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Malicious Intelligent Design and Questions of the Old Testament God

“The Lord God is subtle, but he is not malicious.”
Einstein

“I have second thoughts. Maybe God is malicious.”
Einstein

Can the Intelligent Designer of life create malicious designs? If the flagellum and other parts of bacteria are intelligently designed, it would raise the question whether microbially-based diseases and plagues are intelligently designed. It seems the best inference from the evidence is that even malicious designs are also intelligently designed.

How can we resolve the problem of malicious design with intelligent design? There are a number of ways some have come to terms with this. The following list is not exhaustive by any means, just slapped together:

0. there is no intelligent design, so it’s not a problem

1. the intelligent designer of malicious designs is malicious, so it’s not a problem, he’s just a bit more malicious than we suppose

2. ID doesn’t have anything to say about bad design or malicious design

3. postpone trying to find an answer and study other questions

4. if the intelligent designers are Extraterrestrials (like Hoyle supposes), they are under no obligation to be benevolent and could well be malevolent

5. there is a benevolent intelligent designer (God) and malevolent intelligent designer (the devil)

6. the intelligent designer is indifferent to our notions of malice, so he essentially doesn’t care

7. some other solution (let the UD commenters offer their opinion)

Now, supposing that the Old Testament God is the Intelligent Designer, Richard Dawkins famously said of the supposed malice of God:

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

To which David Berlinski responded, “These are, to my way of thinking, striking points in God’s favor.”

Given that the Old Testament is full of examples of God sending (if not creating) cruel plagues, it stands to reason, from a theological standpoint, malicious design exists. Even in the New Testament, Jesus describes all sorts of malicious Intelligent Design visiting humanity in the form of plagues. Death being visited on Ananias and Saphira, blindness descending on Elymas the Sorcerer, worms eating Herod, and all the plagues of the Apocalypse.

So from the standpoint of Christian theology, God creates malicious designs. If you’re not a Christian, then trying to solve problem of malicious design and the notion of a loving God isn’t a problem. But if you are a Christian, then the explanation of why all the bad things in the world are happening cries out for an answer. I’ve stated before, that one possible explanation is that God makes heaven more meaningful by making the present world miserable. (See 2 Cor 4:17 and Romans 8:20).

But then, what about the genocide in the Old Testament, how is that justified? Even though this is not strictly a question about ID, the objection to genocide in the Old Testament is still used against ID, so I feel it is worthwhile addressing. The materialist critics have raised the issue in UD threads, and I feel it would be helpful to provide responses to their difficult questions.

Surely it would break my heart if I were in the Old Testament and had to do the things that God commanded the children of Israel to do in the conquest of Canaan. Were they murderers for doing what they did? Well, are executioners charged with carrying out justice, murderers? I say no. If the children of Israel were merely the executioners of God’s judgment, then they aren’t murderers.

But how then can God find such guilt in little babies that He should feel justified in destroying them in the way the children of Israel carried out His judgment? One solution is to say that God doesn’t find guilt in the children, and that they died for some other reason. For those that accept ID is true, but don’t believe the Bible is God’s word, a solution is to say that the children of Israel were murderers and that the Old Testament is just spinning their acts of genocide to be something good. Surely everyone has an opinion on the matter, and I will not venture to say who is right or wrong. Few answers are consoling, and perhaps the right answer is even terrifying.

How is it possible God finds guilt in a little baby? I will venture my humble opinion by saying God left answers for us in the pictures of intelligently designed biology. When we exterminate other creatures for our own good will and pleasure (like that rat or cockroach), we don’t think of ourselves being unjust, in fact, just the opposite. Hard as it is to accept, perhaps in the scheme of things, humans apart from God’s mercy and love, are like those detestable cockroaches which we give no thought to exterminating.

Did the cockroach suffer cruelly when I terminated its life? Yes, but in the scheme of what I view as the greater good, my malicious act toward the cockroach was a good thing. He may not think so, but I do. In like manner perhaps, we are a lot less “good” in the universal scheme of things than we suppose.

What, if in fact, we are the villains in the Divine Drama without realizing it. God’s grace is the grace that enlightens us to our true position in the scheme of things. Apart from his mercy, perhaps we’re not as deserving of His goodness as we presume. So if God terminates someone’s life, even if by human standards it seems horribly cruel, in the end that is not the standard by what He judges as good or bad. Sometimes we don’t know if the suffering is because of one’s guilt in God’s eyes or if God had a higher purpose (as was the case in Jobs life).

Thus when God ends the life of humans violently (be it through natural disasters or wars or plagues), he has a right to do so. He may recruit the forces of nature, microbes, humans or various malicious intelligent designs to execute judgment. That is my view, and it is not a popular one, but if the intelligent designer of life is the intelligent designer of the plagues that destroyed Egypt and the plagues that will continue to injure humanity, it would seem He is an Intelligent Designer that is to be feared.

The question then is how we can find it in ourselves to love a God who can do these things? This would almost seem like asking a cockroach to worship me after I just exterminated its family! Now, if we feel we deserve a good life and heaven, I suppose it would be hard to love God, but if we feel we deserve a bad life and hell, and instead are granted eternal life, our viewpoint changes, and it becomes possible to love God.

But, those are my views, and I don’t mean to argue that they should be the views of the readers, or that I’m even close to being right. I’m sure many will find my solution to the problem of malicious design and an Old Testament God an awful solution. That’s fine, but we can’t run away from the evident fact of malicious design, and if the Intelligent Designer is the Old Testament God, we can’t run away from the fact of the malicious designs he has created in this world.

NOTES:
At UD the following related essays have been offered:

0. Craig crushes Ayala

1. The Shallowness of Bad Design Arguments

2. The Reason for Imperfect Self-Destructing Designs — Passover and Easter Thoughts

3. Is suffering in the world evidence against Intelligent Design?

4. Contingencies for failed designs: Airplane magnetos, contingency designs, and reasons ID will prevail

[Update 9/3/2012 9:30 PM EST: Eric Anderson was kind enough to point out Barry's thread on William Lane Craig, the OP now includes a link to that thread]

[Update 9/4/2012 9:40 AS EST: added a link to the "Passover Post" HT: Butifnot]

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91 Responses to Malicious Intelligent Design and Questions of the Old Testament God

  1. The cockroach illustration can be generalized and formalized by postulating the following:

    P1) Designer is lawful entity

    P2) ‘Good+Evil’ conservation law
    …. G+E=constant=0,where G>0, E<0.

    Note 1. The (P2) is a descendant (or variation) of the 2nd law of thermodynamics, where the optimum level of “order” or “harmony” in a subsystem is labeled as “maximum good” for that subsystem. The “optimum” may be the a balance of order & disorder at which the system has maximum computational capacity (sometimes called the ‘edge of order & chaos’).

    For example, to optimize the functionality at your own home, you would want all “pests” in the home vanquished, thus killing cockroaches, mice, bacteria,… is “good” for you, “evil” for them. This is not a “greater good” but mearly one possible redistribution of good & evil, the way energy or electric charge are continually redistribuiting, while keeping the total a constant quantity.

    Note 2. The “designer” in (P1) need not be identical to the “ultimate creator” since this “designer” refers only to the computational system which computes our laws (i.e. designs & creates phenomena described by our physics, chemistry, biology). In turn, we are “designers” of our societies, cultures, religions, technologies, sciences,… while operating under the laws of our level (expressed by the natural sciences) plus all the laws of the “parent” entity. Our 2nd law of thermodynamics is thus a manifestation of (P2) in our system of laws.

    Note 3. Alternative metaphor or ontology for the above physics-like hierarchy is a chain of simulations, where we’re are a simulation in some computer (our “designer”), which in turn may be a simulation in another computer (its “designer”), etc.

  2. F/N: Onlookers may find here in context (note Plantinga and Boethius) and here on useful as contextual, balancing readings. These matters are of course tangential on the main ID issue (and too often willfully poisonously distractive from it), that it is reasonable to infer per empirically reliable signs, that objects bearing such are designed, even if they are found as natural entities. The FSCO/I of the living cell — especially its algorithmic use of digital code — is a focal case in point. KF

  3. Atheists will have no conception of the on-going relationship between God and his worshippers in spirit and in truth. So, this conundrum will inevitably loom much larger on their horizon.

    The over-arching rationale, however mysterious God’s thought-processes in other regards, is that ‘grace builds upon nature’. From the time of the Fall and the expulsion from Eden into a blighted landscape, to the present day, the spiritual growth of the ‘children of light’, generally, has been slowly increasing. Pain and suffering and their attendant trials have been major agencies in this growth.

    The only way for a Christian to look at the unbelievable level of suffering some people have to undergo in this life, including, of course, a very death, is ‘in the light of eternity’. And just as time, or the form of it we are familiar with, is integral with suffering, so is the ultimate limitation placed on our potential for suffering by our mortality.

    But one aspect Christians seldom adduce in such discussions as this, is that we are called to nothing less than a heroic life, although seldom visibly so.

    Although he was a son, he learned obedience through suffering.”
    -Hebrews 5:8

    Such a life, however, is often apparent in agnostics, as well – confirming the point Jesus made in his description in Matthew 25 of the Last Judgment, concerning who are the actual, if sometimes informal, Sheep, and who are the actual, if informal, i.e. religious, Goats. This is not, of course, to downplay the requirement God has placed on the Christian to spread the Gospel of Christ.

    Of course, there are many levels of suffering and heroism, but the latter always real enough, and many thresholds of suffering we are able to bear, as individuals; always of course, subject to God’s grace and his providential economy.

    “For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.”
    -Hebrews 2:10

    So, in Christ we have the supreme exemplar.

    Christ used our competitive nature to encourage our spiritual aspirations, urging us on by talking in terms of our respective statures in heaven. However, since, should we make it to heaven, we shall all be ‘other Christs’ and members of his Mystical Body, such considerations as competitiveness, envy, etc would not figure in our heavenly existence, but quite the contrary: we shall rejoice in the distinctive personalities of the uniquely special ‘other Christs’ we shall, each of us be.

  4. Kairosfucus posted this:

    F/N: Onlookers may find here in context (note Plantinga and Boethius) and here on useful as contextual, balancing readings. These matters are of course tangential on the main ID issue (and too often willfully poisonously distractive from it), that it is reasonable to infer per empirically reliable signs, that objects bearing such are designed, even if they are found as natural entities. The FSCO/I of the living cell — especially its algorithmic use of digital code — is a focal case in point. KF

    I think Kairosfocus is saying “If it looks designed, then it is designed”. Have I got it right?

  5. Well timothya, if it looks designed AND necessity and/ or chance cannot account for it then it is perfectly reasonable to infer it was designed.

    OTOH all YOUR position has is “It ain’t designed even if it looks designed cuz we say so”

  6. Sal:

    How can we resolve the problem of malicious design with intelligent design?

    How is it a problem and why does it have to be resolved?

  7. Axel posted this:

    Atheists will have no conception of the on-going relationship between God and his worshippers in spirit and in truth.

    I can’t speak for atheists in general, but I am prepared to say that this atheist certainly holds a concept that religious believers imagine that there is an “ongoing relationships between God and his worshippers etc”. It is evidently true that this relationship exists (hint: it must be true, otherwise you wouldn’t be posting the claim).

    The problem is that the relationship between “God” and religious belief is a matter of imagination. Religious believers have never provided evidence that their God actually exists “in truth”.

    I, on the other hand, (as an atheist) believe that “God” exists. God exists as an idea in people’s heads. Ideas are real, because they impel people to act in certain ways.

  8. Joe posted this:

    . . . if it looks designed AND necessity and/ or chance cannot account for it then it is perfectly reasonable to infer it was designed

    Get back to me when you can show that the AND operator has been demonstrated. Otherwise you are just blowing smoke.

  9. The AND operator has been demonstrated by the total lack of support for necessity and/ or chance, ie your position, in peer-reviewed journals.

    It bothers you tat your position has nothing- good

  10. timothya,

    I think Kairosfocus is saying “If it looks designed, then it is designed”. Have I got it right?

    Yes, but if you’re an atheist, here as an ID theory for you:

    “a scientist may view design and its appeal to a designer as simply a fruitful device for understanding the world, not attaching any significance to questions like whether a theory of design is in some ultimate sense true or whether the designer actually exists.”

    Bill Dembski

    Hoyle viewed the design of the universe that way. It was intelligent design without a designer. He used the phrase “intelligent design” in the book intelligent universe. Hoyle was an atheist/agnostic.

    I respect the atheist view. Though I disagree with it, I find it reasonable. And as Dawkins would say, I, being a Chrsitian am an atheist with respect to all other deities.

    Now, what I have issue with are atheists acceptance of various evolutionary mechanisms that are given as explanations of the appearance of design.

    The atheist objection raised to the “problem” of malicious design is a reasonable one. Strictly speaking it is not a scientific question, but a philosophical one, but one that carries great weight in the minds of many.

    Thank you for offering your thoughts.

  11. Joe posted this:

    The AND operator has been demonstrated by the total lack of support for necessity and/ or chance, ie your position, in peer-reviewed journals.

    If you are talking about the process of evolutionary change in actually existing biological organisms, I have to assume that you know that biological evolution depends on cumulative, non-random change.

    The only point where “chance” enters into the process is where mutation occurs. Mutation is “random” (chancy) with respect to fitness (that is, mutations are not biassed to occur to increase fitness or to decrease it). That much we know from observation and reportage in peer-reviewed journals (totally supported, without exception).

    Perhaps you mean something else by the term “chance” in relation to biology. If so, you should explain it.

  12. How is it a problem and why does it have to be resolved?

    It’s a philosophical problem for those hoping the intelligent designer won’t make malicious designs.

    It would be sort of unsettling to think the Intelligent Designer of life will also intelligently design plagues. Not very reassuring, and somewhat frightening.

    Malicious deisgns are not, formally speaking, sufficient reason for rejecting ID, but it raises philosophical and religious issues, and sometimes those issue are informally enough for some to reject ID. Certainly that was the case for me.

    And Darwin wrote:

    With respect to the theological view of the question; this is always painful to me.– I am bewildered.– I had no intention to write atheistically. But I own that I cannot see, as plainly as others do, & as I shd wish to do, evidence of design & beneficence on all sides of us. There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent & omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidæ with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars, or that a cat should play with mice. Not believing this, I see no necessity in the belief that the eye was expressly designed. On the other hand I cannot anyhow be contented to view this wonderful universe & especially the nature of man, & to conclude that everything is the result of brute force. I am inclined to look at everything as resulting from designed laws, with the details, whether good or bad, left to the working out of what we may call chance. Not that this notion at all satisfies me. I feel most deeply that the whole subject is too profound for the human intellect. A dog might as well speculate on the mind of Newton.– Let each man hope & believe what he can.

    The irony is Darwin beat a puppy for his own pleasure. The puppy couldn’t understand it, but it was no argument against Darwin being an intelligent agency. And he shot innocent birds just for sport. So excited was Darwin in doing this his hands trembled as he reloaded his gun.

    The irony continues to be lost on Darwin. His intelligently crafted malicious designs were levelled against inferior creatures for his own happiness, yet he can’t seem to understand how an intelligent designer could still be intelligent and create malcious designs. He was oblivious to the irony of his writing and when contrasted to his own behavior.

    The irony is that he would presume to decide how God and an intelligent designer ought to behave based on Darwin’s own liking of how an Intelligent Designer ought to behave, yet when it came to his own intelligent behavior, relative to creatures inferior to him (like those birds), he did exactly the things he found repugnant in the Christian God.

    For me? I don’t kill birds for sport, but I feast on Turkey on Thanksgiving. I sort of feel sorry for the Turkey, but the greater good of the family enjoying a meal is more important to me. In the Turkey’s mind, I’m sure its treatment seems like malicious intelligent design, but the Turkey can’t say it isn’t intelligent design, and neither can Darwin justify the existence of malicious designs as evidence against intelligent design.

  13. timothya:

    If you are talking about the process of evolutionary change in actually existing biological organisms, I have to assume that you know that biological evolution depends on cumulative, non-random change.

    Nice equivocation and nice false pretense. There isn’t anything non-random in the theory of evolution. And ID is not anti-evolution.

    You are obvioulsy confused.

    Natural selection is a result of three processes. And in the end whatever survives to reproduce survives to reproduce. How is that non-random?

    Please produce some evidence that sez evolutionism is non-random

  14. It’s a philosophical problem for those hoping the intelligent designer won’t make malicious designs.

    It’s a strawman, period.

    And when I was a christian I understood the Fall- not autumn- but the fall from grace.

    BTW turkey hunting season is coming soon- I could show you how to hunt with a bow….

  15. BTW turkey hunting season is coming soon- I could show you how to hunt with a bow….

    You mean you would use intelligently designed bows and arrows that were crafted for purposes like inflicting malice on Turkey’s? Which means the existence of malicious designs is no argument against the existence of intelligent design?

  16. scordova posted this:

    The atheist objection raised to the “problem” of malicious design is a reasonable one. Strictly speaking it is not a scientific question, but a philosophical one, but one that carries great weight in the minds of many.

    Nonsense. It is a scientific question whether there is “malice” involved in a lion running down an antelope, or “malice” involved in the operation of the HIV virus. The scientific questions are:

    Why do some humans insist on anthropomorphising nature? and

    Why do some humans insist that human behaviour cannot be explained from natural causes?

    You have explained your reasoning, because the question is “. . . a philosophical one, but one that carries great weight in the minds of many”.

    And you expect me to accept that the weighty opinions of many people are valid? Why exactly?

  17. Joe posted this:

    There isn’t anything non-random in the theory of evolution.

    Rubbish. Do you seriously want to argue that natural selection is “random”?

  18. timothya-

    Again, natural selection is a RESULT, and yes it is random as it is the result of random inputs.

    And again I will ask you to present EVIDENCE that supports your claim of non-randomness.

  19. Sal,

    Which is worse, ie more malicious- killing wild turkeys as a means of wildlife management or letting all the turkeys die because they overpopulated?

  20. Joe posted this:

    And again I will ask you to present EVIDENCE that supports your claim of non-randomness.

    Lenski’s Escherichia coli experiments. Non-random, natural selection at work.

  21. timothya:

    Lenski’s Escherichia coli experiments. Non-random, natural selection at work.

    Your bald assertion means nothing to me.

    1- Lenski artificially selected populations and

    2) subjeted them to artificial environments

    Also you failed to provide any evidence of non-randomness.

  22. TA:

    I of course primarily responded to SC’s post to give a bit broader context of issues of evils, good and malevolence. In so doing I had occasion to remark on inference to design on tested, reliable sign.

    Pardon, but why do you take me out of context so:

    I think Kairosfocus is saying “If it looks designed, then it is designed”. Have I got it right?

    Do you not see the sharp difference between the two highlighted portions? Difference to the point where your description is a caricature, not a true and fair summary.

    The issue, as you know or should know, is that we are dealing with a question of inferring causes of things that trace to an unobserved past. As per the sciences that have sought to reconstruct the past since the 1700′s, the principle used has been to notice traces of the past and to observe in the present that certain factors more or less reliably and characteristically give rise to the same sort of observable traces. Where such traces are seen to be per induction, reliable indicia of causal factors, then it is reasonable to infer on sign to underlying cause.

    That is much like saying that with an attested characteristic signature on witnessed record at the bank it is reasonable to take checques with the same signature as coming from the same source, unless there is reason to think otherwise.

    Of course, in praxis, too often some fairly unreliable observables are routinely accepted and are given high credit, providing hey sit well with the prevailing evolutionary materialist school of thought.

    By contrast, things like FSCO/I are well tested and highly reliable. It is because the evo mat advocates are not happy with what these signs say that they want to challenge them and hold them as somehow suspect.

    The inconsistency is glaring, as is the misrepresentation of what I actually said about what he poisoned atmosphere makes it hard to objectively think through:

    . . . .the main ID issue (and too often willfully poisonously distractive from it), that it is reasonable to infer per empirically reliable signs, that objects bearing such are designed, even if they are found as natural entities. The FSCO/I of the living cell — especially its algorithmic use of digital code — is a focal case in point. [Cf here on inference on signs]

    Notice, no provision of serious counter evidence, just the twisting into a conveniently dismissible caricature.

    Telling.

    KF

  23. Oh foolishness, thy name is Timothya!!!! What on earth has evidence to do with truth, in itself, least of all to – of all kites and crows – the most naive and gullible intamallectuals on the planet. (Don’t take my word for that, take Eisntein’s).

    In the teeth of all the evidence that consciousness, mind, is fundental, matter merely deriving from consciousness, precedes and is the origin of what we are pleased to call ‘matter’, as established by Planck 80 years ago, and confirmed in spades repeatedly ever since, you contrive to believe that matter gave rise to, nay created ex nihilo, everything – including consciousness!!! I bet you still believe that consciousness is coterminous with brain activity, too!

    And that the world is the product of an unending sequence of risible astronomically improbable, nay, impossible strokes of chance.

    I had immense respect for a lad in the army who rather apologetically told me that when I was praying, I was just talking to myself. And I doubled up with laughter, not satirical laughter but sheer glee, because what he said made perfect sense; namely, that to an atheist, that is the way it MUST look. Which brings us back neatly to my point, from which you had somehow managed to spin an unusually facile and vapid, wee bit of sophistry.

    Don’t play with the word, ‘exist’ there’s a good chap. Where does it lead you? Nowhere. It’s just your cute way of saying, it’s all in your mind, and doesn’t really exist, as such, at all: a mere figment of your sorry little imagination. That’s all you had to say. But you will try to think discursively and hold forth.

  24. Timothy, the multiverse: from naive realism to naive surrealism in one giant step for mankind. You go, atheist scientism practitioners!

  25. Sal, can you link to the other recent thread in which we were discussing this topic — was it the Ayala thread?

    At any rate, I think we covered ‘bad’ (in the sense of malicious/evil) design there in quite a bit of detail. I laid out (as did others) very specific reasons why the malicious design argument fails, and I’m too lazy to repeat it all here again. :)

  26. Eric,

    The bad design links of essays I’ve written are in the OP.
    The most recent essay by me was:
    The Shallowness of Bad Design Arguments

    I actually haven’t post much on the topic in the 7 years I’ve been at UD.

    If there was an Ayala thread, or other threads on the topic, I wasn’t a part of them. So if this discussion is redundant, it’s due to the fact I didn’t read those essays.

    If you find a good thread on the topic at UD, feel free to share. Our search engine here isn’t as good as google. I use google to search UD myself.

    Sal

  27. The question of genocide in the Old Testament was raised in Barry’s thread by the materialists:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ral-truth/

    It was off topic in that thread, but I wanted to pursue the topic because I know that in addition to the materialists, many Christians are bothered by the genocide in the Old Testament.

    I’ve offered how I’ve come to terms with the problem the Old Testament poses. Others who are believers in the Bible will possibly find other solutions to these difficult questions than the solution I found. For those that don’t beleive the Bible, it’s not a problem.

  28. Axel posted this:

    What on earth has evidence to do with truth . . .

    immediately before Kairosfocus repeated this:

    . . . it is reasonable to infer per empirically reliable signs, that objects bearing such are designed

    Well, OK. One of you has got to be wrong about the value of evidence. I don’t expect correctness, but is consistency a little too much to ask?

    Axel also posted this:

    And [I bet you still believe] that the world is the product of an unending sequence of risible astronomically improbable, nay, impossible strokes of chance.

    No biologist thinks this. It is a fantasy invented by uncomprehending creationists (who do actually believe that wildly improbable events are the main causes of the world and its contents).

  29. 29

    timothya said:

    “The scientific questions are:

    Why do some humans insist on anthropomorphising nature? and

    Why do some humans insist that human behaviour cannot be explained from natural causes?”

    Those aren’t scientific questions. They are questions of psychology, or perhaps at best philosophy.

    Scordova said:

    “I’ve offered how I’ve come to terms with the problem the Old Testament poses. Others who are believers in the Bible will possibly find other solutions to these difficult questions than the solution I found. For those that don’t beleive the Bible, it’s not a problem.”

    Why? Because all non-Christian theists are philosophically okay with a malicious creator?

  30. Kairosfocus posted this:

    . . . it is reasonable to infer per empirically reliable signs, that objects bearing such are designed.

    and objected when I characterised it as this:

    If it looks designed, then it is designed

    looks => “appears from empirically reliable signs . . .”
    then => “it is reasonable to infer that . . .”

    Evidently my characterisation is not a caricature after all. Of course, “looks” can also mean “is fooled into believing in the reliability of . . .”. But, if the cap fits, wear it.

  31. William J Murray posted this:

    Those aren’t scientific questions. They are questions of psychology, or perhaps at best philosophy.

    What a hoot. That sound you can hear is the horde of psychologists harrumphing into their breakfast cereal at being told by a non-scientist that their discipline is unscientific. And by the way, there is a well-developed body of research (in the un-science of psychology) about why humans are apt to endow non-human phenomena with human attributes.

  32. 32

    The term “malice” means to have the intent of causing pain and suffering in others. Whether there is malice involved cannot be resolved by simply observing the act itself – malice only exists in the conscious mind. Because I manufacture (hypothetically) bombs or land mines to defend our national interest, and those devices generate pain and suffering, doesn’t mean my intent was to cause that pain and suffering; it just means I’m willing to accept those consequences in relationship to the goal.

    If god wipes out a tribe, or lets infants suffer, that doesn’t mean god is malicious. That is certainly not a valid logical conclusion. One might as well assume deadly viruses have malice or that someone in a packaging plant had malice because you found some rat hair in your can of tuna.

    We must presume god to be the essence of good because without god being the foundation of good (and thus, without malice) then we’re morally lost. We either have faith in the pure goodness of God, or we’re just living under the arbitrary rule of a very powerful entity.

    That god is the essence of good is one of those necessary assumptions we have to make in order for our lives to make any rational and meaningful sense.

  33. 33

    Timothya said: “What a hoot. That sound you can hear is the horde of psychologists harrumphing into their breakfast cereal at being told by a non-scientist that their discipline is unscientific”

    What a hoot. That sound you hear is the horde of astronomers, physicists, biologists, chemists and geologists harrumphing into their breakfast cereal at the notion that psychology is a science.

  34. In a different context, the following post from William J Murray would be nominated for a Chez Watt and immediately adopted as a signature line. I read it several times before I could convince myself that the author actually meant to write the words. I wonder if he had the governments of Iran or North Korea in mind?

    As it is, I think it should be left twisting, twisting slowly in the wind:

    Because I manufacture (hypothetically) bombs or land mines to defend our national interest, and those devices generate pain and suffering, doesn’t mean my intent was to cause that pain and suffering; it just means I’m willing to accept those consequences in relationship to the goal.

  35. 35

    timothya:

    The only poster twisting in the wind here is you, as you have repeatedly shown yourself unable to understand basic logic. If my intent is to protect the nation, causing pain and suffering as a byproduct of that goal is not malice.

  36. WJM:

    If god wipes out a tribe, or lets infants suffer, that doesn’t mean god is malicious. That is certainly not a valid logical conclusion.

    Resisting urge to mention Hitler. Mustn’t give in to the Goodwin…

    Oh wait, you’re talking about GOD! Well, if God does it, of course it’s OK!

  37. TA:

    looks like you are gunning for the 1984 doublespeak award:

    looks => “appears from empirically reliable signs . . .”
    then => “it is reasonable to infer that . . .”

    FAIL.

    KF

  38. PS: Onlookers, it seems that this is a case of playing strawman games with logic. Somehow, TA thinks we will swallow that he work of grounding a claim that something is an empirically reliable sign, is a simple matter of appearances. Thar’s nonsense, but if someone plays madcap rhetorical games round and round again, a lot of distraction and confusion as well as time wasting will result. So, let’s just short circuit the endless circles game and state one and for all that to suppress the process of grounding that something is a tested, shown empirically reliable sign [a fairly common exercise in science and general common sense reasoning], is a major strawmannising of the point being made. KF

  39. The doctrine of a omnipotent and benevolent God is not disproved by showing that something ascribed to Him is unpleasant to our sensibilities.

    Yes, you’ve racked your brains trying to think of a non-malicious reason for whatever it is you’re holding against God, with no results, but that does not prove anything. God, being omniscient, will have reasons of which we are ignorant.

    If you claim that there can be no such reasons, you are either claiming omniscience (which is absurd on its face), or you are attributing to God a limitation; but then you are attacking a straw man.

  40. Sal, this thread:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-430136

    Lots of additional discussion there about the implications of bad/evil design.

  41. Sal, sorry for the multiple comments. In addition to the comment I linked above see also my comment #86 to the thread I linked.

    As for the options you outline above, you are correct that there are several coherent ways to reconcile malicious design with intelligent design. All of them are on the table as possibilities and point to the fallacy of concluding no design due to observations of malicious design.

    Personally, however, I think your catch-all #7 may be the most reasonable. Specifically, our perspective is limited; our understanding of what is “malicious” is necessarily skewed by our small, temporary, superficial viewpoint and our lack of comprehension of the bigger picture. Lest anyone is tempted to think this is not the case, let me point out that to deny this is to commit the following gross error: ascribing to us omniscience.

    And that is really one of the key errors committed by those who point to malicious design as evidence of no designer. Namely, they are holding themselves out as the arbiters of what constitutes evil/malicious design; they think they have some special understanding of what the designer would be like and what the designer would and would not do.

    If only, that is, the designer existed . . .

  42. EvilSnack, you posted while I was putting together my comments. Apologies for repeating your point about the fallacy of ascribing omniscience to us.

    Great minds in the same vein and all . . . :)

  43. Eric,

    Whoa! Thanks. Yeah, I looked at the date on that thread, no wonder I totally missed it! I was wrapping up some schooling and business and was backlogged by my sister’s wedding. Ha! I only remember responding to Nick in a hurry.

    I updated the OP to include a link to Barry’s post.

    PS
    Barry, sorry boss, I missed your thread earlier. It was awesome.

  44. Eric from the linked thread:

    One of the great ironies of the atheist mind is that no-one is more cock-sure of exactly what God is like, exactly what God would think, exactly what God would do, than the committed atheist. Of course he doesn’t believe in God, but if God did exist, he knows precisely what God would be like and how God would behave. Or so he thinks . . .

    LOL!

  45. Maybe Einstein is malicious?
    And on these issues useless. stick to gravity stuff Al.

    nature is not in its original form.
    originally nature had eternal life and mechanisms to do it.
    only a great and weird FALL changed nature into a thing of death.
    The bible says this.
    Any analysis of nature must include a option its not what God planned.
    Christianity is about bringing remedy.
    God was executed.
    This is not showing a healthy universe.

  46. 46

    It really has nothing to do with our perspective being “limited” any more than it is “limited” in knowing the intent of any conscious entity. We can ascribe malice to anyone, but that doesn’t mean that there was any malice involved. The argument about a malicious god simply by viewing acts and events is utterly irrational.

    I’ve found that western atheists generally become atheists due to liberal sensibilities – they reach conclusions often based on emotion, not sound reasoning. Sound reasoning necessarily leads back to the premise of a good god, not away from it.

  47. 47

    The argument about bad design is similar to the argument about a malicious god – if you don’t know what was in the mind of the designer, what the purpose of the design is, what the limitations involved were, there’s simply no way to determine if the design is good or bad. It’s a foolish argument that never amounts to anything more than appeals to emotion.

  48. Well, in the christian view there’s nothing to resolve of course – God created the universe in a perfect state, sin entered through a man and the creation was cursed. This is old-hat of course, and the other ‘problems’ of the old testament have been well expounded for thousands of years?

  49. To my mind, degraded design is most supported by the entire body of evidence we have.

  50. William J Murray @ 46&47
    I heartily agree. I occasionally spend time reading posts on sites like NPR, and it never ceases to amaze me how atheists will make the most impassioned speeches (ala Dawkins) against the idea of God primarily driven by a self-righteous indignation. The arguments have a strong rhetorical appeal, but they are barren intellectually. Most of the atheist commentors at UD seem to suffer that same shortcoming, mounting nothing substantive in favor of their position.

    The bare fact that someone may find God’s dealings (as recorded in Scripture) not to their liking has absolutely no bearing on explaning the manifest design in biology. It’s rather like saying, “I don’t like Bill Gates, because of ‘business decision A’, therefore the windows operating system was not designed.” Applying that same logic to other situations reveals just how bankrupt it really is.
    It also must be noted that those who would criticize God seem to be blind to the amorality of the culture around them. It brings to mind an opinion piece I read some years ago by Leonard Pitts, who found the very concept of capital punishment offensive but vehemently favored the right to abortion. Even seemingly “civilized” societies are quite savage when God is excised from the collective conciousness.

  51. Sal, enjoyed your ‘passover’ post, interesting way to think of things.

    I’ve stated before, that one possible explanation is that this [is God’s] makes heaven more meaningful by making the present world miserable. (See 2 Cor 4:17 and Romans 8:20).

    I think the curse makes heaven possible at all. Man cannot be saved if he is sinful and eternal. The curse was ‘for his sake’, it is necessary for the plan of redemption.

    This site is a great resource. Reading through different treatments of the ‘maliciousness’ of the old testament God put the ‘problem’ to rest for me.

    http://www.tektonics.org/index.html

  52. BIN:

    I agree, and Tektonics is often a helpful site, though searching around there can be a bit hard.

    On the range of issues in focus here, try here and here and as a start.

    I have also given some onward discussions in 2 above that deal with the problem of evil vs good (in a context of building a worldview, cf here on in context, on warrant for Christian foundations) and with the sort of accusations commonly raised by so-called new atheists. Note too the RH column link on dealing with the rhetoric of EvilBible and here on, on the sort of rhetoric in the 10 questions for intelligent Christians and the like. (Note the onward links in the RH column there, too.)

    I hope these will help

    KF

  53. I’m not sure if any converts will be won over by saying things like “That’s the way God did it. Who are we to question how he does things?”. Why would an all-powerful God create through a process that brings such suffering? If evolution and the age of the earth are true then God created through “the survival of the fittest” method which is very cruel. I know that this not a new argument but I think it’s one that hasn’t been answered satisfactorily. Also, if you look at the Genesis text, it doesn’t say that man brought sin into the world. It says he will have the knowledge of good and evil. This almost implies that evil was already in the world but man would now be able to tell the difference or he would be unaware of it. Perhaps man would have added to the “survival of the fittest” by continuing to kill one another and not really know that the act is evil. The act would just be part of nature that God used to create. In other words, man found out about God’s dirty little secret. Doesn’t the bible also say that God creates evil?

  54. Hopefully not too far off the topic of ‘bad design’, But of somewhat related interest, the bible holds that God will separate the wheat from the chaff. i.e. that God will separate the ‘good from the evil’

    Matthew 3:12
    His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

    In relation to establishing the plausible reality of this separation of good from evil, I would like to draw attention to the fact that there are two very different curvatures of space-time geometry in reality. The first curvature of space-time is the space-time curvature most people are familiar with. It is the curvature made famous by Einstein in General Relativity:

    ‘Fabric’ Of Space-Time and The Infinite Curvature Of Black Hole Space-Time – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0VOn9r4dq8

    The other curvature of space-time, that people are not so familiar with, is the curvature that occurs in Einstein’s other theory, special relativity, as a ‘hypothetical observer’ approaches the speed of light. Please note the 3:22 mark of the following video to see the tunnel effect as the ‘higher dimension’ of the speed of light is approached:

    Approaching The Speed Of Light – Optical Effects – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5733303/

    Why this is interesting to point out is because both space-times, special relativity space-time and General Relativity space-time, find parallels in Near Death Experience testimonies. Here is a special relativity parallel:

    The NDE and the Tunnel – Kevin Williams’ research conclusions
    Excerpt: I started to move toward the light. The way I moved, the physics, was completely different than it is here on Earth. It was something I had never felt before and never felt since. It was a whole different sensation of motion. I obviously wasn’t walking or skipping or crawling. I was not floating. I was flowing. I was flowing toward the light. I was accelerating and I knew I was accelerating, but then again, I didn’t really feel the acceleration. I just knew I was accelerating toward the light. Again, the physics was different – the physics of motion of time, space, travel. It was completely different in that tunnel, than it is here on Earth. I came out into the light and when I came out into the light, I realized that I was in heaven. (Barbara Springer – Near Death Experiencer)

    And here is a General Relativity parallel: A man, near the beginning of this video, gives testimony of falling down a ‘tunnel’ in the transition stage from this world to hell:

    Hell – A Warning! – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4131476/

    As well, the man in this following video also speaks of ‘tumbling down’ a tunnel in his transition stage to hell:

    Bill Wiese on Sid Roth – video
    http://vimeo.com/21230371

    Moreover there is also found to be two very different ‘qualities of entropy’ to be noted between the two different space-times:

    The Physics of the Small and Large: What is the Bridge Between Them? Roger Penrose
    Excerpt: “The time-asymmetry is fundamentally connected to with the Second Law of Thermodynamics: indeed, the extraordinarily special nature (to a greater precision than about 1 in 10^10^123, in terms of phase-space volume) can be identified as the “source” of the Second Law (Entropy).”

    Roger Penrose – How Special Was The Big Bang?
    “But why was the big bang so precisely organized, whereas the big crunch (or the singularities in black holes) would be expected to be totally chaotic? It would appear that this question can be phrased in terms of the behaviour of the WEYL part of the space-time curvature at space-time singularities. What we appear to find is that there is a constraint WEYL = 0 (or something very like this) at initial space-time singularities-but not at final singularities-and this seems to be what confines the Creator’s choice to this very tiny region of phase space.”

    Entropy of the Universe – Hugh Ross – May 2010
    Excerpt: Egan and Lineweaver found that supermassive black holes are the largest contributor to the observable universe’s entropy. They showed that these supermassive black holes contribute about 30 times more entropy than what the previous research teams estimated.
    http://www.reasons.org/entropy-universe

    Scientists gear up to take a picture of a black hole – January 2012
    Excerpt: “Swirling around the black hole like water circling the drain in a bathtub, the matter compresses and the resulting friction turns it into plasma heated to a billion degrees or more, causing it to ‘glow’ – and radiate energy that we can detect here on Earth.”
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....-hole.html

    i.e. Black Holes are found to be singularities of destruction and disorder rather than singularities of creation and order such as the extreme order we see at the creation event of the Big Bang where light was first brought into being. Needless to say, the implications of this ‘singularity of destruction’ should be fairly disturbing for those of us who are of the ‘spiritually minded’ persuasion!

    Blackholes – The neo-Darwinist’s ultimate ‘god of entropic randomness’ which can create all life in the universe, according to them, is in fact a found to be a ‘pit of destruction’ within space-time:
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1fxhJEGNeEQ_sn4ngQWmeBt1YuyOs8AQcUrzBRo7wISw/edit?hl=en_US

    Matthew 10:28
    “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

    It is also very interesting to note that we have two very different qualities of ‘eternality of time’ revealed by our time dilation experiments;

    Time dilation
    Excerpt: Time dilation: special vs. general theories of relativity:
    In Albert Einstein’s theories of relativity, time dilation in these two circumstances can be summarized:
    1. –In special relativity (or, hypothetically far from all gravitational mass), clocks that are moving with respect to an inertial system of observation are measured to be running slower. (i.e. For any observer accelerating, hypothetically, to the speed of light, time, as we understand it, will come to a complete stop).
    2.–In general relativity, clocks at lower potentials in a gravitational field—such as in closer proximity to a planet—are found to be running slower. (At the event horizon of a Black hole, time, as we understand it, will come to a complete stop).
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_dilation

    Time Dilation – General and Special Relativity – Chuck Missler – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/7013215/

  55. i.e. As with any observer accelerating to the speed of light, it is found that for any observer falling into the event horizon of a black hole, that time, as we understand it, will come to a complete stop for them. —

    To grasp the whole ‘time coming to a complete stop at the speed of light’, i.e. ‘eternal’, concept a little more easily, imagine moving away from the face of a clock at the speed of light. Would not the hands on the clock stay stationary as you moved away from the face of the clock at the speed of light? Moving away from the face of a clock at the speed of light happens to be the same ‘thought experiment’ that gave Einstein his breakthrough insight into e=mc2.

    Albert Einstein – Special Relativity – Insight Into Eternity – ‘thought experiment’ video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/6545941/

    “The laws of relativity have changed timeless existence from a theological claim to a physical reality. Light, you see, is outside of time, a fact of nature proven in thousands of experiments at hundreds of universities. I don’t pretend to know how tomorrow can exist simultaneously with today and yesterday. But at the speed of light they actually and rigorously do. Time does not pass.”
    Richard Swenson – More Than Meets The Eye, Chpt. 12

    ‘In the ‘spirit world,,, instantly, there was no sense of time. See, everything on earth is related to time. You got up this morning, you are going to go to bed tonight. Something is new, it will get old. Something is born, it’s going to die. Everything on the physical plane is relative to time, but everything in the spiritual plane is relative to eternity. Instantly I was in total consciousness and awareness of eternity, and you and I as we live in this earth cannot even comprehend it, because everything that we have here is filled within the veil of the temporal life. In the spirit life that is more real than anything else and it is awesome. Eternity as a concept is awesome. There is no such thing as time. I knew that whatever happened was going to go on and on.’
    Mickey Robinson – Near Death Experience testimony

    It is also very interesting to note that special relativity is found to ‘merge’ with quantum mechanics, whereas general relativity does not ‘merge’ with quantum mechanics:

    Theories of the Universe: Quantum Mechanics vs. General Relativity
    Excerpt: The first attempt at unifying relativity and quantum mechanics took place when special relativity was merged with electromagnetism. This created the theory of quantum electrodynamics, or QED. It is an example of what has come to be known as relativistic quantum field theory, or just quantum field theory. QED is considered by most physicists to be the most precise theory of natural phenomena ever developed.
    In the 1960s and ’70s, the success of QED prompted other physicists to try an analogous approach to unifying the weak, the strong, and the gravitational forces. Out of these discoveries came another set of theories that merged the strong and weak forces called quantum chromodynamics, or QCD, and quantum electroweak theory, or simply the electroweak theory, which you’ve already been introduced to.
    If you examine the forces and particles that have been combined in the theories we just covered, you’ll notice that the obvious force missing is that of gravity.
    http://www.infoplease.com/cig/.....ivity.html

    This lack of ‘merging’ between the two theories is interesting because it seems of logical necessity that general relativity space-time must somehow ‘emerge’ from the ‘spaceless and timeless’ physics of quantum mechanics:

    LIVING IN A QUANTUM WORLD – Vlatko Vedral – 2011
    Excerpt: Thus, the fact that quantum mechanics applies on all scales forces us to confront the theory’s deepest mysteries. We cannot simply write them off as mere details that matter only on the very smallest scales. For instance, space and time are two of the most fundamental classical concepts, but according to quantum mechanics they are secondary. The entanglements are primary. They interconnect quantum systems without reference to space and time. If there were a dividing line between the quantum and the classical worlds, we could use the space and time of the classical world to provide a framework for describing quantum processes. But without such a dividing line—and, indeed, with­out a truly classical world—we lose this framework. We must explain space and time (4D space-time) as somehow emerging from fundamental­ly spaceless and timeless physics.
    http://phy.ntnu.edu.tw/~chchan.....611038.pdf

    Moving forward as to a very credible ‘Christian resolution’ of this dilemma

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-432090

    Matthew 28:18
    And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and upon earth.”

    Matthew 27:50-52
    And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.

    Related notes: ‘higher dimensional’ mathematics had to be developed before Einstein could elucidate General Relativity, and even before Quantum Mechanics could be elucidated;

    The Mathematics Of Higher Dimensionality – Gauss & Riemann – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/6199520/

    Moreover, quantum mechanics is found to be ‘infinite dimensional’ whereas space-time is ‘merely’ found to be 4-Dimensional,,,

    3D to 4D shift – Carl Sagan – video with notes
    Excerpt from Notes: The state-space of quantum mechanics is an infinite-dimensional function space. Some physical theories are also by nature high-dimensional, such as the 4-dimensional general relativity.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VS1mwEV9wA

    Moreover, this ‘infinite dimensional’ state-space of quantum mechanics is now found in molecular biology on a massive scale:

    Falsification Of Neo-Darwinism by Quantum Entanglement/Information
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1p8AQgqFqiRQwyaF8t1_CKTPQ9duN8FHU9-pV4oBDOVs/edit?hl=en_US

    Thus, this finding of a ‘infinite dimensional’ state-space in molecular biology on a massive scale provides a very viable mechanism for a ‘eternal soul’ which is able to make transitions to either of the two ‘eternal’ regions of space-time of General Relativity or Special Relativity:

    Does Quantum Biology Support A Quantum Soul? – Stuart Hameroff – video (notes in description)
    http://vimeo.com/29895068

    Quantum Entangled Consciousness (Permanence of Quantum Information)- Life After Death – Stuart Hameroff – video
    https://vimeo.com/39982578

  56. Timothy, you keep plumbing ever lower depths of folly:

    ‘Axel posted this:

    What on earth has evidence to do with truth . . .

    immediately before Kairosfocus repeated this:

    . . . it is reasonable to infer per empirically reliable signs, that objects bearing such are designed

    Well, OK. One of you has got to be wrong about the value of evidence. I don’t expect correctness, but is consistency a little too much to ask?’

    Surey.. SURELY… you can understand that Kairosfocucs is no contending that truth DEPENDS UPON our capacity to PROVE it. Surely that is not too much to ask from someone posting on a board for adults to discuss.

    You simply seem to be whollyunequipped to think logically in even the simplest informal way.

    ‘Axel also posted this:

    And [I bet you still believe] that the world is the product of an unending sequence of risible astronomically improbable, nay, impossible strokes of chance.

    No biologist thinks this. It is a fantasy invented by uncomprehending creationists (who do actually believe that wildly improbable events are the main causes of the world and its contents).’

    So, you are a biologist and as such, you believe random chance had no role in the appearance or manifestation of the universe? What would be your best guess, pray?

  57. 57
    CentralScrutinizer

    JLAFan2001: Why would an all-powerful God create through a process that brings such suffering? If evolution and the age of the earth are true then God created through “the survival of the fittest” method which is very cruel.

    How do you know it’s cruel? You apparently assume that animals have consciousness. Why do you assume that? Is your assumption scientific?

    As for God being “all powerful”, maybe God isn’t. That’s classical theism. Classical theism could be wrong. There are other options.

  58. Butifnot,

    Hey, thanks for reminding me about the Passover post! I’ll update the OP to include a link to it:

    The “The Passover Post” — The reason for Imperfect, Self-Destructing Designs.

    I meant to provide links to it earlier. Thanks a million!

  59. JLAfan2001

    It mystifies me how one can use a text in a way that requires it is truthful and revealed by God, in order to demonstrate that God has been found out keeping “dirty secrets”.

    Genesis claims to be the first book of the Torah God revealed, and in the very first couple of pages God talks about the perils for mankind of “knowing good and evil”. So it’s hardly a secret, is it?

    At most, if the story did mean that God had previously introduced “evil” into the world (which it doesn’t), then a literalist interpretation that says there was no animal death before the fall would fall flat.

    It may surprise some here to realise that in the early centuries of the Church, the concept that there is “evil” in the non-human creation was strongly denied by all, except the Gnostics – witness Irenaeus, Augustine, Athanasius etc. And these guys were considerably more aware than us urbanised moderns of what actually goes on in nature, in disease, and in death, because most were acquainted with farming, died young of untreatable disease and there were genuine wild beasts in the countryside that ate people sometimes. So how do we know we see things clearer than they did, or the writer of Job did?

  60. butifnot,

    Hey! Thanks for correcting my grammar and typos. The above has now been corrected:

    I’ve stated before, that one possible explanation is that God makes heaven more meaningful by making the present world miserable. (See 2 Cor 4:17 and Romans 8:20).

    Thanks to you and UD readers for helping me improve my essays. The ideas will be repackaged, redone, and ported to my upcoming website : CreationEvolutionUniversity.org and UD has been a very good vetting ground for my brainstorms.

  61. Indeed, Timothy, arguably we believe, not just in improbable things occurring, but in impossible things, qua paradoxes, occurring – hence not absolutely impossible. Indeed, we have identified and to some degree measured such mysteries, such impossibiilties, in both quantum physics and astrophysics.

    HOWEVER, THEY ARE MOST CERTAINLY NOT COUNTER-INTUITIVE, but COUNTER-RATIONAL! Something you hapless mutts don’t want to get your heads around because it totally devalues, and deservedly holds up your precious ‘promissory note’ to ridicule and alas, contempt.

    The existence of the world truly is a mystery, wrapped up in an enigma, etc, but of which by our Christian God’s grace, alone, we are able to understand a great deal by our own very puny standards.

  62. Centralscrutinizer

    Funny you should ask about animal consciousness. I came across this article the other day. Admittedly, I haven’t read all of it but it seems to affirm that animals do have consciousness. If they do then what’s so special about man’s consciousness? Perhaps it is just a series of atoms in our brain.

    If God is not all powerful then why worship him? What’s his limitations? Did he crate the universe or not, maybe the creation of man was out of his power and nature had to do it, maybe raising the dead is beyond him too?

    Jon

    I concede the point that if man found God’s secret, we were only able to find out because of Genesis. The text could have lied about it instead of being forthcoming but I still find those texts suspicious.

    Also, I wasn’t mentioning the texts from a literal perspective but more from a day-age one. It seems odd to me that the method which brought about man is now “off-limits” to man. It’s like saying that the selfish gene was the driving force behind evolution (al la Dawkins) and now that we have the appearance of consciousness, evolution now says we should be altruistic. IOW, if it was good enough for my grandparents, why isn’t good enough for me? ?

  63. 63
    CentralScrutinizer

    JLAfan2001: Funny you should ask about animal consciousness. I came across this article the other day. Admittedly, I haven’t read all of it but it seems to affirm that animals do have consciousness.

    “Seems to affirm” on what scientific basis?

    If they do then what’s so special about man’s consciousness?

    If they don’t, then you assertion that evolution is cruel is false.

    Perhaps it is just a series of atoms in our brain.

    Perhaps not. Where’s your science?

    If God is not all powerful then why worship him?

    That’s a subjective question with a subjective answer. My answer probably differs from yours.

  64. Centralscrutinizer

    Aw nuts!!! I forgot to attach the link and now I can’t find the blasted log post. I know it’s at Edward Feser’s blog.

    What’s your God worship answer?

  65. “It’s like saying that the selfish gene was the driving force behind evolution (al la Dawkins) and now that we have the appearance of consciousness, evolution now says we should be altruistic. IOW, if it was good enough for my grandparents, why isn’t good enough for me? ?”

    Dawkins, of course, recognises the value of altruism, and says we can and should rise above our genes. Some of us doubt he has adequate grounds for that (unless God gave him his innate moral sense).

    That other atheist, E O Wilson, is at loggerheads with Dawkins because he is convinced that the evidence shows cooperation is at least as important as competition in evolution. Which draws attentionb to the fact that Darwin’s “red in tooth and claw” version of nature owed as much to Malthus’ theories of population as to dispassionate observation of nature.

    As it happens I live in the country, and it takes a huge effort as I observe nature to make it fit that “one agony upon another” picture they paint. The creatures actually seem to enjoy life more than most people do.

  66. Centralscrutinizer

    Ah ha! Found the link

    http://edwardfeser.blogspot.ca.....s-sky.html

    Jon

    I agree with you that Dawkins does contradict himself on this. He himself has said that we dance to the tune of our DNA so how can we rise above our selfish gene unless evolution imbues us with altruism? I think that is quite beyond the scope of evolution. It would have to evolve our genes properly in order to form a different brain that can produce chemicals and atoms which could then produce the illusion of altruism and free will.

    Also, I find Wilson’s theory somewhat disturbing. Even with group or kin selection, all altruism boils down to is another method of survival. It seems that the only important thing is the propagation of the species or the genes rather than the personhood of the individual. Where’s the value in that?

  67. 67
    critical rationalist

    I would add two more possibilities.

    07. There are a number of designers that are equally powerful, but each had different goals. The resulting biosphere is a strategic compromise.

    08. The designers are equally powerful twins. However, one is perfectly good and the other is perfectly evil. The resulting biosphere is a standoff in which neither ended up with what they intended.

    I’d also note that, assuming the terms “good” and “evil” can be used to determine what a designs a designer would or would not produce, either of these are better theories than an abstract designer with no defined limitations as there are more ways they can be found to be in error.

    To use an example, even the statement that “all swans are white”, which is found in conflict with observations and therefore false as a whole, is better than merely “all swans have a color” as the former has more ways to be found wrong. All theories usually contains errors to some degree. In my example, the error is “all”, but it does bring us closer to the truth than merely “all swans have a color” because it encompasses the theory that there are *white* swans. Popper called this property Verisimilitude.

    I’m also assuming that one actually attempts to criticize the theory that there was a committee of designers, rather than one. For example, If one uncritically accepts there is only one designer, this is the equivalent of saying “all swans have a color” since you are intentionally choosing not to criticize it.

    However, in comparison to my additions, there are even better theories for the origin of the biosphere that have significantly more informational content (and therefore more significantly more ways to be found in error) and greater verisimilitude.

    For example, it’s logically possible one or more designers intentionally went out of its way to obscure its role in designing biological organisms. Even if this was the case, Darwinism would still be the best explanation because it encompasses the theory that the biosphere appears *as if* adaptations of organisms were created by genetic variation that was random to any specific problem to solve and natural selection. IOW, the theory encompasses a specific means by which the designer set out to obscure it’s role, which could also be found false as compared to some other specific means of obscuring its role. As such, this too represents a better theory than merely an abstract designer with no defined limitations.

    This is one example of what I mean when I say the current crop of ID is a bad explanation.

  68. 68
    critical rationalist

    On the other hand, a designer could have gone out of its way to accentuate its role in designing biological organisms. One way of doing so would be to create organisms in a way that conflicted with Darwinism. Was the designer surprised by the rise of Darwinism? Did the designer know Darwinism would arise, but could only design organisms in a way that collaborated it, rather than conflict with it?

    An abstract designer with no defined limitations doesn’t need to be efficient, practical, cost effective, etc. Nor would designing organisms in a way that conflicts with Darwinism require any sort of logical impossibility. From an earlier comment…

    One necessary consequence [of Darwinism] is that organisms should appear in the order of least to most complex. In addition, organisms should appear over time, rather than appearing all at once. If organisms appeared all at once or in the order of most complex to least complex, there is no way to vary Darwinism to explain it. Darwinists [would] have no where to go. We can say the same regarding organisms born with new, complex adaptations for which there were no precursors in the parents or complex adaptation that has survival value today, but was not favored by selection pressure in it’s ancestry (such as bears with the ability to detect and use internet weather forecasts as a means to determine when to hibernate) In all of these cases, some completely different explanatory theory would be needed.

    For example, one of the arguments against Darwinism is that proteins could not have evolved because it required finding just the right genes, that result in just the right proteins, that result in just the right biological features. However, if a designer is capable of determining the specific way it designed the genome would eventually result in specific biological features, it’s unclear why this same designer wouldn’t have known this same specific design would also eventually result in the rise of Darwinism as a theory to explain it. How can it know one, but not the other?

    Note: what I am doing here is taking intelligent design seriously, in that I’m assuming it’s true in reality for the purpose of criticism, and that all observations should conform to it.

    This also leads me back to my earlier question. What is the origin of the knowledge the designer used to create the biological adaptations we observe?

    How did it know that just the right genes would result in just the right proteins that would result in just the right biological features?

    A designer that “just was”, complete with the knowledge of which genes would result in just the right proteins which would result in just the right biological features, already present, serves no explanatory purpose. This is because one could more economically state that organisms “just appeared”, compete with the knowledge of which genes would result in just the right proteins which would result in just the right biological features, already present.

  69. JLAfan2001

    “Where’s the value in that?” Where indeed? Yet it matters to us. So the altruism itself does have a value, which neither evolutionary theory explains adequately. I mentioned it to remind you that doubting Christianity because people disagree about it should lead you to doubt atheism for exactly the same reasons. But atheism really doesn’t have an explanation for why values matter to us so much, but Christianity does. Explanatory power, that is.

    You talk about “the illusion of altruism and free will”. Who exactly would that illusion be fooling? Is it our illusion of consciousness? In which case, who’s being fooled by that illusion? “I only think I’m thinking” begs the same question – the brute fact is you can only have problems about it because you are really you. “Sometimes I almost feel on fire with the immensity of this: each of us is a person, alive, growing and relating,” (Os Guinness, Doubt). Good book.

    You said earlier, “Perhaps it is just a series of atoms in our brain.” Where does that “just” come from? If you discover that Shakespeare’s plays are all made of letters, how does that detract from anything, or explain it?

    C S Lewis wrote in one of the Narnia stories about the children being introduced to a star. “In our world,” one of them said, “a star is a ball of burning gases.” The other replied, “Even in your world that is not what a star is, just what it is made of.”

  70. Sal I am excited about your new website, very cool endeavor. Just a note to that other recent post – many YEC’s, perhaps most YEC scientist even, were just creationists, of course, until they reexamined the evidence and found it,surprisingly, quite consistent with youth.

    nephesh chayyah, the breath of life that was given to invertebrates, seems like consciousness. God expressed sorrow that he would have had to destroy the animals in Nineveh.

    CR – Multiple-Designers has been well criticized. You’re asserting that ‘Darwinism’ has any of the creative powers ascribed to it when it is only change-and-loss.

  71. scordova:

    But, those are my views, and I don’t mean to argue that they should be the views of the readers, or that I’m even close to being right.

    Typical Salvador,

    Doesn’t even mean to argue that he’s even close to being right. Just spewing words, to no end.

    But forget about Malicious God’s, what about malicious gods, people vested with too much power and too little self-restraint?

  72. 72

    Critical rationalist said: “This also leads me back to my earlier question. What is the origin of the knowledge the designer used to create the biological adaptations we observe? ”

    It is premised that God is the source of knowledge – God knows everything that can be known, in the manner that it can be known.

    Critical rationalist said: “A designer that “just was”, complete with the knowledge of which genes would result in just the right proteins which would result in just the right biological features, already present, serves no explanatory purpose. This is because one could more economically state that organisms “just appeared”, compete with the knowledge of which genes would result in just the right proteins which would result in just the right biological features, already present.”

    By your method of Occam’s Razor, the more economical explanation for everything is that it “just appeared” as it is when you observe it. All cause and effect explanations eventually go back to either a “just appeared” or infinite regress, so why be hypercritically selective of a designer here?

    Explanations of a phenomena need not (and indeed, do not) go back to those fundamental alternatives. Explanations need only go to necessary and sufficient explanations for that particular phenomena. If the only cause we know of that is sufficient and apparently necessary to generate the phenomena in question is some kind of an intelligent designer, then what’s the problem – other than materialist/atheist ideology – in inferring that an intelligent designer generated the phenomena?

    Where the designer got the knowledge to do what it did, or where the designer came from, is irrelevant to the point that it is the best explanation for something. I could equally insist that unless you can tell me where gravity came from, and why it is set at the value it is set at, then you have no business invoking it as an explanation for any observed phenomena.

  73. 73
    CentralScrutinizer

    JLAfan2001,

    Care to explain *how* “atoms” wired together in a certain fashion produce consciousness? And how it is only a subset of those “atoms” in human brains that achieve this? (Since not all of the brain’s neurons are related to conscious experience.)

    You can’t, and neither can anyone else. At best, neuroscience has been able to show correlation, but not causation. Of course neuro networks in our brain are correlated with conscious states. But nobody has been able to demonstrate causation. Pure speculation at this point.

    Anything beyond that at this point is not science.

    So then, where is the scientific support for your assertion that evolution is “cruel?”

    You have none.

  74. JLAfan2001 @53:

    Why would an all-powerful God create through a process that brings such suffering? If evolution and the age of the earth are true then God created through “the survival of the fittest” method which is very cruel.

    Even if God created through some evolutionary process (which idea is not particulalry consistent with the evidence; that is, unless we define evolution so broadly as to be different from what most materialists think of when they think of evolution, but this is an aside . . .), why would it be cruel? What is it about survival of the fittest that is cruel? Survival of the fittest certainly has no role in creating. All survival of the fittest means in this context is that some creatures die earlier than others, with all creatures eventually dying anyway. Are you suggesting that the fact of death itself is cruel and that the only way existence would not be cruel is if there were no death?

  75. JLAfan2001 @66:

    Agreed that Dawkins is incoherent. Also, I think you make a good point about Wilson and others who push the idea of group or kin selection. I have never seen anyone give a rational, coherent explanation of how that is supposed to work. Rather, it is an attempt to rationalize away the existence of altruism, charity, etc. And a poor attempt at that. But if one is a committed materialist and a committed Darwinist, unfortunately that is all the firepower they have at their disposal, so they do the best they can . . .

  76. This was a interesting article I just ran across:

    Seven Things You Can’t Do as a Moral Relativist by Greg Koukl
    Rule #1: Relativists Can’t Accuse Others of Wrong-Doing
    Rule #2: Relativists Can’t Complain About the Problem of Evil
    Rule #3: Relativists Can’t Place Blame or Accept Praise
    Rule #4: Relativists Can’t Claim Anything Is Unfair or Unjust
    Rule #5: Relativists Can’t Improve Their Morality
    Rule#6: Relativists Can’t Hold Meaningful Moral Discussions
    Rule #7: Relativists Can’t Promote the Obligation of Tolerance
    http://www.salvomag.com/new/ar...../koukl.php

  77. 77
    critical rationalist

    William: It is premised that God is the source of knowledge – God knows everything that can be known, in the manner that it can be known.

    So, intelligent design explicitly claims the designer is God? However, this conflicts with claims that ID is agnostic about the designer, including those here on this blog.

    William: By your method of Occam’s Razor, the more economical explanation for everything is that it “just appeared” as it is when you observe it.

    I’m not advocating “just appeared”. Nor am I suggesting it’s a better explanation. My point is that neither of them actually explain how the knowledge was created. Adding a designer to the mix doesn’t add to the explanation.

    William: All cause and effect explanations eventually go back to either a “just appeared” or infinite regress …

    So, all designer-less theories are “cause and effect” theories? If so, what are theories that *do* contain designers?

    William: … so why be hypercritically selective of a designer here?

    I’m not “hypercritically selective of a designer”. I’m pointing out that adding a designer doesn’t actually solve the question at hand. It may solve some other problem you personally might want to solve, but not the question evolutionary theory addresses.

    William: Explanations of a phenomena need not (and indeed, do not) go back to those fundamental alternatives. Explanations need only go to necessary and sufficient explanations for that particular phenomena.

    You seem to be confused about my question, because that’s not what I’m suggesting.

    We do not replace one theory with another unless the replacement has more explanatory power. This includes providing a better explanation for everything the preceding theory did, and possibility even more. This is why I asked, what explanation does ID present for how this knowledge was created? In the absence of such an explanation, it’s unclear why ID should replace Darwinism.

    William: If the only cause we know of that is sufficient and apparently necessary to generate the phenomena in question is some kind of an intelligent designer, then what’s the problem – other than materialist/atheist ideology – in inferring that an intelligent designer generated the phenomena?

    First, see my first comment It’s a bad explanation for the reasons I outlined.

    Second, Darwinism fits under the umbrella of Popper’s universal theory of the growth of knowledge. It’s our most current, best explanation in which knowledge is genuinely created, rather than having always existed or spontaneously appearing.

    Why don’t you start out by explaining how knowledge is created, then point out how Darwinism doesn’t’ fit that explanation. Please be specific. Or perhaps your view that “God is the source of all knowledge” indicates you think knowledge isn’t created, but has always existed?

  78. BA ,

    Seven rules for relativists,

    The problem is you are thinking as a dogmatist, to a relativist even relativity is relative.

  79. The problem is you are thinking as a dogmatist, to a relativist even relativity is relative.

    And that is morally good or bad because?

  80. 80

    critical rationalists said: “So, intelligent design explicitly claims the designer is God? However, this conflicts with claims that ID is agnostic about the designer, including those here on this blog.”

    You asked about the origin of the information; it is either an irrelevant scientific question in terms of the phenomena being explained, or it is a philosophical question. In scientific terms, we don’t trail all cause and effect sequences back to ultimate origins. While it might be interesting to find out from an arsonist where they got their information about how to set fires, it’s irrelevant to the discovery of what was responsible for the fire.

    I answered the philosophical question because the scientific one is irrelevant, as I pointed out later.

    critical rationalists said: “My point is that neither of them actually explain how the knowledge was created. Adding a designer to the mix doesn’t add to the explanation.”

    Because “how the knowledge was created” isn’t at issue, any more than “how gravity was created” or “where the arsonist’s knowledge came from” is relevant to those investigations.

    critical rationalists said: “So, all designer-less theories are “cause and effect” theories? If so, what are theories that *do* contain designers?”

    No, I said all cause-and-effect theories go back to “just appeared” or “infinite regress” (or a third, which I omitted – a causeless cause), including design theories. In a designer theory, the designer is claimed to be a necessary cause for the effect.

    Let’s say we are looking for the origin of a certain artifact, and we come to the conclusion that a designer used some tools to create a stone wheel. Where stone (in general, of any sort) came from, or how stone appeared in the world, or how the materials of the tools came to exist on Earth might be interesting questions that someone can follow up on, but they are irrelevant in the context of explaining the existence of the stone wheel. We know stone exists – how it came to exist is irrelevant to this investigation. We know intelligent designers exist – how they ultimately came to exist is also irrelevant to this particular problem. Where the unknown individual that made the stone wheel got their knowledge to create the wheel is irrelevant. We don’t follow cause and effect and explanations back ad infinitum for any particular case, unless we are just philosophically exploring ultimate origins.

    critical rationalists said: “I’m pointing out that adding a designer doesn’t actually solve the question at hand.”

    Inferring that an intelligent designer is a necessary part of the epxlanation isn’t “adding” something that “doesn’t solve the problem” any more than “adding” gravity “doesn’t solve the problem” of planets orbiting the sun. Gravity is necessary to explain certain artifacts; intelligent design is necessary to explain certain artifacts. Perhaps it doesn’t solve the question at hand in a way you want it to be solved – i.e., reduced to unintelligent, material interactions, or an ultimate explanation of what knowledge/intelligence is and where it comes from – but that’s your ideological, selectively hypercritical issue.

    critical rationalists said: “This is why I asked, what explanation does ID present for how this knowledge was created? In the absence of such an explanation, it’s unclear why ID should replace Darwinism.”

    You’re the one who is confused. ID is not a theory of “where knowledge comes from”, but rather a theory of identifying where knowledge was necessarily applied towards the solution of a problem. Much like astrophysicists infer by deviations from the expected data that some mass in the area is affecting light or other objects – it’s how we discovered several planets and poorly lit stars and why we theorized the existence of dark matter.

    If biological phenomena require intelligence to exist, then it’s a necessary part of the explanation. It might not add materialist closure and satisfaction, but it does contribute greatly to how further investigation should continue in light of that necessity. Let’s say we find an strange object on another planet and begin investigating it, trying to find the cause for it. By your argument, it adds nothing to the scientific investigation of that object if we come to the conclusion that the object was designed by intelligence. It changes everything about how we investigate that object and opens up all sorts of new questions and investigatory opportunities.

    critical rationalists said: “Why don’t you start out by explaining how knowledge is created, then point out how Darwinism doesn’t’ fit that explanation.”

    If “knowledge” is just whatever happenstance thought structures come into being by whatever physio-chemical processes happen to survive, then knowledge has nothing to do with any meaningful truth or fact – it’s just whatever mental programming happens to be the best for survival. Thus, knowledge = survival programming, which has no necessary relationship to anything truthful or physically valid. If it is best for survival that we believe nonsensical, untrue things, then that is what we will believe and call knowledge – whether it is belief in norse gods or the scientific method.

    Without a premise of knowledge as something other than just whatever happenstance chemical interactions generate, something necessary and fundamental and related to actual truth, “knowledge” becomes nothing more than biochemical rhetoric; what you claim to “know” is no more meaningful or significant than what anyone in the history of the world has ever felt they “knew” – they’re just patterns of varied leaves all generated by the same basic processes.

    Under Darwinism, there is no significant “knowledge”, there is only biochemically produced, happenstance rhetoric, no different in nature than feces tossed by monkeys. None of us can live, much less debate, as if Darwinism generates knowledge; we all live, and debate, as if knowledge refers to and accesses truths that are valid regardless of what biochemical activity happens to produce in our heads.

    But that’s a philosophical point argued by logic; under Darwinism, logic itself is just another evolutionary feature, no more fundamental or valid or true than gills or wings. It’s just a set of thoughts chemicals in some primates happen to have produced.

    critical rationalists said: “Please be specific. Or perhaps your view that “God is the source of all knowledge” indicates you think knowledge isn’t created, but has always existed?”

    Knowledge isn’t created, it is discovered. But again, that’s a philosophical question. Note: all of your posts and arguments here are predicated upon knowledge and logic being something more than just a varied set of biochemical impulses that vary from person to person; they assume that we are trying to discover/come to the truth of the matter, and that it can be achieved in spite of bio-chemical programming to the contrary.

    If my views were actually accepted by you and atheistic materialists as nothing more than my particular biological programming wrought by aeons of natural evolution – the same as yours – you wouldn’t argue or debate or try to convince anyone they are wrong, because it would be exactly like a maple leaf trying to convince a pecan tree leaf that it has the wrong shape. If there is no exterior truth, no final arbiter of what is “knowledge”, then all you’re doing here is rhetoric and sophistry, because everything I know and believe is just as valid, and valid in the same and only way validity exists, as you:

    It would be what Darwinistic forces happened to program into me with no regard for what would be, according to you, a non-existent standard of truth and knowledge. There’s no way to arbit between your case and mine because they would both be nothing more than, and could be nothing more than, the material solipsism of biological programming and perspective.

  81. BA,

    Neither, you seem to be under the impression that values only derive from God word, for you perhaps but for many people ethical behavior is based on other criteria.

    Now the question seems to be ,by what right do we have to enforce one’s morality on another. You, because it is written in a book,written by subjective humans, purportedly under divine inspiration. Other ethical basis might be enlightened best interest,society functioning under certain guidelines,much as the Ten Commandments provide.

  82. 82

    Velikovskys,

    Yes, we know that many people base their ethical behavior on “other criteria”, but that ultimately begs the question, “how do they judge what criteria should be used to base their ethical behavior on?”

    You cite “enlightened best interest”, but fail to explain by what standard of “enlightenment” or “best”, then mention “certain guidelines” without explaining why anyone should adopt them.

    If we do not assume there to be an external, factual “good”, then ultimately all ethics boil down to “because I say so” or “because I feel like it”, covered up with a bunch of mealy-mouthed excuses, emotional pleading, concept stealing (Ten Commandments, indeed) and question-begging.

    Rationally, one is either a moral objectivist, or a moral solipsist. Moral solipsists rarely have the guts to admit it, though.

  83. As to: “Other ethical basis might be enlightened best interest,society functioning under certain guidelines,much as the Ten Commandments provide.”

    actually, as Mr. Murray pointed out, that argument fails big time:

    Much like the absolute truth claims of materialists, neo-Darwinists cannot maintain a consistent identity towards a stable, unchanging, cause for objective morality within their lives;

    The Knock-Down Argument Against Atheist Sam Harris’s moral landscape argument – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xL_vAH2NIPc

    related notes on the failure of absolute truth claims for materialists:

    Self-Refuting Belief Systems – Cornelius Hunter – September 2012
    Excerpt: Relativism states that there are no absolute truths, but if true then that statement is an absolute truth. Likewise the statement that evolution is a fact, if true, means that we cannot know evolution to be a fact. Why? Because with evolution our minds are nothing more than molecules in motion—an accidental biochemistry experiment which has yielded a set of chemicals in a certain configuration. This leads to what Darwin called “the horrid doubt”:
    “But then with me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind.” Darwin to Graham, William – 3 July 1881
    Today evolutionists agree that while a random collection of chemicals doesn’t know anything, nonetheless over long time periods and under the action of natural selection, phenomena which we refer to as knowledge, will and consciousness will spontaneously emerge. And how do we know this? Because evolution occurred and we know that it occurred. Therefore evolution must have created the phenomena of knowledge. The proof is left to the student.
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....stems.html

    “One absolutely central inconsistency ruins [the popular scientific philosophy]. The whole picture professes to depend on inferences from observed facts. Unless inference is valid, the whole picture disappears… unless Reason is an absolute, all is in ruins. Yet those who ask me to believe this world picture also ask me to believe that Reason is simply the unforeseen and unintended by-product of mindless matter at one stage of its endless and aimless becoming. Here is flat contradiction. They ask me at the same moment to accept a conclusion and to discredit the only testimony on which that conclusion can be based.”
    —C.S. Lewis, Is Theology Poetry (aka the Argument from Reason)

    Do the New Atheists Own the Market on Reason? – On the terms of the New Atheists, the very concept of rationality becomes nonsensical – By R. Scott Smith, May 03, 2012
    Excerpt: If atheistic evolution by NS were true, we’d be in a beginningless series of interpretations, without any knowledge. Yet, we do know many things. So, naturalism & atheistic evolution by NS are false — non-physical essences exist. But, what’s their best explanation? Being non-physical, it can’t be evolution by NS. Plus, we use our experiences, form concepts and beliefs, and even modify or reject them. Yet, if we’re just physical beings, how could we interact with and use these non-physical things? Perhaps we have non-physical souls too. In all, it seems likely the best explanation for these non-physical things is that there exists a Creator after all.
    http://www.patheos.com/Evangel.....#038;max=1

    Should You Trust the Monkey Mind? – Joe Carter
    Excerpt: Evolutionary naturalism assumes that our noetic equipment developed as it did because it had some survival value or reproductive advantage. Unguided evolution does not select for belief except insofar as the belief improves the chances of survival. The truth of a belief is irrelevant, as long as it produces an evolutionary advantage. This equipment could have developed at least four different kinds of belief that are compatible with evolutionary naturalism, none of which necessarily produce true and trustworthy cognitive faculties.
    http://www.firstthings.com/ont.....onkey-mind

    What is the Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism? (‘inconsistent identity’ of cause leads to failure of absolute truth claims for materialists) (Alvin Plantinga) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yNg4MJgTFw

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.” J. B. S. Haldane ["When I am dead," in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209.

  84. 1) Malicious design is punishment
    2) God probably had a morally sufficient reason for designing bacteria and viruses.

  85. If animals didn’t die before the fall what happened to bugs when you stepped on them? Where ants unsquashable?

  86. Where ants unsquashable?

    No, they were just a lot quicker and could move out of the way in time.

    Fire ants are omnivorous, but their primary diet consists of insects and other invertebrates. Predatory activities of fire ants suppress populations of ticks, chiggers, caterpillars and other insects.

    Before the fall they just went hungry.

  87. 87
    critical rationalist

    WJM: You asked about the origin of the information; it is either an irrelevant scientific question in terms of the phenomena being explained, or it is a philosophical question.

    As I pointed out, It’s relevant if one want’s to replace Darwinism with the current crop of ID as a scientific theory. You’re free to personally believe whatever you want.

    WJM: In scientific terms, we don’t trail all cause and effect sequences back to ultimate origins. While it might be interesting to find out from an arsonist where they got their information about how to set fires, it’s irrelevant to the discovery of what was responsible for the fire.

    You’re assuming that “origin” must refer to some ultimate cause, which is a strawman. Darwinism fits under the umbrella of Popper’s universal theory of the growth of knowledge. Specifically, the knowledge in question is genuinely created, rather than having existed in some form at the offset.

    WJM: Because “how the knowledge was created” isn’t at issue, any more than “how gravity was created” or “where the arsonist’s knowledge came from” is relevant to those investigations.

    First, your analogy is flawed as not all fires are caused by arsonists. Second, I take it you’re not an investigator, as the origin of knowledge an arsonist used to create the fire could be relevant in identifying them. For example, if a structure is burnt down using knowledge that only a specific number of scientists could have created (adapting it in a way to burn down that specific structure) we could then check the whereabouts of those scientists at the time of the fire, etc. However, it’s unclear why they would actually do this, rather than use some well known way of burning down the structure, as it would as if they left a finger print at the scene. One possible reason is that the structure might be build in such a way that only that knowledge could burn it down.

    CR: “So, all designer-less theories are “cause and effect” theories? If so, what are theories that *do* contain designers?”

    WJM: No, I said all cause-and-effect theories go back to “just appeared” or “infinite regress” (or a third, which I omitted – a causeless cause), including design theories.

    Which is an argument from ignorance.

    From the following essay on Critical Rationalism…

    3. Responses to the dilemma of the infinite regress versus dogmatism

    In the light of the dilemma of the infinite regress versus dogmatism, we can discern three attitudes towards positions: relativism, “true belief” and critical rationalism [Note 3]

    Relativists tend to be disappointed justificationists who realise that positive justification cannot be achieved. From this premise they proceed to the conclusion that all positions are pretty much the same and none can really claim to be better than any other. There is no such thing as the truth, no way to get nearer to the truth and there is no such thing as a rational position.

    True believers embrace justificationism. They insist that some positions are better than others though they accept that there is no logical way to establish a positive justification for an belief. They accept that we make our choice regardless of reason: “Here I stand!”. Most forms of rationalism up to date have, at rock bottom, shared this attitude with the irrationalists and other dogmatists because they share the theory of justificationism.

    According to the critical rationalists, the exponents of critical preference, no position can be positively justified but it is quite likely that one (or more) will turn out to be better than others in the light of critical discussion and tests. This type of rationality holds all its positions and propositions open to criticism and a standard objection to this stance is that it is empty; just holding our positions open to criticism provides no guidance as to what position we should adopt in any particular situation. This criticism misses its mark for two reasons. First, critical rationalism is not a position. It is not directed at solving the kind of problems that are solved by fixing on a position. It is concerned with the way that such positions are adopted, criticised, defended and relinquished. Second, Bartley did provide guidance on adopting positions; we may adopt the position that to this moment has stood up to criticism most effectively. Of course this is no help for people who seek stronger reasons for belief, but that is a problem for them, and it does not undermine the logic of critical preference.

    Do you see the difference here?

    WJM: In a designer theory, the designer is claimed to be a necessary cause for the effect.

    I’m well aware of the claim. My point is the designer doesn’t add to the explanation. it’s a form of justificationism.

    WJM: Let’s say we are looking for the origin of a certain artifact, and we come to the conclusion that a designer used some tools to create a stone wheel.

    Again, we’re getting ahead of ourselves, as you’ve leaped to the conclusion that a designer was involved. Furthermore, you’ve already referenced knowledge by indicating some form of tool was used, rather than using fast running water, heat, acid or some other means of adapting the stone into a wheel. If you do not know how to use that tool, you can’t use it to adapt stone into a wheel. If you incorrectly guess how to use the tool, the resulting wheel might be defective or misshaped in a way that reflects the application of that incorrect assumption. In addition, we have explanatory theories about how people create knowledge. So, it would seem that you’ve discounted the role that knowledge plays in adapting matter.

    WJM: You’re the one who is confused. ID is not a theory of “where knowledge comes from”, but rather a theory of identifying where knowledge was necessarily applied towards the solution of a problem.

    That’s my point. I’m not confused, as ID doesn’t explain how the knowledge in question was created. If it did, *then* I would have been confused about ID.

    WJM: Much like astrophysicists infer by deviations from the expected data that some mass in the area is affecting light or other objects – it’s how we discovered several planets and poorly lit stars and why we theorized the existence of dark matter.

    Again, see my opening comment as to why ID isn’t the best explanation.

    WJM: If biological phenomena require intelligence to exist, then it’s a necessary part of the explanation.

    That’s a big if.

    The rest of your comment represents justification in that it assumes knowledge comes from an authoritative source.

  88. In the light of the dilemma of the infinite regress versus dogmatism…

    Can’t be that much of a dilemma.

  89. Maliciousness is an intent. The only way to know the intent of God for creation is to read the Bible. Genesis 1:11 clearly states that God created the first living things; grass, herbs, etc.; with the seeds in them. One can conclude from this that all of creation was to have generations, or a cycle of life and death. So, is this creation, where death is a design feature be considered malicious? I think not. It was God’s choice how to create the universe. He decided that a relationship for a finite time with one person would not be satisfactory. I can see this inferring how big His brain must be from the infinite complexity of nature. So there is pain, and death, but there is also immense depth to our experience of life. God also gives us eternal life. Finally, pain prevents us from hurting ourselves, physically and spiritually. So I don’t see how someone can not understand that creation, with all its suffering was created by a loving God.

  90. This post is worse than useless. “Where were you when I formed the foundations of the earth?” And who are we to question the justice of God?

  91. I wrote this to a friend and fellow-believer some time ago FWIW to the discussion here:

    The way I see it, what the question boils down to is: “If God is good and could have fashioned creation any way He liked, why is there so much evil in the world that He decided to create?”

    The answer that seems evident from the scope of the record in God’s Word of humankind’s redemption, is that God is SO GOOD that He created a cosmos in which ETERNAL consequences would be at stake among those beings to whom He gave the responsibility of free will. Consequences which would revolve around good and evil in a world that is REAL.

    In other words, it is “good” that people have the responsibility to choose. Especially when you account for the fact that they are doing so in a world which — by so loving it that “He gave His only-begotten Son” (John 3:16) to save it — God Almighty has expressed in unmistakable terms His all-out no-holds-barred COMMITMENT to the good.

    A lot of theologians have gotten that far. But like so many answers in the Word, it’s incomplete if you stop in the Gospels. You’ve got to go to the pinnacle of the revelation to the Church — and indeed of the whole Book — which is Ephesians.

    Specifically, the answer is in Ephesians 3 — and the whole chapter pertains. But what I would point out here is in verses 10 and 11. From the Greek they read in a slightly “expanded” form (my rendering):

    10- For the intended purpose that now unto the rulers and authorities in the spirit realm might be known by the called-out [the Church] the infinitely diversified wisdom of God, 11- According to the Purpose of the Ages which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    Because of what the Church of the Body IS — for all the evil and destruction that would ensue when first the Adversary and then Adam fell — when God foresaw what the Church of the Body would BE, He determined in all His goodness — which is LIMITLESS — that this creation would be, by His own mercy and grace, THE BEST of all possible creations that He could have spoken into being.

    That’s why the Devil would have left Christ alone had he known the Mystery (I Corinthians 2:8). And that’s why, “in the ages to come,” it will take all eternity for Him to “shew us the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us [in the Body of Christ] through Christ Jesus” that Ephesians 2:7 talks about.

    What a hope we have, my brother.

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