Home » Intelligent Design, News, Philosophy » Bill Dembski on the problem of good

Bill Dembski on the problem of good

Continuing with James Barham’s The Best Schools interview with design theorist Bill Dembski – who founded this blog – on why “good,” not “evil” is a usual problem for materialists [Put another way: Materialists are much more likely to explain away why people are kind to strangers than why they are not]:

WD: As for the “problem of good,” it poses an obvious and devastating refutation of the materialist position the moment one reflects on it. Whence the indignation of the New Atheists against the injustices and evils in the world, if the world is without value, if it is, as Dawkins puts it, a place of “pitiless indifference”? What is pitting these New Atheists so passionately against the objects of their outrage? Good? The Good? The Platonic form of Good? The goodness of God? The irony gets compounded when they need to explain holocaust rescuers or a Mother Teresa.

I purposely ended my formal remarks in the debate with Christopher Hitchens by citing Mother Teresa. I knew this would be like waving a red flag in front of a bull. Hitchens had done a documentary and then written a book claiming she was a fraud. True to form, Hitchens went on a rant against her once I brought her up, which did not help him in the debate. Hitchens is not the only atheist who needed to explain away Mother Teresa’s acts of charity. E. O. Wilson has done the same.

In a world so filled with evil, why go after Mother Teresa? Because, despite her faults, if her goodness is left unchallenged, it challenges a materialistic worldview that at bottom has no substantive values. It’s fine, on such a view, for values to be explained as culturally or evolutionarily conditioned. But real goodness that transcends such relativism is unacceptable.

TBS: With respect to the “problem of good,” we understand why you raise this as a problem for atheists who are physicalists, reductionists, Darwinists, and others who deny the existence of either purpose or value in any objective sense. Let us call such people “metaphysical naturalists”—they look to the natural sciences, rather than our everyday experience, to tell us what exists. However, all nontheists are not metaphysical naturalists. What would you say to someone—like Aristotle, G.E. Moore, Max Scheler, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Hans Jonas, or Thomas Nagel—who is not a traditional theist, but nevertheless believes, on the basis of common sense and introspection, that purpose and value are inherent properties of our universe?

WD: I would say, “We’re on the same page when it comes to purpose and value being objective. Now let’s examine their ultimate source.” It seems to me that Christian theism gives a better account of these, and I would argue as such. I would bring in intelligent design and I would bring in historical evidence for the truth of Christianity. Not surprisingly, I feel much more commonality with Aristotle et al. than with the metaphysical naturalists.

Next: How do you explain bad design?

See also:

Bill Dembski on young vs. old Earth creationists, and where he stands

Bill Dembski on the Evolutionary Informatics Lab – the one a Baylor dean tried to
shut down

Why Bill Dembski took aim against the Darwin frauds and their enablers #1

Why Bill Dembski took aim against the Darwin frauds and their enablers Part 2

Bill Dembski: The big religious conspiracy revealed #3

Bill Dembski: Evolution “played no role whatever” in his conversion to Christianity #4

So how DID Bill Dembski get interested in intelligent design? #5b – bad influences, it seems

So how DID Bill Dembski get interested in intelligent design? #5a

So how DID Bill Dembski get interested in intelligent design? #5b – bad influences, it seems

Bill Dembski: Trouble happens when they find out you mean business

What is Bill Dembski planning to do now?

What difference did Ben Stein’s Expelled film make? Dembski’s surprisingly mixed review

Bill Dembski on the future of intelligent design in science

  • Delicious
  • Facebook
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
  • RSS Feed

2 Responses to Bill Dembski on the problem of good

  1. I’m curious as to what Dembski believes about the Genesis flood.

  2. All of this gets back to why ID is so important. The reason why religion, and the idea that the existence of God, a creator or designer is possible and or likely, is so central to culsture is because what we BELIEVE- that is, what we think and live by, directly influences what we do- and it is actions that count. Religious people who come to Christ and honestly follow his teachings will find themselves acting virtuously and altruistically for real reasons that can be grounded in scripture. But it is the scientific evidence that a real creator or designer exists that gives force to any theistic belief system because it supports a hope of ultimate justice and divine order.

    Mother Teresa and many other believers who hold the Christian faith act charitably because they know, or at least believe in their minds and hearts, that this is what God the creator and designer truly wants- and therefore that this is the truth of how we are to live. Christ taught that “anyone who looses his life for me shall find it.”

    But even if you are not a Christian, the mere starting point of recognizing that a supreme order and being even could, and that there could be evidence for it, can be very influential in determining what decisions a person will make in their lives and how they will live in general- and in particiaulr what they will stand for and against. Issues of ethics, morality, and simply questions of right and wrong turn on ones belief system.

    But finally there is also the obvious issues of how one goes about doing science. If one accepts an ID perspective it certainly could lead them down a different road of inquiry and study than one who rejects purposeful design in nature. So obviously ID brings with it a rich a system of thought and culture, as well as offering at the very least a diverse perspective to the mainstream establishment- lest we forget many of the greatest minds in history such as Thomas Jefferson, Isaac Newton and perhaps Albert Einstein believed in an ID world view. Istead of hindering the the accomplishments of these poeple ID enriched them and the seeds of ID can be traced and found in meny of their works.

Leave a Reply