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When does the Programmer install the software?

A thing that evolutionists wrongly consider a serious problem for the creation/ID worldview is the “multiple acts of creation” or – in ID terms – “multiple insertions of information” in time. Here I will argue to show that this is a false problem, or – better said – is a problem that in no way can undermine the creation/ID explanation. This issue is also related to the question when in the cosmos the information is injected by its Designer: is it fully frontloaded from the beginning or is fractionated in time?

My assumption is however that we take for granted that the Designer of the universe is God. I dealt with this issue here.

Moreover I consider sound the so-called “informatics metaphor”, in which, symbolically, God is the Great Programmer, whose “software” is the essence/quality (in a single modern word, information) of the universe and whose “hardware” is the substance/quantity (in a word, matter).

Indeed computer science shows us that we can install a program at time t0 and schedule its execution and get its outputs in the future, at time t1 (even years after). So there is no conceptual problem, from this point of view, that, for example, the software for life be installed already at the Big Bang, but executed billion years after. The same concept helps to understand why different genres of living beings arose in different moments in the history of Earth, according to a scheduled plan.

We could express the same concepts in term of potentiality (see my post here). The cosmos was equipped with a package of potentialities, whose effects didn’t develop all immediately, rather were delayed in time, exactly like a tree develops its trunk, branches, flowers and fruits, from the root, in sequential phases.

But maybe it is the theological perspective what allows us to definitely clear the problem. The question “when does the information is inserted?” in theology becomes “when does God create the world?”. God is boundless and eternal, so time cannot limit Him. The cosmos is not created in time, rather time is created with the cosmos.

Ananda K.Coomaraswamy in “Time and Eternity” writes: «We ask, with Augustine, “what was God doing before creating the world?”. The answer is that, being time and the world associated, created together, the word “before” has no sense in that context. It follows that God creates the world now and always. [...] God always creates the world now, in this very instant. Only for the temporal beings creation appears as a series of events, an evolution. [...] “All days Allâh is in the role of Sublime Creator” (Muhyi-d-dîn ibn `Arabî, Treatise on Unity). [...] “God created the world in such way that, without discontinuity, still continues to create it” (Meister Eckhart, Daz buoch der götlichen troestunge).»

At this point, also the concept of “intervention” of the Designer-God becomes equivocal. When does God “intervene” if in any instant anything exists only because of God? Intervention is a term appropriate only to a limited agent that sometimes is present and causative and sometimes is not present and not causative. It is not appropriate for the omnipresent and omnipotent Agent.

The initial question, “in the cosmos, is information fully frontloaded from the beginning or is fractionated in time?”, becomes undecidable, somehow both alternatives can be true. Given the intelligent design of the cosmos – in its highest metaphysical sense – overarches time, it is fully independent from time.

Some, before the origin of life, ask if matter is “intelligent”. With “intelligence of matter” they mean that matter contains from the beginning the potentiality to develop life. So we are led again to the above questions: did the Programmer install the software of life at the initial time t0 or installed it at time t1? These are sound questions only for the human programmers, not for the Eternal One. We – beings living in, and conditioned by, time – see two temporal instants, t0 and t1. But in the metaphysical reality of the intelligent design of the universe there are not two instants, for the simple fact that time yet doesn’t exist. It comes to mind the Zen kōan “You can hear the sound of two hands that beat; now show me the sound of one hand” (“101 Zen Stories”).

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40 Responses to When does the Programmer install the software?

  1. Hi niwrad,

    Thanks for a very thought-provoking article. You argue that both front-loading and the alternative option of information being “fractionated in time” are real possibilities. I’m curious to know what you think of an article written a few years ago by physicist Robert Sheldon, entitled, The Front-Loading Fiction (July 1, 2009), in which he critiqued the assumptions underlying “front-loading.”

    In the first place, he contends, the clockwork universe of Laplacean determinism (the idea that you can control the outcomes you get, by controlling the laws and the initial conditions) won’t work:

    First quantum mechanics, and then chaos-theory has basically destroyed it, since no amount of precision can control the outcome far in the future. (The exponential nature of the precision required to predetermine the outcome exceeds the information storage of the medium.)

    As far as I know, no-one in the “theistic evolution” camp has addressed this basic point raised by Dr. Sheldon. Even today, one still commonly hears objections to ID like the following: “Wouldn’t it be more elegant of God to design a universe in which the laws of Nature would generate life automatically?” as if that were a genuine possibility.

    In the second place, Dr. Sheldon argues that “Turing-determinism” – the modern notion that God could use an algorithm or program to design all the forms we observe in Nature – fares no better:

    Turing-determinism is incapable of describing biological evolution, for at least three reasons: Turing’s proof of the indeterminancy of feedback; the inability to keep data and code separate as required for Turing-determinancy; and the inexplicable existence of biological fractals within a Turing-determined system.

    Specifically, Dr. Sheldon argues that the only kind of universe that could be pre-programmed to produce specific results without fail and without the need for further input would be a very boring, sterile one, without any kind of feedback, real-world contingency or fractals. However, such a universe would necessarily be devoid of any kind of organic life. Dr. Sheldon proposes that God is indeed a “God of the gaps” – an incessantly active “hands-on” Deity Who continually maintains the universe at every possible scale of time and space, in order that it can support life. Such a role, far from diminishing God, actually enhances His Agency.

    Maybe even God can’t make a predictable universe that can generate life in all its diversity. Perhaps the demand that He do so contains a hidden contradiction – and since God cannot do what is logically contradictory, He can hardly be faulted for not being able to make life via a front-loading process. Like it or not, if we want a universe with life – especially eukaryotic life-forms like us – then perhaps we need a manipulating, “hands-on” Deity.

    From a God’s eye perspective, of course, this “manipulation” would take place outside time.

    Your thoughts?

  2. 2
    CentralScrutinizer

    “From a God’s eye perspective, of course, this “manipulation” would take place outside time.”

    It may be outside of our time, but not necessary outside of all time whatsoever. Like say, how a programmer is outside of the time of a virtual reality he created running within a computer. Of course, the thing that gives any of this stuff *meaning* is consciousness. It’s meaningless to discuss any of this stuff without dragging consciousness into the mix.

    It’s impossible to imagine a reality that is timeless. Because “time” is the result of a dynamic relationship between differentiated objects. How would a “static” God generate, well, dynamism? How does the indifferentiated One produce the differentiation of Many?

    Anyway, just some food for thought.

  3. Hi vjtorley,

    thanks for your thought-provoking comment (and, by the way, for your numerous and terrific contributions to UD!).

    I think that Sheldon is right to criticize a mechanical, reductionist, simplistic “front-loading”. The symbolism of God as the Great Programmer I used doesn’t presuppose such kind of “front-loading”. When I speak of a “package of potentialities” I don’t mean simply mechanical, algorithmic potentialities. These potentialities can well entail organic life and even its highest form, conscious, intelligent life.

    In other words, to symbolically speak of the Great Designer (as IDers do), Great Programmer (as I do here), Great Architect (as masons do), etc. doesn’t at all imply a clockwork universe, a computer universe.

    Indeed the very metaphysical relation between the universe and its Principle is such that the universe cannot be a simple mechanical system, a Paley’s watch. Despite of the universe is infinitesimal compared to God (Who is Infinite), we never should consider it mechanized.

    My aim was indeed to somehow emphasize that time-dependent conceptions of simple front-loading or simple subsequent installations are naive and don’t perfectly describe – singly taken – the qualitative complexity involved in the creation/design of the cosmos.

  4. My aim was indeed to somehow emphasize that time-dependent conceptions of simple front-loading or simple subsequent installations are naive and don’t perfectly describe – singly taken – the qualitative complexity involved in the creation/design of the cosmos.

    What is this “qualitative complexity” that might be “perfectly described”? If it isn’t quantitative, then it can’t be the various versions of CSI, which if nothing else are certainly quantitative measures of complexity.

    Could you explain how an abstraction can be both a qualitative and a perfect measure? I must admit that I find the notion incoherent, so an example might help.

  5. “How would a “static” God generate, well, dynamism? How does the indifferentiated One produce the differentiation of Many?”

    Please remember Aristotle’s “unmoved Motor”. In God there is no evolution. A changing God couldn’t be Infinite. The universe (differentiation, multiplicity) is a lower reality that seems (only to us in the cosmos) to overlap the higher reality of God (indifferentiated, One).

    This metaphysical situation is expressed in the following dictum:
    “Although the rivers flow, Waters remain motionless”

  6. For as the body without the spirit is dead…, so hardware without the software is dead also.

    If Life exists outside of matter, outside of the body, in a pure information state (as spirit/ software), then it could be frontloaded from the beginning with the potential to operate (be inserted) at any time, any moment, any where; if it were triggered to do so by either an internal or external signal, or both. Couldn’t it?

    This would give the “software” the confusing appearance of being both fractionated and/or eternal.

    ???

  7. niwrad:

    You make a good point that multiple insertions of information over time are not necessary.

    However, we should keep in mind that there is no good reason to reject the possibility of multiple insertions of information over time.

    In my experience discussing this issue, the main reason people seem to reject the possibility is due to a religious/philosophical aversion. I don’t have a problem with the idea of multiple insertions of information, so if a materialist evolutionist argued that it is a problem for ID, the first thing I would point out is that the existence of multiple creative events most certainly is not a problem for ID. Then I would make what is really a fallback argument: furthermore, there need not be multiple insertions events.

    The latter is a good and useful point, but it is, by definition, a fallback argument, because it assumes the truth of what the evolutionist is arguing: multiple insertion points are a problem for ID.

    They aren’t.

    So I dispute the evolutionist’s very premise at the outset.

  8. timothya #4
    “What is this “qualitative complexity” that might be “perfectly described”? If it isn’t quantitative, then it can’t be the various versions of CSI, which if nothing else are certainly quantitative measures of complexity. Could you explain how an abstraction can be both a qualitative and a perfect measure? I must admit that I find the notion incoherent, so an example might help.”

    You raise an important point. Both description and quantification cannot in principle be perfectly adequate to their object when this object is true quality/essence. Description and quantification can only provide imperfect expressions and measures of it. This of course holds for CSI too. This doesn’t mean that CSI, or other measure of complexity, is useless.

    Since any minimal part of the cosmos always entails quality/essence and quantity/substance all descriptions and quantifications are always simplification of reality.

    It doesn’t exist such thing as a perfect description or a perfect measure of quality/essence. A really perfect knowledge can be only identification of the knower with the known, of the subject with the object. By the way, this is also Aristotle’s conception of knowledge and Thomist “adaequatio rei et intellectus”.

  9. 9
    CentralScrutinizer

    niwrad: Please remember Aristotle’s “unmoved Motor”

    I’m not too impressed by Ol’ Aristotle’s take on the matter. But I’ll leave it alone for now.

  10. John W Kelly #6
    “If Life exists outside of matter, outside of the body, in a pure information state (as spirit/ software), then it could be frontloaded from the beginning with the potential to operate (be inserted) at any time, any moment, any where; if it were triggered to do so by either an internal or external signal, or both. Couldn’t it? “

    I do not know if I understand well what you wrote, my fault. However it seems to me that what you describe is … surprise! the birth of a living being caused by the sexual intercourse of his parents. This “signal” (that all beings like to send:) somehow triggers a “vertical” top-down causation that puts together software and hardware, spirit and matter – as you say –, to form a new complete living being, a complex mix of essence and substance.

    As I wrote in the article, it makes few sense to ask if this potentiality of generation was frontloaded from the Big-Bang. What is sure is that it necessarily exists from the origin of sexual life on Earth.

  11. I think what Dr. Wells recently wrote may be relevant to the topic:

    Why Does the History of Life Give the Appearance of Evolution? – Jonathan Wells – February 21, 2013
    Excerpt: Fossil evidence suggests that life on earth originated about three and a half billion years ago, starting with prokaryotes (single-celled organisms without nuclei, such as bacteria). Much later came eukaryotes (cells with nuclei), which included algae and single-celled animals (protozoa). Multicellular marine animals appeared long after that. Then came land plants, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, primates, and finally humans. Not only did living things appear in a certain order, but in some cases they also had features intermediate between organisms that preceded them and those that followed them. Kenneth R. Miller challenges critics of Darwinism to explain why we find “one organism after another in places and in sequences… that clearly give the appearance of evolution.”

    The answer is found in various religious traditions, especially Christianity. “Far from denying life’s progression, tradition provides a reason for it,” wrote Huston Smith in 1976. “Earth mirrors heaven. But mirrors, as we have noted, invert. The consequence here is that that which is first in the ontological order appears last in the temporal order.” Smith explained: “In the celestial realm the species are never absent; their essential forms or archetypes reside there from an endless beginning. As earth ripens to receive them, each in its turn drops to the terrestrial plane.” But “first a viable habitat must be devised, hence the inorganic universe is matured to a point where life can be sustained. And when living beings do arrive, they do so in a vaguely ascending order that passes from relatively undifferentiated organisms… to ones that are more complex.” Thus “man, who is first in the order of worth on the terrestrial plane, will be last in the order of his appearance.”
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....69451.html

    The reason why I had/have a hard time figuring out specifically ‘when’ God creates a human soul is because sequential, temporal, time, as we understand it here on earth, loses any point of reference in the higher, eternal, dimensions:

    The ‘Top Down’ Theistic Structure Of The Universe and Of The Human Body
    Excerpt: “The laws of relativity have changed timeless existence from a theological claim to a physical reality. Light, you see, is outside of time, a fact of nature proven in thousands of experiments at hundreds of universities. I don’t pretend to know how tomorrow can exist simultaneously with today and yesterday. But at the speed of light they actually and rigorously do. Time does not pass.”
    Richard Swenson – More Than Meets The Eye, Chpt. 12
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1NhA4hiQnYiyCTiqG5GelcSJjy69e1DT3OHpqlx6rACs/edit

    Psalm 139:16
    You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

    As to ‘frontloading’, I think Dr. Sheldon and Dr Meyer have listed some fairly serious problems with that scenario here:

    The Front-loading Fiction – Dr. Robert Sheldon – 2009
    Excerpt: Historically, the argument for front-loading came from Laplacian determinism based on a Newtonian or mechanical universe–if one could control all the initial conditions, then the outcome was predetermined. First quantum mechanics, and then chaos-theory has basically destroyed it, since no amount of precision can control the outcome far in the future. (The exponential nature of the precision required to predetermine the outcome exceeds the information storage of the medium.),,, Even should God have infinite knowledge of the outcome of such a biological algorithm, the information regarding its outcome cannot be contained within the system itself.
    http://procrustes.blogtownhall.....tion.thtml

    Is Theistic (Front Loaded) Evolution Plausible? – Stephen Meyer – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/5337990

    The following podcast is not as to the point but is still relevant:

    “Limits to Self-Organization (From Initial Conditions)” – podcast
    Excerpt: Dr. Johns shows that Darwinian evolution is actually a type of a self-organizing process, and that it is limited in the types of biological structures it can produce.
    http://intelligentdesign.podom.....9_44-07_00

    barely related note, but referenced as to your comment on ‘front loaded’ sex:

    Sex Is Not About Promoting Genetic Variation, Researchers Argue – (July 7, 2011)
    Excerpt: Biology textbooks maintain that the main function of sex is to promote genetic diversity. But Henry Heng, Ph.D., associate professor in WSU’s Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics, says that’s not the case.,,,
    ,,,the primary function of sex is not about promoting diversity. Rather, it’s about keeping the genome context — an organism’s complete collection of genes arranged by chromosome composition and topology — as unchanged as possible, thereby maintaining a species’ identity. This surprising analysis has been published as a cover article in a recent issue of the journal Evolution.,,,
    For nearly 130 years, traditional perceptions hold that asexual reproduction generates clone-like offspring and sexual reproduction leads to more diverse offspring. “In reality, however, the relationship is quite the opposite,” said Heng.,,,
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....161037.htm

    Music:

    Kari Jobe – Revelation Song – Passion 2013
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3dZMBrGGmeE

  12. A good programmer writes an installation program to install the software.

  13. vjtorley:

    You wrote:

    Specifically, Dr. Sheldon argues that the only kind of universe that could be pre-programmed to produce specific results without fail and without the need for further input would be a very boring, sterile one, without any kind of feedback, real-world contingency or fractals. However, such a universe would necessarily be devoid of any kind of organic life.

    I’ve just finished reading (and re-reading) Dr. Sheldon’s article. It seems to me that he has three arguments for why an “external” influence is needed in the world of biology, and each needed external influence he associates with the “supernatural.” The last argument has to do with fractals, and he sees the biological realm as self-evidently being fractal. This fractal nature requires a “global” constraint. So the only thing I’m suggesting is that the “boring, sterile” world argument is but one of three arguments for a non-Deistic, non TE, view of the history of life.

    As to “front-loading,” he seems more intent on denying the TE’s their argument than in completely eliminating any and all forms of FL.

    Niwrad, OTOH, argues for an ‘on-going’ presence of God in the world. I personally feel as though this is the only sensible understanding of how things exist, and, in particular, how living things exist. If I use Sheldon’s “data and code” metaphor of the computer, the simple question to ask is this: what provides the computer its electricity. IOW, computers can do a lot of things, but not without electricity. This has to be provided.

  14. This issue is one of the problems I have with ID. I certainly believe that God designed the world, but if evolution doesn’t work without God’s intervention, then why do we have to come up with theory saving devices like front loading and such? Maybe we should just dump it.

    How do we know that God used evolution to create the variety of organisms that we see?

    And why would we even want to assume He did, given that the Bible doesn’t seem to really support that idea?

    When ID is explained this way, it starts to sound like a God of the gaps argument.

    I agree that things had to have been designed, but couldn’t they have been designed in the way the Bible seems to indicate – by kinds, which were front-loaded(or created with an information rich genome)for further speciation and adaptation to various environments?

    This would better explain the stasis, gaps, and sudden appearances in the fossil record, would it not?

    We all agree that natural selection helps organisms adapt to their environment, and I think we agree that evolution by totally natural processes cannot produce the needed information for de novo organs, genes, capabilities, etc.

    It does seem like a rather cruel way to create life, so I have trouble just assuming that God did use evolution to create life.

  15. “A good programmer writes an installation program to install the software.”

    Yes, this is how human programmers, conditioned by time, behave.

    Differently, in the Programmer, software design and installation happen in the same instant, the extra-temporal metaphysical instant of the passage from cause to effect. We can refer the “design” phase to the eternal and absolute permanence of those possibilities (included in the software package) in the metaphysical Reality. While we can refer the “installation” phase to the temporary and illusory deployment of those same possibilities in the cosmological manifestation.

    No wonder there are differences. Any symbolism is defective by definition, because it is a lower thing that tries to help us to conceive a higher thing, with which it has some correspondences or analogies.

  16. 16
    englishmaninistanbul

    There’s a response to the ‘an omniscient omnipotent Creator would have created everything at once’ objection that nobody seems to think of: Why couldn’t a Creator have involved previously-created intelligent beings? You could say why, I say why not.

    Most religions accept the existence of angels, intermediaries that God sends to bring messages to mankind. Particularly the Abrahamic religions speak of God using spirit beings and humans all the time to carry out His will instead of Him doing everything himself instantaneously.

    Why not an intermediary or intermediaries in creation? If we admit this possibility, then creation-by-stages becomes a reflection of the limitations of the created intermediaries, not of the Creator himself. An omniscient, omnipotent Creator would of course be able to will everything into existence instantaneously, but if He wants to use previously created beings then He first has to train them in physics, terraforming, biology, neurology and so on.

    Then comes the question, ‘Why use intermediaries?’ Well, why create life at all? Can it be so hard to think that a God who takes pleasure in creating intelligent human life might also take pleasure in involving other intelligent beings in their creation?

    OK, so you’re an atheist and you don’t believe in a word of Scripture, fair enough. All I’m saying is, ‘If God is omniscient and omnipotent then why did we take so long to come along?’ is not checkmate.

    PS: I see hints at this in the Bible concerning Jesus Christ, although I know this point is controversial:

    Colossians 1:15, 16 : The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. … All things have been created through him and for him.

    Proverbs 8:22-30 (ESV): “The Lord possessed me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of old. … When he established the heavens, I was there; when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside him, like a master workman, and I was daily his delight.”

  17. tjguy @14:

    Your issue is not with ID.

    It is with certain people’s interpretation and application of it.

    —–

    Be careful with the “cruel” concern, though. IMHO, with ID we should be trying to determine what the evidence says, not fit it to conform to our notions of fairness, rightness, kindness, etc.

  18. tjguy:

    Be careful: you’re being equivocal in your use of ‘front-loading.’ You might want to review your last entry.

    BTW, what you describe further down in the entry is pretty much my view of things.

  19. Niwrad posted this:

    Both description and quantification cannot in principle be perfectly adequate to their object when this object is true quality/essence.

    So the symbol “0″ is not in principle perfectly adequate to either describe or quantify zeroness? This would surprise kairosfocus, since in a neighbouring thread since he appears to be relying on it.

  20. to answer the question: When you download the 15th patch for version 4.7b.

  21. Collin,

    the Programmer’s software has neither patches, nor releases, nor versions (then it isn’t something that evolves, as human software does). This would be contrary to what Aquinas calls “the perfection of the original production of the beings” (S.T. 91, IV). Additional installations, if any, could be only new software.

  22. 22
    CentralScrutinizer

    niwrad: Differently, in the Programmer, software design and installation happen in the same instant, the extra-temporal metaphysical instant of the passage from cause to effect.

    The thing is, Niwrad, this doesn’t mean anything. It’s merely words spouted without any meaning. What does “extra-temporal instant” mean? I have no idea. Do you? Does anyone?

  23. Niwrad,

    And if the designer is not God?

    And would God (or another designer) add patches to a program that is degrading due to the Fall?

  24. I was hoping for a link to his code repository so that I could contribute. Some of this code is pretty lousy. And where are his unit tests!?

  25. niwrad:

    Sorry, but I’m not going to assume Aquinas is right on this one — or at least your interpretation of Aquinas.

    There is simply no logical reason to think that a designer is somehow prohibited from re-engaging with his design at a later stage. There is nothing to prevent a designer from adjusting, fixing, changing, modifying, renewing, redoing, or even scrapping things over time.

    Intelligent design as a scientific enterprise doesn’t identify the designer, but even if we were to assume the designer is God, the idea that he can’t subsequently intervene is based on subjective and questionable notions about the “perfection” of creation.

    Let us be assured that if a being is capable of creating the unbelievably sophisticated and skillful creations we see in nature, he is most certainly capable of intervening at any point in time he darn well pleases. And he probably doesn’t give a hoot whether we think he should only act once and then stay out of the picture. Furthermore, such thinking is consistent with an impersonal deism, not with the loving, interested, and fully engaged God of the scriptures.

    The idea that a designer must design perfectly at the outset and then avoid further intervention isn’t good logic. And it isn’t good religious doctrine or good philosophy either.

  26. There is simply no logical reason to think that a designer is somehow prohibited from re-engaging with his design at a later stage.

    Good designers revisit their designs and modify them.

  27. CentralScrutinizer #22
    “What does “extra-temporal instant” mean?”

    To speak of “instant” outside time is metaphorical (helps to give an idea to us humans living in time). Causation must be extra-temporal (to consider it temporal means to deny metaphysics tout court). As a consequence the passage from cause to effect must be instantaneous (without time).

    Collin #23
    “And if the designer is not God?”

    I argued that the Designer is God here.

    Collin #23
    “And would God [...] add patches to a program that is degrading due to the Fall?”

    No. Degradation (Fall) is an (unavoidably) characteristic of any cosmos project. God knewn that in advance.

    Eric Anderson #25
    “There is simply no logical reason to think that a designer is somehow prohibited from re-engaging with his design at a later stage.”

    This is true for generic designers. A God who errs and patches is metaphysically unthinkable.

    Mung #26
    “Good designers revisit their designs and modify them.”

    Yes, “good” designers do. But the “Perfect” Designer does not. Again, to deny the metaphysical Perfection is to deny metaphysics. My entire article is based on metaphysics. Brothers, if we deny metaphysics we can delete the article and go home.

  28. Niwrad posted this:

    No. Degradation (Fall) is an (unavoidably) characteristic of any cosmos project. God knewn that in advance.

    Are you saying that your Perfect Designer is a god?

  29. timothya,

    not “a god”, rather “the unique God, the One”.
    The symbolic metaphorical equation “Designer = God” is my postulate. It is important to understand that this equation doesn’t imply an anthropomorphic conception of God. There is nothing more anti-metaphysical than anthropomorphism. Anthropomorphism is one of the major causes of countless misunderstandings about God as First Cause, as Designer, His effects, how they come from the First Cause, the defects of these effects/designs, the problem of evil, disteleology, why the cosmos appears so and not otherwise, etc.

    When we speak of Perfection, Infinite, Absolute, Eternity, Reality, Total Possibility (all with the uppercase), etc. necessarily we must assume a point of view beyond anthropomorphism. Otherwise countless problems that exist only because pertain to the relative are somehow attributed to the Absolute. And this is not correct.

  30. niwrad @27:

    I apologize beforehand if this seems a bit harsh, but I think things are going off the rails a bit and I need to speak up.

    Eric Anderson #25
    “There is simply no logical reason to think that a designer is somehow prohibited from re-engaging with his design at a later stage.”

    This is true for generic designers. A God who errs and patches is metaphysically unthinkable.

    I dunno, it is pretty easy for me to think of it metaphysically. :)

    Furthermore, since ID does not identify the designer, any metaphysical assumptions are irrelevant to the science of design detection and are not germane to intelligent design. Worse, they muddy the water. But I’m glad that you acknowledge they are metaphysical assumptions.

    Additionally, you are getting hung up on this idea of perfection. Even if one adopts the assumption that a God can’t err, there are reasons why a creation may not be “perfect,” and I’m not just talking about the Fall, although that is an obvious one.

    Do you imagine that the process of creating all the living things on this planet happened in an instant, at one singular moment when every living thing suddenly burst into existence? If not, then there was a process over time. A creator is certainly free to adjust, modify, update, rework, and repurpose his creations over time to meet changing needs, respond to new conditions, express a new creativity, etc.

    There is absolutely no rational reason to claim that a designer must design perfectly, in an instant, and then leave the creation alone (without any change, adjustment or modification) forever after.

    This isn’t even a close call. I repeat: Such an idea rests on bad logic, bad religious doctrine, and bad philosophy.

    You are welcome to your own metaphysical assumptions — as unsupported as they may be, but please don’t try to drag intelligent design into that worldview. It is a disservice to intelligent design.

    I think you started off with some good thoughts, but the metaphysics are swamping the rest of the issues and making your position no more supportable than the metaphysical evolutionist position you are trying to counter.

  31. Eric Anderson #30,

    Since ID does not identify the designer, any metaphysical assumptions are irrelevant to the science of dsign detection and are not germane to intelligent design. Worse, they muddy the water.

    About “muddying the water”. If one reads the category list of this blog one finds 106 topics besides “intelligent design” (among them, philosophy, religion, spirituality). ID doesn’t float alone in the air but is necessarily frame-worked in a larger scenario, exactly as all other things, science included (also if the supporters of scientism don’t like it).
    Moreover, when an IDer is engaged in debates with evolutionists and ID deniers it is very likely they ask him questions that transcend the mere ID theory. If the IDer is unprepared usually they use this as a pretest to vilify ID theory. Yes, it is tactics, but it works. Therefore, I am glad that this blog gives us good opportunities of training ourselves on a large range of topics.

    Additionally, you are getting hung up on this idea of perfection. Even if one adopts the assumption that a God can’t err, there are reasons why a creation may not be “perfect,”

    I didn’t say that creation is perfect. I said that the Principle is Perfection. It is different.

    Do you imagine that the process of creating all the living things on this planet happened in an instant, at one singular moment when every living thing suddenly burst into existence? If not, then there was a process over time. A creator is certainly free to adjust, modify, update, rework, and repurpose his creations over time to meet changing needs, respond to new conditions, express a new creativity, etc.
    There is absolutely no rational reason to claim that a designer must design perfectly, in an instant, and then leave the creation alone (without any change, adjustment or modification) forever after. This isn’t even a close call. I repeat: Such an idea rests on bad logic, bad religious doctrine, and bad philosophy.

    I said that causation transcends time. I assume the point of view of causation. You assume the point of view of an anthropomorphic creator. I don’t say that “a designer must design perfectly, in an instant, and then leave the creation alone”. I say that the First Cause causes perfectly overarching time. Moreover I say the First Cause doesn’t leave “the creation alone”, for the simple fact that the universe is its effect, and an effect is eminently *inside* its cause. If it is *inside* it cannot be *alone*. Eventually, indeed because ID theory allows us to detect design in nature, we can *metaphorically* speak of the First Cause of nature as a “Designer”. But this metaphor must not be anthropomorphized.

    You are welcome to your own metaphysical assumptions — as unsupported as they may be, but please don’t try to drag intelligent design into that worldview. It is a disservice to intelligent design.

    It is far from me the intention to muddy the water or to do a disservice to intelligent design. I don’t think that an IDer who has read my post has become an ID denier because of it.

    In general, I think that our disagreement depends basically on the fact that yours is a religious perspective, while mine is a metaphysical perspective. Metaphysics and religion are two different things.

    Anyway, I am sure the points on which we agree are much more numerous than those we disagree on.:)

  32. niwrad:

    In general, I think that our disagreement depends basically on the fact that yours is a religious perspective, while mine is a metaphysical perspective. Metaphysics and religion are two different things.

    Mine is most certainly not a religious perspective. I’m trying to keep religion out of it. Religion and metaphysics have greatly messed up the biological sciences by becoming intertwined with, and indeed the basis for much of, evolutionary theory.

    I say that the First Cause causes perfectly overarching time. Moreover I say the First Cause doesn’t leave “the creation alone”, for the simple fact that the universe is its effect, and an effect is eminently *inside* its cause. If it is *inside* it cannot be *alone*. Eventually, indeed because ID theory allows us to detect design in nature, we can *metaphorically* speak of the First Cause of nature as a “Designer”.

    And as a result, you argue that the designer can’t err, that the designer can’t “fix” something with the creation later on, both of which are invalid assumptions, for the reasons I have pointed out. Either your metaphysics are wrong or your conclusions flowing from them are wrong.

    I prefer to deal with real physical organisms existing on a real physical planet, than discussing vague notions of everything existing “inside” of a First Cause and so on, which still doesn’t tell us anything about how they came about. Such metaphysical notions just don’t seem to help me understand anything useful on a practical level about biology or the origin of life.

    Anyway, I am sure the points on which we agree are much more numerous than those we disagree on.:)

    Well said, and a good point. Cheers.

  33. Eric Anderson #32,
    “I prefer to deal with real physical organisms existing on a real physical planet, than discussing vague notions of everything existing “inside” of a First Cause.”

    Nevertheless you jumped in a discussion about the Programmer. Why? Anyway you did well because consider this devil advocate scenario:

    We IDers go to the evolutionists and say:
    “Ehi boys, these things in nature are designed”.

    The evolutionists: “Oh well, but where there is a design there is a designer. Who is your designer? And how does he act?”

    IDers: “We don’t know.”

    Evos: “Ah, then you know far less than us, because we have a cause, chance and necessity, and we know a lot about it and the ways it works”.

    IDers: “Cause doesn’t matter for us. The designer can be whatever.”

    Evos: “Do you remember Aristotle? He said “to know is to know causes” [evos are good philosophers], then you know nothing and, as a consequence, your ID arguments about the effects are weak compared to ours”.

    IDers: no answer.

    Personally I don’t like to remain without answers, especially before evos. For this reason it is likely I will continue to deal with causes, also by writing other articles here. Something tells me that others are interested too, given my post received 640 visits and 18 comments (in addition to yours 5) far now.

  34. That is what IDvolution posits – What is IDvolution?
    IDvolution – God “breathed” the super language of DNA into the “kinds” in the creative act.

    This accounts for the diversity of life we see. The core makeup shared by all living things have the necessary complex information built in that facilitates rapid and responsive adaptation of features and variation while being able to preserve the “kind” that they began as. Life has been created with the creativity built in ready to respond to triggering events.
    Since it has been demonstrated that all living organisms on Earth have the same core, it is virtually certain that living organisms have been thought of AT ONCE by the One and the same Creator endowed with the super language we know as DNA that switched on the formation of the various kinds, the cattle, the swimming creatures, the flying creatures, etc.. in a pristine harmonious state and superb adaptability and responsiveness to their environment for the purpose of populating the earth that became subject to the ravages of corruption by the sin of one man (deleterious mutations).

    St Augustine may have been onto something when he wrote about “prime matter”.

  35. niwrad,

    I am grateful for your posts. I am of above average intelligence but sometimes find metaphysical discussions challenging. However, I have found this OP to be helpful in clarifying my own conception of God.

    Bearing in mind the risk in analogies, I have often thought of God in the role of a playwright/director and existence corresponds to the performance. The play itself is timeless. All of the play is fixed by the script. The play is unfolded in time as a performance. Nothing occurs in the performance that was not already determined to occur when the performance commenced. The script of the play is unchanged by the final curtain as well.

    Much of the confusion in discussions about the performance comes from failure to see the playwright’s perspective and take it into account. As the performance unfolds, the source of conflict may be seen as an error that is later corrected by the conflict resolution. This the way the audience experiences the performance. From the playwright/director’s perspective though, the conflict was an essential ingredient of the drama. It would have been a mistake for the conflict to have been left out of the script. The “evil” in the performance is justified (or not) by the entire performance’s affect on the audience. A “good “playwright is not prohibited from writing “evil” into the script as long as it is essential to the performance. He is justified if it serves his ends.

    Critics evaluate the performance, as a whole, on how it affects the audience. Did it entertain the emotions? Did it engage the intellect? Did it leave the audience enriched? Did the playwright succeed in his goal?

    Just my thoughts.

    Again. Thanks,
    Stephen

  36. sterusjon #35,

    thanks for your insightful comment. Comments like yours grant me that whatever least thing we do with the unique intention to defend the Great Designer is never entirely useless after all.

  37. niwrad,

    You’re welcome. I appreciate your acknowledgment.

    I restrained myself in my elaboration of the analogy. I thought of making more direct application to my “heretical” Christian beliefs. Decided not to, though, so as not to wade into a thicket.

    Better to serve little food for thought than to deliver so much that I might have to perform a Heimlech maneuver.

    Stephen

  38. sterusjon @35:

    Much of the confusion in discussions about the performance comes from failure to see the playwright’s perspective and take it into account. As the performance unfolds, the source of conflict may be seen as an error that is later corrected by the conflict resolution. This the way the audience experiences the performance. From the playwright/director’s perspective though, the conflict was an essential ingredient of the drama. It would have been a mistake for the conflict to have been left out of the script. The “evil” in the performance is justified (or not) by the entire performance’s affect on the audience. A “good “playwright is not prohibited from writing “evil” into the script as long as it is essential to the performance.

    Well said.

  39. niwrad @33:

    Nevertheless you jumped in a discussion about the Programmer.

    Oh, I don’t mind discussing the programmer if necessary, but primarily to point out when people are bringing in their own metaphysics. The opening of this thread posited the following alleged problem with ID:

    A thing that evolutionists wrongly consider a serious problem for the creation/ID worldview is the “multiple acts of creation” or – in ID terms – “multiple insertions of information” in time.

    The evolutionists want it to be a discussion about the programmer because they are typically often driven very much by metaphysics and have their own deeply-held beliefs.

    You are quite right that it is possible to respond with one’s own deeply held metaphysical beliefs and then we can have a metaphysics battle to see whose metaphysics are better.

    I’m just pointing out that it is better, in my opinion, to forcefully point out that the evolutionist’s metaphysics are junk. In other words, I don’t have to spend a lot of energy responding to a question with my own metaphysical claims the evolutionist is just going to reject anyway, when the initial question itself is nonsense.

    If someone asked me to justify my belief in why the sky is green instead of blue, I wouldn’t dig deep into my reservoir of metaphysical positions, special pleadings, and philosophies about first causes. I would simply tell him his question is nonsense, he doesn’t know what he is talking about, and furthermore I never said the sky was green.

    Then if he is an honest enough chap to acknowledge his misstatement and sincerely wants to know why I think the sky is blue, we can have a rational discussion about it.

    —–

    In summary, the “multiple insertions of information” is not a problem for ID, not because we’ve got better metaphysics than the evolutionist and can explain away the problem, but because it is not a problem on its face in the first place, just based on simple logic and what we understand about design processes.

    The metaphysics can therefore be an interesting discussion in its own right, but we don’t need it to respond to the (non) problem posed, and it is really secondary to the real substantive issue.

  40. When does the software uninstall the programmer?

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