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In Cambridge, Professor Steve Fuller discusses why intelligent design is not more popular among scientists and others

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48 Responses to In Cambridge, Professor Steve Fuller discusses why intelligent design is not more popular among scientists and others

  1. Well worth watching. Thanks for posting.

  2. Well worth watching, agreed.

    A couple of comments, with thanks to News for posting this (but where is Meyer’s presentation from the same event? [Perhaps she agrees that Fuller is a much more engaging speaker than Meyer, with which I would wholeheartedly agree from having heard them both in person]):

    1) Steve Fuller is the most intelligent and cogent thinker in the intelligent design movement today [though whether he is 'in' the IDM is a separate question]. After such a presentation as this, that should really be beyond doubt, even for the anti-humanists at UD;

    2) I don’t understand how someone could listen to this presentation and still think that the ‘intelligent design/Intelligent Design’ hypothesis is *only* about ‘natural science.’ Isn’t that a completely unintelligent position to hold? The primary meaning of Big-ID is as a science, philosophy, theology conversation…period.

    3) Let the man speak for himself: “Theology is one of the ways to motivate the doing of science.” “The science does matter to me in the sense of reinforcing a theological perspective.” “there has to be a very tight connection between human intelligence and that other kind of intelligence” “the ultimate level is where the design hypothesis continues to have bite in terms of motivating science” “my interest in the design hypothesis is at the macro-level and I do think that if we don’t have that macro-sense of an overall design, it will be quite easy to reduce all the smaller levels of design to naturalistic processes.” “something could have been designed in the whole in terms of the larger unity yet not appear very designed in particular parts.” “If you have this very rational theology where God’s hand is everywhere in the world and everything happens for a reason…at the end you have to end up justifying very horrible things as part of the divine hand.” “If you bring in the concept of God in the Abrahamic sense…intellectually you are forced down this route” “This is one reason why this design argument – religious people have been reluctant to embrace it.” “I don’t think you can be a theistic evolutionist in the sense I’ve described if you think very hard about the issue because if ID refers to divine agency then you have to think about what that means for God to be acting in the world” “There is a point at which one has to think about what the theological implications are of taking on board the ID hypothesis in a robust way in which it becomes part of a general research program.” “The world’s intelligibility is something that enables science to succeed in the long term.” “The idea that the world is intelligible makes sense.” “Nature is in some sense mind-like…Nature has been designed in such a way that it’s tractable to our minds.” “The Abrahamic religions have a certain advantage…created in the image and likeness of God.” “The relationship between theology and science…the kind of science that Steve Meyer’s defending…and there’s hovering in the background; he doesn’t say it explicitly, but I’ll say it explicitly, is that there’s some notion of divine agency…It has a very particular theological provenance.” “if you’re going to have this tight integration of science and theology you have to square it with the theology” “If intelligent design just stays at the level of pattern recognition…design detection…that’s not a science, that’s like the first step of a science, that’s the data gathering part of the science…I do think it’s important that the idea of intelligence get put on the table and that there be a clear definition of it.” “Then there’s the nature of the agent that’s instantiating this intelligence.” “intelligent design does kind of require, if we’re going to take this intelligence argument further into the question of divine agency, that there be univocal predication, iow, intelligence in God and intelligence in us is using intelligence in the same way, but there’s a difference of degree” [I take responsibility for all errors in transcription – Gr.]

    4) Do lay ID advocates at UD recognize/acknowledge the power and resonance of the following statement by Stephen C. Meyer in response to Steve Fuller’s presentation and, if so, how will they react to it?:
    “I think that it should be part of the ID movement, it is at least in principle possible that empirical data…could adjudicate these different models of theodicy.” – Steve Meyer

    “boy oh boy is that going to send some people to the hills!” – Steve Fuller

    Imo, yes, it will and does so because it contradicts some crucial features of what (capitalised/upper case) ‘Intelligent Design’ means as Big-ID leaders have envisioned it thus far. This is a theory we are discussing, after all, not some capital-T Truth that cannot possibly be contradicted or improved upon.

    Big-ID as a conditional theory is not and cannot any longer be seen as simply a ‘natural science-only’ matter, contrary to what a considerable segment of the ‘Big-ID tent’ would like people to believe. If you disagree, please check back with 2) to offer an alternative answer that will enlighten us if you so have one.

  3. A very thought-provoking presentation, thanks News for posting it.

    Gregory @2:

    2) I don’t understand how someone could listen to this presentation and still think that the ‘intelligent design/Intelligent Design’ hypothesis is *only* about ‘natural science.’ Isn’t that a completely unintelligent position to hold? The primary meaning of Big-ID is as a science, philosophy, theology conversation…period.

    The way I see it, ID has arisen because the materialists’ Blind Watchmaker approach to the natural sciences, which in its basic premise discounts intelligent agency to zero, has failed so miserably at explaining the observed phenomena of the natural world.

    But establishing the fact of a watch that requires a maker — although elements of the watch may represent grounds for some broad inferences about its maker (like “good at working with very small screws”) — in and of itself resolves few specifics about him or her. Like gender for instance. Or whether he or she drives a Ford or a Chevy, or likes Raisin Bran or Captain Crunch. Or whether the “he” or the “she” is actually a “them,” as pagan cultures believed.

    ID may imply in broad terms that certain tenants of preexisting theologies, about the nature of man and theodicy for instance (as discussed in the video), and indeed God’s existence, are consistent with impartially observed phenomena in the natural world. Like the Big Bang theory is consistent with Genesis’s “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” But will ID in and of itself ever be able to speak authoritatively that, indeed, Newton’s Arianism, as opposed to orthodox Trinitarianism, was heretical? I doubt it.

  4. Finally had the chance to view this. Very good discussion including some interesting points on the history and philosophy of science.

  5. Only one mention of Kant though.

  6. “It’s one thing to believe that the universe is designed; it’s another thing to turn it into a scientific research program.” – Steve Fuller

    This was said right at the beginning, before I started the transcription shown above.

    Re: #3, yet another example among so many that cannot be counted of how a Big-ID ‘proponent’ (not sure if jstanley01 is a ‘proponent’ of Big-ID, though it appears so) simply does not address direct statements or questions when it seems inconvenient to do so. In this case, #3′s “The way I see it…” offers no clear answer to what kind of discourse, i.e. whether ‘natural science only’ or ‘more than just natural science’ Big-ID aims to be.

    jstanley01 doesn’t seem to recognise why Fuller said: “boy oh boy is that going to send some people to the hills!”

    Do other people who watched/listened to Meyer’s reaction to Fuller’s presentation understand why Fuller said this?

    “The primary meaning of Big-ID is as a science, philosophy, theology conversation…period.”

    As a try at interpretation, jstanley01 seems to say…Big-ID is not ‘theology’ b/c it doesn’t deal with heresy?

    But since Stephen C. Meyer (Whitworth College) is saying theodicy “should be part of the ID movement,” doesn’t that imply theology *IS* of interest, at least to the current Director of the Centre for Science and Culture and co-founder of the DI?

    Are UD people asking us to carefully distinguish Theistic Intelligent Design (TID) from Naturalistic Intelligent Design (NID)? Or are they denying that qualifiers carry any important meaning at all (e.g. ‘theistic naturalism’ vs. ‘atheistic naturalism’) on this topic?

  7. At 17: 34 minute mark:
    Dr. Steve Fuller:
    “So you think of physics in search of a “Grand Unified Theory of Everything”, Why should we even think there is such a thing? Why should we think there is some ultimate level of resolution? Right? It is part, it is a consequence of believing in some kind of design. Right? And there is some sense in which that however mulrifarious and diverse the phenomena of nature are, they are ultimately unified by the minimal set of laws and principles possible. In so far as science continues to operate with that assumption, there is a presupposition of design that is motivating the scientific process. Because it would be perfectly easy,, to stop the pursuit of science at much lower levels. You know understand a certain range of phenomena in a way that is appropiate to deal with that phenomena and just stop there and not go any deeper or any farther.”,,, You see, there is sense in which there is design at the ultimate level, the ultimate teleology you might say, which provides the ultimate closure,,”

    As to that ‘ultimate teleology’:

    The Center Of The Universe Is Life – General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, Entropy and The Shroud Of Turin – video
    http://vimeo.com/34084462

    Colossians 1:15-20
    The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

    While I agree with a criticism, from a Christian, that was leveled against the preceding General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, Shroud of Turin video,,, the criticism that God needed no help from the universe in the resurrection event of Christ, I am, none-the-less, very happy to see that what is considered the number one problem of Physicists and Mathematicians in physics today, of a unification into a ‘theory of everything’ for what is in essence the finite materialistic world of General Relativity and the infinite Theistic world of Quantum Mechanics, does in fact seem to find a very credible and successful resolution for ‘unification’ within the resurrection event of Jesus Christ Himself. It seems almost overwhelmingly apparent to me from the ‘scientific evidence’ we now have that Christ literally ripped a hole in the finite entropic space-time of this universe to reunite infinite God with finite man. That modern science would even offer such a almost tangible glimpse into the mechanics of what happened in the tomb of Christ should be a source of great wonder and comfort for the Christian heart.

    John 14:19
    Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.

    A shortened form of the overall pattern of evidence is here:

    Centrality of Each Individual Observer In The Universe and Christ’s Very Credible Reconciliation Of General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/17SDgYPHPcrl1XX39EXhaQzk7M0zmANKdYIetpZ-WB5Y/edit?hl=en_US

    As a footnote; Godel, who proved you cannot have a purely mathematical ‘Theory of Everything’, without allowing God to bring completeness to that ‘Theory of Everything’, also had this to say:

    The God of the Mathematicians – Goldman
    Excerpt: As Gödel told Hao Wang, “Einstein’s religion [was] more abstract, like Spinoza and Indian philosophy. Spinoza’s god is less than a person; mine is more than a person; because God can play the role of a person.” – Kurt Gödel – (Gödel is considered one of the greatest logicians who ever existed)
    http://www.firstthings.com/art.....ematicians

    Music and verse:

    “In Christ Alone” / scenes from “The Passion of the Christ” – music
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UDPKdylIxVM

    1 Corinthians 15:55
    “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

  8. But since Stephen C. Meyer (Whitworth College) is saying theodicy “should be part of the ID movement,” doesn’t that imply theology *IS* of interest, at least to the current Director of the Centre for Science and Culture and co-founder of the DI?

    Are UD people asking us to carefully distinguish Theistic Intelligent Design (TID) from Naturalistic Intelligent Design (NID)? Or are they denying that qualifiers carry any important meaning at all (e.g. ‘theistic naturalism’ vs. ‘atheistic naturalism’) on this topic?

    IMHO one of the problems with the current ID movement is how it defines intelligent design. Intelligent design is argued to be a biological theory that replaces Darwinian theory; at the same time, it is stated that intelligent design is a theory about the cosmos as a whole. And we have William Dembski saying things like “Intelligent design is just the Logos theology of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory.” So what exactly is intelligent design? Is it a biological concept or is it more related to cosmology? Does it have nothing to do with theology or is it intimately associated with theology?

    This is one of the major reasons why I have not attempted to become part of the ID movement and have instead focused on being an “independent” ID proponent. The ID movement has a problem: it has various definitions of intelligent design (implied or otherwise), and some of those definitions suggest that the ID movement is to a large extent interested in theology, not in science.

    If the ID movement truly wishes to advance itself to a significant degree, then it must (a) divorce itself from any theology at all (that means that we shouldn’t see so many UD posts on theism/atheism), (b) define ID as solely a biological concept, not a cosmological one. This will pave the way for testing ID in a rigorous manner.

  9. Gregory @6:

    Re: #3, yet another example among so many that cannot be counted of how a Big-ID ‘proponent’ (not sure if jstanley01 is a ‘proponent’ of Big-ID, though it appears so) simply does not address direct statements or questions when it seems inconvenient to do so. In this case, #3?s “The way I see it…” offers no clear answer to what kind of discourse, i.e. whether ‘natural science only’ or ‘more than just natural science’ Big-ID aims to be.

    As far as science goes, I am definitely a layman — an interested onlooker — for whom fancying myself as a “proponent” of anything would mean little to anyone of scientific standing for good reason.

    Maybe I’m thinking along the lines of my post @3, not to avoid inconvenience, but because I don’t understand the issues that Dr. Fuller and Dr. Meyers raise on the video in the same light that Gregory does — and perhaps the way they do — as yet.

    I am open, however, to a discussion that leads to my better education.

    jstanley01 doesn’t seem to recognise why Fuller said: “boy oh boy is that going to send some people to the hills!”

    I thought he meant it in the same fashion as the effect the Big Bang theory had, when evidence for it from background radiation appeared. Which had a lot of people “heading for the hills,” in no small measure because of its consistency with Genesis. Among whom there were scientists that, because of their non-scientific theological pre-commitments, had been glad to see that book buried and gone by way of the facts of science.

    I could be jumping to a conclusion, though. No doubt about it.

    “The primary meaning of Big-ID is as a science, philosophy, theology conversation…period.”

    As a try at interpretation, jstanley01 seems to say…Big-ID is not ‘theology’ b/c it doesn’t deal with heresy?

    Thinking in terms of “Big ID” immediately makes me think in terms of “Big Darwinism.” Which, I think it is safe to say, views itself as a scientific enterprise that has theological and philosophical implications. As ID undermines Darwinism’s scientific foundations on scientific grounds, how “Big ID” ought to view itself differently is the point that I’m not getting I guess.

    The philosophical and theological implications of a design inference that turns out to be required by the facts uncovered by a science that does not discount intelligent agency to zero are vast to be sure. Just as the implications of materialism were and are vast. Which is why orthodox science is fighting ID tooth and claw.

    But leaving aside questions of heresy, it seems to me that even discussions of theodicy, which ID may bear upon in general terms, only exist in the first instance because of a theological pre-commitment to a good God. If the same scientific evidence is consistent with a theological pre-commitment that the universe is the product of an Urge and Demiuge, I don’t see how ID can settle the choice, no matter how many well-spent “conversations” on the subject its discoveries may foment.

    My thinking may be colored by my pre-commitment, however, to the idea that Christianity represents a revelation from God to man concerning His character, power, and deliverance. Not deductions that can be unequivocally adduced from any set of scientifically-derived facts, no matter how consisitent Christianity may be with them. IOW, “My sheep hear my voice,” not the voice of any other, including science of any stripe.

  10. You beat me to it, bornagain. Although in a rather more erudite conspectus.

    I was simply going to say, that, given the ‘event horizon’ evidenced on the Shroud, which no-one appears to have seen fit to dispute, and all the claims of divine omnipotence of Judaeo-Christianity, recapitulated in its occurrence, it’s QED for the truth of Christianity.

  11. Genomicus, thanks for your frank appraisal in #8 of ‘the current ID movement’ and why you do not wish to be part of it (even though you nevertheless endorse your own version of [Big-]ID). I suspect there are quite a few others like you, however, most do not choose to publically (e.g. on a blog like yours) speak the borrowed language of ID, while trying to distance them-self from the political Movement. Mike Gene comes to mind, though he seems to have distanced himself from the supposed ‘scientificity’ of Big-ID altogether. To Mike Gene, ‘Design’ is not a natural scientific conclusion, while otoh you appear open to defending such a view.

    “IMHO one of the problems with the current ID movement is how it defines intelligent design.”

    Actually, I’d say that’s one of its relative strengths, i.e. ambiguity in the meaning of ‘intelligent design/Intelligent Design.’ This enables IDists to speak one way about ‘ID’ on Sunday and another way on Monday-Saturday; one way in a religious context and another way in a natural scientific one. “Separation of Church and State” is after all one of the primary identifiers of what ‘United States of America’ means, through 226 years, and this serves to reveal much of the background logic behind the very-American IDM (i.e. Foundation for Thought and Ethics, Thaxton, Johnson, Meyer, Pajaro Dunes, Chapman, Gilder, ARN, DI, ISCID, IDnet, IDEA, etc.). Indeed, there are quite obviously ulterior educational aspirations for ID that belie the regular ‘science-only’ claims.

    “So what exactly is intelligent design? Is it a biological concept or is it more related to cosmology? Does it have nothing to do with theology or is it intimately associated with theology?”

    Good questions! Unfortunately, I don’t think you’ll receive clear answers to them here at UD, which represents the spectrum of views of ID. One person says one thing, while another says something different and even contradictory. And then many IDM-ID proponents wonder aloud why their chosen ‘concept-duo’ is not more widely accepted by natural scientists or even by most lay religious folks due to its ambiguity.

    Some people here think ID is related not only to biology or to cosmology, but also to engineering and anthropology, even economics and linguistics! In my decade-long experience, most IDists are not careful or clear enough in their inter-disciplinarity to distinguish whether ID ‘belongs’ in theology or not. For some proponents, ID is a GUT, or ‘the Bridge’ between science and theology!

    This is why I’ve repeated here time and again that: “The primary meaning of Big-ID is as a science, philosophy, theology conversation…period.” It shouldn’t be such a hard pill to swallow. Yet notice, Genomicus, how easily this statement is avoided, not faced, left unconfronted?

    It is painfully true that for scientistic reasons – i.e. depending for its legitimacy on natural scientificity – many IDists simply don’t want Big-ID to hold meaning in any other sphere than natural sciences. This is where their position is exposed as absurd and unnecessary. New language is needed, which is what I’ve been promoting for several months here. Eric Anderson seemed open to this, but was inverted on his priority to recognise how ‘universal design,’ and ‘design theory’ as understood by MOST PEOPLE is the ‘real design theory’ and that Big-ID is attempting to contort the language onto the much narrower topic of OoL, OoBI and human origins; onto a reductionistic view of ‘design’ that actually denies agency its proper due.

    Is the ‘financial cliff’ an example of ‘intelligent design/Intelligent Design’? Is eugenics an example of ‘intelligent design/Intelligent Design’? For the religiously musical, is ‘sin’ an example of ‘intelligent design/Intelligent Design’? What are the limits of ‘intelligent design/Intelligent Design’? The only answer to this from the current strain of ID, which you are openly questioning, Genomicus, is silence.

    Fuller, otoh, is speaking openly and widely about ID and theodicy and has reaped fruit at Cambridge in the now public, shocking and controversial (potentially game-changing!) statement that Meyer made supporting him.

    Repeat: “I think that it should be part of the ID movement, it is at least in principle possible that empirical data…could adjudicate these different models of theodicy.” – Steve Meyer

    It is likely that IDists at UD will not address this statement about ID and theodicy by one of the leaders of the IDM, if not its most articulate and active public proponent.

    As much as I agree with your concerns about ambiguity in definitions of ID, Genomicus, I don’t agree with your conclusions (a) or (b) in #8. In fact, this is what Fuller is speaking most directly against. You seem (if thegenome’stale is an indication) to be advocating ‘biologism,’ while Fuller is steadfastly protecting humanity against it. He is instead suggesting that the IDM should openly embrace the theological dimension of the conversation, rather than tucking tail and running from it (cf. TE from the other side of the coin). The invocation of imago Dei and theodicy is enough either to invoke some IDists to escape to or to come down from the hills!

    Fuller is not speaking of ID as *only* a biological concept, please understand this. Nature is ‘divine technology’ according to Fuller’s definition of ID. Yet he goes much farther than any one of the IDM’s leaders by looking carefully at the ethical and futuristic implications of ID as an ideology that takes teleology seriously. He says ‘thinking God’s thoughts after God’ means “Bio-technology as a completion of God’s plans.” He is considering the way Humanity 2.0 is being engineered in our lifetime!

    If you take that seriously, then you will see why he used the term ‘scary’ in the Cambridge presentation. Otherwise, hearing that word probably made little sense to listeners.

    “at the end there’s this overall design in which it all makes sense…the strongest, but also scariest level at which intelligent design should be pitched and that’s where the problem of theodicy becomes very important because then you have to justify evil in a way you don’t if you’re just looking at design at much more restricted levels.” – Fuller

    As it turns out, talk of biology is a mere distraction to the more important conversation of ‘ID’ which involves human beings who are created in the image and likeness of God. Here we have the ‘karmic’ vs. ‘anthropic’ distinction – the “coming world-historic struggle in science and religion” – from Fuller’s 2006 book NSI. The most important conversation involving ‘ID’ (Big vs. small) is therefore actually to be had in politics, in economics, in anthropology and sociology..and in artificial intelligence and cognitive studies. Lower-level disciplines such as biology, geology, chemistry and cosmology are less significant than the potential for elevation that results from human beings realising their/our [pseudo-]divine characteristics…and acting upon them to change the world.

    As I see you are perhaps a genomicist, Genomicus, perhaps this will be a difficult conclusion for you to accept or acknowledge. The ‘higher’ fields of complexity involve human relations, not mere materiality or physicality. It is more than just our biology that is at stake in this conversation; it is how we understand and interact with each other as people globally – even if not as A. Comte imagined with his ‘religion of humanity’ – that is most important here. I hope something of that was conveyed in Fuller’s talk at Cambridge about ‘small-id/Big-ID’.

  12. This is an excellent talk and discussion. I can see now that Dr. Fuller is far more at home in face to face conversation and speaking than in writing. I had some difficulties understanding him here before.

    There is no question that the questions he is raising are interesting ones. There is no question that theology motivates science. I have seen this my entire life and realized it was a live issue while reading Kuhn. However there is a defining line between empirical science, that is raw observation, and how we explain it, that is theoretical “science.” It’s important not to lose the distinction, because empirical science is valuable precisely because it provides a common ground that virtually everyone short of brain-in-a-vat skeptics, Buddhists and Christian Scientists can occupy. It literally does not matter what you think about God or design or theodicy in order to understand Newton’s three laws. Most scientific concepts can be discussed without reference to theological topics. I would argue as Fuller does that in a macro sense scientific laws, the cohesiveness and intelligibility of nature don’t make any sense without a Creator, but that belief is not required to understand an inverse square law and test it against physical reality.

    This is the modern definition of science. It is not the renaissance definition, but it is the modern one and it’s what people mean when they use the word. The ID people that Meyer represents believe that design can be established in exactly that way without reference to theological musings. They (we) believe it can be a methodology that inhabits the same common ground that all science, such as Newton’s laws, inhabit. Dembski’s and Marks’ law of conservation of information would not have been pursued if they thought it was some sort of theological notion.

    Believing that theologians might be interested in various scientific findings for purposes of theodicy doesn’t exactly cut against that point of view. Theologians can be interested in science for all sorts of reasons, and historically they have been. I think Fuller and Gregory overestimate the impact of Meyer’s comment. I think in the end there’s a misunderstanding about the difference between people and ideas. Obviously we are all theologians to some extent and are interested in the great philosophical questions. The issue ID people are after is not theological, despite the always obvious fact that most of us are interested in the topic for theological reasons.

  13. Hi Gregory,

    I’ll respond to your points by quoting you and then offering my thoughts.

    Genomicus, thanks for your frank appraisal in #8 of ‘the current ID movement’ and why you do not wish to be part of it (even though you nevertheless endorse your own version of [Big-]ID). I suspect there are quite a few others like you, however, most do not choose to publically (e.g. on a blog like yours) speak the borrowed language of ID, while trying to distance them-self from the political Movement. Mike Gene comes to mind, though he seems to have distanced himself from the supposed ‘scientificity’ of Big-ID altogether. To Mike Gene, ‘Design’ is not a natural scientific conclusion, while otoh you appear open to defending such a view.

    I’m not quite sure what you mean by “Big-ID” and “small-D,” although this probably sums it up:

    ““By ‘small id’ I meant any argument that infers design (not necessarily God, just design, though of course God could be the designer) from the facts of nature, whether it was written 2500 years ago or today. By ‘big ID’ I meant the formal organization of people sympathetic with such arguments into bodies such as the Discovery Institute and Uncommon Descent and more generally with prominent people such as Behe, Dembski, Wells, Meyer, Nelson. All ‘big ID’ people accept ‘small id’ arguments, but not all ‘small id’ sympathizers want anything to do with ‘big ID’ institutional activities.”

    If anything, I’d say that I belong to the “small id” school of thought. Having said that, IMHO design is not a natural conclusion. It is too early to conclude anything; more data needs to come in before we can definitely conclude design. But various clues in the biotic world lend weight to the design inference, and make it reasonable to develop a design hypothesis in biology.

    Actually, I’d say that’s one of its relative strengths, i.e. ambiguity in the meaning of ‘intelligent design/Intelligent Design.’ This enables IDists to speak one way about ‘ID’ on Sunday and another way on Monday-Saturday; one way in a religious context and another way in a natural scientific one.

    I wouldn’t call that a strength, though. It’s a weakness because its ambiguity means that it cannot be rigorously tested as biological hypothesis.

    It is likely that IDists at UD will not address this statement about ID and theodicy by one of the leaders of the IDM, if not its most articulate and active public proponent.

    And that’s where a problem with the ID movement comes in. I would say that intelligent design – that is, biological intelligent design as a potential scientific hypothesis, has precious little to do with theology. It is the ID movement that wishes to incorporate theology into ID.

    As much as I agree with your concerns about ambiguity in definitions of ID, Genomicus, I don’t agree with your conclusions (a) or (b) in #8. In fact, this is what Fuller is speaking most directly against. You seem (if thegenome’stale is an indication) to be advocating ‘biologism,’ while Fuller is steadfastly protecting humanity against it. He is instead suggesting that the IDM should openly embrace the theological dimension of the conversation, rather than tucking tail and running from it (cf. TE from the other side of the coin).

    But that assumes that intelligent design has a theological dimension more pronounced than, say, the theory of relativity. Of course, it all depends how you define ID. If we take ID to be a hypothesis about the origin of certain biological features, then gods and deities have practically nothing to do with it. Naturally, every scientific hypothesis has its philosophical implications; but there is no real reason why intelligent design should have theological implications any more than gravity does.

    As it turns out, talk of biology is a mere distraction to the more important conversation of ‘ID’ which involves human beings who are created in the image and likeness of God.

    Is that really an important conversation, though? To the religious, it probably is, but not all of us are religious. In other words, if “talk of biology is a mere distraction to the more important conversation of ‘ID’ which involves human beings who are created in the image and likeness of God,” is really more important, then we better have some good evidence that human beings really are created in the image and likeness of a deity.

    In summary, if there were to be a “new intelligent design,” its focus should be on biology, and biology only (unless someone wants to propose an altogether separate teleological concept for cosmology). At its core, then, would be the search for signatures of engineering within life, and this of course would have interesting applications for astrobiology and quite a few other biological disciplines.

    Thoughts?

  14. What is all the fuss about? Dr. Fuller says that ID can do a better job of thinking big. Presumably, some genius should come along with a new paradigm that integrates the scientific method with a unifying macro-analysis of converging scientific explanations that reach all the way to God. Well, great. By all means. Let’s inspire every young person with the age-old motivation of thinking God’s thoughts after him. Meanwhile, all that is left is for someone to do the requisite heavy lifting the Fuller dreams about. It’s those little details that no one wants to be bothered with.

    It reminds me of the children’s story concerning a group of house mice who couldn’t get through a day without having to worry about a predatory cat. Finally, one of the mice had a bright idea: “Hey, all we need to do is tie a bell around the cat’s neck. Each time he comes near, we will hear the bell ring, anticipate the danger in time, and escape with no difficulty.” The mice cheered at the brilliance of this plan and grew confident at the prospect of a higher quality of life–until one of them asked the critical question. “Who is going to bell the cat?” Everyone turned to the originator of the idea, but he felt that he had already done his part and suggested that someone else should apply the idea. There were no takers. Immediately, a dark cloud dominated the atmosphere and everyone ran away sad.

    The point should be evident. It’s a great idea Dr. Fuller. Who is going to bell the cat.

  15. I forgot to mention that I was disappointed that human free will never made an entrance into the discussion as probably the cleanest theodicy available. There were other places where it could have made an entrance as well, such as when someone asked what intelligence was.

  16. @ #13 Genomicus,
    Regarding Big-ID and small-id, you can see my position here: Big-ID and small-id.

    The quote you reference is half-right (as usual for Timaeus), but doesn’t acknowledge the criticism of many detractors from ID theory, who correctly identify the explicit desire for natural scientificity among IDM leaders. If ID theory is not ‘natural-science-only’ they feel like they are in a can’t-win conversation. This unrelenting desire for natural scientificity (and consequently the rejection that ID is *properly* not just a natural science-only topic, but is also inevitably intertwined with philosophy and theology/worldview) is part of the definition of Big-ID.

    If you belong to the small-id school of thought, then we are on the same page. But the small-id school also has two meanings, 1) every Abrahamic religious believer accepts the reality of small-id – the world was Created by a Creator and we are the Creator’s creatures, and 2) the proper domain for the language of ‘intelligent design’ is in regard to artefacts made by the designers that we know, i.e. human beings.

    What seems confusing in your position, Genomicus, and I write this down to your profession (or just personal interest) in biology, is that you insist on what you call ‘biological intelligent design.’ Here you are combining Big-ID and small-id by attempting to take ‘design’ out of its proper context and involving it into a category error. You probably don’t agree that biological ID is a category error, likewise with other IDists, but that doesn’t change the fact that biological ID distorts the normal meaning of design from ‘designers who we know’ to ‘designers we don’t know.’ I tried to get Eric Anderson to see this here, but he wavered between ‘narrow’ (“very limited inquiry”) and ‘broad’ (“all intelligent agents”) for what he means by Big-ID.

    Fuller goes beyond this dichotomy by explaining that what is hidden (purposely kept quiet, or see more below) in Big-ID logic is that we can only claim to see ‘design in nature’ because/if we are created in the image and likeness of God, just as is the rest of Nature. Take away this background assumption and Big-ID collapses, at least on the ‘natural science-only’ side, to say nothing of the political-institutional component. Big-ID IDists at UD have been reluctant to admit this.

    “I would say that intelligent design – that is, biological intelligent design as a potential scientific hypothesis, has precious little to do with theology.” – Genomicus

    The problem is not that it has nothing to do with theology, but that it has precious little to do with reality. It aims to put the legitimating stamp of ‘natural science’ on an extra-scientific question. Yet the reflexivity of the ‘design inference’ is entirely kept out of Big-ID logic. Why?

    “Is that really an important conversation, though? To the religious, it probably is, but not all of us are religious.” – Genomicus

    Everybody believes in something, Genomicus. Switch ‘worldview’ for ‘theology’ then in your case. So yes, it is really an important conversation, it defines the way you and I and everyone else reading this lives and perceives the world (including nature, society, culture, politics, etc.) and whatever may be beyond or transcending it. Aren’t you playing to the anti-miracle or anti-spirituality vein of things, as with Big-ID’s new atheist and anti-theistic opponents, Genomicus?

    Asking for “some good evidence that human beings really are created in the image and likeness of a deity” is similarly distortive language; it is scientistic-sounding, as if we could ‘test’ an extra-scientific topic on scientific grounds. That is, unless you allow for non-scientific ‘evidence’ or ‘testimony,’ which would then serve to throw the ‘natural-science-only’ Big-ID/biological ID argument out the window. The notion of ‘biology only’ is just as incomprehensive in looking for ‘evidence’ of a human soul or human spirit as ‘intelligent design’ as ‘natural-science-only’ is for studying origins of life. Neither can achieve what they are trying to do due because of their insistence on making category errors.

    Regarding a ‘new intelligent design’ – did you get this from reading my blog or excerpts from my book, where I have used the term ‘neo-id’? Otherwise, please share what ‘new intelligent design’ you are referring to.

  17. The ‘fuss’ is about what Stephen Meyer said in response to Steve Fuller’s presentation at Cambridge, specifically wrt ‘theodicy.’

    Fuller is not saying “ID can do a better job of thinking big.” He is simply thinking bigger than what anyone in the IDM is doing. He is offering a pathway forward beyond the narrow vision of pseudo-naturalistic Big-ID, i.e. Big-ID that is a ‘natural-science-only’ theory. By invoking the imago Dei and theodicy, natural theology, etc. Fuller’s vision of ID is actually far more realistic than Big-ID’s. It acknowledges that human beings are reflexive creatures and thus appeals to the average person on the street instead of mainly the evangelical protestant who used to be (or may even still be) a youth earth creationist.

    “Let’s inspire every young person with the age-old motivation of thinking God’s thoughts after him. Meanwhile, all that is left is for someone to do the requisite heavy lifting th[at] Fuller dreams about. It’s those little details that no one wants to be bothered with.” – StephenB

    Here’s a key message that StephenB seems to be missing: The ‘requisite heavy lifting’ is *not* in ‘natural-science-only.’ Big-ID is (or claims to be) a ‘natural-science-only’ theory. The ‘little details’ (data collection in natural-physical sciences) must be interwoven with the ‘big picture’ (philosophy and theology/worldview of science). Will StephenB step back from insisting on Big-ID as a ‘natural-science-only’ theory and work together with Fuller to interweave a science, philosophy, theology/worldview meaning of ID? This is usually where StephenB avoids the conversation.

    Meyer’s response to Fuller shows that Meyer (at least unconsciously) recognises the limitations of Big-ID as a ‘natural-science-only’ theory. He knows that most people aren’t buying it as pseudo-naturalism and that ID theory has not succeeded in showing ‘positive’ natural scientific proof of ‘design in nature.’ But Meyer is not as far down the road as Fuller in acknowledging the consequences of ID as a science, philosophy, theology/worldview conversation that also figures in the future of humanity and how we get there.

    Meyer is stuck looking in the past with his ‘historical science;’ Fuller’s (more than just ontology) view is about making meaningful history.

    “I think that it should be part of the ID movement, it is at least in principle possible that empirical data…could adjudicate these different models of theodicy.” – Meyer
    How do you interpret Meyer’s words here, folks? So far, little interpretation has been offered (thanks to jstanley01 for the attempt in #09). If empirical data could adjudicate different models of theodicy, then couldn’t different models of theodicy likewise adjudicate empirical data? Doesn’t Meyer’s ‘confession’ show how one-sided a ‘natural-science-only’ view of ID actually is?

    TM’s concern with distinguishing ‘theoretical’ from ‘empirical’ is noteworthy. Again, however, wrt ‘theodicy’ there is something extra-empirical involved from the start; i.e. the meaning of the first four letters in the term. If that is supposed to have ‘absolutely nothing’ to do with ‘intelligent design,’ then apparently it is news to Meyer.

    “I would argue as Fuller does that in a macro sense scientific laws, the cohesiveness and intelligibility of nature don’t make any sense without a Creator, but that belief is not required to understand an inverse square law and test it against physical reality.” – TM

    Yes, it’s a fair argument. But Fuller is not hiding behind the assumption that the ‘Designer’ is not the Abrahamic God – he openly acknowledges this as part of ID theory as theory. This shows that Fuller is open to exploring ID as a science, philosophy, theology/worldview conversation, not just as a natural-science-only theory. Again, this is the main sticking point that for whatever reasons (most likely, Church/State separation and school board court cases in USA education) seems so hard for leading IDists to understand and concede as reality. That is why ‘following the evidence’ of Meyer’s comment where it leads is so provocative. He’s not saying theology has nothing to do with ID; he thinks they are connected.

    “Obviously we are all theologians to some extent and are interested in the great philosophical questions.” – TM

    It looks as if our friend Genomicus is saying otherwise. He or She just wants to do biological science and leave the theologians and philosophers COMPLETELY excluded from the conversation. If not, then how can they be included, more integrally than Gould’s NOMA principle? Here is where Fuller’s comments on Catholic thinkers’ (Thomist) rejection of Big-ID are helpful and insightful.

    “most of us are interested in the topic for theological reasons.” – TM

    Thank you for directly admitting that. It is enough to show that the divisive ‘natural-science-only’ view of ID that some people at UD hold is a fantasy.

    Maybe it sounds strange to a few of you, but my interest in small-id and Big-ID is as a science, philosophy, theology/worldview conversation. Would more people at UD be interested in that conversation, if it meant giving up the Big-ID illusion that ID is a ‘natural-science-only’ topic? So far, courage of this conviction has not been forthcoming, which stops people from entering the arena of the future that Fuller is speaking to, instead of just clapping and cheering about the hypothetical ‘scientific’ past.

  18. As someone who is interested in communication, I try to make things as simple as possible without oversimplifying. Sometimes, though, it seems that even with the use of nouns, verbs, metaphors, and anecdotes, the point remains unabsorbed. So, I will try again. When I ask the question, “Who is going to bell the cat,” the pronoun ‘who’ refers to a person and ‘bell’ refers to the intellectual initiative that is being asked for.

    Let’s take the *bell* first. At the most primitive level, we will briefly consider only three out of hundreds of elements necessary to achieve the integration of concepts that Dr. Fuller is asking for. [A] How does one study the micro marvels of cosmology and the macro marvels biology in one single method? Will it involve the use of something like a “microtelescope?” [B] How does one coordinate the qualitative methods of theology and philosophy with the quantitative methods of science and mathematics? Does he conceive of some king of triangulation method? [C] What is to become of the ID paradigms currently in use? Are the methods used to detect the presence of design to be converted into methods for studying the mechanism of design?

    Notice, by the way, that I, who have no idea in the world how such a marriage could be achieved, have begun to define the problem and provide three substantive ideas (microtelescope, triangulation, paradigmatic abandonment) while Dr. Fuller and Gregory, who carry on as if they do know how such a marriage could be achieved, have provided no substantive ideas at all. Shouldn’t the people who insist on a new “what” also offer something in the way of a “how?” At present, all I am getting from Dr. Fuller and Gregory is this: “Just do it.” Well, forgive me, but I must ask again: “Do specifically what?”

    Now let’s consider the “who.” A scientific paradigm (or to pay tribute to Dr. Fuller) a theological/scientific paradigm, does not just fall out of the sky. Typically, a paradigm serves the purpose of unifying a number of elements that appeared not to be related until some genius apprehended and described that relationship. What, for example, is the relationship between function and information? William Dembski has a few ideas about that. Or again, what is the relationship between an organism’s unity and the process by which it came to be? Michael Behe has a few ideas on that one. If these problems had not been considered, no such thing as “specified complexity” or “irreducible complexisty” would have ever found their way into public discourse. Somebody has to work out the details. Anyone can say, “Hey, guess what, somebody ought to make Intelligent Design a science. They may catch hell for trying it, but they ought to do it.”

    Speaking of the *who* and the task of developing this ever-elusive *theological/scientific paradigm, one man has already achieved a measure of success. His name is Hugh Ross, and, yes, he is a genius. Like Steve Fuller and Gregory, he is dissatisfied with ID’s phenomenological approach. Because he is a trailblazer, his paradigm is both original and well defined. He has integrated astrophysics with Biblical Theology, and, in this observers opinion, strives to coordinate each with the other without doing violence to either.

    Perhaps his approach would appeal to Steve and Greg since it is right up their alley. All the pieces are there: God is Creator (get that Steve), man is made in his image (get that Gregory), and all the pieces are being measured (science looms large). Surely, this accomplishment can, at the very least, start the conversation about how ID can become all that Steve and Greg want it to be. Surely, if Steve and Greg are going to set ID’s future destination, and surely if someone has already trailblazed the very same territory they want ID to enter, they would have studied his approach thoroughly so that they can add or delete those elements that are congenial with their vision.

    So, I will devote my last paragraph to recount everything that Dr. Fuller and Gregory have written by way of analysis of Ross’ synthesis.

    …………………………………………………..

    …………………………………………………..

    …………………………………………………..
    Well, that didn’t take too long. Could it be that Steve and Greg might be just a little, how can I put this delicately, premature in their analysis?

  19. hilarious, chuckle chuckle

  20. Gregory:

    You define “Big-ID” as:

    Big-ID…refers to Discovery Institute as heart of a Movement as well as the view that ‘design/Design’ can be (and even has been!) proven by natural scientific methods, which is promoted by the intelligent design/Intelligent Design movement (or community). Here one has to use both not-capitalized and capitalized forms of id/ID because the IDM or Big-ID community uses both variants whenever they believe it suits them.

    And “small id” is defined as:

    …the term ‘small-id’ refers to the idea that “God-did-it,” but that we don’t know exactly how and ‘science-alone’ cannot prove it one way or another. This is accepted by a vast majority of TEers and ECers. Indeed, it is the basic Muslim, Christian, Jewish and Baha’i view of the Creation of the Universe.

    You can decide which school of thought I fall into; I can only describe my position. I am in no way associated with the Discovery Institute, and I strongly disagree with much of the overall movement. Nevertheless, I do think that intelligent design in nature can be potentially demonstrated by scientific methods. Many examples of this could be cited. The whole SETI endeavor is focused on detecting intelligent design in the cosmos, even though we would have no knowledge of the designers. It has been hypothesized in the scientific literature that certain viral protein sequences were engineered by an advanced society (see, e.g, Yokoo and Oshima, 1979). If I understand your position correctly, it seems as if you argue that non-human intelligent design in nature cannot, in principle, be detected through science. For example, you state:

    ‘Human extension’ offers an alternative to ‘evolution’ and ‘creationism’ in human-social science (HSS). It overcomes the ideology of ’evolutionism’ by rejecting the use of ‘evolutionary theory’ in HSS paradigms. It confronts the ideology of ‘naturalistic intelligent design,’ the notion that ‘design’ that is supposedly ‘intelligent’ can be ‘scientifically’ detected or discovered ‘in nature.’

    However, I see no reason why, in principle, intelligent design in nature could not be detected through the efforts of science. We would go about it like any other scientific discipline: after making certain observations, the hypothesis of design would be entertained, and it would then be tested. If the tests are what we would predict from the hypothesis, then the best explanation for the data is that the hypothesis is correct.

    What seems confusing in your position, Genomicus, and I write this down to your profession (or just personal interest) in biology, is that you insist on what you call ‘biological intelligent design.’ Here you are combining Big-ID and small-id by attempting to take ‘design’ out of its proper context and involving it into a category error. You probably don’t agree that biological ID is a category error, likewise with other IDists, but that doesn’t change the fact that biological ID distorts the normal meaning of design from ‘designers who we know’ to ‘designers we don’t know.’

    I’m pretty sure I’m not taking “design” out of its proper context, and you might want to elaborate on why you think I’m getting involved with a category error. The normal meaning of design is not about “designers we know.” In normal usage, design means the execution of a plan, or a goal. And that’s where my interest in biological intelligent design comes in: when we look to biological systems, can we find the signatures of a planned, engineered origin? There’s no need to get involved in semantic debates when it’s all very simple.

    The problem is not that it has nothing to do with theology, but that it has precious little to do with reality. It aims to put the legitimating stamp of ‘natural science’ on an extra-scientific question.

    The thesis that “it has precious little to do with reality” is dependent on whether or not it is an extra-scientific question. See my discussion above on hypothesis testing for my answer to that.

    Asking for “some good evidence that human beings really are created in the image and likeness of a deity” is similarly distortive language; it is scientistic-sounding, as if we could ‘test’ an extra-scientific topic on scientific grounds.

    No, we cannot test the existence of deity through science. But since, in my view, intelligent design should be a scientific endeavor, there’s really no good reason to bring the whole “human beings are created in the image of god” concept to the ID table.

    Regarding a ‘new intelligent design’ – did you get this from reading my blog or excerpts from my book, where I have used the term ‘neo-id’? Otherwise, please share what ‘new intelligent design’ you are referring to.

    That phrase came to my mind independently. By a new intelligent design, I mean an intelligent design hypothesis that is entirely focused on the detection of engineering in biological systems, and not focused on (a) putting ID into the education curriculum, (b) disproving evolution, (c) advancing religious apologetics. Such a new intelligent design would be like any other scientific field of study. Indeed, if one looks at the early ID literature, one will find that the main thrust of their ideas are in the realm of biology. For the most part,intelligent design originated as an attempt to detect design in biology; as far as I can tell, you’re just trying to change the definition and focus of intelligent design.

    “Obviously we are all theologians to some extent and are interested in the great philosophical questions.” – TM

    It looks as if our friend Genomicus is saying otherwise. He or She just wants to do biological science and leave the theologians and philosophers COMPLETELY excluded from the conversation. If not, then how can they be included, more integrally than Gould’s NOMA principle? Here is where Fuller’s comments on Catholic thinkers’ (Thomist) rejection of Big-ID are helpful and insightful.

    I wouldn’t say that I want to leave theologians completely excluded from the conversation – they are free to discuss ID all they want, just like they’re welcome to discuss the germ theory all day long. But theology should not become a part of biological intelligent design as a scientific hypothesis. I am in agreement with the NOMA view; religion and science occupy different domains and there’s no reason why we should attempt to overlap theology with intelligent design.

  21. References

    Yokoo, H., Oshima, T., 1979. Is bacteriophage ?X174 DNA a message from an extraterrestrial intelligence? Icarus, 38(1): 148-153.

  22. Good points, Genomicus.

    As you say, the distinction between “designers we know” and “designers we don’t know” — a distinction beloved of the TEs, among others — is irrelevant. Whether we know who a designer is or not, we can tell designed from non-designed things. ID is based on that premise.

    Similarly, no ID proponent has tried to prove, using design detection methods, that human beings are created in the image of God. In raising that idea, Gregory appears to be arguing against a non-existent hypothesis. Your response is thus appropriate.

    On your final paragraph, I agree with you that we can distinguish scientific from theological questions, but I don’t think Gould’s NOMA principle is the best way of formulating that distinctiveness. The problem with Gould’s NOMA principle is that the boundaries are set up in such a way as to guarantee certain results from the outset.

    For example, physical origins of the universe, “how” questions, are by NOMA advocates assigned entirely to “science,” and all that theology has left to talk about is “why” God created the universe. But of course, traditional theological claims about origins involve an active role for God even on the “how” side, not just on the “why” side.

    Thus, if it happens to be the case that purely natural causes, unaided by intelligence, are unable to account for the origin of some things, science will botch the job if it tries to explain them, because science can only adduce unintelligent natural causes. So any division that says: “physical origins belong to exclusively to science” will prejudice the outcome. The very question on the table is whether unguided physical causes can explain certain outcomes, and therefore the NOMA division is not neutral, but tilts the playing field.

    In response to this, you could argue that the NOMA division would be neutral if science were broadened to include intelligent causation; I would agree. But the people who formulated NOMA and who use it in argument (Gould, the atheists, and the TEs) don’t accept any role for intelligent causes in natural science. So given the “establishment” definition of science, NOMA prejudices the outcomes.

  23. Fuller is not hiding behind the assumption that the ‘Designer’ is not the Abrahamic God – he openly acknowledges this as part of ID theory as theory…He’s not saying theology has nothing to do with ID; he thinks they are connected.

    I’m not hiding it either. I’m a YEC. I don’t think it’s fair to accuse ID of hiding that. The Jews and Christians among us don’t hide it. We just think empirical science is an objective basis for common ground with people who don’t accept an Abrahamic God, and we don’t exclude them from the ability to do science well.

    My problem is that I’ve known too many Asians doing science just fine without much connection to an Abrahamic religion. In other words, my reticence is driven by empirical evidence. I know empirically that a commitment to the Abrahamic God is not a prerequisite to do science and to do it pretty freaking well. Reason is a universal human trait, and the physical world is a universally accessible sandbox.

    I could possibly accept the idea that maybe Abrahamic religion drives scientific innovation by motivating the search for unified theories. Because we believe in a single Creator, we believe that nature must be a unified whole. Because we believe in the imago dei, we believe we can understand that unification. And the existence of actual unified theories is evidence for the Abrahamic type of God. But, I mean, ID theorists and creationists have been arguing that for decades. It’s one of the things that attracted me to ID. I don’t think Fuller is onto anything especially novel here. It’s possible that yin and yang, moral relativism and naturalism contain no motivating impulse towards unified theories. But I think they are able to understand and work within such paradigms without any self contradictions.

    “most of us are interested in the topic for theological reasons.” – TM

    Thank you for directly admitting that.

    Well, I’m a YEC so I already have a synthesis of science and theology. For me theology is queen of the sciences. The Bible is a closed, infallible divine revelation. Science is an open, fallible human pursuit. Therefore YECs are okay with science being a trial and error process that is occasionally in error with respect to the infallible standard.

    Does that count towards your purpose? lol. You may not like it, but I think it’s an effective synthesis. It’s one of the things that kept me a YEC past childhood.

  24. Well, I guess this thread is bound for diversion, as Timaeus has entered the fray. The thread is meant to discuss Steve Fuller’s thoughts about ‘design/Design,’ not for Timaeus to insert a tired old trope that studies of (detecting) ‘design/Design’ have nothing necessarily to do with ‘designers/Designers.’ Nevertheless, I do agree with Timaeus’ rejection of Genomicus’ support for NOMA, which tells much about why Genomicus is promoting natural scientism with ‘biological intelligent design,’ while offering no positive view of ‘designing’ or a ‘designer/Designer,’ which he/she has not yet said he actually believes in (other than astrobiology).

    Genomicus says: “I see no reason why, in principle, intelligent design in nature could not be detected through the efforts of science. We would go about it like any other scientific discipline”

    As Fuller reminds people all the time, the first two questions in the field of science (and technology) studies are: which science? and whose science? It does not appear that Genomicus is versed on the many achievements in science studies, since he/she seems to conflate ‘natural sciences’ with ‘all sciences.’ That’s what the ideology of ‘naturalism’ is about.

    “The normal meaning of design is not about ‘designers we know.’ In normal usage, design means the execution of a plan, or a goal.” – Genomicus

    Really?! Care to back up that claim with some scientific survey work? Go out on the street and ask people what they think of when they hear the term ‘design.’ Simple question. No contextual framing. Just ask them. You’ll change your mind and realise that ‘design’ *is* actually linked in the vast majority of peoples’ minds with ‘designers we know.’

    Graphic design, clothing design, architectural design, etc. I rather suspect you’ve let biologism ideologically cloud your judgment, Genomicus, from reading your view of ‘normal usage,’ which is to be expected because biologists don’t very often study/survey people as part of their work. That’s just the reality of the div. of labour in the academy; most biologists do not study/survey human beings. So why should we take their word for any value on what constitutes ‘normal usage’?

    Here is what Timaeus said in this thread: “Human beings derive their experience of design from human/social contexts, before thinking about applying the notion of design to biology.”

    That’s a significant concession, folks!

    “There’s no need to get involved in semantic debates when it’s all very simple.” – Genomicus

    The ‘it’s just a semantic debate’ trope is the very same curtain the great OZ of Big-ID wrt claims of natural-science-only/natural scientificity hides behind. Sorry to tell you that I’ve seen behind this curtain and so has Fuller. This doesn’t work for those of us who’ve seen the IDM on the inside.

    “By a new intelligent design, I mean an intelligent design hypothesis that is entirely focused on the detection of engineering in biological systems.” – Genomicus

    No, that’s old intelligent design (of the modern = late 20th century, early 21st variety, steered and controlled by the DI, home of the IDM). There’s nothing ‘new’ about that. It’s idealistic the way you frame it, but not new.

    Another way to say it is that ‘intelligent causes/Intelligent Causes’ may be thought to supervene on natural sciences, but they are not part of the generally agreed toolkit of natural sciences, agreed to by people of various religions or none.

    Timaeus’ statement should thus be corrected to read: “Whether we know who a designer is or not, we can CLAIM designed from non-designed things,” even if we cannot PROVE ‘design/Design’ with natural scientific methods. Claim away, Timaeus, with a backward religious historian’s view and nothing forward-looking that comes anywhere near to the scholarship of Fuller’s work on ‘intelligent design.’ The most productive viewpoint offered here is Fuller’s in “Why some people like the idea of design in nature – and others don’t,” at the “Design in Nature?” event at Cambridge. Let us respectfully concentrate on that. Others (@1, 3, 4 & 12) have also applauded the presentation by Fuller on ID.

    A few months ago on UD, Timaeus wrote in regard to Fuller: “I could even agree with Fuller if his position were simply that all versions of design arguments imply a kinship between man and God.” Since he didn’t answer again, shall we ask again what ‘even’ means? It doesn’t sound from this that Timaeus is actually against admitting religious beliefs are involved in ‘design arguments ‘. But to hear Stephen Meyer admit this publically in response to this presentation by Fuller that we can now see/hear on video, does give at least me pause to re-evaluate the particular arguments of those who insist on the ‘natural-science-alone’ or ‘natural scientificity’ feature of Big-ID.

    I’d like to remind folks here of thread title posted by Jon Garvey, who attended this event: Jon’s headline: “Fuller calls for ID to embrace theology – Steve Meyer agrees.” What I see in the video confirms what Jon saw in Cambridge. Who would wish to differ here?

    Does anyone think or have evidence that Meyer is actually flushing this out in his work, since it would seem to compromise the ‘scientific neutrality’ myth that lies at the heart of Big-ID? I’d like to hear how Meyer plans to study that “empirical data…could adjudicate these different models of theodicy” as part of ID.

    (cont’d)

  25. (cont’d)

    I’d like to return to something jstanley01 wrote, which is relevant to the Fuller-Meyer exchange, which is one feature I find quite interesting from the posted video: “it seems to me that even discussions of theodicy, which ID may bear upon in general terms, only exist in the first instance because of a theological pre-commitment to a good God.”

    Yes, that is what Fuller means too. But Big-ID people, for what are generally called ‘scientistic’ reasons, continue to want to keep that view separate from their theory. Iow, they want no reflexivity, but only positivism or empiricism (natural scientific verification via statistics and ‘specificationism’) for ID, where the ‘designer/Designers’ dogmatically simply cannot be discussed. This is what distinguishes Big-ID from neo-id, the latter which looks at actual testable ‘designing processes’ and active ‘designers’ (small-d) and not just the ontological metaphysics of belief in a transcendent Designer.

    Fuller shows clearly and poignantly how refusing to speak about the designer/Designer is far from the best strategy for ID and tells how ID leaders can/should come clean with the reflexivity that ID theorising inescapably involves in its appeal to ‘design’ as analogy with human-made artefacts, e.g. mousetraps, Easter Island, Rushmore, etc. This ‘higher power’ argument was what Meyer was responding to in Cambridge. His words there really are quite astonishing!

    “the issue should not be whether ID is primarily science or religion, but whether it passes scientific muster as an openly religious viewpoint with scientific aspirations” – Fuller

    Indeed, it seems that everyone understands this crystal clear by now, except for a few die-hards in the IDM who would deny it unto death for ideological purposes. Openly is the key here, instead of closed, secret, hidden or concealed. It just doesn’t seem to be worth fighting the reality that Big-ID is best understood as a science, philosophy, theology/worldview discourse and not as a ‘natural-science-only’ theory.

    Connecting this message with a previous recent thread, Keith Ward is another example of a religious person, in this case a Christian, who accepts limited biological evolution (we needn’t call him a TE), yet who Timaeus doesn’t openly address for personal political reasons (cf. propaganda). Ward wrote an interesting review of one of Steve Fuller’s books here: http://www.timeshighereducatio.....ode=402929

    When Ward says “The evolution of human life, and its intelligent design by God, are not in conflict,” obviously he means small-id and not Big-ID. Again, this distinction is very important to the theme of Fuller’s presentation: “Why some people like the idea of design in nature – and others don’t.” That a few marginal IDists at UD outspokenly reject Fuller’s ‘Why’ explanation does not seem to take away from its cogency for others.

    Likewise, Ward carefully distinguishes what Timaeus and a select few others seem unwilling to admit: “it is important to distinguish the American ‘intelligent design’ school from the general Christian belief that the universe, and the evolutionary process as a whole, are indeed designed by a supreme intelligence.”

    This is yet another affirmation by a Christian scholar that small-id and Big-ID are fundamentally different, something that Timaeus also has partially expressed here at UD. Unfortunately, sometimes (not surprisingly) he conveniently forgets this as he weaves a rhetorical web for any perceived opponents to Timaeusian-ID, which at the end of the day actually differs significantly from IDM leaders’ views of Big-ID. But who really cares, right, if one is trying to become a voice for a Movement?

    As I said above, Fuller is a significant authority who defines ID, mostly in the positive and with the encouragement of academic freedom for ID. He knew he was speaking in front of a Big-ID(or at least small-id)-friendly audience. This should be clearly understood and accepted at UD. I will even add again that I think he is more articulate (tamer than intelligent) and cogent than anyone currently in the IDM. Meyer takes his work and ideas about ID seriously; perhaps so should you.

    Don’t forget, Meyer also openly and unabashedly commended Fuller in his response in the video and expressed interest to follow-up with Fuller, since they hadn’t had the chance to speak directly in intervening weeks. And least anyone here forgets; Fuller is also a graduate of History and Philosophy of Science at Cambridge University, just as is Meyer. Fuller did a master degree and went on to his PhD in the same topic at UPitt. The main difference is that Fuller’s area of focus was not ‘origins of life,’ as was Meyer’s. Indeed, I look forward to when Meyer’s presentation at Cambridge is posted in order to compare them, given what I said about them as speakers above.

  26. Here are the links that didn’t come through in #24:
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ophy-news/

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-428249

    p.s. TM, thanks for your message. No, I don’t mind it. I reject YEC for obvious reasons, but I’m not going to call you stupid or hopeless. You’re not hiding it, but many others are. If we could do a survey of how many IDists are hiding it, my guess is you might be surprised. The ID youth I met in Seattle were predominantly (95%) non-YECs. Yet, as with you, they were mainly interested in ID for theological reasons, even though they (mostly) also studied natural sciences. That is, of course, except for the section on ID in the Social Sciences and Humanities.

    “I don’t think Fuller is onto anything especially novel here.”

    I suggest you read his chapter “What has atheism ever done for science?” in Science: The Art of Living. It may not be novel, but he’s saying it in a fresh and insightful way. And his message gets out, much further and respectably (if not w/out controversy) than anyone in the IDM. I don’t suppose you’ll find a problem with Fuller ‘up-playing’ the uniqueness of the Abrahamic religions for ‘doing science’, rather than ‘down-playing’ them, will you? His “The New Sociological Imagination” is an amazing book on this topic, you can find my review of it here, in case it may interest you.

  27. Genomicus:

    I see that Gregory has dragged my name into his reply to you. I don’t have time to sort out all the tangled ways he is bringing up things I said in other contexts and employing them in an entirely new discussion. Nor do I understand why he is accusing me of trying to divert the thread, when it is he who, by digging up old debates, is trying to bait me into further conversation about those old debates, instead of addressing the current subject.

    I notice that he accuses you of “biologism.” Not exactly an everyday word, but then, Gregory likes to use new or rare words, especially if they end in “ism.” “Ism” words sound grander and more intellectual than plain, clear, English, and make the writer seem more impressive, I guess. Well, I looked up “biologism,” and in my Oxford it says: “The interpretation of human life from a strictly biological point of view.” I must be dense, because I don’t perceive where you are guilty of this. Perhaps Gregory will explain. Perhaps he will also explain how you are guilty of “natural scientism” — another term you don’t hear on street corners — because I don’t see where you have said anything to warrant that accusation, either.

    It’s funny, I thought that all you were arguing was that design was in principle detectable in nature. But I guess, through some hidden connections known only to the intellectual elite, “design detection” implies “biologism” and “scientism.”

    Gregory says some odd things. Apparently, I don’t openly address Keith Ward for “personal political reasons.” But as I don’t even know who Keith Ward is — or didn’t, until Gregory announced it just now — I don’t see how I could be avoiding addressing him. I’ve heard of Keith Miller, but not Keith Ward — unless Gregory dragged up his name to me in an earlier conversation and I’ve since forgotten it. Then Gregory reproduces, in boldface type (as if he thinks I am deaf, so that he needs to shout), a statement of Keith Ward which he apparently regards as profound, but which in effect is a platitude: intelligent design as a scientific enterprise is different from intelligent design as a Christian faith affirmation. Gosh, I never could have figured that one out! Thank God for brilliant scholars like Keith Ward! The world certainly needs Ph.D.s to point out the obvious.

    Gregory also asks whether Meyer is “flushing out” Fuller’s ideas. I would think that if so, Meyer must think that Fuller’s ideas are a load of cr*p. But possibly Gregory meant to use a different word.

    Finally, Gregory attributes to me this quotation:

    “Human beings derive their experience of design from human/social contexts, before thinking about applying the notion of design to biology.”

    I don’t recall saying those words, but I agree with them. How, though, would those words count against anything you have said, Genomicus? To say that we first learn to infer design where the agent is human does not in any way count against the possibility of inferring design where the agent is not human. This “objection” appears to me to be without force.

    Well, Genomicus, I leave you to puzzle out what Gregory means by all these remarks. I say again, though, that I support your basic position.

  28. Timaeus, Do you hear what I hear? You seem to presume to. That’s not very nice. And it seems your memory is failing if you can’t remember what you wrote here at UD.

    The thread I linked to included a report by Jon Garvey about what Stephen Meyer said to Steve Fuller in Cambridge about THEODICY. We now can all see/view this exchange, thanks to News posting the video in this thread. This thread is a direct continuation of that conversation.

    There you wrote: “Meyer’s reaction to Fuller is brand-new, and is nowhere near fully developed. Exactly what Meyer finds attractive in Fuller’s proposal is still not fully clear, and where Meyer may still disagree with many views of Fuller is still not clear. It is premature to speculate about what the Meyer-Fuller exchange betokens. Let’s wait and hear more from Meyer and Fuller in the coming months, and see what develops.” source

    So now, in this thread titled: “In Cambridge, Professor Steve Fuller discusses why intelligent design is not more popular among scientists and others,” we are discussing it because we can all see/view what Jon did in July. That seems to make sense. But you, Timaeus are not (yet) discussing it. Why?

    “it is he who, by digging up old debates, is trying to bait me into further conversation about those old debates, instead of addressing the current subject.” – Timaeus

    Like I said, now we can actually have the conversation because we have evidence to discuss, i.e. what Meyer actually said to Fuller, not to mention the provocative and interesting presentation that Fuller delivered on “Why some people like the idea of design in nature – and others don’t.” Simply because Timaeus rejects the possibility that people could rationally reject ‘design in nature’ because they reject Big-ID, a notion he has brought up and accepted here, even if now he would run away from it, is a personal problem of Timaeus, not everyone else here. Timaeus is a Big-ID supporter, even if his views are self-admittedly marginal in the IDM. This thread should focus on Steve Fuller’s presentation and the Meyer-Fuller exchange, not on Timaeus-ID!

    Your ‘diversion’ is obvious, Timaeus, entering this thread in #22, taking a careless swipe at me (as usual), then addressing Genomicus’ support for NOMA. Not a WORD about Steve Fuller in Cambridge, the main topic (or in your words: “current subject”) of the thread. Call it another name if you want; I call it diversion.

    Again, this is what you wrote, but now do not acknowledge: “I could even agree with Fuller if his position were simply that all versions of design arguments imply a kinship between man and God.”

    This is exactly the point that Fuller made in his presentation and (by extension) which promoted Meyer to respond positively, saying: “empirical data…could adjudicate these different models of theodicy.” That’s what I’m interested to hear more about, from IDists and whether they agree with Meyer (and Fuller) or not? Provide some explanations or arguments please.

    Is theodicy not worth a healthy conversation, openly held at Uncommon Descent? Fuller thinks what Meyer said about it in connection with Big-ID is “going to send some people to the hills!” Frankly, I agree, and would be interested to hear from Jon Garvey, who was there and is not a Big-IDist.

    Ted Davis on Jon Garvey’s blog predicts: “There will be a division of the house within ID, over the age of the earth as it relates to theodicy.” source

    There Jon wrote: “I’ve come to a large degree of agreement with Fuller on the importance of imago dei to ID because of the arguments he’s given for it.” … “We intuit design by God as we do design by humans because we are made like him, as our reason is like his.”

    Another way to ask the question: Are the ‘intelligent causes in nature’ that Big-ID is looking (detecting) for ‘natural intelligent causes’ or not, i.e. are they detecting for non-natural or extra-natural intelligent causes? If ID is looking for non-natural or extra-natural intelligent causes, that is what leads Big-ID to become small-id, and where it must welcome the inclusion of theology/worldview and philosophy, instead of just natural sciences.

    That same question is suited for Genomicus. It seems to me that Genomicus is closed against non-natural or extra-natural intelligent agents, i.e. the ‘transcendent designer/Designer’ about which Dembski speaks. He/she does not appear to accept the relevance of transcendent intelligent agency in any aspect of life. But please, Genomicus, clear this up for me if I’m misinterpreting you (and would you help me out so I don’t have to write he/she?).

    Ambiguity runs rampant because of what people like Timaeus write: “The DI is concerned with intelligent design in nature — in the phenomena studied by the natural sciences.” (same thread as linked above)

    Again the spectre of ‘natural-science-only’ – this is something that Fuller rejects and which Meyer seems to agree about in his response to Fuller’s presentation.

    Thanks,
    Gr.

    p.s. boldface type does not only mean shouting and I do not intend it as such; it is meant to highlight certain sentences or terms of particular significance. This makes it easier for people browsing quickly to focus on the main points. Internet communication differs from print in this case; people don’t normally use boldface type in academic journals. Perhaps Timaeus could try to understand this in the future and adjust his perception accordingly.

  29. Well, folks, I’m grateful that my appraisal of the Fuller/Meyer exchange back in July seems to have been accurate and complete enough to have prompted exactly the same debating points as seeing the real thing has on this thread. So I don’t have anything much to add that I didn’t say back in the summer.

    We are still awaiting a more considered joint response to what Meyer and Fuller said here, so perhaps there’s not much further we can go till then. Meyer’s own presentation, if I remember rightly, preceded Fuller’s and so didn’t interact with it. In fact, it was essentially a restatement of the arguments of “Signature in the Cell” for an audience of philosophers who had not, for the most part, read it. Which was fair enough.

    Just one thing occurs to me on the main thrust of this thread (ie the degree to which ID can be “science” or “science-philosophy-theology”), which is that in actuality all the major positions on evolution are the latter, and particularly mainstream biological science. This is science operating often unconsciously under specific philosophical convictions regarding both methodology and metaphysics, and frequently overspilling into theological pronouncements about lack of oversight, incompatibility with a good God and so on, as well as simply leaving God as creator out of the creative process.

    One can tell that by realising that there is very little more theology in theistic evolution than in many of the secular spokesmen for evolution – it just differs in flavour somewhat, and somewhat less in quality.

    At the same time many scientists, many TEs and (as has been seen here) many IDers say that theology really should have no place in science. My own feeling is that the truth would be best served not only by Fuller’s imago dei admission within ID, but by scientists owning up to their non-scientific convictions as well. But it’s a bit like nuclear disarmament, really – it’s hard to negotiate equality when nobody even owns up to what they have at the moment.

  30. As I expected, Gregory, you avoided discussing (and apologizing for) your misrepresentation of me regarding Keith Ward, and you don’t justify (with quotations from Genomicus) your accusations of “scientism” and “biologism” against Genomicus. I’m used to this kind of unscholarly behavior in your posts by now, so it’s no longer shocking.

    I said nothing about “natural science only” — that is your phrase, Gregory, which you keep shoving in the face of people here. All of us here at UD (as far as I know) agree that a full understanding of reality requires knowledge of much more than natural science. That does not mean every single question that a human being asks requires a discussion of every single aspect of reality.

    When your auto mechanic tells you that you need an oil change, do you chide him for speaking in terms of “natural science only” and ask him to justify his argument for the need of an oil change in terms of the belief that we are made in the image of God? I would guess that you don’t. So why would you scoff at someone who argues that the DNA-protein system could not have arisen without design, on the grounds that he doesn’t add: “And I know this because I believe that man is made in the image of God”? Why does he need to add that, if the auto mechanic doesn’t?

    I grant that there may be a difference in the two cases, but you haven’t shown it. Let’s have some classic *expositio*, Gregory, instead of snappy one-liners and rhetorical questions. Walk us through it. Show us, step by step, without any scare quotes, boldface type, hyphenated terms, yammering about “big” and “small” ID, imputations of political motivations of ID people, etc., why a design inference in the case of, say, living cells, isn’t just as valid for an agnostic or a Buddhist, who doesn’t believe that man is made in the image of God, as for a Christian who does. Do it on your own steam, with your own reasoning, without any quotations or arguments from authority, including the authority of Fuller. Give us two or three paragraphs of classic argumentative prose.

    Since you claim I have been avoiding the subject of the thread — which I haven’t been (it isn’t evasive to respond to Genomicus’s points instead of to the main article, if I have something relevant to say about Genomicus’s points) — I will now refute that claim by commenting on Fuller’s talk.

    I found Fuller’s talk very engaging — he seems to be clearer as an oral teacher than as a writer — and he handles questions well. I agreed with a great deal of what he said, though not all of it. I have nothing against his raising the issues he raises, and I have nothing against his engaging the ID people from his different angle. If his discussion with Meyer opens up new directions for ID, I have no reason to object. I say, follow the arguments wherever they lead.

    I find, however, that whenever you speak in defense of Fuller, your own understanding of Fuller seems questionable. You seem to be determined to take some of his ideas out of context to humiliate and embarrass ID people, and not to be listening very closely to what he is saying. He is very clear in his assertion that ID is warranted *as a scientific project*. It is true that he places that scientific project in a theological framework more explicitly than most ID proponents do, but he does call it a *scientific* project — something you have steadily denied. Your constant mocking and baiting remarks against everyone (here or anywhere else) who suggests that ID inferences are or might be scientific are on the record, and can’t be erased or explained away. On that point at least, you are not in agreement with Fuller. So if you think you are in agreement with him, I would submit that you do not understand what he is saying.

  31. Since no one will address my earlier questions, I will approach the subject from yet another vantage point. Perhaps it would help to highlight the problem in the context of those points on which we (Steve Fuller and I) agree.

    By all means, let all willing ID scientists align themselves the following statement of purpose: “First, I believe that the designer I detect through my empirically-based methods is none other than the God of Abraham. Further, I believe that we, His creatures, are made in His image. Further still, I stand ready to put my scientific discoveries to the service of other disciplines, which means that I will seek to inform them and allow myself to be informed by then. Most of all, I will be a “big-picture” thinker. With this approach I can enter into a dialogue with theologians, weigh in on the problem of evil, and contribute to a greater understanding of God’s grand design.”

    Great! All well and good! What does any of this have to do with the fact that ID is an empirically-based, research project that begins with an observation of data from which inferences are drawn? The word “begin,” after all, carries a specific meaning in the context of an empirically-based paradigm. The process is either science-based, which means that it begins with an observation, or it is faith-based, which means that it begins with a reference to our relationship with God. It cannot be both.

    Either we begin the methodological process with an observation and draw a scientific inference to design or we begin with an assumption about our relationship with God, in which case, we have assumed out conclusion and science has left the building. Motivations and projects are not methods and processes.

    This difference between a project and a process needs to be emphasized. On the one hand, I can conceive of ways that qualitative beliefs (Theology) could be merged with quantitative measurements (science) as part of an informal, interdisciplinary project. On the other hand, I don’t understand how such a project could be transformed into, or substituted for, a scientific process. I emphasize this point because it seems that Dr. Fuller is asking us to transform processes, rather than simply calling for a dialogue between theology and science.

    Again, I support all the communicative aspects of Fuller’s appeal, including his call for public professions of faith, big-picture thinking, and overtures on behalf of interdisciplinary cooperation. Beyond that, my question persists. What exactly are we being asked to do? If this question cannot be answered in such a way that I can clearly understand and write it on the back of a business card, it is not a vision—it is an unarticulated daydream.

  32. Thanks for this “another vantage point” in #31, StephenB.

    “I believe that the designer I detect through my empirically-based methods is none other than the God of Abraham. Further, I believe that we, His creatures, are made in His image.”

    How are these two statements connected? Fuller elaborates on this in several of his works and presentations. In the past you have seemed to treat them as entirely unconnected, non-overlapping magisteria so to speak, StephenB. Why the change in your language/viewpoint now? Just a ruse? In the past I would have thought you preferred to separate the two statements entirely, rather than including them together. You seem not to want natural-physical scientists to align themselves with acknowledging imago Dei as Fuller does (and as Francis Collins does in Language of God).

    “The process is either science-based, which means that it begins with an observation, or it is faith-based, which means that it begins with a reference to our relationship with God. It cannot be both.”

    Why can it not be both? I would argue, along with many others, that it can be both. Your either/or could instead be a both/and. If the dialogue is science, philosophy and theology, the both/and option seems preferable, don’t you think?

    (Aside: not all ‘science’ begins with ‘observation’…and not all that glitters is gold. = )

    You sound dangerously close to being an ‘empiricist’ in your view of ID as ‘empirically-based methods’, StephenB. The importance of theory, in addition to empirical data should be added. Empirically-based and science-based are after all not synonyms.

    Please remind me, StephenB, are you a scientist? I had thought not, but please correct me if I’m wrong.

    “What exactly are we being asked to do?”

    1) Admit ID is a science, philosophy, theology/worldview conversation first and foremost, and not empirical natural-science-only. Do this in public. Do it on UD. No time is better than now.

    2) Read his works and listen to some of his many audio files, you’ll find more answers there! He is prescriptive, not just descriptive. He is futuristic, not just backwardly historical. He is the best public speaker for ID currently active.

    Thanks,
    Gr.

  33. *facepalm*

  34. note:

    My two cents for what its worth, which many would probably say is overvalued: I view the state of evidence so far for ID, in its entirety, not just the classical information and molecular machines found in molecular life, to overwhelmingly point to Theism, and to even point to Christian Theism in particular (as surprising as that may sound to some), but for me the place where the tension lies is not in getting to a solid inference for Theism as correct from the starting observations, for me the tension lies in establishing not only that God is real but in establishing the fact that God is very much alive and cares for each of us. I think the problem is much like the problem that Nagel lamented on for consciousness:

    Nagel Asks, Is the World Really Knowable? – Joshua Youngkin – October 26, 2012
    Excerpt: science even at its best could never offer a complete picture of the world. That is, science as science will necessarily lack the vocabulary to capture and express the myriad private worlds of subjective, conscious experience. To take Nagel’s famous example, science could tell you everything you want to know about bats except what it is like to be a bat, to “see” via echolocation. Similarly, brain scientists could in principle learn every objective fact about your brain and how it works yet they wouldn’t by virtue of this knowledge know what sugar tastes like to you.
    In the final chapter of the book, Nagel sums the matter up this way:
    “In attempting to understand consciousness as a biological phenomenon, it is too easy to forget how radical is the difference between the subjective and the objective, and to fall into the error of thinking about the mental in terms taken from our ideas of physical events and processes.”
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....65761.html

    i.e. Science even at its very best can never give us an ‘experience of God’. That crucial ‘experience’, that differentiates people talking about God to a person talking with God takes an open mind and, in most instances, a broken heart,,, as the last 2 minutes in this following video make clear:

    SQuire Rushnell Good Morning America “GodWinks”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYJRddhzFG4

    verse and music:

    Luke 12:7
    Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

    Casting Crowns – Already There
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s099Omqw1_E

  35. …you are worth more than many sparrows.

    Sure. But sparrows are a dime a dozen.

  36. “But sparrows are a dime a dozen.”

    Is that your two cents? :)

  37. Nevertheless, I do agree with Timaeus’ rejection of Genomicus’ support for NOMA, which tells much about why Genomicus is promoting natural scientism with ‘biological intelligent design,’ while offering no positive view of ‘designing’ or a ‘designer/Designer,’ which he/she has not yet said he actually believes in (other than astrobiology).

    Elaborate on your statement that I’m “offering no positive view of ‘designing’ or a ‘designer/Designer’.” Thanks.

    Genomicus says: “I see no reason why, in principle, intelligent design in nature could not be detected through the efforts of science. We would go about it like any other scientific discipline”

    As Fuller reminds people all the time, the first two questions in the field of science (and technology) studies are: which science? and whose science? It does not appear that Genomicus is versed on the many achievements in science studies, since he/she seems to conflate ‘natural sciences’ with ‘all sciences.’ That’s what the ideology of ‘naturalism’ is about.

    You did not address my argument. I’ll repeat it, with some modification: I see no reason why, in principle, intelligent design in nature could not be detected through the efforts of the natural sciences. We would go about it like any other natural science.

    “The normal meaning of design is not about ‘designers we know.’ In normal usage, design means the execution of a plan, or a goal.” – Genomicus

    Really?! Care to back up that claim with some scientific survey work? Go out on the street and ask people what they think of when they hear the term ‘design.’ Simple question. No contextual framing. Just ask them. You’ll change your mind and realise that ‘design’ *is* actually linked in the vast majority of peoples’ minds with ‘designers we know.’

    Don’t take my word for it. Just take a look at a dictionary (there’s no need to do a “survey” when you just have to look at a dictionary, ya know).

    Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th ed.) defines “design” thus:

    design n 1a: a particular purpose held in view by an individual or group
    b: deliberate purposive planning .

    Read the entry under 1b very, very carefully, and let it sink in.

    Graphic design, clothing design, architectural design, etc.

    I’m not even sure what you’re point is with insisting that when most people see the word “design,” they think about designers we know about.

    I rather suspect you’ve let biologism ideologically cloud your judgment, Genomicus, from reading your view of ‘normal usage,’ which is to be expected because biologists don’t very often study/survey people as part of their work.

    So because I follow a dictionary definition of “design,” biologism has ideologically clouded my judgment?

    Here is what Timaeus said in this thread: “Human beings derive their experience of design from human/social contexts, before thinking about applying the notion of design to biology.”

    That’s a significant concession, folks!

    I’m must not be getting something here at all. It’s obvious that we derive our experience of design from designers we know, because, ya know, it’d be pretty difficult to get our experience from designers we don’t know about.

    “By a new intelligent design, I mean an intelligent design hypothesis that is entirely focused on the detection of engineering in biological systems.” – Genomicus

    No, that’s old intelligent design (of the modern = late 20th century, early 21st variety, steered and controlled by the DI, home of the IDM). There’s nothing ‘new’ about that. It’s idealistic the way you frame it, but not new.

    If it were to be realized, it would be new, though, wouldn’t it?

    Timaeus’ statement should thus be corrected to read: “Whether we know who a designer is or not, we can CLAIM designed from non-designed things,” even if we cannot PROVE ‘design/Design’ with natural scientific methods.

    Science is not about proving things, Gregory. You should know that. Science is about seeking the best explanations for phenomena in nature:

    “By the slow and laborious methods of observation, hypothesis, deduction and experimental verification a scheme has been constructed which for the most part is consistent with itself, and bears the test of the comparison of one part with another. As a chart is drawn by the explorer of unknown seas to represent his discoveries in a conventional manner, so the scientific investigator constructs a mental model of the phenomena he observes and tests its consistency with itself and its concordance with the results of further experiment. The chart does not give a lifelike picture of the coast as does a painting, but it represents one aspect of it conventionally in a manner best adapted for the immediate purpose. So the conceptions of one branch of science — mechanics let us say — represent the phenomena of nature in the conventional aspect best suited for one particular line of inquiry. It does not follow necessarily that nature in reality resembles the particular mental chart which mechanical science enables us to construct. It does not even follow that there is any reality underlying phenomena and corresponding with any of our conceptions. The whole problem which mankind has to face undoubtedly includes an inquiry into the ultimate nature of reality. But that inquiry lies in the province of metaphysics and is not necessarily involved in the pursuit of natural science. Metaphysics uses the results of natural science, as of all other branches of learning, as evidence bearing on her own deeper and more difficult questions. But it does not follow that natural science must solve metaphysical problems before being of use to man and enlarging the sphere of his knowledge. We need not ask whether the reality is represented accurately by our conventional model before using that model to introduce order into what would otherwise be mental confusion and to enable us to make systematic and progressive use of natural resources.”

    Having said that, you have yet to persuasively argue that it is impossible, in principle, to detect design in the absence of knowledge of the intelligent designer. Indeed, you assert it often enough, but I have yet to see any solid arguments in support of that position.

  38. Hi Timaeus,

    Regarding the NOMA, I think a distinction needs to be made between “supernatural designers” and non-supernatural intelligences. In formulating ID hypotheses, I take supernatural designers off the table. Non-supernatural intelligences are not excluded from the NOMA, if my understanding is correct. The NOMA is about science and religion, not necessarily about intelligent causes. For example, if SETI detected a radio signal that consisted of the first 100 prime numbers, and concluded that that signal had been intelligently designed, the NOMA would not be contradicted in any way.

    Thoughts?

  39. Another way to ask the question: Are the ‘intelligent causes in nature’ that Big-ID is looking (detecting) for ‘natural intelligent causes’ or not, i.e. are they detecting for non-natural or extra-natural intelligent causes? If ID is looking for non-natural or extra-natural intelligent causes, that is what leads Big-ID to become small-id, and where it must welcome the inclusion of theology/worldview and philosophy, instead of just natural sciences.

    That same question is suited for Genomicus. It seems to me that Genomicus is closed against non-natural or extra-natural intelligent agents, i.e. the ‘transcendent designer/Designer’ about which Dembski speaks. He/she does not appear to accept the relevance of transcendent intelligent agency in any aspect of life. But please, Genomicus, clear this up for me if I’m misinterpreting you (and would you help me out so I don’t have to write he/she?).

    There is no reason for insisting that the designer(s) behind the nanotechnology in the cell were extra-natural or ‘transcendent.’ You appear to want ID to include theology as an integral component. But why? Do you think theology should be a part of germ theory, or volcanology for that matter?

    (You may use the pronoun “he” in reference to me)

  40. Genomicus @ 38:

    No disagreement; but organizations like the NCSE, which are opposed to design detection in regard to biological systems, wouldn’t accept your application to biological origins. They would say that if the intelligent designer is aliens, then yes, we could detect the intelligent design in the signal; but, since the only being capable of designing and creating a whole universe, with all its laws, is presumably God, a supernatural being, they would say that we have no experience of supernatural intelligences and therefore cannot legitimately infer design.

    The other point, of course, is that if we close the intellectual door to direct divine intervention in origins, then we might miss out on the truth — if direct divine intervention was in fact what happened. That’s why NOMA — which de facto assigns origins to “science” and excludes theology from competence to discuss origins — prejudices the case by the very division of knowledge it makes. NOMA works on the principle that “good fences make good neighbors” — but it overlooks the fact that if one of the two neighbors, rather than an impartial third party, has the power to decide the boundaries of each neighbor’s property, it is very likely that one neighbor will find himself with a very small patch of grass, while the other will end up with Ponderosa-scale acreage.

  41. Timaeus:

    That’s a fair point. I am not at all very much involved with the argument that the cosmos was designed, so to me that’s a whole other subject. Perhaps relaxing the NOMA in that area would be wise. But when it comes to biological origins, I think the NOMA is, on the whole, a good idea. It is indeed possible that a deity designed life; but if ID merely posits that intelligent design has been detected in the machinery of life, then it does not violate the NOMA, for it has not defined the designer.

  42. Genomicus:

    Well, it depends on how far you think fine-tuning arguments can extend. If you think they are limited to a few basic physics laws and constants, then you could separate out the physics/cosmology from the biological in the way that you suggest. But if it turns out that the fine-tuning extends all the way from the Big Bang to the human brain, with the whole universe a designed, seamless whole, then the designer of life is the same as the designer of the universe. This is the view of Michael Denton. So then design inferences in biology would push you back from “could’ve been intelligent aliens who planted seeds on earth” to “had to be an intelligent being capable of designing and executing the whole universe.” So then you would be back to God.

    But that aside, the difficulty is that Eugenie Scott and the NCSE gang won’t let you infer design from life even if you swear by your father’s beard that you believe the designer was not God but an alien tourist. They are not concerned about your personal identification of the designer. They are trying to cut off the inference of any designer, because such a designer *might well be God*, and others (if not you) might draw that conclusion. They operate in fear of the worst-case (for them) scenario, and therefore they assume that “design inferences” will end up being “God inferences.” So they will invoke NOMA, even though, as you say, they shouldn’t.

    The problem is that this whole area is charged with religious politics, so that a perfectly reasonable conclusion — “this must have been designed” — is denounced as unscientific or religious or unconstitutional because it treads on somebody’s toes. In this case, the ruling intelligentsia wish design *not* to be the truth about nature, so intellectual principles are shoved aside and political principles kick into high gear. It is too bad that we can’t have an intellectual culture where reason, not wishing (e.g., the wish that God should, or should not, exist) has the final say. If we did, I think ID would persuade the overwhelming majority of the population.

  43. Gregory, I appreciate your response. Thank you.

    [I believe that the designer I detect through my empirically-based methods is none other than the God of Abraham. Further, I believe that we, His creatures, are made in His image.]

    How are these two statements connected? Fuller elaborates on this in several of his works and presentations. In the past you have seemed to treat them as entirely unconnected, non-overlapping magisteria so to speak, StephenB.

    They are connected in too many ways to count. For one thing, both teachings are Divinely revealed truths. For another, each helps explain the other from a philosophical perspective.

    I have never held any version of NOMA, so I appreciate the opportunity to clarify. Quite the contrary, I hold the opposite view. You may recall that I fuss a lot about the “unity of truth.” NOMA implies that truth is fragmented, meaning that theology could lead to one kind of truth whereas science could lead to another kind of truth.

    The important point to remember about my argument is this: With a multi-disciplinary approach, we will study or apprehend different aspects of the same truth. Example: A theological truth [“Let there be light"] understood from a scientific perspective [“Big Bang Theory"]. NOMA will not tolerate such a reasonable synthesis. It requires the believer to put his faith in one pocket and his reason in another, as if one had nothing to do with the other. NOMA is the enemy of the unity of truth.

    Taking it one step further, I think that theology, philosophy, and science could form a kind of synergistic relationship, with each reinforcing the other if—and this is big—if each remains relatively uncorrupted and true to its methods. Unfortunately, such is not the case. All three disciplines are in a terrible state of disrepair: Philosophy has been fatally compromised by Kantian skepticism, Theology is riddled with political correctness, and science has been….well, just read our FAQ. None of these disciplines is ready for a sacred marriage in pursuit of the truth because each has become an unmarriageable whore.

    Why the change in your language/viewpoint now? Just a ruse? In the past I would have thought you preferred to separate the two statements entirely, rather than including them together. You seem not to want natural-physical scientists to align themselves with acknowledging imago Dei as Fuller does (and as Francis Collins does in Language of God)

    I would never separate the Creator from the creatures that bear his imprint. In defining ID, I separated motives from methods. It is not at all the same thing.

    Getting back to the unity of truth, soundly expressed theology is always compatible with soundly applied science. Francis Collins does not successfully align his scientific views with his theological views, as I have demonstrated many times: He, like most TEs, militate against the clear meaning of Romans 1:20 (God’s handiwork is evident everywhere).

    What I would separate are the methodologies by which individual aspects of the truth are arrived at. Let’s take one example. Through empirical methods, we can make inferences from particular instances to universal trends. Let’s say that I observe 500 people in a random sample, discover that the weight of 70% of participants fall between 110 and 220 pounds and that 15% weight less than 110 pounds and 15% weight more than 220 pounds. This produces what is known as a bell-shaped curve. Using this sample size, I conclude that what I have observed and measured is about 95% likely to represent the universal population. The take home point is that science proceeds from the particular to the universal, from the specific to the general.

    There are, however, other disciplines through which we can acquire legitimate knowledge, but their methods are different. Through hermeneutical methods and exegetical principles, we can learn the Biblically revealed truth that we are made in God’s image, just as we can learn about the Fall of man and how that image was compromised. Through philosophical methods and rigorous reasoning, we can prove the very existence of God. What is clear in each case, though, is that one discipline cannot appropriate the methods of another– hermeneutical methods cannot suffice for scientific methods and scientific methods cannot suffice for philosophical methods –much less can three disciplines converge into one method. Is interdisciplinary dialogue possible? Yes indeed. Is inter-methodological union possible? Not a chance.

    Still, I think that science, using its own methods, can go long way toward proving the existence of God, and people like Robert Spitzer and Hugh Ross have made that case.

    Why can it not be both? I would argue, along with many others, that it can be both. Your either/or could instead be a both/and. If the dialogue is science, philosophy and theology, the both/and option seems preferable, don’t you think?

    Recall my carefully-worded distinction between a dialogue and a method. Interdisciplinary dialogue occurs when one discipline, using methods appropriate to its specialty, interacts with another discipline, using its own appropriate methods. With that background, they compare notes and learn from each other.

    (Aside: not all ‘science’ begins with ‘observation’…and not all that glitters is gold. = )

    All empirical science begins with observation. That is what empirical means.

    You sound dangerously close to being an ‘empiricist’ in your view of ID as ‘empirically-based methods’, StephenB. The importance of theory, in addition to empirical data should be added. Empirically-based and science-based are after all not synonyms.

    You have several themes going on in those two sentences. Let’s address each one separately:

    [a]I am not an empiricist, nor am I a rationalist. I am a realist, that is, I recognize the legitimacy of both kinds of, and approaches to, knowledge. It is precisely that synthesis that facilitates the union of truth.

    [b] To say that ID is empirically-based is to state a fact. It has nothing to do with my epistemological orientation, which, as I say, is grounded in Thomistic realism.

    [c] A scientific theory is not something to be set apart from data. A theory is something scientists use to explain the data.

    Please remind me, StephenB, are you a scientist? I had thought not, but please correct me if I’m wrong.

    I am not a scientist.

    [What specifically does Fuller want us to do?]

    1) Admit ID is a science, philosophy, theology/worldview conversation first and foremost, and not empirical natural-science-only. Do this in public. Do it on UD. No time is better than now.

    On the one hand, you say that ID is already a multi-disciplinary phenomenon. On the other hand, you support Steve Fuller’s hope that ID will someday become one. Sorry to say it, but this really is a blatant contradiction.

    2) Read his [Fuller] works and listen to some of his many audio files, you’ll find more answers there! He is prescriptive, not just descriptive. He is futuristic, not just backwardly historical. He is the best public speaker for ID currently active.

    Steve Fuller is an excellent public speaker and a very interesting man. However, he has not yet explained specifically how ID can merge three specialties into a single research project using empirical methods. Indeed, it appears that he has not yet considered the problem. If he is simply asking for dialogue, I am on record of supporting such an enterprise—but, as far as I can tell, he is asking for much more than that.
    Still, I am sympathetic to the idea that something drives man to do science. As Aristotle points out, all men naturally desire to know. Much of this desire is informed by a religious impulse. Modern philosophy militates against this impulse, but more importantly, thanks to the hyperskepticism of Immanuel Kant, it denies the correspondence between our rational minds and the rational universe, the very same world view that makes science possible. Steve Fuller is putting the cart before the horse. Science cannot rehabilitate a bad world view. Science has been corrupted by a bad world view. It is the bad world view itself that must be reformed.

  44. I thought the part where the lady asks about “The Fall” was just hilarious. Did you notice the look on Fuller’s face. That was priceless.

  45. The what?

  46. StephenB @ #43

    There is no time to respond. But just to acknowledge that I read your #43 with curiosity.

    I am glad you had the opportunity to clarify yourself re: NOMA. It appears, however, that many on UD would not agree with you based on previous responses to me here. But who ever said unity was an important feature of the ‘tent’ strategy of Big-ID?!

    Are ‘hermeneutical methods’ not also ‘philosophical methods’ capable of ‘rigourous reasoning’?

    “I think that theology, philosophy, and science could form a kind of synergistic relationship” – StephenB

    Good. Then please accept Stephen Meyer’s welcome of Steve Fuller’s position re: theodicy as displayed in the video in this thread. As in a previous thread, I’m well ahead of Big-ID in accepting this, as are many others because frankly it is rather obvious for non-partisan ideologues. We’ll see if Meyer has the courage to follow-up on his public pronouncements with actual proposals and papers. So far, apparently nothing has been continued (do tell if you’ve seen anything) from that discussion and Fuller is still way, way, way ahead of Meyer, who is playing catch-up.

    Again, please be reminded, StephenB, that I am one of 175 “future scholars and scientists” that the Discovery Institute has specially trained in its Summer Program to properly understand its mission. And I understand that mission and its emissaries rather well.

    Don’t think I am dissenting from Big-ID for no reason.

    If you’d like to speak about this during the holiday season, be welcome to follow the links and send me an email. I’d be willing to call since I’m ‘miles away’ from you.

    Regards,
    Gr.

  47. Gregory:

    A bit of practical advice.

    It has now been 14 days since StephenB’s last reply to you.

    It has been 14 days since my last reply to you.

    It has been 14 days since Genomicus’s last reply to you.

    On the internet, two weeks is like two centuries. People tend not to check back in after even one week, let alone two. I happened to check back in here, but there is no guarantee that StephenB or Genomicus will.

    I suggest that if you expect further responses from people here, that you not keep your interlocutors waiting for two weeks. If you do, in most cases, your replies will simply not be noticed.

    But while you are here:

    I know ID theory quite well, but I never had the chance to attend the Discovery summer school program. Perhaps, since you are claiming to have been well-trained in ID in that program, you could give the readers here a detailed description of what you did there. Some of them might wish to enroll in the program themselves, based on your description.

    For example: How many days long was it? How many hours per day? Who ran it? Who taught in it? Were participants expected to have read anything before arriving? Were they expected to read certain things while they were there? Did the program require background in the natural sciences, or was the program set up to compensate for those without such background? Were the participants evaluated for their performance in any way? How much did the program cost?

  48. Gregory, this will have to be a lighting round, since I, too, have little time.

    I am glad you had the opportunity to clarify yourself re: NOMA. It appears, however, that many on UD would not agree with you based on previous responses to me here.

    I don’t think most ID proponents would support NOMA. I will provide a quick example to show you the difference. When Dembski says that ID theory can be conceived as the “Logos Theory of the Gospel,” he is acknowledging the compatibility of religious truth with scientific truth, which means he is renouncing NOMA. That is not the same thing as saying that ID theory, which is limited by its methodology, can arrive at a biblical truth–or a philosophical truth—or any other kind of truth. To acknowledge the limits of a paradigm is not to support NOMA.

    But who ever said unity was an important feature of the ‘tent’ strategy of Big-ID?!

    You are confusing a metaphysical requirement for rational thought with a perceived membership requirement.

    Are ‘hermeneutical methods’ not also ‘philosophical methods’ capable of ‘rigourous reasoning’?

    All disciplines, properly practiced, require reason-based approaches, but that common element does not mean that they are using the same methodology.

    [“I think that theology, philosophy, and science could form a kind of synergistic relationship” – StephenB]

    Good. Then please accept Stephen Meyer’s welcome of Steve Fuller’s position re: theodicy as displayed in the video in this thread. As in a previous thread, I’m well ahead of Big-ID in accepting this, as are many others because frankly it is rather obvious for non-partisan ideologues. We’ll see if Meyer has the courage to follow-up on his public pronouncements with actual proposals and papers. So far, apparently nothing has been continued (do tell if you’ve seen anything) from that discussion and Fuller is still way, way, way ahead of Meyer, who is playing catch-up.

    You appear not to have grasped my point about the difference between inter-disciplinary dialogue, which is what Meyer is signing on to, and inter-disciplinary methodology, which Fuller sometimes hints at.

    Again, please be reminded, StephenB, that I am one of 175 “future scholars and scientists” that the Discovery Institute has specially trained in its Summer Program to properly understand its mission. And I understand that mission and its emissaries rather well.

    Not everyone who receives training benefits from that training, especially those who presume to train the trainer without having first been successfully trained.

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