they think a God who wouldn’t want to be involved with life here on earth very closely, as if there is something else for God to be doing, is theologically preferable to an active caring interested God, is based on their ignorance of God. They don’t why God would allow the world to be the way it is if God was in control, therefore God can’t for some reason or another be allowing the world to be the way it is. They are the judges of what God is or isn’t, God is what they say God is, that is good theology according to them.

    For them to claim that ID implies bad theology in comparison to their own is laughable.

  35. Dr. Dembski, just a comment on becke supposedly “posting too much on this thread”. He posted once with a direct comment on the matter at hand and his subsequent six posts, prior to your adminishment, were all responses to direct comments or questions addressed to him, including one from you! In what sense was he “posting too much”?

  36. THE very definition of information would be – “God SAID – Let there be light – fruit bearing trees – seeds = INFORMATION – “Front Loaded indeed. I hope not, but suspect that all this tiptoeing around Design (“inference”) may cloud the “Eyes to See” given to an open heart and mind when just observing what is – A. a Creation or B. a happening of some sort. I bet most here would agree to the possibility of being “educated” out of our minds. Miller is a prime example – and not maybe either. The natural mind is ever persistent to its own truth if not discerned by the “Mind of Christ” and as He said – “They have their reward”.

  37. The definition of information?”

    Information is nt of energy/matter in quantum teleportation experiments, so information should be rigorously defined transcendent of any energy/matter basis. Information clearly deserves a concise definition that is completely separate and also one that maybe even foundational of any energy/matter considerations.

  38. Information is do^min^ant of energy/matter…

  39. I think the term Theistic Evolutionist is too weak. Theistic Darwinist is more accurate.

    Definition of Theistic Darwinist:

    1. believes in Darwinism
    2. despises ID
    3. claims to believe in God

    Mike Behe, Mike Gene, many others are TE’s that are friendly to ID. The term Theistic Darwinist would not apply to them, but it would apply to Ken Miller, Keith Miller, George Murphy, Jeremy Mohn (of PT), Burt Humberg (of PT), Wesley Elsberry (of PT), PvM (of PT), Karl Giberson, Michael Dowd, and many of the Darwinist folks at Baylor, SMU, Wheaton, and others…

  40. StephenB,

    Thank you. I’m not familiar with most of those names, but I was hoping someone would give me a list to go on. I’ll cede that you clearly know more TEs than I do, and thus a lot of your TE-hostility may be due to greater information.

    I’ve seen PvM do his song and dance, though, and I’d place him right alongside Ayala. Everyone else, only a passing familiarity at best.

  41. Who started this?
    They did. But it doesn’t matter.
    We’ll finish it. ;-)

  42. The most offensive thing in Miller’s new rag is the inane claim that somehow ID is a threat to civilization.

    That is unbelievably stupid and/or hypocritical. The Judeo/Christian values upon which America was founded are diametrically opposed to just about everything Darwinism, and it’s undergirding materialist religion, stands for.

    History attests to this in no uncertain terms.

    I wonder if Miller’s name in Greek or Hebrew adds up to 666? :-o
    Can’t be, he isn’t smart enuff for that job.

  43. I am responding to DaveScot’s comment about, about the absence of backbone amongst TEs. Much of my response is taken from something I wrote 3 years ago for a different but similar audience, as explained below. It fits now here, thus I mainly just edited that a little.

    To begin with, IMO DaveScot has given voice to a view that is rather widely held among advocates of ID–though I want to point out right away that I know several leading ID advocates, including fellows of TDI, who simply do not share this view and indeed who would repudiate the tone and lack of discernment that the quoted paragraph contains. DaveScot speaks as an individual, and his views on this are not shared by at least several people who are considered leading ID advocates. This is my post, and I’m not going to drag those folks into this, but they exist, and there may be more of them then DaveScot would want to admit. They are not figments of my imagination.

    I have however interacted with a number of ID advocates who agree with DaveScot that TEs are “spineless appeasers.” In a few instances this might be an accurate assessment, but as a blanket statement it’s both highly inaccurate and insulting. DaveScot certainly knows it’s insulting, and he probably doesn’t care how accurate it is.

    It isn’t even original. DaveScot said the same thing on UDC back in May 2005, less than three weeks after I had responded to this particular sentiment–using highly similar language. My comments were posted to a very large private list for ID supporters and some others (such as myself), and I would not be surprised if DaveScot was present there to see them (I do not know for a fact that he was).

    Instead of writing a brand new response to him now, I will edit the one I made 3 years ago, in order to remove a few specific references that were specific to persons on that list and to keep on focus here. Most of what follows below is taken directly from my comments at that time. Again, the larger context was that I resented the generalization that TEs lack backbone–that they are just seeking acceptance from secular academics and smothering their religious views to gain that acceptance. The image in my own mind was of Churchill, in parliament in 1931, seeing the “boneless wonder” in front of him in the person of Ramsay MacDonald. A famous speech, obviously, and it captured well the impression I was forming of how some ID adherents were seeing TEs in general. The immediate context was the editorial that “Nature” ran about ID, accompanying the article on the Dover trial that was its cover story in April 2005.

    What did I tell my friends on that list, at that time? Here is the edited (see above) text:

    Nature is absolutely right, IMO, that it is religious scientists (the noun here leaves me out, unfortunately, or I’d happily include myself) who are vitally important in this conversation. To be perfectly frank, a lot of the ones I know who might otherwise be more sympathetic to giving helpful comments about ID in their classes, have been alienated from the ID movement by the type of rhetoric we find above [I was responding to similar comments by someone other than DaveScot]. In 1922, Bryan referred to TE as “the anesthetic that dulls the pain while the faith is removed,” thus in a few words shortcutting any serious attempt to have productive conversations with most religious scientists at that time. (And the early 1920s were the watershed years for this type of conversation, with Warfield and Strong and Orr and other more thoughtful people passing from the scene and with the militant anti-modernism of the self-styled “fundamentalists” coming on strong.) I’m not claiming that ID is responsible for Bryan, but it isn’t hard to find similar kinds of comments, foreclosing conversation with many Christian scientists who are TEs and who are not afraid to speak about their faith on their highly secular campuses.

    The type of personal and intellectual trivialization depicted [in your post] is obviously not helpful to anyone; we surely agree about that. But IMO both as a Christian scholar and as a scholar who does specialize in studying Christianity and science, the religious scientists on secular campuses are the key people in this conversation. I have met one or two who might fit your [description], or Churchill’s description of the “spineless wonder” sitting before him in Parliament. Nearly all of them do not.

    Let me suggest a few of the reasons why many religious scientists do not support ID on their campuses. (And yes, I realize that there are also other religious scientists on secular campuses who do support ID but are literally afraid to say so b/c they haven’t got tenure yet, or b/c they want to keep getting NIH grants. I am not pretending that they don’t exist, they clearly do and some are on this list. Nor do I mean to imply that they are the real spineless wonders, for they are not.)

    This is what I am hearing from those religious scientists on secular campuses who do not support ID. These are the main things I hear, in no particular order:

    (1) Evolution is a valid theory, or “true”. By this they usually mean that common descent is a reasonable scientific conclusion from the evidence–esp the historical evidence, which some IDs tend to ignore b/c ID officially brackets the age/historical sequence question. Age for these folks is just not negotiable or bracketable, it can’t be put aside for discussion at a later date. It’s a fact that shapes our interpretation of other facts.

    (2) It is unclear how one would do science differently with ID, when it comes to working in laboratories and observatories and in the field. There is no “there” there, in terms of an alternative theory for contextualizing stuff. Keep in mind the historical comment above–in the historical sciences, history is foundational. And in some sciences that are not strictly speaking historical–particle physics would be a nice example–what we know historically (e.g., that the heavier elements have been built up from H and He in the interiors of stars over billions of years, or that the cosmic background radiation matches perfectly with theoretical blackbody radiation from the big bang) makes sense in light of what we know when historical questions are not directly considered.

    (3) Theodicy. This is perhaps the number one reason why secular scientists do not believe in God. As long as ID brackets conversation about theodicy and other theological issues, people like Jack Haught (whose theology I do not embrace) and John Polkinghorne (whose theology I generally do embrace) are going to make a lot more sense to the religious scientists who talk to secular scientists. These religious scientists are not embarrassed by their faith, and they are quite willing to talk about it openly. They simply recognize that this is a conversation at the level of theology and metaphysics, not at the level of science. And they tend to believe that conversations of that type do not produce knock-down arguments that an unbiased, rational person has to accept.

    (4) ID smells a lot like YEC to many religious scientists. A good number of religious scientists have come from very conservative religious backgrounds. For various reasons that I won’t spell out here so as not to offend some on this list [I was thinking here of some YECs], they have had some tough personal struggles with some baggage relative to science, and they don’t want to relive those experiences. I know that ID is not YEC, and I think you know that I know that. But the tone of some ID stuff, with its highly negative comments about evolution and its alleged cultural consequences, only echoes the tone of the stuff they have left behind. Mike Behe, they might find reasonable and even a little persuasive; but [others] they find unreasonable and even offputting. Throw in the rhetoric about “dancing on gravestones” (claims that we’re living in the last generation of evolution, claims that sound like the Millerites waiting for the second coming), and they start looking for the exits.

    (5) Different views of science as a religious vocation. This isn’t usually phrased as I just phrased it, but that’s what is meant when people talk about discipling their graduate students while helping them to write publishable papers. They aren’t encouraging their students to challenge “Darwinism,” rather they are encouraging their students to live strong religious lives while doing quality mainstream science. They haven’t been convinced that this constitutes a contradiction to or betrayal of their religious commitments, and they don’t appreciate efforts in the popular religious press to paint them as spineless wonders. The biggest problem with such efforts is not so much the insult (although that is real and noticed), it’s the fact that these very faithful servants (as many of them are) are having their vocations written off. That isn’t how one gains support from people who share some of one’s concerns.

    I do not see the Nature editorial as an invitation to “treachery.” [I quoted here someone I was responding to] Rather, I see Nature’s call for a broader conversation as an opportunity for IDs to call for an even broader conversation. The problem you may find, however, is that the broader conversation is *openly* about theology and metaphysics, not simply explanatory difficulties of “Darwinism” in accounting for flagella and Cambrian phyla. And that’s just where many of those religious scientists already are. Fact is, the Brits (Nature) can take this angle more easily than we Americans can, b/c they aren’t constrained by a First Amendment that is being misapplied to public education. But at the college level, at least, even a Eugenie Scott admits that serious conversation about religion is permissible. Why not take them up on their suggestion?

    Ted

  44. Ted,

    Thank you for your post.

    For those who do not know anything about Ted Davis, he is one of the more reasonable men on the planet. He is not an ID supporter but is a defender of ID to those who criticize it. In other words Ted has defended ID people on the ASA site a multitude of times and if we want a valuable resource about non ID religious view points he is the person to ask.

    He along with David Opderbeck are more that willing to discuss ID and be fair about it without being a proponent of it.

    So I Ted comes around often because we can only be the better. He is an expert on the history of science so I am sure he will be valuable to us on this when he comes here.

  45. The last paragraph of my post should be

    So I hope Ted comes around often because we can only be the better. He is an expert on the history of science so I am sure he will be valuable to us on this when he comes here.

  46. 46

    Ted,
    If a TE scientist, such as Miller, continues to deny the overwhelming evidence of unexplained complexity in life, when repeatedly exposed to it, as Miller has been, and continues to maintain that Darwinism has full explanatory power and is not even in doubt, as Miller has repeatedly done (trashing ID proponents in the process I might add). All the while maintaining that he is a “devout Christian” who believes in Almighty God, has earned full right to the term absence of backbone (spineless in my book). I might even add that he has earned full right to the term hypocrite as well. Although only God can truly judge the full intent of a man’s heart, and far be it from me to say I know all the motivations of any man’s heart, from all outward appearances that I can see of the man he is indeed a spineless hypocrite who is more afraid of what his peers might say than what Almighty God might think.

  47. There are people who are sincere, will conduct themselves in an honorable fashion, but still be deeply mistaken….

    There are lots of TE’s that fall in that category. John Sanford was a TE, I was a TE, Henry Morris of (gasp) ICR was a TE, Caroline Crocker was a TE, I presume Bill Dembski was a TE….probably 80% of everyone in the ID movement was TE…..

    There are TE’s, however, who conduct themselves in a manner that’s pretty questionable….I don’t have much hope for them because it is apparent, they are quite willing to resort to fabrication and misrepresentation to attack ID.

    A more representative term might be Theistic Darwinist….because the term “Darwinist” carries the suggestion of having unsavory qualities…

  48. Ted,

    Do you believe that ID is not significantly different than “creationism”?

  49. bornagain77,

    I understand your point about Miller, and I also understand that DaveScot was specifically thinking of Miller in his comment above. I’m less willing myself to confine Miller to perdition (that’s up to God, and I suspect that God is unhappy with all of us), but DaveScot seems to generalize far too quickly here.

    I have personal knowledge of the religious lives and views of many Christian scientists, and many of the TEs I know don’t hesitate to affirm the bodily resurrection and many other biblical truths. And yes, many of them also think that evolution (I hesitate to use the word “Darwinism,” since it has become an ideologically loaded term for many here, even more than “evolution” itself) looks like it’s true–at least mainly true, if not necessarily the complete picture of how nature works.

    I realize that lots of people don’t understand how this can be true–either (they might think) those scientists are just compartmentalizing their thoughts; or they are just not thinking very hard about how their religious and scientific lives relate; or at worst they are just hypocrites, even spineless one.

    Many of the people I’m thinking of here, bornagain77, simply don’t fit the three categories I just offered. They are genuine Christian believers, with active and strong religious lives, who are not afraid to live openly as Christians within the scientific community; and, they have thought long and hard about how their faith and their professional lives relate to one another. They are not hypocrites and they have backbones. They may not be visible to you here, and the larger culture tries to deny their existence, but they exist in good numbers.

    Part of the problem, IMO, is that some participants in the culture wars want to force people to the extremes–they want Dawkins to represent science, and they want Ham to represent Christianity. Dawkins is a scientist, and Ham is a Christian, but that’s as far as I would be willing to go with that view. Miller has apparently denied even being a TE, whatever one may make of that–it’s just so often a matter of how terms are being defined, and by whom, isn’t it?

    If there were no culture war involving origins, IMO, then Ken Miller and Mike Behe would both be seen by many as a couple of Catholic biologists who differ on the minutia of how to understand our present ignorance of certain biological phenomena. One puts more emphasis on what we don’t know (thinking that we will probably never be able to know it), and the other puts more emphasis on what we have already learned (thinking that probably we will continue to learn a lot more). Their theological views are not very far apart on some important points–Mike even talks about this in his essay for “Debating Design.” And, IMO as an historian of science and religion, Mike’s views on evolution, God, and design are not much different from those of the first American Darwinian, Asa Gray. Gray is usually seen as a classic example of a TE, and IMO without the culture war Mike Behe would be seen as a TE also. And surely, Mike is not spineless, any more than Gray was–or Francis Collins is, or Owen Gingerich is, or … too many to list.

  50. In my honest opinion, it seems that once you are a Christian or theist and you allow miracles in your worldview you have opened the door to God and have no way of keeping him out. For TE’s there seems to be a disconnect between miracles, such as Jesus’ resurrection, and His intervention in other parts of History, al la Evolution. The problem I see with such views is that it becomes problematic trying to up hold the schism between a belief in an active personal God and a belief that he has kept his hands out of the formation of one of his most precious creations. It would seem to follow, that once you have a personal interacting God, there is little grounds for excluding him from life’s history. At least that’s how I see TE’s worldview.

    Or to put it as a question, why would God interact with his creation and yet, have nothing to do with its formation? Christian TE’s and IDist both try to uphold a God who interacts with His creation, I simply think the latter does a better job of being consistent.

    I once had a friend ask, “Once you’ve let God in the door what’s to keep him out?”

    I hope this all makes sense as I have been writing in haste.

    Thoughts or Criticism?

  51. Ted,

    You can make a case that Behe is a “TE”.

    The problem is that ID is distorted and its advocates are demeaned and slandered, and those who claim to be believers in a Creator — and often claim to be Christians — hold the coats of those doing it and even join in the kicking when the subject is safely on the ground.

    Miller is one of them.

    I don’t think anybody here objects to criticism of ID or attempts to refute it.

    The leading lights of ID clearly do not hold common descent to be a disqualifying view for joining their club.

    But why is the “Edge of Evolution” not science? Why isn’t it something that would make a reasonable, objective person go hmmm? Or at least address it seriously?

    And why is it wrong to attempt to use a measurable methodology to attempt to find design in nature?

    There is nothing wrong with attacking (honestly) the measurements or the methodology, but what the opponents do is attack the attempt. And some prominent TEs seem to do it on a religious basis.

  52. Ted,

    Most of us here prefer to discuss science and often avoid theology since it can become very loaded with people of different Christian faiths, Jews, Muslims and some agnostics posting here. Also most of us are not theology trained other than what one would expect from someone who is religious and attends services for his or her religion. Thus, theology does not get anywhere near the level of discussion as it does on ASA.

    Even while we love science, most here are also not trained scientists but there are doctors, many engineers, computer scientists or just well educated and well read people. So there are many here who have good brain power but are just not practicing scientists. The trained biologist who post here are generally supporters of the Darwinian paradigm so we have some opposition who post also.

    Many will also discuss cultural issues and philosophy but the heart of what ID is about is science. So it rubs a lot of us the wrong way when many, including most at ASA, deride ID as anti science or not science.

    So I am sure you will be getting lots of science questions if you decide to come here periodically. I know I have many but will wait to ask them till the basic TE/ID battle front is diffused. Then we can see where we disagree on science and maybe theology. And by the way many of us here disagree on the science underlying ID.

  53. Ted, if you or any of your colleagues want to transcend science and discuss philosophy and theology, I, for one, would welcome any such discussion. Indeed, I have several questions that I would ask of the TEs, but I will not burden you with all of them at this time.

    Still, if you would honor me with one brief answer, I would appreciate it. Theistic evolutionists, in general, attempt to reconcile their Christianity with neo-Darwinism. This is all very confusing to me.

    On the one hand, the Bible teaches that God’s handiwork has been made manifest in his creation. Indeed, the whole point about it is that God WANTS to be discovered through his designs. As Psalm 19 instructs us, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” And, of course we read in Romans 1:20, that the invisible things are clearly seen “being understood by the things that are visible.” Now I would expect even a mainstream Christian to take these passages seriously, but a “devout” Christian ought to be downright passionate about them. According to St. Paul, this is a self-evident truth, so much so, that anyone, Christian, agnostic, cynic, or anyone else who questions it is “without excuse.”

    On the other hand, Darwinism teaches that, in the unlikely event that there is a God, his handiwork is certainly not manifest in nature. Quite the contrary, design is an “illusion.” Obviously, that means that even if God does exist, he certainly does NOT WANT to be discovered through his designs, which means, of course, that he did not reveal himself in nature. Unlike the teleological view proposed above, Darwin’s world view is totally non-teleological. Even those TEs who say that God’s design is “inherent in the evolutionary process” agree with Darwin that such a design is undetectable. At best, it can only be believed. Obviously, a non-detectable design can hardly be a revelation.

    So we have two propositions: [A] the Bible teaches that design is detectable, that God revealed himself in nature, and that God wants to be discovered through nature. [B] TEs insist that design is NOT detectable, that God did NOT reveal himself in nature, and that God does NOT want to be discovered through nature. My question, then, is fairly simple: How do TEs reconcile [A] with [B], since they insist that they these two world views are compatible?

  54. I think that “spineless” is too strong a term to use for many TE’s. It implies a clear knowledge of what is right, and refusing to speak out in support of that knowledge in spite of the fact that it would do some good, because is afraid of personal repercussions.

    I suspect that the problem is more likely lack of proper knowledge, or perspective on that knowledge, or simply the lack of clear thinking, perhaps due to the uncritical acceptance of popular (in the scientific community) memes.

    Let me give you an example. Frances Collins, in chapter 1 of The Language of God, gives the story of his conversion, then in chapter 2 meets several objections to theism commonly used by scientists. Clearly, he is sticking his neck out for theism and Christianity. In chapter 3, he uses arguments for God’s supernatural involvement in the Big Bang, complete with fine tuning, that are familiar to most of us at UD.

    After such bold moves, the first two paragraphs of chapter 4 are stunners:

    The advances of science in the modern age have come at the cost of certain traditional reasons for belief in God. When we had no idea how the universe came into existence, it was easier to ascribe it all to an act of God, or many separate acts of God. Similarly, until Kepler, Copernicus, and Galileo upset the applecart in the sixteenth century, the placement of Earth at the center of the majestic starry heavens seemed to represent a powerful argument for the existence of God. If He put us on center stage, He must have built it all for us. When heliocentric science forced a revision of this perception, many believers were shaken up.

    But a third pillar of belief continued to carry considerable weight: the complexity of earthly life, implying to any reasonable observer the handiwork of an intelligent designer. As we shall see, science has now turned this upside down. But here, as with the other two arguments, I would like to suggest that science should not be denied by the believer, it should be embraced. The elegance behind life’s complexity is indeed reason for awe, and for belief in God—but not in the simple, straightforward way that many found so compelling before Darwin came along.

    Look at those paragraphs carefully. There seem to be four main points:
    1. The existence of the universe was an argument for God, but science has ruined that argument.
    2. The existence of earth at the center of the universe was an argument for God, but science has ruined that argument.
    3. The complexity of life requiring a designer was an argument for God, but science has ruined that argument.
    4. However, (Darwinian) evolution is a good argument for God.

    Now, most of the time ID folks react to propositions 3 and 4, saying that the evidence doesn’t support (unguided) evolution, and that evolution is not a good argument for God. Those reactions are proper. But look at proposition 1. Collins has just devoted an entire chapter to arguing the positive of proposition 1. Now he seems to be arguing the negative, with no apparent sense of the contradiction.

    Collins is not exactly stupid, and personally I find it hard to believe that he could make such a gross mistake on his own. My best guess is that he had help; that he has heard the first three propositions so often that he has accepted them without much examination, and has just never re-examined them in the light of the re-evaluation of the evidence that led him to write chapter 3.

    It takes a long time, and a lot of thought, to free oneself from the shackles of conventional thinking. Look at all the former TE’s noted by scordova (47). I think we need to be careful in our assumptions about spinelessness. It may be just severe indoctrination. and the resultant difficulty with seeing the obvious.

  55. At least that’s how I see TE’s worldview.

    Or to put it as a question, why would God interact with his creation and yet, have nothing to do with its formation?

    I’ve come to realize that Darwinists on the whole believe evolution is as sound a scientific theory as gravity. As long as they believe that, they will believe there is no more need for intelligence in the creation of life than there is need for intelligence for a drop of water to fall to the ground by the action of gravity. They actually think Darwinism is scientifically sound…..and that God uses evolution like God uses gravity…

    God does not use epicycles to cause the appearance of retrograde motion, but rather principles of celestial mechanics which Kepler and discovered and Einstein further elaborated. The Theistic Darwinists keep believing God uses epicycles (so to speak)…they don’t even realize Darwinism is a scientifically flatulent farce. Darwin’s theory echoes the words of Charles Darwin:

    I was nicknamed “Gas”.

    Charles Darwin
    Autobiography

  56. I appreciate the responses several have offered to my comments. Although I lack time to respond fully to all of the thoughtful comments and questions, I want to respond briefly (at least) to a few.

    First relative to Francis Collins, in chapter four (above), IMO the really significant point he makes that is being missed, is this phrase: “but not in the simple, straightforward way that many found so compelling before Darwin came along.”

    A lot of the Christian scientists I know would agree with this–certainly Polkinghorne and Gingerich (I select them simply b/c I already named them above) would. In their view, which I share, it’s much more difficult today to put forth a simple, straightforward design argument of the old type (ie, before Darwin), and have it be very convincing. One could differ with this view, of course, but I share it myself. This does not mean that design arguments can’t be made–Collins, Gingerich, Polkinghorne, and I all make them (in my case, they were in a debate I did vs an agnostic philosopher at Oregon State this past March; the other people named here have done it in print). But it does mean that such arguments can’t just take a pre-Darwinian form, arguing for a creator from specific biological artifacts. Darwin could IMO account satisfactorily for a whole lot of that type of complexity. I won’t go further with that part, so as to make my main point below–surely, everyone here would probably agree that Darwin can account for at least some things that previously had no good scientific explanation?

    The kinds of design arguments just mentioned are more about larger questions, such as how is biology possible at all? (fine tuning) How is science possible at all (rational creatures in a rational creation) These are things that Darwin just doesn’t trump. However, b/c they aren’t “your father’s Oldsmobile,” if you will (if this reference to an old TV commercial goes past you, I’m just showing my age), there seems to be the perception that these guys (including me) don’t put any stock at all in natural theology. Not so. But the type of natural theology being done here doesn’t involve “gaps” in the fossil record or the difficulty of explaining precisely how this or that biological feature was assembled. And, esp, they don’t involve the assumption that evolution is false (ie, that common descent has not been adequately shown). A lot Christians, in my experience, simply expect NT to include the assumption that evolution is not true–and that science can show that it isn’t.

    Furthermore, b/c the kinds of questions being asked here (see above) are more philosophical than scientific (though much of the information used in talking about them comes from science), the inference to a designer is more philosophical/theological than it is scientific. At least that is what I would say; if you use different implicit definitions of philosophy, science, and theology, perhaps you would say something different.

    Finally, the inference is being made, much more than it was before Darwin’s time, in the face of the existence of suffering throughout nature–and also long before there were any people around to think about it. (I add that point b/c the problem of “death before the fall” has relevance here.) It isn’t as though people didn’t think about God and suffering before Darwin–they obviously did, or the book of Job would not exist. It’s that in much traditional natural theology, evil and suffering (which I distinguish though they are partly related) were sort of added in at the end, as it were. In Paley’s case, for example, it was “a good world after all.”

    Well, IMO Paley was right–it is a good world, after all, but one can say that now, in the modern period, only after one has tried to deal with that substantively and directly in terms of God’s character, purposes, and self-revelation. Not from nature, IMO, which is morally ambiguous–Darwin’s pointed comments about the apparently wicked nature of wasps laying eggs in paralyzed spiders is a propos here. Someone like Steve Weinberg doesn’t see God anywhere, in good part (by his own statements) b/c his father died of Alzheimer’s disease (as my own mother did) and b/c many of his relatives were exterminated by the Nazis.

    To respond to the ugliness of the world as we often find it (IMO), God has to be brought directly into the conversation. Or else, it seems to me, the point of natural theology is moot at best. And I need a specific picture of God to bring into that picture, so I look to the God whom we crucified–the suffering God, whose character IMO is not irrelevant to understanding the design that is all around us.

    But many I know are reluctant to use the word “Design,” b/c it will imply to many other people that they oppose evolution, since so often in the past “design” meant “not evolved.” Am I being clear enough?

  57. Ted, I am disappointed that you did not have time to weigh in on my question @53. It is a simple one, immune from all of the difficult and rigorous sub-topics that are associated with deciding whose science is best. So, I will repeat the question without all of the explanatory nuances, which you can reread if you care to.
    We have two propositions: [A] the Bible teaches that design is detectable, that God revealed himself in nature, and that God wants to be discovered through nature. [B] TEs insist that design is NOT detectable, that God did NOT reveal himself in nature, and that God does NOT want to be discovered through nature. How do TEs reconcile [A] with [B], since they insist that they these two world views are compatible?

  58. Ted Davis, (56)

    Thanks for your thoughtful response. Could you help us with something? What do you think made Collins argue for the existence of God using the origin of the universe, then apparently deny that one could legitimately so argue in the first paragraph of the next chapter? Do you see Collins’ argument in chapter 3 as legitimate? If so, might the argument that life is too complex and specified for random processes plus natural selection to adequately explain also be a legitimate argument? Should we rule it out before any evidence is produced? If there is evidence supporting ID, could that evidence be rationally construed as pointing to God?

    I think I understand your point that TE’s wish to argue for the existence of God while not challenging evolution. But this does not give a complete picture. Evolution as you define it is not the problem. Your definition is implicit in your statement, “the assumption that evolution is false (ie, that common descent has not been adequately shown).” In fact, common descent is accepted by multiple ID advocates, the most prominent one being Michael Behe. And yet I have not heard kind words for Behe from TE’s, let alone acceptance that he could be raising legitimate points. This isn’t about common descent. It is about the possibility that some of God’s actions in nature are detectable.

    In fact, this isn’t even about evolution, defined as Darwinian unguided evolution. Guillermo Gonzalez proposed that the solar system and the earth were uniquely (or at least unusually) positioned for the existence of life and for scientific discovery. The first proposition was probably not particularly controversial. It is just one more of those anthropic “coincidences” and presumably could be answered by atheists in the same way. But the second implied a designer (or, because of the magnitude of the task, a Designer), and brought down upon him the ire of the ISU astronomy faculty, along with multiple other faculty. But neither of Gonzalez’s propositions challenged biological evolution, defined any way you want.

    It is arguable that, in the minds of atheist scientists, science must be safe for atheists. Any challenge to atheism from science is simply intolerable. As long as God is kept outside of the universe and cannot interfere with it, they are happy. Atheists can grudgingly tolerate belief in a God who started the universe. But if that God interfered with the universe, to make scientific discoveries easier (Gonzalez) or to create life or to guide evolution in any detectable way, the gloves are off, and one might as well be a full-blown YUC. In fact, it is worse, because in their minds YUC’s can at least be discredited on the age question. Behe’s protestation that he believes in evolution defined as common descent just makes it worse, as they can’t (honestly) use common descent arguments to discredit him.

    It seems to me that there are four postitions in the theist TE/ID discussion. Dogmatic TE’s maintain that there can be no scientific evidence for God’s intervention in nature. Evidence-based TE’s believe that God could intervene in nature, but we just haven’t found any evidence. Evidence-based ID advocates say that God could have created the universe any way he wanted, but that the evidence points towards detectable activity. And dogmatic ID advocates say that God has promised to give evidence of his activity, and then go and look for it (and think they have found some).

    One of the mistakes that TE’s make consistently is to insist that evidence-based ID advocates are really dogmatic. When they persist in this mistake after being carefully informed, it is tempting for ID advocates to make the same judgment concerning those TE’s.

    Since hopefully you are evidence-based, perhaps you could explain how many neutral mutations can be expected to be traversed by an organism in, say, 500,000 generations, with a genome of, say, 3 billion bases and a mutation rate of, say, 6 mutations per generation. Is there an edge to evolution, and can we approximate it? And if so, how does it compare with the standard interpretation of paleontological change?

    Your thoughts on the origin of life would also be interesting

  59. A very good post, Ted Davis (#43).

    I would comment that the theistic evolutionists you have been talking to seem to be somewhat confused or at least ignorant of the position of most influential ID thinkers (Mike Behe is the most obvious example).

    This is exemplified by your reporting that one of their main concerns with ID is that they apparently assume ID denies common descent and denies that “evolution” happened, defined as progressive change over vast ages of time. I am an ID advocate, and certainly agree that common descent and “evolution” as defined above are a reasonable scientific conclusions from the evidence.

    Apparently some of these people consider an argument against ID to be that it is “unclear how one would do science differently with ID, when it comes to working in laboratories and observatories and in the field.” This is confusing a truth that it is impossible to observe the actual mechanisms by which CSI was somehow (intelligently) generated in the remote post, with the likelihood that it was in fact somehow generated intelligently.

    You indicate that also, “ID smells a lot like YEC to many religious scientists”. This is somewhat confused, but understandable. At least some ID literature doesn’t make the distinction clear enough between criticising “evolution” and criticising Darwinist evolution theory. Sometimes this seems deliberate, because the real agenda is indeed denying that “evolution” as evidenced by the deep past evidence of fossils didn’t really happen. And many explicitly YEC sources espouse ID. But a little study of the ID literature would fix that.

    You indicate that theodicity is also a problem with these people in considering ID. I think this is in contrast not confused but a clear recognition of the problem ID creates in conjunction with their traditional Christian faith. This is the very real problem in accepting known facts of the natural and human world while at the same time maintaining faith in Christian notions of the nature of God and His relation to the world.

  60. “Theistic evolution” seems to be a legitimate option for Christian theists, but I believe that it has to be offered in a way in which it does not appear that “God” is a free rider. After all, Christian theism affirms God is the creator of all that contingently exists. This means that in a sense even theistic evolutionists are “creationists.” Having said that, it seems to me that for the TE advocates, God must play some role in their account of reality. If he does not, then TE is just a short hand way to say that “belief in God” is not inconsistent with an account of the universe that does not require God. This, by the way, does not mean that one has to embrace ID as presently conceived by its dominant advocates. But it does mean that if one believes that theological claims are legitimate claims of knowledge, then the TE advocate has to present his view in a way in which God plays an indispensable role in his account of the universe.

    This is why ID’s emphasis on Darwinian evolution rather than cosmic design was a hugely tactical error. For the former lends itself to the criticism that ID is merely “God of the gaps,” for it tends to single out particular aspects of organisms for design accounts. This may be unfair, to be sure. But it is still very difficult to rebut the charge, since the design account is usually the result of a theory (e.g., WD”s explanatory filter) more controversial than the theory that the design account is attempting to refute.

    At the end of the day, ID advocates do themselves no favors by hurling insults at people like Miller and Collins. For they are more accomplished, more successful, and more well-respected than any ID advocate anywhere. That’s harsh, I know. But it’s the truth.

    The model that ID should have followed is how philosophers like Plantinga and Wolterstorff conducted themselves in the 1960s and 1970s when philosophical theism was a distinctly minority point of view. They published in the best journals, presented their papers at the best conferences, and did not use the instrument of the state to require that their views be taught at public universities. They built relationships with their adversaries and become leaders in their discipline. Did they sometimes have to bite their tongues when they were treated unjustly? Of course. But it was only because they thought of their cause as more important than winning every point in every venue.

    For example, who was the genius who told Gulliermo Gonzales it was a good idea to remain a DI fellow and publish his book before he earned tenure? Everyone knew that this was an accident waiting to happen. Imagine if GG had received wise advice from friends to resign his DI fellowship, back off the ID stuff, publish more peer-reviewed articles, apply for more grants, etc. Do you think he would be at Grove City College now? I doubt it.

    There are lots of noble reasons for which one should to lose a great job. ID is not even in the top 10.

  61. It is a humbling experience to have argued passionately and persistently on behalf of a certain proposition only to find that you have oversimplified the matter. I have had such a growth experience. Let me set the stage:

    In the past, Dave Scot has offended some readers by insisting that TE’s are “gutless,” noting how shamelessly they suck up to the academy. I, on the other hand, have claimed that TE’s are “irrational,” elaborating on their many contradictory views.

    After having engaged others on this matter and reading their responses, I have changed my mind. I am now prepared to say that both Dave and I have been premature in our analysis. It is far more likely that TEs are both gutless and irrational.

  62. 62

    Stephen:

    “TEs are both gutless and irrational.”

    Maybe sincerily deceived:

    For those who have already read following this post before please disregard, this post is for all TE’s who may be reading.

    Theistic Philosophy Compared to the
    Materialistic Philosophy of Science

    There are two prevailing philosophies vying for the right to be called the truth in man’s perception of reality. These two prevailing philosophies are Theism and Materialism. Materialism is sometimes called philosophical naturalism and, to a lesser degree, is often even conflated with methodological naturalism. Materialism is the current hypothesis entrenched over science as the dom^inant hypothesis guiding scientists. Materialism asserts that everything that exists arose from chance acting on an material basis which has always existed. Whereas, Theism asserts everything that exists arose from the purposeful will of the spirit of Almighty God who has always existed in a timeless eternity. A hypothesis in science is suppose to give proper guidance to scientists and make, somewhat, accurate predictions. In this primary endeavor, for a hypothesis, Materialism has failed miserably. It will be my goal in this paper to briefly show where Materialism has led scientists down blind alleys in the past and then it will be my goal to show where Materialism may currently be tying science up in an unnecessary problem. First, lets take a look at a few of the predictions where Materialism has missed the mark and Theism has been accurate.

    1. Materialism did not predict the big bang (neither did it predict the creation of time). Yet Theism always said the universe was created (as well as always saying that time was created).

    2. Materialism did not predict a sub-atomic (quantum) world that blatantly defies our concepts of time and space. Yet Theism always said the universe is the craftsmanship of God who is not limited by time or space.

    3. Materialism did not predict the fact that time, as we understand it, comes to a complete stop at the speed of light, as revealed by Einstein’s special theory of relativity. Yet Theism always said that God exists in a timeless eternity.

    4. Materialism did not predict the stunning precision for the underlying universal constants for the universe, found in the Anthropic Principle, which allows life as we know it to be possible. Yet Theism always said God laid the foundation of the universe, so the stunning, unchanging, clockwork precision found for the various universal constants is not at all unexpected for Theism.

    5. Materialism predicted that complex life in this universe should be fairly common. Yet statistical analysis of the many required parameters that enable complex life to be possible on earth reveals that the earth is extremely unique in its ability to support complex life in this universe. Theism would have expected the earth to be extremely unique in this universe in its ability to support complex life.

    6. Materialism did not predict the fact that the DNA code is, according to Bill Gates, far, far more advanced than any computer code ever written by man. Yet Theism would have naturally expected this level of complexity in the DNA code.

    7. Materialism presumed a extremely beneficial and flexible mutation rate for DNA, which is not the case at all. Yet Theism would have naturally presumed such a high if not, what most likely is, complete negative mutation rate to an organism’s DNA.

    8. Materialism presumed a very simple first life form. Yet the simplest life ever found on Earth is, according to Geneticist Michael Denton PhD., far more complex than any machine man has made through concerted effort. Yet Theism would have naturally expected this level of complexity for the “simplest” life on earth.

    9. Materialism predicted that it took a very long time for life to develop on earth. Yet we find evidence for “complex” photo-synthetic life in the oldest sedimentary rocks ever found on earth (Minik T. Rosing and Robert Frei, “U-Rich Archaean Sea-Floor Sediments from Greenland—Indications of >3700 Ma Oxygenic Photosynthesis”, Earth and Planetary Science Letters 6907 (2003): 1-8) Theism would have naturally expected this sudden appearance of life on earth.

    10. Materialism predicted the gradual unfolding of life to be self-evident in the fossil record. The Cambrian Explosion, by itself, destroys this myth. Yet Theism would have naturally expected such sudden appearance of the many different and completely unique fossils in the Cambrian explosion.

    11. Materialism predicted that there should be numerous transitional fossils found in the fossil record. Yet fossils are characterized by sudden appearance in the fossil record and overall stability as long as they stay in the fossil record. There is not one clear example of unambiguous transition between major species out of millions of collected fossils. Theism would have naturally expected fossils to suddenly appear in the fossil record with stability afterwards as well as no evidence of transmutation into radically new forms.

    12. Materialism predicts animal speciation should happen on a somewhat constant basis on earth. Yet man himself is the last scientifically accepted fossil to suddenly appear in the fossil record. Theism would have predicted that man himself was the last fossil to suddenly appear in the fossil record.

    —-

    As a sidelight to this subject, Dr. Anton Zeilinger has made breathroughs in quantum teleportation that reveals something fascinating:

    In mulling over the principle of Conservation of Information (Dembski), in looking at Dr. Zeilinger’s work with quantum teleportation. And somewhat apart from the CSI developed by Dr. Dembski, I find this principle of Conservation of Information to run much, much deeper than I had expected. Indeed it seems to run into the fabric of reality itself. Dr. Zeilinger’s work with quantum teleportation actually establishes, through repeatable experimentation, that “transcendent information” is do^min^ate of energy/matter! Yet this is a very, very peculiar thing, for as James Joule, the father of the first Law of thermodynamics, wrote:

    “It is manifestly absurd to suppose that the powers with which God has endowed matter can be destroyed any more than they can be created by man’s agency.” i.e. Energy can be neither created nor destroyed.

    Thus since energy can not be created nor destroyed by man’s agency, who are we to think that “transcendent information” ,which has the power to tell energy exactly what to be, should be any “less than” than energy in this “eternal” attribute.
    Thus is it perfectly reasonable to think that “transcendent information”, which is in fact do^min^ate of energy, can neither be created nor destroyed also i.e. It is not reasonable to presume that “information” does not also have this “eternal” characteristic since it is indeed primary over energy. IMHO this interesting peculiarity found for the “do^min^ance of “transcendent information” found in quantum teleportation necessitates, even warrants, the inference to the “infinite mind of God” to stay consistent with logic, with the first law, indeed to stay consistent with what we know for reality as a whole (anthropic principle).

    Anton Zeilinger

    Quantum Teleportation and the Nature of Reality

    http://www.btgjapan.org/catalysts/anton.html

    The quantum teleportation experiment raises very deep questions about the nature of reality at the quantum level. It shows that information, or knowledge, in some instances can have a more fundamental meaning than an objective reality. To be more specific, what can be said, i.e. information, can define what can be reality.

    So Ted that is the short version of the scientific evidence and none of it conflicts with my Theistic beliefs at all contrary to the hoops TE’s have to jump through.

  63. For example, who was the genius who told Gulliermo Gonzales it was a good idea to remain a DI fellow and publish his book before he earned tenure?

    Maybe Gonzales is just an honest fellow who saw nothing wrong/immoral/anti-science in doing so, and trusted his fellow academics to respect his freedom to investigate and publish and to associate with those having a like view.

    I mean they always say the respect those things, right?

    Guess Gonzales knows better now.

    Once bitten, twice shy babe.

  64. fbeckwith

    For they are more accomplished, more successful, and more well-respected than any ID advocate anywhere. That’s harsh, I know. But it’s the truth.

    You need to get out more. George W. Bush is an ID advocate and he’s arguably the most powerful man in the world. Collins and Miller together don’t amount to a pimple on his butt. I know it’s harsh but scientists and academics in general don’t get a lot of respect outside their sheltered world. Heck, even Ann Coulter makes them look insignificant by each and every metric you named.

  65. StephenB,

    You wrote,

    My answer above, Stephen, is neither of these. There are other possible views here. Nothing in the Bible says that God’s presence within and behind the universe has to be distilled from the present inadequacy of a particular scientific theory. And, neither Polkinghorne nor Gingerich nor I believes that God wants not to be seen.

    My own view, Stephen, is precisely the opposite. We have *seen* God, in the flesh–and, when we did, we did not like what we saw, denied His divinity, and put him to death.

    I also believe, secondarily, that the very existence and rationality of the universe cry out for a deeper explanation, and that the explanation of both is the fact (as I see it) that this crucified and resurrected man was also the maker of heaven and earth.

    But, I don’t know how to *prove* any of that, to someone who won’t believe it. Do you?

  66. DaveScot wrote:

    If the topic is biology, however, that’s one mighty big pimple.

  67. Ted

    Historic biology is more like stamp collecting than science. The topic is design which is the bailiwick of engineers not biologists.

  68. scordova (55) wrote:

    Basically right, scordova, IMO. The second sentence, however, I would push even harder, but much deeper. Speaking (again) for myself but also for many others, without God there is no world at all–not just no creation in the past, but no continuing existence for it now and in the future. There is no rationality in nature, no regularity, no nature at all.

    I agree with this: “there is no more need for intelligence in the creation of life than there is need for intelligence for a drop of water to fall to the ground by the action of gravity.” But that is only to say that neither life nor gravity would exist at all, without intelligence. Nor would we, to look for the intelligence behind both.

  69. I did something wrong here with the posting, b/c the quotes I thought I had inserted into my two recent posts didn’t go in. The one by DaveScot is pretty obvious, but the one by scordova should be this:

    “I’ve come to realize that Darwinists on the whole believe evolution is as sound a scientific theory as gravity. As long as they believe that, they will believe there is no more need for intelligence in the creation of life than there is need for intelligence for a drop of water to fall to the ground by the action of gravity. They actually think Darwinism is scientifically sound…..and that God uses evolution like God uses gravity…”

    Sorry about that. I’m not used to this.

  70. Ted

    But, I don’t know how to *prove* any of that, to someone who won’t believe it. Do you?

    Therein lies the rub. I CAN prove that the genetic code is structured almost exactly like Morse code. There is nothing in the natural world except for DNA that is like Morse code. Why? Because both were designed by intelligent agents. Only intelligent agents create abstraction layers (symbols or tokens which represent something else).

  71. DaveScot writes, “I know it’s harsh but scientists and academics in general don’t get a lot of respect outside their sheltered world. Heck, even Ann Coulter makes them look insignificant by each and every metric you named.”

    But I think we both know that Frank was talking about expertise where it matters–namely, with the experts. What Ann Coulter thinks about cosmology matters to her readers, perhaps (and I am not one of them), but she don’t know diddley about tensor calculus.

    If ID wants to get where it wants to go–namely, to overthrow “naturalism” (which can be defined in various ways, hence the quotation marks) — then it will need to produce science that’s better than the science that’s already there. Phil Johnson and others have said that it’s premature to expect ID to have a real alternative theory to teach in schools. (I was blasted some time ago here for saying that there is no alternative, but don’t blame the messenger.) It will continue to be premature until Frank’s comments are taken to heart, IMO.

  72. Now, to fix my incomplete post (65) for stephenB, here is the statement I was responding to:

    “We have two propositions: [A] the Bible teaches that design is detectable, that God revealed himself in nature, and that God wants to be discovered through nature. [B] TEs insist that design is NOT detectable, that God did NOT reveal himself in nature, and that God does NOT want to be discovered through nature. How do TEs reconcile [A] with [B], since they insist that they these two world views are compatible?”

    I apologize for any confusion I created.

  73. Ted

    Theistic evolution is a contradiction in terms to begin with. Evolution is science. The predominant theory of it is lame science where probabilities are ignored because chance, by doctrine, is always the responsible mechanism. Chance is not evaluated. It’s worshipped.

  74. —–Ted Davis: “Nothing in the Bible says that God’s presence within and behind the universe has to be distilled from the present inadequacy of a particular scientific theory. And, neither Polkinghorne nor Gingerich nor I believes that God wants not to be seen.”

    Ted, thanks for your response. The Scriptures are very clear on the fact that God’s “existence” is made evident by his creation. Put another way, The Bible teaches that God reveals himself in Scripture AND in nature. It has nothing to do with the “inadequacy of a particular scientific theory.” A design that cannot be detected can hardly be a revelation. That is exactly what St. Paul means when he says about those who deny the point that “they are without excuse.” When TE’s reject the Bible’s teaching that God’s “handiwork has been made manifest,” they are subordinating their Christianity to the Darwinism. That is their privilege, of course, but they ought to stop saying that they have reconciled two irreconcilable world views.

    —-”We have *seen* God, in the flesh–and, when we did, we did not like what we saw, denied His divinity, and put him to death.”

    Your comment is unrelated to the subject under discussion. It has nothing to do with the proposition that the world was designed for discovery. When the great scientists were insisting that they were “thinking God’s thoughts after him,” they were not talking about Christ’s passion, crucifixion, or resurrection. They were talking about God’s intent to leave clues about himself, a belief that came right out of the Scripture.

    —–”I also believe, secondarily, that the very existence and rationality of the universe cry out for a deeper explanation, and that the explanation of both is the fact (as I see it) that this crucified and resurrected man was also the maker of heaven and earth. But I don’t know how to prove any of that to someone who won’t believe it. Do you.”

    The Scriptural teaching about the intelligibility of the universe is an empirical statement. It speaks to the observable evidence, in design form, of a creator and his creation, meaning that it requires no faith. That is why St. Paul means when he says that “they are without excuse.” The Scriptural teaching about the “reasons” for the creation, or the “deeper explanation” about a crucified and resurrected man and his role as creator, is a question of faith and is, therefore, a different matter.

    You are accepting the theological teachings of the Bible, (God’s plan of salvation) but you are rejecting the empirical/philosophical teachings of the Bible (God’s revelation in nature). That is another way of saying that you are selectively picking and choosing those passages that you can fit in to your ideological framework. So you read into the Bible (eisegisis) rather than reading out of it (exigesis).

  75. Ted,

    I will get my 2 cents in before it’s time to go to bed.

    My assessment of the evolution debate is that it is looked on as one theory by the populous and even by many scientists, when in fact there should be a more compartmentalized view. As a starter, there should be three completely separate theories and maybe more.

    1. Origin of Life – which Darwin and nearly all evolutionary biologists say is not part of evolution but yet many who write about it and study it will still use terms such as natural selection or survival of the fittest to describe how life arose from inanimate molecules. It is a completely separate issue with no good ideas as to how it could have happened. Yet many will pass off a solution as just around the corner. The RNA world is often spoken of like it is an established fact when in fact is a wild conjecture.

    2. Macro evolution – I will not try to define it because no one has a good definition for it. Let’s just say it is the origination of new complex and functional biological information through naturalistic mechanisms. That may not be the best definition for it but it indicates what we generally mean by macro evolution. As of today there is no reliable theory of how such complex and functional information can or has arisen, There is nothing that would be classified as science to explain this phenomena. Lots of conjecture or speculation but no reliable mechanism. Basically, biologist say because there was a predecessor there was a process from one form to another. And when there are no predecessors one is made up such as for the Cambrian phyla begging the question when such an organism is found that the hard part is to explain how the changes actually took place to form each phyla. Macro evolution would never meet any science standards ever proposed for any educational curriculum.

    3. Micro evolution – This is the manipulation of current genomes through basic genetic processes of sexual reproduction, recombination, epigenetic processes, selection processes and other forms of changes to the current genomes and then prolonged by separation and environment changes. There are also slight changes to the gene pool of a population through occasional mutations, This process is well established and works on unicellular as well as multi-cellular organisms and leads to new varieties and occasionally new species without expanding or changing the current gene pool except for trivial additions. Often this process contracts a gene pool as separation and environmental pressures eliminate certain aspects of the gene pool through selection and drift or other processes.

    The results of the third process is all Darwin ever saw examples of on his voyage on the Beagle and all that has ever been demonstrated by biologists. Yet this process is used to infer or establish the second process and sometimes the first. It is the only thing that scientists can use as justification that macro evolution actually happened. Macro evolution has never been observed and is only inferred to have happened by imagined progressions not actually found in the fossil record.

    So when scientists defend naturalistic evolution they are really using the observed and proven mechanism of micro evolution to infer that macro evolution ever took place or that there was a process by which life originated. Nothing has ever been observed in either the first or second process. Life and fossils are there so a process is inferred but no credible mechanism has ever been demonstrated for either of these two processes.

    I suspect that many of the theistic evolutionists will disagree vehemently with my last two paragraphs but those who support ID believe that this is all the science justifies. In fact they believe this is what the science is shouting at us. Many will also argue that there is precious little to justify much change taking place in the third process but most who are the leaders of ID are willing to accept nearly all of the micro evolution theory.

    Many of us here would hold to naturalistic mechanisms for the first two processes if there were any credible information available to defend either as arising through naturalistic means. But we see none or any reasonable hint at any and believe that those who hold to naturalistic mechanism for these processes are doing so on faith alone which is the ironic thing because it is the ID supporters who are criticized as basing their beliefs on faith and accused as ignorant of science. How often have you heard that ID is not science?

    This is just my assessment of one part of the disagreement. When I express it to anyone who is pro Darwin, that is pro naturalistic evolution for all of life’s history it is met with disdain but never really answered. We find it interesting that it is never really answered and ask why.

  76. Ted wrote:

    I agree with this: “there is no more need for intelligence in the creation of life than there is need for intelligence for a drop of water to fall to the ground by the action of gravity.” But that is only to say that neither life nor gravity would exist at all, without intelligence. Nor would we, to look for the intelligence behind both

    Ted,

    First of all, thank you for standing up for ID proponents. I respect you even more for standing up for the rights of people you disagree with. That is very noble…

    I respect your position, and it is apparent we disagree. I can live with that…

    At issue with Ken Miller specifically is he gets on TV and labels people like myself and my associastes as anti-science welfare queens. I’m a science student at Johns Hopkins. I have pro-ID friends who are PhD candidates in molecular genetics at top notch schools, and who are fearful of their career because they are systematically being labelled as dangers to the scientific establishment….

    The resentment you sense at UD toward Ken Miller is not primarily theological, IMHO, but directed toward his conduct and the culture of discrimination he promotes.

    It does not bother me so much that Michael Behe is not a creationist. Miller and Behe believe in common descent. But why is Behe beloved, and Miller despised? For that matter why is Berlinski (not even a Christian) beloved and Miller despised?

    The reason Miller and others are so disdained in the ID community is their eagerness to smear those who disagree with them,and to resort to false statements and fabrications in doing so.

    They do this in a manner that is perceived as threatening to the livelihood and dreams of aspiring ID proponents who aren’t even deeply involved in the ID movement….this is the sort of resentment that won’t be easily mended. This is almost like asking for the ID community to be enthusaistic about the behavior of criminals.

  77. To rpf_ID:

    Your argument is not unreasonable. Many of the theistic evolutionists, when wearing their Darwinist hat, assert that God’s attitude towards nature is “hands off”. Yet, when wearing their Sunday hat, they have no problem believing that God (and Jesus) took a very interventionist attitude towards nature, as recorded in most of the books of the Bible from the Pentateuch onwards, and particularly in the New Testament, where natural laws are violated on an average of probably once per page. (For example, does not Denis Lamoreaux, who despises ID for introducing an “unscientific” discontinuity into nature, believe without embarrassment that Jesus walked on water, raised Lazarus from the dead, cursed the fig tree, and fed the five thousand?)

    Why the double standard regarding direct divine intervention, whereby it’s OK to invoke divine intervention for historical miracles but taboo for pre-historic acts of creation of living things? It can’t be that belief in divine intervention in nature would engender distrust in natural laws and thus render natural science impossible. If that were the case, then the New Testament would engender more distrust in the regularity of nature than Genesis or ID would, since the New Testament miracles are far more recent, and far more numerous, than the acts of creation recorded in Genesis, or required by most ID proponents.

    I suppose one possible answer is that some TEs don’t believe in miracles at all, and interpret the NT as a book in which the miracles aren’t meant to be taken literally. Yet the report of Ted Davis above suggests that this explanation probably would not cover most TEs, whom he regards as sincere believers in traditional Christianity. So what answer does that leave?

    Apparently the reason is ultimately esthetic. TEs simply don’t like the style of a God who creates via sporadic miracles. They want a God who establishes regular laws and then leaves the universe to create life by itself. Well, they’re entitled to their taste in Gods, but why should either other Christians or other scientists be required to share their taste? What if someone has a taste for Gods who alternately employ natural causes and supernatural interventions? What theological objection can there be to that? Especially since that appears to be the notion of God found in both the Bible and later Christian tradition?

    In short, I think you’re right. The denial of “intervention” is inconsistently made. If you can believe in a living God who raised Lazarus and if you believe in a God who can heal your dying child (as Becke says many TEs do), you can easily believe in a God who intervened to produce the Cambrian explosion. In fact, for such people, it’s illogical not to believe in such a God.

    There’s a clash of world-views going on inside the head of every modern religious person, TE and ID proponents included. The modern side of us has been taught to regard nature as a closed system of impersonal causes. The religious side of us has been taught that nature is not an independent, autonomous entity, but a dependent and interactive one, one which always was and still is radically open and responsive to the divine personal will. Most of us accept a confused compromise between these two views of the world. That’s understandable and forgivable, because the questions involved are very difficult for even the greatest minds to think through. But the TEs shouldn’t be self-righteous about their particular confused compromise. They have no authority from either “science” or “theology” to declare the exact boundaries beyond which God may not have intervened in, or interacted with, nature.

    T.

  78. fbeckwith: “For they are more accomplished, more successful, and more well-respected than any ID advocate anywhere. That’s harsh, I know. But it’s the truth.”
    Agree with Dave Scott’s response to this.

    Your statement reveals a most glaring ignorance.

    I appears you’ve never heard of about 3/4 of the worlds greatest “accomplished, successful and well respected” scientists.

    It also appears your units of measure for ‘accomplished’ etc., are all out of line with fact. You mistake mere notoriety and wealth with accomplishments, success and respect.

  79. I want to respond now to this question, from tribune7 back up there somewhere:

    Do you believe that ID is not significantly different than “creationism”?

    In 3 words, tribune7, yes and no.

    You asked me this, I think, b/c I had said that one of the reasons that Christian scientists stay away from ID (and remember, here I was being a reporter, conveying what I am hearing; I am not a scientist myself) is that they think it “smells a lot like YEC,” is how I put it. My own view is that ID is not YEC, and I’ve made that case in print at least twice. I believe that strongly, despite what most scientists think and what many other academics think. But most of those people don’t know very much about the history of religion and science in this country, and they don’t really understand what YEC really is. They don’t, e.g. (to offer just one crucial example), understand that the YE part of YEC is driven substantially by the belief that a good God simply would not allow animal death before the fall of Adam & Eve. It’s a subtlety that escapes the casual critic of creationism, but it’s not a subtle point actually–without that belief, many creationists would be more open to an “old” universe and earth.

    But that’s not part of the ID agenda, and that is just one very significant reason why ID is not “creationism” in the usual sense (ie, it is not just another form of YEC). It’s not “creationism in a cheap tuxedo.

    And, the historians I know who actually work on the history of creationism do not believe this either.

    On the other hand, it’s hard to convince many people that ID is not creationism, for many reasons, but one important reason is that the tone and tactics employed by some ID leaders sound and look pretty familiar. For YECs, evolution is the worst case scenario, in terms of its perceived cultural and religious consequences. For the late Henry Morris, evolution was literally Satanic–given by Satan to Nimrod at Babel. The bottom line is that, at least since Bryan’s time in the 1920s, many Christians have demonized evolution, blaming it for all manner of social and spiritual ills, in much the same manner that Dawkins and company blame religion itself, or the very idea of God, for all manner of ills today.

    I would suggest, tribune7, as respectfully as I can, that one doesn’t have to look too far to find a similar tone emanating from ID circles. And, one also finds a very similar strategy, when it comes to public education: just as YECs have tried to get evolution taught as a “theory,” by which they really mean, “a mere theory that is little more than wishful thinking,” (they do not mean a “theory” as in atomic theory or Newton’s theory of gravitation), so ID’s have tried to get evidence against evolution taught in biology classes.

    Please don’t read what I just wrote as an implicit attack on “teaching the controversy.” My views on that are more complicated than a simple inference to a conclusion, and I am not going further with that now. My point is, that for reasons such as these it is not hard to understand why many Christian scientists see ID as too close to YEC for comfort–and nearly all Christian scientists realize that YEC just isn’t true, so they keep their hands off of ID.

    That isn’t lacking backbone; it’s just (from their point of view) good judgment.

    The culture wars do make it pretty hard to see the truth, and that cuts in all directions.

  80. Ted,

    Thank you for your answer but you didn’t need three words (or a lot more actually) :-)

    It was “yes” you believe (and understand) that ID is not creationism.

    My point is, that for reasons such as these it is not hard to understand why many Christian scientists see ID as too close to YEC for comfort–and nearly all Christian scientists realize that YEC just isn’t true, so they keep their hands off of ID.

    Ted, I can understand someone wanting to avoid the topic because they don’t like controversy or they don’t have a passion for it, but I cannot understand the attacks.

    To make an attack or ally with an attack is at the very best showing willful ignorance.

    And that fact that YECers are not driven off this board is no excuse. It is true that YECers are happily tolerated here, BUT so are their critics.

    W/regard to culture wars, whose side would you rather be on? A YECer who believes that life is sacred and love is holy or Pete Singer who advocates infanticide?

  81. If the choice offered is really that stark, tribune7, I’m definitely not choosing Singer. And, if someone’s faith and morality depend on embracing YEC, I encourage them to stay where they are. The priorities implicit in your question are right.

    But, I don’t see the link between opposition to Singer and opposition to TE as a close one. (Obviously, or I’d cease to think of myself as a TE.) My own sense is (and certainly many would not share it) that a lot of other things have been involved in getting to this point than simply evolution, or even simply naturalism. Just to throw out one fact, the churches’ support for governments and the miliary in wartime, when so many people on both sides are praying for victory to the same God, has probably had a much greater influence on advancing secularism and even atheism than has evolution–even if evolution did make it possible, as Dawkins has famously said, to hold atheism in an “intellectually fulfilled” manner.

  82. But, I don’t see the link between opposition to Singer and opposition to TE as a close one.

    I don’t either and I hope you don’t think that I feel that someone inclined to believe that God used evolution to create biodiversity can’t be a true Christian.

    The point I’m making is that there are those who so zealously believe that one can’t consider (much less accept) ID (much less YEC) and be a credible scientist that they are willing to use methods that can only be considered immoral (slander, economic threats etc.) to drive these people field. Further, I’m saying it is imperative for all persons of good will to confront those who do this to the point where it is recognized that this is not acceptable.

    Of course, it is, and must remain, perfectly acceptable to rebut ID with regard to methods and conclusions.

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