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Darwin and the Bible (RJS)

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Science and faith – Darwin and the Bible; these topics have excited a great deal of interest in our culture of late – and the spate of books on the topic shows little sign of abating. Several resources have appeared to facilitate discussion in college classrooms.  These books try to look at the issues  objectively – with varying degrees of success.

One recent such book is Darwin and the Bible: The Cultural Confrontation by Richard Robbins and Mark Cohen. This book contains a series of chapters by authors ranging from Steven Jay Gould to Phillip E. Johnson. and aims to structure discussion around the historical, theological,  social, and political aspects of the confrontation between science and religion.

The first chapter of the book, written by Mark Cohen, sets the foundation – describing the need for science; the need for faith – separately (his title).  But before we can discuss science and faith we need to agree on the meaning of the terms. According to Cohen “real science is defined by two central properties. If these conditions aren’t met there is no science.”

What constitutes science? What makes one theory scientific and another pseudoscience?

What is science according to Cohen?

First, science is a marketplace of competing ideas about the workings of nature and our potential use of nature’s processes.

It isn’t perfect, scientists are people after all.  Politics, values, ideology, ambition, mistakes, misdirection, can all cause a meander rather than a linear path from point to point. But the system works because it is open and pragmatic – if something works, eventually it is generally accepted.  There are six general factors contributing to the success of an idea:

  1. A theory makes sense in light of related knowledge.
  2. It makes explicit or implicit testable predictions.
  3. It is elegant (fewest possible assumptions or logical leaps).
  4. Tests can be replicated by others.
  5. Can be crosschecked by other methods, ideas, or theories.
  6. Apparent exceptions can be explained satisfactorily.

The principle ideas here are consistency, simplicity, consensus – and time. This is a reasonable description of the scientific process. If an idea – a theory – stands up in the marketplace of ideas over the long run, if it works, it will achieve near universal consensus.  The general principles of the evolutionary theory fall within these guidelines – it works beautifully. Scientific creationism fails. The Intelligent Design movement, and Michael Behe in particular, has put forward some ideas for testing in the marketplace.  These ideas are controversial (but many new ideas are), but more importantly they are not standing up well to the test.

Cohen’s second property of science is more controversial … and worth some discussion.

The second major principle of all science by definition is uniformitarianism.  Any attempt at science must abide by it. Unifomitarianism means that the world operates by natural laws that, at their core, are unchanging, even if they may be shaped by individual circumstances. (p. 28)

So far so good – all science must abide by this principle.  In fact I would say that this is consistent with the idea of a God who created a rational universe.  But then Cohen goes off the deep end …

It means that there are no miracles in defiance of those laws. If there is a God who created, he doesn’t interfere, so we can rely on the laws to be unchanging, hence predictable and usable – or, in the case of prehistory or evolution, reconstructable – if we know enough and think clearly. (p. 28)

In general I agree with this as well. In order to move forward in science we assume that there will be rational explanations for everything we see.  Why would God design a world where he needed to tinker constantly to make things work? But Cohen is far too absolute in his statement.  He essentially eliminates from consideration any personal God and any potential for interaction between God and mankind.

And later in the chapter he makes this clear…

Uniformitarianism means that we are not special, but part of, and subject to, natural laws and processes. Uniformitarian reasoning means that there are no guarantees. God does not intervene. (Being above nature and conquering it are Judeo-Christian ideas. Most world cultures percieve themselves, more accurately, as integral parts of nature and subject to its rules.) In our culture, not being special damages self-esteem both because of the Judeo-Christian heritage and because of our enormous sense of our own superiority. (p. 37).

So what then is Faith according to Cohen?

Science is a discipline that aims to understand the way things work – and to make use of the processes of nature.  As such “miracle” (or Intelligent Design) has no place in a science classroom. 

According to Cohen “faith (whether or not in God) is essential to all human beings.” Faith answers the “why” questions. As such faith is required for individuals and societies to answer questions concerning proper motivation, behavior, morals, values, social organization, altruism, ethics. Everyone, even the adamant secular materialist (yes, even Dawkins) makes faith based assessments in the way he or she lives life. We have no basis for action or morality outside of faith, and it is then essential that we understand the faith motivations of ourselves and others.

But Cohen, while purporting to see separate and valuable spheres for
science and faith, actually relegates faith to a limited and rather
unsatisfactory sphere.  “Faith” in his eye is not capable of any real
explanatory power. Faith doesn’t contribute a valuable worldview and a
Judeo-Christian outlook is misguided.

What is the relationship between science and faith?

This discussion gives path into one aspect of the conflict between science and faith in our world today.  Faith has been neatly partitioned off as one way of knowing, but a way that is in its essence cultural and relative. There is no absolute truth or basis for motivation, behavior, morals, or values. But this wimpy view of faith is inherently unsatisfactory. God has been defined out of the equation in setting, not just the rules for scientific investigation (which I agree with completely), but also the acceptable and “moral” interpretations of the world we see. We are left at best with a moral, cultural, individualistic, deism.

But the Christian gospel in much more robust than this. The gospel needed in our world today (as in the past) is the story of meaning, purpose, and virtue grounded in the interaction of the Creator with his creation. I actually think that faith in God and in the Gospel of Jesus Christ can be subject to the six general factors contributing to the success of an idea – and come out on top. Ultimately faith in God does not require turning off one’s brain to “just believe.”

The same cannot be said for a literal-historical interpretation of Gen 1-11, “scientific” creationism, or even Intelligent Design and irreducible complexity. When we tie the gospel to the “plain” interpretation of Genesis, we undermine the preaching of the Gospel in our world.

What do you think?

What are the proper roles for science and faith in our understanding of the world?

Can science undermine faith in God as revealed through scripture and through his interaction with his people?

If you wish to contact me directly you may do so at rjs4mail [at] att.net.



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Nathan Creitz

posted April 21, 2009 at 6:57 am


I agree, faith shouldn’t be discredited and science can’t have ultimate authority in all things. Just because some scientists haven’t experienced a relationship with God doesn’t mean he doesn’t exist.
If God wanted us to know him he could’ve put on human flesh and walked around among us. As a human he would’ve had eyewitnesses to his works and words where they used their powers of observation to confirm his deity. He could’ve written down everything he wanted to reveal about himself in a trustworthy document free from contradiction. He could speak personally to people in their hearts and confirm His existence to them through a personal relationship. Oh, right, he did all of that.
Sure, that’s not enough for some people and it never will be. People are going to write about their skepticism about faith. However, there is nothing that proves there is no God and there is nothing that can discredit my observations (that’s what science is isn’t it?) that God exists, that he is active in his world, and that he and I have a beautiful relationship that I value above all things.



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Rick

posted April 21, 2009 at 7:12 am


Brings to mind Francis Schaeffer’s criticism of the “upstairs/downstairs” false dichotomy between the spiritual and material. Too often, some Christians had contributed to the separation as they retreated to the upstairs.
However, (as Schaeffer stressed and Nathan mentioned above) God entered and acted in real history (time and space), most prominently in the Incarnation. He invites and expects us to better understand Him and His creation. Often, through science and other studies, we can then better understand what He has revealed through Scripture (and creation).
We need to stop contributing to the upstairs/downstairs problem.



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Larry

posted April 21, 2009 at 8:22 am


RJS,
When you say that scientific creationism fails and ID is not standing up to the test, are you giving the view of Cohen? Or is that your own assessment?



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RJS

posted April 21, 2009 at 8:33 am


Larry,
That is my view – the entire last paragraph from “What is the relationship between science and faith?” is my view and commentary on Cohen’s discussion.
Cohen would separate faith from any meaningful involvement with the real world. As far as I can tell “faith” in his view is nothing more than why we hold the values we do; it contains no absolute truth.



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Rick

posted April 21, 2009 at 8:56 am


“So far so good – all science must abide by this principle. In fact I would say that this is consistent with the idea of a God who created a rational universe. But then Cohen goes off the deep end …
It means that there are no miracles in defiance of those laws. If there is a God who created, he doesn’t interfere, so we can rely on the laws to be unchanging, hence predictable and usable – or, in the case of prehistory or evolution, reconstructable – if we know enough and think clearly. (p. 28)
In general I agree with this as well. In order to move forward in science we assume that there will be rational explanations for everything we see.”
It is interesting that you, RJS, specify “everything we see”, whereas Cohen would seem to stop at “everything.”
Also, who defines “rational explanations”? Is he being “rational” for not thinking beyond the scientific method?
Finally, what is the relationship between “science”, “faith”, and “truth”? Is Cohen equating “science” with all “truth”, or just seeing science as a subset of it?



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dopderbeck

posted April 21, 2009 at 9:23 am


I think a more satisfactory synthesis requires us to reexamine what we mean by “science” in relation to “knowledge” of “reality.” Cohen, unfortunately, succumbs to the Kantian notion that only empirical truth claims are “objective.” The problem is that reality is not monolithic. In the language of critical realism, reality is “stratified.” There can be various differing accounts of an aspect of reality that, though different, are all true and valid because each touches on a different layer of reality. Moreover, different disciplines bring their own methodological resources and limitations that are appropriate for describing their own aspects of reality.
“Science” is properly limited to the “natural,” meaning the ordinary operation of essentially uniform natural laws, because that is the layer of reality science investigates. “Scientific creationism” therefore is an oxymoron, and strong versions of ID represent category mistakes.
“Theology” is more integrative. It must take account of the findings of science, but by definition it takes as its subject layers of reality — the “divine” or “spiritual” — that are not within the competence of science. This creates not a war or competition, but a complementary approach to investigating the enormous totality of reality.
I’d highly recommend here Alister McGrath, “A Scientific Theology: Reality” and Christopher B. Kaiser, “Toward a Theology of Scientific Endeavour.”



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anders

posted April 21, 2009 at 9:43 am


reimaginingchurch.wordpress.com
Some quick observations:
1. The rules of science are different for operational sciences than for historical sciences such as macro-evolutionary theory. Macro-evolutionary theory doesn’t engage in repeatable “tests” the way physics does. It tries to explain the historical/geological/fossil evidence, in large part the way an historian would do. We as believers certainly don’t accept “uniformitarianism” when we do history. Many scientists fail to distinguish the different methodologies. Gould discusses this in Wonderful Life.
2. The rules of science are not “science.” They are a branch of philosophy. Specifically, the philosophy of science. The philosophy of science is just one methodology in our over-arching epistemology. Philosophy of history is another. Philosophy of religion is another. When we look back at history, we use lots of different methodologies. Science is certainly not the only one, if we really want to know “What happened?”



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Mike Hickerson

posted April 21, 2009 at 9:43 am


By Cohen’s definitions, then “faith” doesn’t even exist in any real way. If human beings are nothing more than part of the natural system, and God doesn’t intervene, ever, then our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs are products of the chemical and physical reactions happening in our brains and bodies.
As N.T. Wright, C.S. Lewis, and many others point out, miracles are miraculous BECAUSE they violate the principle of uniformitarianism. They actually reinforce uniformitarianism, because they assume a “standard operating procedure” in the natural world. As Wright cheekily puts it in his book Surprised by Hope, death was not discovered one day by scientists in the 19th century. Everyone in the 1st century knew that no one who died ever came back to life, which is why the claims of the early Christians were so surprising and controversial.



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Travis Greene

posted April 21, 2009 at 9:55 am


RJS,
How do we address the materialist fundamentalism of Dawkins, or the softer “faith has a place, on a shelf next to the stuffed animals” deistic scientism that Cohen seems to favor, without coming across as attacking science as such?



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anders

posted April 21, 2009 at 10:08 am


dopderbeck,
You make some great points. One statement puzzled me.
What are “strong versions of ID”? What “category mistakes” does it make? Do other versions of ID not make the same category mistakes?



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Evan

posted April 21, 2009 at 11:48 am


I think that it is interesting that the more scientists attempt to disprove Scripture, the more they prove it accurate.



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Paul Burnett

posted April 21, 2009 at 11:48 am


“dopderbeck” wrote: “”Theology” is more integrative. It must take account of the findings of science…”
That’s funny – let us know when science finds God.
Faith is belief without proof. Science deals only with proof. Anything without proof, such as intelligent design creationism, is not science.
“anders” asked: “What are “strong versions of ID”?”
Read the “Wedge Document” to see what the original orthodox (“strong”) variant of intelligent design creationism was supposed to be and do. Intelligent design creationism was formulated after the US Supreme court ruled against its bogus predecessor, “creation science,” in 1987 as being religion rather than science – so they tried to make it sound more “sciency” without referring to Genesis et al. But the actual science that Phil Johnson and others hoped for has not yet been (and will never be) located. So they have retreated to a “weaker” version of ID, relying solely on political (such as the “Santorum Amendment” which was authored by Phil Johnson) and public relations (such as marketing the execrable anti-science film “Expelled” to fundamentalists before its formal release) – because they have no science.
If nothing else, the “weaker” ID has been more prevalent since the 2005 Dover Trial where the Federal Judge’s decision included the statement: “We have concluded that intelligent design is not science, and moreover that intelligent design cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents.”



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Paul Burnett

posted April 21, 2009 at 11:54 am


“Evan” wrote: “I think that it is interesting that the more scientists attempt to disprove Scripture, the more they prove it accurate.”
Whatever is this? Talking snakes, talking donkeys, stopping (and re-starting) the rotation of the earth, four-legged insects, Pi=3.00 and all the other inconsistencies and errors in the Bible have been proven accurate? Where?
Please provide us with some scientific literature citations for your claim, Evan.



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ChrisB

posted April 21, 2009 at 12:10 pm


“The general principles of the evolutionary theory fall within these guidelines – it works beautifully.”
Random chemical reactions occur until a self-replicating molecule is created. More random chemical reactions occur and a copy of said molecule finds another molecule that isn’t toxic to its process and incorporates it into its structure. Process continues until something we can call “life” occurs.
Random genetic mutations occur in the lifeforms until one isn’t toxic and is passed on to progency. This process continues until, eventually, we see millions of species and eventually one capable of intellegent thought.
This works beautifully?
“The Intelligent Design movement, and Michael Behe in particular, has put forward some ideas for testing in the marketplace. These ideas are controversial (but many new ideas are), but more importantly they are not standing up well to the test.”
I’d really appreciate further detail, even if not today.
“It means that there are no miracles in defiance of those laws.”
And the good professor jumps off the sanity bus. I’m ok with methodoligical naturalism — you can’t assume miracles everywhere you see if you want to try to understand the natural world. But to say that they’re impossible goes too far. I’d love to know what scientific experiment proved to him miracles are impossible.
“What are the proper roles for science and faith in our understanding of the world?”
I’m ok with the statement that science tells us how the world works and faith/religion tells us why, but that breaks down somewhat when a religion claims to (or appears to) tell us about the how.
“Can science undermine faith in God as revealed through scripture and through his interaction with his people?”
For some, no. For some, yes. You’ve got people trying desperately to show that the universe didn’t need a beginner and that life happened without any divine intervention. You have others working to show that “religious experiences” are simply chemical reactions in the brain and morality simply an evolutionary instinct or social convention. In the end people will decide whether or not they want to believe in God.



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Anders

posted April 21, 2009 at 12:20 pm


Paul,
Your definition of “faith” is so simplistic, it is laughable. It is not the definition of most thoughtful believers. Why don’t you try addressing the best arguments, not the weakest?
Your pseudo-history of the ID movement is laughable as well to anyone who has followed the movement objectively. It goes back to the Greek philosophers and has much more recent history well before 1987.
Here is a more serious discussion of the history of the ID movement:
http://www.asa3.org/asa/PSCF/2002/PSCF3-02Yerxa.pdf



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Rick

posted April 21, 2009 at 12:39 pm


Chris B-
“For some, no. For some, yes. You’ve got people trying desperately to show that the universe didn’t need a beginner and that life happened without any divine intervention. You have others working to show that “religious experiences” are simply chemical reactions in the brain and morality simply an evolutionary instinct or social convention. In the end people will decide whether or not they want to believe in God.”
This made me think of Paul Copan’s post today, “God, Evidence, and the Will” over at Parchment and Pen. He wrote:
“Thomas Nagel, an atheist philosopher at New York University said something very revealing in his book The Last Word:
‘In speaking of the fear of religion, I don?t mean to refer to the entirely reasonable hostility toward certain established religions and religious institutions, in virtue of their objectionable moral doctrines, social policies, and political influence. Nor am I referring to the association of many religious beliefs with superstition and the acceptance of evident empirical falsehoods. I am talking about something much deeper?namely, the fear of religion itself. I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn?t just that I don?t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I?m right in my belief. It?s that I hope there is no God! I don?t want there to be a God; I don?t want the universe to be like that (Oxford Univ. Press, 1997), 130-131.’
Nagel seems to be speaking for many when he reveals what the root problem is?an unwillingness to acknowledge God?s lordship in his life. Note too how Nagel admits that a lot of smart people he knows are believers, which makes him very uncomfortable.”
http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2009/04/god-evidence-and-the-will/#comments



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Josh C.

posted April 21, 2009 at 12:58 pm


I really don’t understand the current dichotomy between faith and science. Even the posts on Jesus Creed baffle me at times.
Observing data and making rational formulations, hypotheses, conclusions, etc. has been with since the ancients and was incorporated in a worldview that was definitely not anti or non-supernatural. What evidence have we found that has disproven the existence of things that we cannot test or see?
Question for RJS:
How do scientists deal with the racist overtones (and explicit ones as well) of Darwin’s works? I am sure you know full well that “Origin of Species” was not the full title of his work.



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RJS

posted April 21, 2009 at 1:35 pm


ChrisB #14,
You mix some of my quotes and some from Cohen – I don’t defend his opinions, especially his view of faith.
I said that the general principles of evolutionary theory work beautifully. But they neither account for nor intend to account for the origin of life itself – the evolutionary theory, at least as I am defining it, deals only with the process once self-replicating molecules or single-cell organisms are on the scene. Before that it is pure speculation at this point.
We will come back to intelligent design in some future post.
And I agree with your last statement – In the end people have to decide whether or not they will believe and that takes a step of faith; and hasn’t this been the Christian position all along?



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JohnO

posted April 21, 2009 at 1:38 pm


Josh C. makes a fantastic point! The ancient peoples who fully expected and understood a spiritual dimension to *everything* in the physical world knew plenty of science. They’ve built engineering marvels that have stood the test of time better than anything we’ve built (Pyramids, Great Wall, even the Roman army’s bridges). We’re not any smarter than they were.. we’ve just benefited from the collection of information over time.
The thought that faith (in the sense of contributing meaning and value on par with everything else) and science cannot co-exist is merely a function of the post-enlightenment worldview according to the direction we’ve taken it. To posit a high deist god as science has done, and thus put a meaningless ‘faith’ in is nothing at all like the god presented in the Jewish and Christian Scriptures. It takes a much more real faith to believe in a god like that – where that god does intervene, and is involved in how things work. Not to “tinker”, to “make it better”, as if “better” were a quantitative thing.



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RJS

posted April 21, 2009 at 1:49 pm


Travis (#9)
If you are asking in the context of working with people who have questions and have been bombarded by the naturalism and secularism of our University culture …I think that we need patience and persistence, conversation and relationship. I keep coming back to asking questions distinguishing between science and an ideological naturalism. There is no magic bullet approach.



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RJS

posted April 21, 2009 at 1:57 pm


JoshC (#17),
I think that Cohen (and others) would point to such “value judgments” on scientific observations as a place where faith is the appropriate domain. I don’t mean religious faith – but faith in the general sense as Cohen defines it.
Racism is a value judgment inherently based on faith, not science. Science, including evolution, has been appropriated to support racism, but Christianity has also been appropriated to support racism. It was rampant in the culture of the time and change was slow.
In our culture we view racism as wrong. Many of us view sexism as wrong. Why? These judgments are not scientific, no matter how much we may wish to claim otherwise – they are grounded in some kind of faith position.



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AHH

posted April 21, 2009 at 2:08 pm


In addition to the Hume-like error pointed out by RJS (basically assuming that if science can’t study something, it must not exist), Cohen does readers a disservice by using (or misusing) the loaded term “uniformitarianism”
Uniformitarianism is a “straw man” often attacked by “creationists” who claim that it means everything always occurs gradually at a constant rate. Then they point to floods and so forth to deride us deluded scientists. In reality, the term means that, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, science assumes that the underlying physical laws (gravity, thermodynamics, electromagnetism) in the natural universe are constant. [As RJS points out, that can be seen as a sign of God's faithfulness.] So uniformitarianism allows for floods and earthquakes and asteroid impacts and so forth — it just doesn’t allow for silliness like bizarre changes in radioactive decay rates during a flood with some mysterious mechanism to take away the heat so the ark would not get fried (as proposed in the recent psuedoscientific RATE project of the young-Earth crowd).
And then Cohen goes on to attach a bunch of metaphysical baggage to “uniformitarianism” that is pretty much a non sequiter.
Perhaps the presence of Phil Johnson on the list of chapter authors should be another clue that this book (which I have not read) is more likely to be fuel for the “culture wars” than anything constructive.



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ChrisB

posted April 21, 2009 at 2:12 pm


RJS,
Sorry I muddled the quotes. They were clear in my mind, if not my comment.
“In the end people have to decide whether or not they will believe and that takes a step of faith; and hasn’t this been the Christian position all along?”
Well, once upon a time Christians argued that faith was reasonable. People working very hard to take away every argument, even if it requires slight of hand or unspoken a priori assumptions.



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Brian

posted April 21, 2009 at 2:18 pm


RJS,
This is off topic, but worth tossing out there for future discussions. In my view the question of whether “science can undermine faith in God as revealed through scripture and through his interaction with his people” gets asked far too narrowly. It generally gets asked in relationship to origins and the possibility of miracles. In also needs to be asked in relationship to the Bible’s whole view of history, providence, and its presentation of God’s day to day interactions with his people.



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AHH

posted April 21, 2009 at 2:30 pm


To take a shot at answering one of the RJS questions:
“Can science undermine faith in God as revealed through scripture and through his interaction with his people?”
If the faith is in Jesus of Nazareth, no. Perhaps one could imagine fanciful exceptions like if the science of archaeology found bones which could somehow be proven to be those of Jesus or invention of a machine that allowed looking back in time to see somebody stealing Jesus’ body. But in general, the essence of the Gospel (including specific historical events) is not amenable to scientific study (for proof or disproof). *Historical* study is more relevant with more potential to undermine (or support, thinking for example of N.T. Wright) faith.
On the other hand, if faith is based on things like the Bible as a “perfect book” read as a modern science text, such a (misguided) faith is very much undermined by science. The world is sadly littered with former Christians who were raised with such a faith and found that it didn’t stand up to the evidence in God’s world. I think Luke 17:1-2 is applicable to those who promote that sort of faith.



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Rachel H. Evans

posted April 21, 2009 at 3:07 pm


I like Cohen?s definition of science, and I agree that young earth creationism does not meet the criteria. (I live in Dayton, Tennessee, home of the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925 ? so don?t tell my neighbors I said that!)
What are the proper roles for science and faith in our understanding of the world?
Scientists study the physical world and should not be required or expected to factor in the metaphysical. However, the notion that only that which can be scientifically proven can be true sounds like logical positivism to me. The existence of a God who intervenes in human affairs may not be scientific, but that doesn?t mean it isn?t true. It just means it cannot be empirically proven.
Practically speaking, I think this means we can embrace science as a reliable, (though not exhaustive), way of explaining how the world works. If a claim conflicts with accepted science, I think it is worth approaching with a healthy dose of skepticism. In this way, science helps us think more critically about faith claims. History shows that science can be a helpful mechanism by which false fundamentals (like geocentricism) are removed from Christian teaching.
Can science undermine faith in God as revealed through scripture and through his interaction with his people?
I think science can render some of our perceptions of God/Scriptural interpretation worthy of re-examination. I spent most of my life believing that if evolution were proven to be true, my entire faith would fall apart. Now I?ve come to believe that sometimes questioning one?s beliefs requires more faith than simply accepting them. Maybe God uses science to teach us to hold our beliefs about him with open hands.



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BeckyR

posted April 21, 2009 at 3:11 pm


RJS, when you say “The same cannot be said for a literal-historical interpretation of Gen 1-11, “scientific” creationism, or even Intelligent Design and irreducible complexity. When we tie the gospel to the “plain” interpretation of Genesis, we undermine the preaching of the Gospel in our world” you leave no room to disagree without looking like the fool or such.



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RJS

posted April 21, 2009 at 3:24 pm


BeckyR,
You could explain why you think that the six general principles outlined by Cohen are not an appropriate set of criteria to judge the adequacy of ideas.
All I meant in the last paragraph is that I think that faith in the story of Jesus can in fact stand up to analysis under these six general principles.
A literal interpretation of Gen 1-11 requires proposing a seventh principle that trumps these six.
Certainly many Christians (not fools) would claim that the trustworthiness of the plain sense of scripture is more important than any of the six.
As you probably know by now, I don’t think that such a proposal will survive examination – but it is worth discussion.



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Randy

posted April 21, 2009 at 3:34 pm


As campus ministry staff at “Iowa State University of Science and Technology: Science with Practice,” I suggest that something has broken down the classical distinctions between “science” “applied science” and the “politics, values, ideology, ambition, mistakes, misdirection” that RJS mentions.
As research becomes more expensive, as corporations provide a greater and greater percentage of funding, and as the politics of federal funding become ever more clear, talking about science without engaging in politics in the broad sense seems more and more difficult.
I know this is not directly on topic, but I believe it addresses some of the distinctions that people have sought to make and rely on.
Peace,
Randy Gabrielse



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dopderbeck

posted April 21, 2009 at 4:47 pm


Anders (#10) said: What are “strong versions of ID”? What “category mistakes” does it make? Do other versions of ID not make the same category mistakes?
I respond: “strong” versions of ID are those that claim empirical evidence of God’s design apart from the “ordinary” beauty, coherence, etc. of nature. This includes Dembski’s “explanatory filter” and Behe’s ideas about irreducible complexity.
The category mistakes include the following: (1) it assumes “design” can be “detected” apart from “ordinary” observation of nature, when, from a Christian perspective, all of nature is “designed”; and (2)it relies too heavily on the analogia entis in assuming that criteria for measuring human or other “creaturely” activity can be applied directly to discerning God’s activity. #2 is also a theological error, because it suggests a sort of “natural theology” that is not condoned, and indeed is opposed, in scripture.
I really don’t like the term “design” at this point because of all its cultural baggage. But I would say, yes, there are concepts of “design,” or better, notions of “natural theology,” that do not make such mistakes. In particular, the beauty, coherence, awe, and the like that the enjoyment of nature often provoke in us properly can be said to testify to (but not empirically demonstrate) the existence of God (e.g., Psalm 19). See Alister McGrath, “The Open Secret.”



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dopderbeck

posted April 21, 2009 at 4:50 pm


RJS (#28) — Randy (#29) provides some good reasons why Cohen’s criteria are inadequate. Although he gives lip service to the social nature of “science,” Cohen is still operating under the naive Enlightenment-Mertonian belief that the community of science is uniquely capable of objectivity. He needs to get past that, because it isn’t entirely true. A better approach: Michael Polanyi.



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RJS

posted April 21, 2009 at 5:43 pm


dopderbeck,
I don’t think that Cohen is operating under the belief that the community of science is uniquely capable of objectivity. I think that he is operating under the pragmatic assumption that eventually what works wins. If the stakes are high people can get hurt and careers destroyed before that happens – and occasionally it take an older generation dying off.
We all know that funding and politics govern what is studied when – but I don’t see what this has to do with the long-term view, if we think long-term enough.
And of course – as indicated in his second property – Cohen makes an absolute assumption that extends beyond science when he asserts that if God exists he can not intervene.



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anders

posted April 21, 2009 at 6:22 pm


reimaginingchurch.wordpress.com
dopderbeck (30),
I don’t see how those are category mistakes. It just seems that you don’t find those arguments convincing or persuasive. I see them as interesting and valid. I don’t necessarily find them convincing by themselves, but I add them to other arguments, and together they are persuasive.



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Paul Burnett

posted April 21, 2009 at 11:42 pm


Josh C asked: “How do scientists deal with the racist overtones (and explicit ones as well) of Darwin’s works?”
The same way that religious apologists deal with the overt racism, explicit sexism, murder, ethnic cleansing, slavery, incest and other politically incorrect behaviors lovingly described and approved of in the Bible: “That was then, this is now.”
Actually, Darwin was fairly liberal for his time. Remember, slavery was still legal in the US when “Origin” was published; women were not allowed to vote in the US until a generation after Darwin died of old age. If you think Darwin was showing “racist overtones” in 1859, contemplate if the US was showing “racist overtones” in 1859.
Tell you what, Josh: How do you deal with the racism – not “racist overtones” but out-and-out racism – of Martin Luther’s 1543 treatise, “On the Jews and Their Lies”? Look it up on Wikipedia and see if you can detect any connection with the unpleasantness in 1930′s-1940′s Germany.



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Paul Burnett

posted April 21, 2009 at 11:51 pm


Anders wrote: “Your pseudo-history of the ID movement is laughable as well to anyone who has followed the movement objectively. It goes back to the Greek philosophers…”
You don’t seem to be very familiar with the Wedge Document…much less Dr. Barbara Forrest?s paper, “Understanding the Intelligent Design Creationist Movement: Its True Nature and Goals” – it’s available at http://www.centerforinquiry.net/uploads/attachments/intelligent-design.pdf
That’s okay, Josh – lots of creationists seem to have a blind spot about the resurrection of the old term “intelligent design” after the 1987 Supreme Court decision. It wasn’t until after that that the pseudoscience of intelligent design creationism really got going.



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RJS

posted April 22, 2009 at 6:57 am


Paul,
Please make your tone a less condescending and more respectful of others. A feature critical for civility in conversation. We are adults carrying on a conversation; not innocents or ignorants to be patronized and enlightened by you.



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Paul Burnett

posted April 22, 2009 at 7:36 am


RJS wrote: “Please make your tone a less condescending and more respectful of others. A feature critical for civility in conversation. We are adults carrying on a conversation; not innocents or ignorants to be patronized and enlightened by you.”
I apologize. When folks start recycling creationist canards like “Darwin was a racist,” that’s offensive – I’m sorry if I offended back. I will try harder to be more respectful.



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dopderbeck

posted April 22, 2009 at 9:03 am


Anders (#33) — I think they are category mistakes because they assume that one can study Divine action with the same analytical tools and using the same criteria as the study of human action. God is ineffable. There’s an unimaginably vast gulf between the ontology of God and the ontology of humans. Yes, humans are made in God’s image, and therefore we can, and because of our limitations we must, speak of God analogically. But it’s a basic mistake to assume that our analogical language about God directly describes God. The bottom line is this: we only know God insofar as He reveals Himself to us. Faith comes first and seeks understanding. You can’t start with understanding and get to faith. The modern ID movement seems to me in this regard to be the bastard stepchild of Duns Scotus and Descartes.



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anders

posted April 22, 2009 at 9:33 am


reimaginingchurch.wordpress.com
Paul (35),
I am quite familiar with Forrest. Her work is agenda-driven and highly, highly selective. Factually erroneous in places, but mainly selective to the point of being misleading. She suggests that the “Wedge” was some kind of secret conspiracy, but Phillip Johnson wrote a whole book about it. ID has philosophical and religious implications, just like Darwinian theory. So what? No one has ever denied that.
You said that ID was “formulated” in 1987. That is clearly false. It sounds like you are not familiar with the article I cited in comment #15. I encourage you to broaden your reading.
It saddens me that so many scientists read Forrest and do not check her facts, and do not seem to care how selective she is. Is that how they do their science too? I trust not, but it is an embarrassment.
I encourage readers to read your piece and the one I cited in #15 and decide for themselves.



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anders

posted April 22, 2009 at 10:14 am


reimaginingchurch.wordpress.com
Dop (#38),
God himself uses God/human analogies all the time to reveal himself. Parable of the Prodigal Son, et al. CS Lewis, Tim Keller use them in their apologetics. How can you say that God/human analogies are inherently logical errors?
Romans 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead.
I (and many others) see design in the bacterial flagellum in a unique and powerful and exciting and edifying way. You think I should stop?



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RJS

posted April 22, 2009 at 10:17 am


anders,
I don’t think that you should stop saying that you see marvelous design in the bacterial flagellum. The whole world displays the majesty of the creator.
I do think you should stop saying that the structure of the bacterial flagellum couldn’t have arisen from incremental evolutionary changes and thus it proves the existence of an intelligent designer.



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Paul Burnett

posted April 22, 2009 at 10:30 am


Anders wrote: “I (and many others) see design in the bacterial flagellum in a unique and powerful and exciting and edifying way.”
Those who “see design in the bacterial flagellum” are “seeing” only one narrow side of the continuing efforts of intelligent design creationists in flogging this somewhat stale story to their audience.
The world of science has moved on and discovered lots of information about the bacterial flagellum that refutes the claims of the intelligent design creationists – see, for instance, http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2008/09/mark-pallen-on.html
And, from your previous post, if you doubt the validity of Dr. Forrest’s paper which I mentioned, do you also doubt the validity of her sworn testimony in the 2005 Dover Trial? After all, the creationists did not appeal their ignominious defeat – her testimony stands unrefuted.
And the Wedge Document was kept secret for several years and denied for several more years before it was finally made public.



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Paul Burnett

posted April 22, 2009 at 10:39 am


Oops – I misremembered the timeline for the Wedge Document: “Drafted in 1998 by Discovery Institute staff, the Wedge Document first appeared publicly after it was posted to the World Wide Web on February 5, 1999 by Tim Rhodes, having been shared with him in late January 1999 by Matt Duss, a part-time employee of a Seattle-based international human-resources firm. There Duss had been given a document to copy titled The Wedge and marked “Top Secret” and “Not For Distribution.”" – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedge_Document



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AHH

posted April 22, 2009 at 11:04 am


Since we seem to have digressed onto “the Wedge” and the critique thereof by Prof. Forrest, I thought I would mention that Forrest co-wrote a book-length critique published in 2004 called “Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design”
I reviewed this book for the journal Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, and in general had mixed feelings about it. My rather ambivalent review is reproduced here:
http://steamdoc.s5.com/writings/forrest.html
As an aside (since RJS cautioned about tone of discourse here), publication of this review led to the only “hate mail” I have ever received (at least by postal mail), which came from a pro-ID person somewhere in Kansas.



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anders

posted April 22, 2009 at 11:08 am


RJS-
To clarify, I did not say that “the structure of the bacterial flagellum couldn’t have arisen from incremental evolutionary changes and thus it proves the existence of an intelligent designer.”
Here is the way I see it. The flagellum presents at least some evidence of design. I then take all that I know about the biological world and all the natural world, and weigh the likelihood that the flagellum arose by undesigned incremental evolutionary changes v. arising by design of some kind. I then make a best guess based on weighing all the evidence.
Is there a problem with that? Should we be making that analysis? I am curious to know what analysis you use to decide the most likely origin of the flagellum?
I agree that the evidence does not come close to “proving” the existence of an intelligent designer. But the evidence also does not “prove” that it arose by undesigned incremental evolutionary changes. Do you think it does?
Also, the distinction is not about incremental changes. It is about whether random mutation and natural selection are sufficient mechanisms. Designed structures might have come about by front-loaded incremental evolution of some kind. But front-loaded evolution is very different from undirected Darwinian evolution.



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RJS

posted April 22, 2009 at 11:23 am


anders,
No, you didn’t say that it proved an intelligent designer. I shortened the general argument to its usual intent.
You “take all that you know” and make a best guess.
That guess is then subjected to standard evaluation over time by a large number of people in a large number of labs. A viable evolutionary mechanism for formation of the bacterial flagellum will be proposed – based on observation and experiment. With respect to this particular example, I think that this is a virtual certainty given the current state of affairs.
This will not have proven the absence of design – but it will have knocked the prop out of yet another argument for demonstrable divine intervention in biology.
Plain and simple – I don’t think that this ID proposal will stand the test, and I think that we are taking a wasteful detour in the concentration of money and time trying to defend it.



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anders

posted April 22, 2009 at 11:32 am


Paul,
You still miss the logical problem: if it were “Top Secret,” why would Phillip Johnson write a whole book about it (The Wedge of Truth)? Also, the whole Wedge document is about engaging in public discourse, public writing and public debate. Many public examples of this are contained in the actual document.
You may be interested in the Discovery Institute’s bemused explanation of this proposed fund-raising document: The Wedge document: So What?
http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/filesDB-download.php?id=349
Warning- don’t read this if you are really enjoying Paul’s pot-boiler conspiracy theory story line.
If you really want to understand the Wedge strategy, read Johnson’s book.



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anders

posted April 22, 2009 at 11:58 am


RJS-
I’d love to get your answer to the question I raised:
“The evidence also does not “prove” that it arose by undesigned incremental evolutionary changes. Do you think it does?”
Many scientists are telling the public that it has been proven. I think that is unfortunate.
I think that these are really interesting questions that are worth exploring. If you are not interested, so be it. I think science should be exploring all its unanswered questions. Any scientist who sees a problem with a reigning theory and sees unanswered questions should be encouraged to explore them.
How much time and money we spend on it is another question. But let’s at least admit (and inform the public accurately) what we don’t know about origins.
Also, should we just assume a natural cause for the fine-tuning in the universe and stop asking questions about that too? Francis Collins and Tim Keller don’t seem to think so.



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dopderbeck

posted April 22, 2009 at 12:27 pm


Anders, as I noted, I agree that God reveals Himself analogically, because of course that’s the only way He can reveal Himself intelligibly to us. It is an example of condescension. However, unless you want to argue that the bacterial flagellum is a particular instance of “revelation,” this has little to do with the basis for strong ID arguments.
If all you want to say is that the flagellum is marvelously intricate and elegant, and this stirs in you some notion that the natural world points towards an even greater and more glorious embodiment and source of beauty, then I agree that this sort of “design” argument is an appropriate sort of natural theology. But, if you want to say “the flagellum looks like a machine that could have been designed by humans; therefore a being with human-like intelligence probably designed it; and, that intelligent being likely is God,” then I think you’ve gone too far in pressing the analogy of being from things that are not “revelation” back to somehow nevertheless revealing God.



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Sacred Frenzy

posted April 22, 2009 at 1:20 pm


RJS: “I do think you should stop saying that the structure of the bacterial flagellum couldn’t have arisen from incremental evolutionary changes and thus it proves the existence of an intelligent designer.”
dopderbeck: “the flagellum looks like a machine that could have been designed by humans; therefore a being with human-like intelligence probably designed it; and, that intelligent being likely is God,”
Are these statements an accurate representation of the ID argument? The ID literature I’m familiar with talks a lot about inference to the best explanation, which is different from the “not-incremental, therefore designed” argument described by RJS (I agree that this is weak reasoning). I think that the ID argument is stronger, even if you ultimately disagree with it. It says that the best explanation for the highly specified complexity we see is the creative activity of an intelligent agent rather than an exclusively unguided natural process such as natural selection acting on random mutations and/or variations. This is, moreover, not an argument from ignorance, for in every instance of highly specified complexity in which the causal history is known, an intelligent agent is the cause. Therefore, the best explanation for the highly specified complexity we see, such as in the bacterial flagellum or in the human genome, is an intelligent agent rather than an exclusively natural process that is undirected.



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RJS

posted April 22, 2009 at 2:05 pm


anders,
Since you brought it up…if you go along with Francis Collins on the issue of intelligent design, we (you and I) will have no serious disagreements on the issue. Do you buy his view of intelligent design?
Sacred Frenzy,
If you stop at the nuanced place where you stop – it is really a philosophical argument and a faith statement, but not a scientific statement, and doesn’t belong in a lab or in a science classroom. The faith statements of materialism – such as Cohen’s insistence that God cannot intervene and insistence on insignificance and purposelessness also do not belong in a lab or science classroom.
I am a theist and a Christian – and I do think God designed the world, intelligently even. But – I don’t think that we can prove it in any scientific fashion. Intelligent Design in that sense is misguided – and all arguments I’ve heard to defend it, beyond the level of philosophy – are arguments from ignorance.



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anders

posted April 22, 2009 at 2:52 pm


RJS-
Francis Collins in his book criticizes ID (in relation to biological origins) but makes design arguments in relation to the fine-tuning of the universe. That tells me that he really does not understand it. He also defines it in a manner that is different than that of its leading proponents. He is really criticizing a straw man ID, which is unfortunate. Why not address the argument in its strongest form?
Do you agree with Collins’ design arguments in relation to the fine-tuning of the universe?
Sacred Frenzy gave a pretty good definition of ID. The definition put forth by the Discovery Institute:
“The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.”
I’ll try asking one more time:
“The evidence also does not “prove” that [the bacterial flagellum] arose by undesigned incremental evolutionary changes. Do you think it does?”



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RJS

posted April 22, 2009 at 3:05 pm


anders,
As you well know your question is irrelevant. We cannot prove that the bacterial flagellum arose by undesigned evolutionary changes. We cannot prove that it did not. We can propose a highly logical pathway by which it may have arisen through evolutionary mechanisms. This proposal meets the six criteria listed in the original post.
Collins actually does understand the evidence for an evolutionary mechanism, and he understands the ramifications of the intelligent design hypothesis. He will give a fine-tuning argument for the universe while allowing that future developments in physics may in fact demonstrate that the “coincidences” are not actually coincidences at all.



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dopderbeck

posted April 22, 2009 at 4:11 pm


Frenzy (great screen name!): I think my explanation is fair, though you’re right, it’s perhaps a bit too brief (I’ve read lots of the primary ID literature as well).
Here’s part of the bottom line for me, theologically speaking: why is “the best explanation for the highly specified complexity we see is the creative activity of an intelligent agent”? The answer from the ID camp is that we know what “designed” things look like because of our familiarity with human design. In fact, the analogy is often explicitly drawn by ID advocates between ID and forensic criminology. This means, then, that the “designer” of nature has acted in some respects like a human designer. There is an analogy of being between the designer of nature and human designers. I think this analogy seeks to prove to much if, in fact, one’s ultimate belief is that the designer of nature must be the Christian God.
I know ID advocates insist that the “designer” need not be the Christian God, but IMHO that simply highlights an enormous weakness in their program. I think we can and in fact must say on theological grounds that the designer must be the Christian God. If we start with “understanding seeking faith” rather than starting with “faith seeking understanding,” we end up where Thomas Jefferson did, I think.



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dopderbeck

posted April 22, 2009 at 4:38 pm


Anders (#52) — I can’t answer for RJS, but I would say two things here:
(1) I agree, Collins’ discussion of ID in “The Language of God” was somewhat weak and inconsistent. You’re right — Collins at many points did not adequately represent the nuances of ID arguments. I still think Collins’ conclusions about ID are essentially right, but he needed to do more work to get there.
(2) I agree to a certain extent that Collins showed some inconsistency in the way he used the cosmological argument and the argument from morality. There are points in “The Language of God” when he seems to employ these arguments in the same “God of the gaps” fashion as a strong ID advocate might use irreducible complexity.
But, I think Collins’ overall point is correct: there is a more reasonable, softer kind of design / natural theology argument that views the anthropic principle and the fact of human morality as highly consistent with Christian theism and highly inconsistent with atheism. That is an appropriate sort of natural theology because it does not appeal to some supposedly neutral principle of adjudication. It assumes faith and looks for correspondences with the position of faith.
Anders, you also asked RJS whether she thinks the flagellum “arose by undesigned incremental evolutionary changes.” Again, can’t answer for RJS, but I think there’s some confusion in the way you’re using language here. An “incremental evolutionary change” that occurs in accordance with ordinary physical laws can also be “designed” from the perspective of Christian theology. This is the notion of “primary” and “secondary” causation. Think of the birth of a human baby: we’d agree that every baby is both the result of ordinary biological processes and a unique person sovereignly designed by God (Ps. 139). The scientific and theological levels of description concerning the human reproductive process are complementary, not conflicting. The same could be true for the flagellum.



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Paul Burnett

posted April 22, 2009 at 5:42 pm


Anders wrote: “You still miss the logical problem: if it were “Top Secret,” why would Phillip Johnson write a whole book about it…?”
I didn’t say it was “Top Secret” – the Discovery Institute themselves had marked it “Top Secret.” Don’t ask me why they marked it “Top Secret” – ask them.



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Paul Burnett

posted April 22, 2009 at 5:50 pm


“dopderbeck” wrote: “I know ID advocates insist that the “designer” need not be the Christian God, but IMHO that simply highlights an enormous weakness in their program. I think we can and in fact must say on theological grounds that the designer must be the Christian God.”
Then you’re not an orthodox intelligent design creationist – you’re a creationist (YEC or OEC?). But most of the creationists who created intelligent design creationism have abandoned the party-line subterfuge that their anonymous invisible “designer” is not the Creator God of Genesis. (Who is also of course not only the “Christian God” but the Jewish God and arguably the Islamic God – but that’s another argument…)



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RJS

posted April 22, 2009 at 5:59 pm


dopderbeck,
There is a softer form of intelligent design, small i, small d.
And all Christians in the sciences would hold to some such view. But we cannot use the term because it has been tainted by the use of the term to propose the existence of a “scientific” basis for neutral adjudication – “proof” of a designer. These proofs don’t hold up as proofs. The most notable example is the idea of irreducible complexity. Irreducible complexity was a reasonable hypothesis to put on the table, but it is not holding up to scrutiny, and it will continue to fail.
My firm statements are against the strong form – the form that anders and Sacred Frenzy claim as a “straw man.” But I would not have brought the bacterial flagellum into the discussion (a poster child for the strong form) if they hadn’t.
We can argue from the fine-tuning of the universe – which is a form of design. Owen Gingerich’s book is quite good here. But as Collins notes (not in his book but in the Q and A at several of the lectures he’s given) the fine-tuning argument is provisional. We may find that there is a unified theory of physics that makes all those elements of fine tuning unavoidable. So I don’t hang my hat on these as either coincidence or design.
I think no matter how we look at it accepting God requires a step of faith. There is no external, objective proof. I can give the reasons that make sense to me, but they may or may not convince others. Having accepted God, the wonder over the beauty and intricacy of his creation can be overwhelming. But it is more as art than science.



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Doug Allen

posted April 23, 2009 at 10:16 am


The beauty and mystery of all existance evoke in me a sense of awe, sadness, and reverance. If that’s a weak form of ID, then I subscribe to it. The sadness part may surprise you? Nature is very, very fecund, but very, very inefficient, and the result is extraordinary rates of early death and untold suffering for (almost?) all species. My spiritual reaction to this is both some sort of “tragic sense of life” (see Unamuno and the literary tradition in general) and an attempt to ameliorate the great individual injustices and suffering that accompany the processes of life. I see our role as extensions of God’s love and caring, and the Jesus Creed as an example of how we go about this. I’m agnostic as to intelligent design. A creation with fire ants (all over my yard!) as one among 20,000 species of ants and 2800 species of termites makes me not want to attribute that design to God! One part of me would like to believe that God guided the creation of mainly parasites on this earth, but I doubt it.
Doug



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anders

posted April 23, 2009 at 11:37 am


reimaginingchurch.wordpress.com
RJS (53)-
“As you well know your question is irrelevant.” I heartily disagree. Not sure why you think I “know” this. What we know and how sure we can be is very relevant. See my comments on epistemology in comment #7.
I believe that we can look at the evidence and make reasoned arguments as to which explanation is more plausible, even if we cannot “prove” one or the other beyond a reasonable doubt. I don’t see the “random mutation and natural selection” explanation to be very plausible. It is very useful to ask the question, “How could this have evolved by undirected incremental steps in which each small step provides an evolutionary advantage?”
You have said that ID is not “holding up to scrutiny,” but you have not said why. From what I have read, I think it is holding up to scrutiny quite nicely. Check out Michael Behe’s blog on Amazon.com. He addresses his critics.
As I think I said to dopderbeck, this comes down to how each person weighs the evidence. We are going to disagree about that, about the right approach, about which arguments we find most persuasive. I think we should encourage free and open and civil debate, inquiry, exploration, question-asking and thought.



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RJS

posted April 23, 2009 at 11:51 am


anders,
Your question was irrelevant because it asked for proof. As my answer said – “proof” is the wrong term to use.
Your question – How could this have evolved by undirected incremental steps in which each small step provides an evolutionary advantage? – is a very useful question, and one that is constantly being asked.
I don’t think that ID is holding up well because reasonable answers to this question are appearing – and I find it very unlikely that the stream of answers will stop, making a “designer hypothesis” necessary.
But the issues are not capable of answer in a comment – look for future posts on the topic.



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Paul Burnett

posted April 23, 2009 at 1:28 pm


Doug Allen wrote: “The beauty and mystery of all existance evoke in me a sense of awe, sadness, and reverance. If that’s a weak form of ID, then I subscribe to it. The sadness part may surprise you? Nature is very, very fecund, but very, very inefficient, and the result is extraordinary rates of early death and untold suffering for (almost?) all species.”
Sadness at the deliberate genocidal extinction of 99.99+ per cent of all land-based life caused by Noah’s Flood, or sadness at the extinction of 99.99+ per cent of all species that have ever evolved (take your pick of scenarios) is appropriate. Nature (either flavor) is indeed inefficient.



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Paul Burnett

posted April 23, 2009 at 1:47 pm


anders wrote: “You have said that ID is not “holding up to scrutiny,” but you have not said why. From what I have read, I think it is holding up to scrutiny quite nicely. Check out Michael Behe’s blog on Amazon.com.”
Michael Behe is an unfortunate choice for poster boy for intelligent design creationism. Although he is employed by Lehigh University, the entire Biology Department is deeply embarrassed by his support of intelligent design creationism – see http://www.lehigh.edu/~inbios/news/evolution.htm for their statement on Behe, which ends “It is our collective position that intelligent design has no basis in science, has not been tested experimentally, and should not be regarded as scientific.”
And Behe’s testimony and behavior at the 2005 Dover Trial certainly helped Judge Jones understand that the other side was right. As Wikipedia says, “John E. Jones III, the judge of the case, in his final ruling relied heavily upon Behe’s testimony for the defense in his judgment for the plaintiffs…” – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Behe#Dover_testimony for details. For instance, Behe testified (under oath) that for intelligent design creationism to be accepted as “science,” the definition of science would have to be so dumbed-down that astrology could also be defined as “science.”
And anders, even though you may “…think it (intelligent design creationism) is holding up to scrutiny quite nicely,” nobody in the world of actual science seems to think so. See, for instance, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_scientific_societies_rejecting_intelligent_design



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anders

posted April 23, 2009 at 2:48 pm


reimaginingchurch.wordpress.com
Paul,
By the nature and tone of your posts, it seems that you find ad hominem arguments, selectively misleading information, use of pejorative terms, and other people’s opinions convincing. Me, not so much.
I don’t enjoy seeing scientists denouncing other scientists as unorthodox.
I am convinced by solid facts and evidence and good logic and reasoning. I encourage you read primary sources and address your opponents’ best arguments with civil discourse. You seem unwilling to do that.
You think Judge Jones got ID right? I found that much of his opinion used simplistic stereotyping of the proponents of intelligent design and pervasive misrepresentation of their positions. Perhaps that’s why you like him?



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