Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Why Intelligent Design? (RJS)

posted by Jesus Creed Admin

Thinker.jpg

Over the last several weeks we have had an extended conversation on intelligent design as we have discussed Stephen C. Meyer’s book, Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design. One of the comments on the last post asked a question:

As someone without a detailed scientific background I sometimes find
these discussions a little obtuse. One side keeps making their points.
And the other does the same; almost as if repeating the points (rather
than actually engaging the other side) will somehow bend truth in one
direction or another.

So here’s a question: who has had their perspective changed/altered/challenged by these discussions? And, if so, how, and why?

Now that’s something I’d be interesting in hearing. Maybe this could even be the subject be a new thread?

I also think this would be an interesting conversation – so I would like to pose this question – and a related question. The two posts last Tuesday – on Christian Worldview and on Stephen Barr’s article “The End of Intelligent Design,” lead to consideration of why intelligent design is important today.

Lets start a conversation…

Why is intelligent design important? What does the discussion bring to the table?

Is this a topic worth fighting over – and if so, why?

In the discussion what has changed/altered/challenged your perspective? How and why? 

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



Advertisement
Comments read comments(60)
post a comment
Phil

posted February 16, 2010 at 8:47 am


As a teenager I was a committed to YEC. When to school (Christian liberal arts) to learn to fight the good fight, however, that’s not what I was taught there. Most of my courses were in the science’s, I took a little religion, and it never got into origins. The science’s were all over the place with the various theories. I came out a committed Gap Flood follower. When conversation came up, Christians thought I had 2 heads. I kept quite for nearly a decade. Now pastoring and with more theological training, I lean more towards framework hypothesis to explain the biblical theology, but remain in a tradition that is does not support theistic evolution, mostly because they do not distinguish between the biological process and the grand theory of everything.
Often, I find the science in the conversation over my head, but very helpful for the books and articles which I do take in.
ID in some form I believe is going to be a necessary philosophical bridge within the church as an option to move people from YEC to more biblically palatable old earth theories. Without it, biblical debate will retreat into even more huddled YEC camps. As science, it is not reasonable as it does not bring anything to the table but criticism.



report abuse
 

RickK

posted February 16, 2010 at 9:00 am


If Biblical Genesis was taught as an alternative to evolution in public school science classes, would we be discussing “Intelligent Design”?
Would there BE an “Intelligent Design” if the teaching of “Creation Science” hadn’t been legally prohibited?



report abuse
 

dopderbeck

posted February 16, 2010 at 9:06 am


When the Kitzmiller case was decided in 2005, I was an ID advocate. I had read Phillip Johnson’s books on Darwinism, Behe’s “Darwin’s Black Box,” and some of Dembski’s work.
I thought at the time that ID was important because “evolution” was a false, anti-Christian worldview. I believed that ID disproved “evolution” and lent credibility to what I thought was the only legitimate Biblical perspective on creation: progressive old-earth special creationism as taught, e.g., by Hugh Ross. I spent a fair amount of time defending ID.
My views about ID changed when I encountered serious Christian scholars in the sciences and in theology who challenged my views about ID. As I examined all the arguments, I came to realize that, to put it bluntly, I had been misled both by the ID folks and by the progressive old-earth creationist folks. They simply were not being honest with the evidence. Their approach was highly selective and, it seemed to me, was in truth geared towards only one thing: defending a very specific theology and hermeneutic regarding the Genesis texts of the Bible.
This was extremely upsetting to me at the time. It provoked a crisis in my faith. At the same time, it prompted me to study these issues in great depth.
I’m now convinced that ID in its “strong” form and old-earth progressive creationism in its “this must be the case because the Bible says so” form are both highly detrimental to the health and mission of the Church in contemporary western culture (and I have for many years been convinced that the same is true of YECism). The arguments don’t hold up against the evidence. Truth must deal in reality. If the Christian faith is true, our understanding of the created world and of scripture can’t be anti-realist. People crave Truth, and the Church’s mission to the world as well as to Christians, like myself, whom the Church is supposed to care for, are damaged when we distort the truth.
Having said all this, I also realize that my personal experience sometimes causes me to over-react against ID and other such arguments. There is a place, I believe, for “natural theology”-type arguments. “Theistic” realism means that we are not reductive materialists. Some forms of “soft” ID arguments can be interesting and potentially helpful types of natural theology. But Barr is right: the way in which the ID debate has been constructed in North America is hurtful, not helpful, IMHO.



report abuse
 

dopderbeck

posted February 16, 2010 at 9:08 am


RickK (#2) — a rare instance in which we agree 100%! The short answer is no, there would not be “ID” but for the creationism cases.



report abuse
 

brandontmilan

posted February 16, 2010 at 9:11 am


I was a kid when Jurassic Park first came out. And it didn’t take me very long after seeing that movie, that I was not much different than the kid in the movie. I thought dinosaurs were the coolest thing in the world=I wanted to be a paleontologist. Except I knew that they believed in evolution and I wasn’t supposed to. (This is when I was about in 4th grade, mind you). I was in a gifted program in school in which we learned about really cool things that the other kids didn’t get to learn (a lot of it having to do with ancient explorers and mythology and stuff). So the teacher said one time, “I believe that God made us in his spiritual image, but that he used evolution to make us.”
So I decided that I could be a Christian AND a paleontologist. But when I told my mom what she said, she told me I was wrong. And shortly thereafter, I started hearing YEC propaganda from church.
And origins was a source of doubt for me for years. Once I got into college, I started simply ignoring it. I went to a Southern Baptist university and constantly heard these half-witted arguments pro-YEC that were hailed as if they would bring an end to all atheism. So i just shut it off.
Until the discussion on John Walton’s book here at this blog, and then I subsequently bought the book. I knew that there were Godly men and women who held to evolution beforehand, but to now understand how and why the Bible actually is consistent with scientific discovery is INCREDIBLY freeing.
This enormous source of doubt has been shattered for me because of conversations like this.



report abuse
 

bck

posted February 16, 2010 at 9:29 am


Ultimately, I don’t think the ID movement is helpful. It’s such a vague concept that it means nothing and everything all at once. Because of this, most discussions on it aren’t fruitful and lead to the typical talking past each other, continuing to perpetuate the unnecessary conflict between science and Christianity.
If anything beneficial has resulted from the rise of ID, perhaps it is that it has caused some people to dig more deeply into their own beliefs and foundations regarding creation. Like dopderbeck said, there is a place for some ID-type arguments that can be helpful in the way we think about and address these issues.



report abuse
 

MarkP

posted February 16, 2010 at 9:31 am


The question I have about ID has always been theological: what would it mean to say that God, who could after all write the divine name in the stars if God wanted to, has provided what some believe will turn out to be irrefutable proof of God’s existence in a place where nobody could see it until recently and most people can’t see it at all? I’ve always assumed God declined to provide proof because God loves us and created us in such a way that the requirement for faith is valuable to us, evidence of God’s love (mysterious as that might be). God can do what God wants, of course, but it still seems strange!



report abuse
 

james-michael

posted February 16, 2010 at 9:35 am


What interests me most about the ID debate is how it’s playing out. Thomas Woodward’s summary of it (“Doubts about Darwin”) and Ben Stein’s “Expelled” movie both document the rabid opposition ID has faced…opposition which far outweighs its supposed lack of scientific merit. Much of what is happening in the debate isn’t about ID theory proper; it’s about the continuation of the “Inherit the Wind” mindset and fear/hatred of YEC and the political agenda that usually accompanies it.
While Woodward and “Expelled” were admittedly biased towards ID, they did show many anti-ID proponents’ unreasonable level of rancor and hypocrisy. Christians, regardless of whether or not they accept ID should at least support the right of ID theorists to raise the questions in public forums without fear of academic blackballing.



report abuse
 

Your Name

posted February 16, 2010 at 9:42 am


I was talking to a middle aged educated friend a couple of years ago and this subject came up. He said that he just cannot believe that we come from and are like other animals. It was dirty to him.
I find it quite cool to be like the animals.
This may be ad hominem, but the ID people impress me as just being unwilling to accept, based on taste and there is no dispute about taste.
Dave



report abuse
 

Keith

posted February 16, 2010 at 10:09 am


dopderbeck (#3), my experience parallels yours quite closely. I remember when a Christian friend I grew up with, who was in medical school at the time, told me the evidence for evolution was solid and that he didn’t believe at our literal/scientific view of Genesis was valid. That conversation got the wheels in my head turning and 10 years later I’ve made the complete transition from progressive (old earth) creationist to evolutionary creationist.
MarkP (#7) I couldn’t agree with you more. Anyone who claims they can prove the existence of God immediately take a credibility hit with me.



report abuse
 

Karl

posted February 16, 2010 at 10:13 am


Like dopderbeck I read Behe, Johnson and Dembski some years ago and (not being a scientist myself, even of the armchair variety) was convinced by their arguments.
The most influential thing for me in coming to, if not reject then at least be very skeptical towards ID, has been the realization that the vast majority of serious scientists who are also serious orthodox (small “o”) Christians, are highly critical of ID and reject most or all of its arguments.
Mine has been more of a question of to whom I will grant authority to speak on this subject. I’m not smart enough about the science to figure it out myself. And while I grant the possibility that scientists like RJS and Francis Collins are too blinkered by their own scientific training and its secular/materialist philosophical presuppositions . . . I still am more inclined to treat them as authoritative on this topic and defer to their opinion, as opposed to the small but vocal ID crowd.



report abuse
 

Alan K

posted February 16, 2010 at 10:24 am


Why look for the truth of God in cellular biology when there is Jesus Christ? Is he not the true Word?



report abuse
 

AHH

posted February 16, 2010 at 10:29 am


Amen to dopderbeck #3 and MarkP #7.
I think ID is appealing for those Christians whom modernity has trained to view scientific knowledge as the only knowledge that really counts. This naturally leads to assuming that a “real God” (to semi-quote ID godfather Phil Johnson) needs to be scientifically detectable, that if there are not (scientific) “fingerprints all over the evidence” (Johnson again) there is no need/room for God.
I also agree with dopderbeck that, at some modest level, natural theology, lower-case id, suggestive arguments that the universe is consistent with a designer (without the popular ID implication that the truth of the faith hinges on finding particular gaps in scientific explanations for God to fill, and without the indefensible denial of common descent that often goes with ID advocacy) can have a place in the Christian apologetic toolbox.



report abuse
 

Michael W. Kruse

posted February 16, 2010 at 10:33 am


I can’t recall ever having a serious issue with an old earth or evolution. I read some of Philip Johnson, Michael Behe, et al, back in the ’90s and even attended a couple of events about ID. I was ultimately unpersuaded. Science is a self-limited form of knowing. methodological materialism is essential to science and ID doesn’t qualify as science.
However, dating at least as far back as being a teenager, my big questions have been about the nature of the opening chapters of Genesis. I don’t think I’ve ever believed these opening stories were pure “court-reporter” fact-for-fact history but how they tie to historical events has always been (and to a degree remains so) a puzzle to me. I was attracted to some of Hugh Ross’ concordist stuff awhile back and I still think he his organization has some useful stuff, especially as it relates to the history of Christian thought on creation issues. However, the concordist attempts simply stretches too far.
Over the past decade or more I’ve been doing concentrated reading on ANE culture and Second Temple Judaism, trying to better appreciate context and the nature of Scripture. John Walton’s perspective on Genesis was like the tumblers in a lock falling into place for me regarding Genesis 1. The concordist view has dimmed considerably for me.



report abuse
 

AHH

posted February 16, 2010 at 10:42 am


On the question of having perspective altered, in the mid 1990s I was briefly enamored with the ideas that were in the process of becoming the ID movement. I remember reading Phil Johnson’s Darwin on Trial and being impressed.
What soured me since then was mainly 2 things:
1) Conversation with fellow Christians who were experts in biological sciences who convinced me that Johnson et al were misrepresenting the science and that evolution was strongly attested by the evidence.
2) Theological reflection (again helped by some conversation), where I learned to see God as sovereign over all of nature, not just in the gaps where we have no scientific understanding. In other words, realizing that treating “natural processes” and “things God does” as disjoint sets was bad theology.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted February 16, 2010 at 10:49 am


james-michael (8):
Stein and Woodward “document” no such thing. They are both partisans, and their works are highly polemic. I don’t know too much about Woodward’s book, but I do know that Stein’s execrable movie has been shredded for its inaccuracies. The ID movement has a long history of attempting to manufacture martyrs, based upon grossly exagerated and distorted claims of persecution. No such claim has ever been unpheld by any competent tribunal.
As to the importance of ID, I think Barr’s unrebutted point summarises it well: “The goal of science is to increase our understanding of the natural world, and there is not a single phenomenon that we understand better today or are likely to understand better in the future through the efforts of ID theorists.” ID has no importance at all to the world of science.



report abuse
 

John H. Walton

posted February 16, 2010 at 10:54 am


I am grateful that folks have been expressing how my view has helped them make some sense of the relationship between the Bible and science. It has had the same impact on me. I was raised in a YEC environment and maintained that view well into the 90s because none of the other options struck me as being faithful to the Hebrew text. Yet I was extremely uncomfortable with the concordist approaches and the violence that I felt they did to both science and the Hebrew text. “Trapped” describes well how I felt. When ID came into the spotlight I was intrigued by it and explored it at some length with the help of my scientifically trained wife. On the one hand, for someone who takes the Bible seriously, it is difficult to disagree that the cosmos has been designed by an Intelligence. But, of course, the ID movement is claiming more than this. Nevertheless, by exploring the writings of ID, I began to develop ideas about the way that naturalistic explanations and theological explanations need not make mutually exclusive claims. In my experience, then, though I would not consider myself an ID proponent, their contributions have stirred the pot (of primordial soup?)and, sometimes despite themselves, advanced the discussion. Also of great importance in my development was a weekend long discussion with Denis Lamoureux on one occasion when he was staying at our house. I cannot remember a more stimulating and productive discussion.
It would be silly to think that my own contributions represent the final word on the matter. But I hope that it has stirred the pot and helped advance the discussion.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted February 16, 2010 at 11:20 am


Loathe as I am to admit any value for ID, I must admit that John H. Walton’s post (17) rings true to myself as well,though from a very different starting point.
At high school and university, I had very little interest in biology — I preferred Physics and Chemistry as being more-obviously-systematic disciplines (I’ve always been far better at grasping patterns and formulae than random facts). I got interested in ID vs evolution as the result of a discussion with a former colleague on another former colleague economics and politics blog (he considered ID to be misguided but largely benign, I was more suspicious of it). As a result, I have learned far more about the Earth’s lifeforms and history than I was ever likely to otherwise, and have just recently ordered myself an introductory book on Biodiversity titled ‘Here Be Dragons’.



report abuse
 

T

posted February 16, 2010 at 11:28 am


Great comments. Where I see some real benefit from ID or from one of its descendants deals with the issues raised by RJS’s friend that she posted here not too long ago. A unity of knowledge of our world is worth pursuing. Scientists attempt to explain the physical cosmos in terms of physical causes alone. If the atheists are right and that’s all there is to our universe, then such attempts will give us the best possible explanations. If, however, the theists are right in that there is a God who stands both within and outside of the physical universe, acting within it both through and beyond its structures, then scientists will inevitably be limited in their knowledge and understanding of even the physical world.
There are many, many important questions (not least of which those that deal with whether theists or atheists are right in their respective faiths) that the scientific method is either ill equipped to explore or unable to effectively study before action is necessary. But there are other methods of knowledge and reasoning, even if they do not give us as thoroughly verifiable and tested ideas as we would like. The entire cosmos (past, present and future) won’t fit in our labs or agree to be dissected. There are and will always be things we cannot control enough to verify by experiment, but they are still worth studying and knowing in whatever ways we can muster. ID represents an attempt, however flawed, to give a rational (even if not scientific) explanation to a phenomenon where scientific methods are currently unable to give an answer. I have no problem saying that the theory of an intelligent designer’s (third party’s) more direct involvement in original DNA is at least as plausible or likely as a any of the theories being explored around natural causes. Perhaps a natural cause (in need of additional cause) will be discovered in my lifetime. Maybe not. What are the best theories in the meantime where we have no verifiable answer?
The whole world runs–and must–much more on a mix of faith and knowledge than knowledge alone. Look at all the political debates right now or even our respective budgets, calendars and relational decisions. We must constantly “bet” on one thing or another with no opportunity or hope for verification beforehand or even ever in this life. We need “working knowledge” and our best guesses, all things considered, even more than scientific certainty because scientific certainty is rarely available for the issues of each day. And working knowledge, because it has to give whatever it has to make present decisions, will always use multiple means of knowing, and will always involve assumptions and measures of faith. I think we’d all be served if scientific knowledge and working knowledge play nicer together and even become friends, knowing the limitations and importance of each. For my part, I see ID as wading into this great divide and daring to say to the scientific world, “you might need some help here” or even “the best explanation may be outside of your assumptions.” Are these statements permissible to make? If not on these issues, are they ever permissible? Surely, hopefully, we will get to a point where natural causes and processes aren’t the only things we “know” about our world?



report abuse
 

Darren King

posted February 16, 2010 at 11:43 am


I’d have to say that, after hearing so many stories from recovering fundamentalists, I’m very thankful that I was not brought up in a such a context. While I became a Christian late in my teens, I never felt pressure to adhere to the anti-evolution, young-earth, worldview.
And, while I am certainly not a trained scientist, it seems abundantly clear that the actual scientific evidence, as attested to by the overwhelming majority of the authoritative scientific community, finds no value in the scientific claims of ID. And I just don’t for a second buy the conspiratorial claims from the ID crowd, suggesting that bias is causing a massive cover-up. I think the evidence bends in the other direction in that regard. It is the ID crowd who are often far less than thorough, or honest, in their treatment of the evidence.
If there is any value in ID it may come in the form mentioned by an earlier poster: it may serve as a middle ground – a bridge, if you will – for those moving out from a fully fundamentlist perspective, to a more honest, modern, and scientifically vigorous one.
But as for the good, that’s about it, honestly. There is no value in ID beyond that. And there’s plenty it does that is damaging. It is, in my mind, a wrong-headed, wrong-spirited movement.



report abuse
 

Michael W. Kruse

posted February 16, 2010 at 11:56 am


What if evolution is actually the reason so many find it hard to believe in evolution?
I recently read an article in the Boston Globe about cognitive fluency>:
?Cognitive fluency is simply a measure of how easy it is to think about something, and it turns out that people prefer things that are easy to think about to those that are hard. On the face of it, it?s a rather intuitive idea. But psychologists are only beginning to uncover the surprising extent to which fluency guides our thinking, and in situations where we have no idea it is at work.?
This got me thinking back to authors I?ve read who stress the human tendency to detect patterns in their world and to accept the least complex and most straightforward explanation as the correct one. We pretty much take the world as it appears. That generally works very well. Evolving in hostile environments, it has been necessary for human beings to be sensitive to these common sense patterns. We are programmed through evolution for this type of thinking. But what happens when we are confronted with the ?self-evident? reality that we are in a fixed location and the sun, moon, and stars all orbit our location? Our senses betray us.
What is the downside of being mistaken about geocentric universe? I?d suggest that for billions of us it is of little or no consequence to our practical everyday living. Thus, not much thought is given to the topic. Many who believe in modern theories of the universe believe them, not because they understand them, but because that is what the community believes. So despite not being the most straightforward explanation, the community creates the self-evident reality for them.
What about creation? The most ?self-evident? explanation for those who believe in a higher being is that this being made everything and gave it order. Evolution is not an easy thing to think about. I find most people are hard pressed to accurately imagine life a few decades before they were born much less imagine events that take millions and billions of years to unfold.
What is the downside of being mistaken about evolution? From the perspective of day to day activity it is inconsequential. However, from a Christian identity standpoint, there are enormous costs!
If I?m wrong in rejecting evolution it has no impact on my daily living and it has little practical impact of my Christian identity. But if I embrace evolution, it still has little impact on my daily living, but it may place my entire Christian identity at peril. What would possess me to take such an enormous risk for something that has little practical importance and is so hard to comprehend? You might say intellectual curiosity but I would suggest that most people are not obsessed intellectuals like those of us here at this blog. For many people, Christians or otherwise, their rejection of evolution is not grounded in stridency but in the simple fact that young earth special creation is the easy answer.
For scientists and many of us who are intellectuals, young earth and ID creates enormous problems for our credibility in the communities we work in. There is much at stake in correctly understanding the issues. But for the great majority, it is a peripheral question. Many can?t understand all the fuss and are suspicious about why some intellectuals are so adamant about a threatening view whose embrace appears to carry very little practical upside. Culture warriors have seized on this suspicion and spun it into narratives that advance their agendas.
The big challenge is that evolution is not the ?simple answer? compared to young earth creationism and/or ID, and the cost of being wrong about evolution for most folks is very small.



report abuse
 

Michael W. Kruse

posted February 16, 2010 at 11:57 am


Sorry. The link in #20 should be cognitive fluency.



report abuse
 

Taylor Burton-Edwards

posted February 16, 2010 at 12:12 pm


@T…
You’ve stated (or at least strongly hinted) at something that does need to be more clearly stated by many ID proponents– that ID is NOT a scientific model, precisely because it cannot be.
If more ID proponents would admit that openly, up front, instead of supposing or arguing that evolution (which IS a scientific model, through and through) is somehow bad science (which it is not– though some of its proponents do cross the line into bad, non-scientific applications of it) or even “not real science,” that would reduce tensions dramatically.
So if we admit ID is not science and evolution is, then the conflict between then can’t be over who reaches the “right” conclusions, but rather over methodology and epistemology. Science as a discipline limits it epistemology to what is verifiable by evidence and reproducible experiment (whether on actual things or as thought experiments, in the case of cosmology, for example, that also have SOME physical evidence to support them). Something like an “external designer” who initiatory or ongoing activity could potentially disturb evidence or the reliability of experiments cannot be accounted for within science. That doesn’t mean such an entity doesn’t exist– only that the methodology and epistemology of science are designed not to account for its existence or activity.
That doesn’t make science flawed as a methodology. That simply acknowledges its own self-imposed limitations, the sorts of lenses it uses to view and describe the world and the cosmos.
So when science looks at issues that look like or might look like “design” it can be expected to look for principles that lead to that apparent “design” that emerge from the interactions of physical phenomena rather than an external Designer. And indeed, that is exactly what we see science doing, particularly today in the fields of biology and neuroscience.
And it seems to me that is exactly what we would WANT science to describe. And equally, we would want scientists to cry “Foul” whenever persons claiming to practice science conclude things, such as the existence (or non-existence) of a Designer, that the disciplines of science through the scientific method and its epistemology do not have the tools to account for.
What is needed is less argument about science, and more, better, clearer conversation about epistemology.
Maybe, just maybe, that can begin to happen a bit more?



report abuse
 

MatthewS

posted February 16, 2010 at 12:17 pm


Haven’t read all the comments yet, just weighing in as Joe Q. Reader. I am from a YEC background and I prize the authority of Scripture.
One impact on me has been to make me more aware and wary of God-in-the-gaps arguments. My own developing thinking, which may be silly, is to wonder why a known “natural process” is any less an argument for God than an effect with an unknown or complex cause.
I have friends who have expressed the belief that Behe has not been successfully engaged. It seems to me he has and this has given me a view into the discussion, albeit a casual view since I just don’t have the time to read and parse all of the information that passes through here.
I appreciate that there is a discussion and I am glad that pds and others hold out for it. Without adherents, discussions of most any view too easily allow straw men unquestioned.
The comments about Augustine and the seed presented a metaphor that affects my thinking. Evolution in some form does not require a watch-making deist projection of God. It can involve something more like the same God who designed a tomato plant to come from tomato seeds, making one big seed that the whole cosmos came from.
While the discussion here has probably pushed me away from ID a little, I still am unable to resolve tension between evolution and Genesis, Romans, other passages about human nature. I am not ready to accept evolution per se, but I see much more nuance and a much broader discussion than ever before. I am getting used to living with unresolved tension. I am more irritated than ever before with simplistic, politically charged dismissals from either side for the other. Also, I appreciate knowing that this resource exists, a lively intelligent discussion that is both scientifically and theologically informed.
That’s the news from this corner of Lake Wobegon.



report abuse
 

MarkP

posted February 16, 2010 at 12:30 pm


“If I?m wrong in rejecting evolution it has no impact on my daily living and it has little practical impact of my Christian identity.”
If you insist on teaching your children to reject evolution, and on avoiding putting them in environments where they might be taught evolution (ie, schools where science is taught), you may be imposing a serious cost on them.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted February 16, 2010 at 1:05 pm


T (19):
I have already dealt with the “If, however, the theists are right in that there is a God” in the following points in an earlier thread (which hold whether God exists or not):
(i) Science cannot detect the immaterial.
(ii) Science cannot (even if it wished to do so) distinguish between an as-yet-unknown material cause and a purported supernatural one — which means that any attempt to introduce supernatural causation cannot help but be a ‘God of the Gaps’ argument.
(iii) Even assuming supernatural causation could be proven, science cannot distinguish between supernatural causes (even if it could prove that a lightning bolt was of supernatural origin, it cannot tell you if it was Thor or Zeus that threw it).
(iv) Science cannot draw any predictions from a supernatural cause (it cannot infer from a supernatural cause when Thor might next throw a lightning bolt, nor how to build a better lightning rod).



report abuse
 

Michael W. Kruse

posted February 16, 2010 at 1:13 pm


#25 MarkP
Fair point, although I think even here we are dealing with a minority of cases. More than 70% of American adults do not get a college education. Evolution is irrelevant to the vast majority of occupations. Unless you’re going beyond high school to intellectual pursuits, and furthermore into an occupation that requires a view on evolution, I’m not sure what negative impact there would be.
I’ll also I think many who embrace evolution do so not because they understand it or particularly trust scientists, but because that is what their reference community believes. (Peter Berger’s “plausibility structures.”) For them, there is a cost of lost relationships if they reject evolution and since it is peripheral to anything else in their life, why not embrace it? For them, evolution is the simple explanation for something they haven’t truly explored.



report abuse
 

Dr. Virgil Suttles

posted February 16, 2010 at 1:24 pm


I have spent a great deal of my life, I’m 62 now, working in cross cultural ministries, and appropriate technology. I worked in and out of Haiti for over 20 years, and have experience around the globe. One thing I have become convinced of is that we do not have a strong enough Christian apologetic in general, and especially in the area of creative design. That philosophical, spiritual debate is not a new one, but is obviously one which continues to challenge us. For this reason I currently published a little book which I believe will give its readers “something to chew on” concerning many questions in this area. The title is “The Poultice,” published by Xulon Press. It is available on Amazon.com. I contend that it may well have some answers to the questions above.



report abuse
 

Brian in NZ

posted February 16, 2010 at 1:24 pm


I read a book a year or two ago on ANE culture and the rise of Islam which cleared my thinking dramatically. It pointed out how the culture in which the OT was written, and prevails in Islam today is honour/shame, not right/wrong as we have in the West (from Greek philosophy). Given that understanding, it was clear that much of our Western view of scripture is based on a world view that is contrary to the view of the original writers and readers. Are we therefore entitled to say that all scripture is literally accurate as interpreted from our world view? I don’t think so now. I never was an advocate for that position before, but didn’t have a framework of understanding to support it. This understanding of different world views gave me that.



report abuse
 

Dr. Virgil Suttles

posted February 16, 2010 at 1:52 pm


Brian in NZ, cross cultural comparisons, comparative religions is a fascinating field of study which has a lot to say about many basic beliefs, philosophies, including Christianity. I would go so far to say that deliberations about creative design without a good knowledge of these fields of study is doomed be culturally biased, and thus very narrow minded. We are talking about the design of the universe and all mankind, not just those with a Western worldview. Missiology students have known for years that when you step outside of our Western world view, you are challenged by multiple ideas which do not coincide with what you have been raised in or taught. This is one thing that fascinates me so much about the Bible. It is a book which was obviously influenced heavily by the culture of its human authors, but it has withstood the test of time remaining a cross-cultural guide for all mankind, no matter what culture you are in. But when I read the Bible in Greek, Hebrew, English, French or Creole, I find that there are nuances there which I would never have seen if I had just remained knowledgeable of it in English alone. This adds up, for me, to be a good argument for its divine origin, and can be extrapolated to an argumen, I believe, for creative design. I have said for years that we learn more about God from studying cultural anthropology than we do from studying theology. We learn more from creation that we learn from trying to decide who the creator is, if we do so with creative design as a foundation. If not, we become humanists.



report abuse
 

james-michael

posted February 16, 2010 at 2:17 pm


To clarify,
I was raised largely with a Bernard Ramm perspective (similar to C.S. Lewis’) regarding evolution and Scripture. I never saw them as mutually incompatible. I still don’t.
However, when I began reading Behe, Johnson, Dembski and others promoting ID…and then reading more from Dawkins, Mayr and others supporting Neo-Darwinian evolutionary scenarios and criticizing ID, I began to sympathize more with the ID arguments than the anti-ID critiques from a philosophical/logical perspective. While I’ve seen people attempt to debunk the math behind CSI (Complex Specified Information, aka ‘specified complexity’…which is the foundation of all ID thinking), I still could not see how it is philosophically incorrect; especially as it is an innate part of deduction in other branches of study (cryptography, forensics, gaming enforcement, etc.).
Forget the proposed biological developmental pathways that some have suggested in order to span the chasm between inanimate chemicals and functioning cells, forget the ill-argued Kitzmiller decision (I’ve read it while I agree that ID isn’t ready to be taught in schools and that the specific book “Of Pandas and People” isn’t a good choice, I completely disagree that ID itself is inherently “religious” and think the judge relied on ad hominem rather than actual fact), forget the politics or personalities of people on all sides of the debate, forget the theological implications of ANY view of life’s origins…
…the basic premise of ID theory (as Dembski presents defense of in “The Design Revolution”) is logically and philosophically sound: Working codes are a strong, though not absolute, indicator of intelligent agency at work in a system.
Thus, while pursuing naturalistic, non-intelligent origins for working codes in the realm of biology is perfectly acceptable (and the dominant view at the moment), it is intellectually dishonest, or at best hypocritical, to declare the pursuit of intelligent agency as a source of origin for biological systems to be “religious” and “unscientific”, and resort to scare-tactics and academic blackballing (as seems to have occurred in the Smithsonian case) in order to stifle any dissent.



report abuse
 

T

posted February 16, 2010 at 2:29 pm


Hrafn,
I can’t tell how your comment relates to mine, other than to agree with it, which I don’t think is what you meant, but maybe so. I certainly agree with you that there are many, many important questions that scientific research cannot answer. In fact, that was the thrust of my comment. But that doesn’t mean that those questions aren’t worth pursuing, or even that they have no bearing on how to properly understand the physical world. Further, precisely because there are methods of obtaining knowledge that are rational though not scientific, I would say that we can “know” a fair amount about those issues that science cannot address, even if our knowledge is not subject to scientific verification. We all can, we all do and we all must accept and act upon knowledge that is not scientifically verified every day, because the amount of scientific knowledge is so scarce relative to the number of decisions we must make every day based on conclusions about our world.
Taylor,
Yes. I know the Christian community has crossed the lines you mentioned many times over. I don’t want to call a study “bad science” unless it truly fails to adhere to scientific principles. That said, it seems equally important to admit up front that even “good science” can ultimately give only limited understanding unless everything can be explained by physical, natural causes alone. We need to talk more about these limitations of method and of vision and the proper role of scientific assumptions vs. conclusions.



report abuse
 

R Hampton

posted February 16, 2010 at 3:12 pm


During a chapel service at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary prior to the Discovery Institute conference, Science and Faith: Friends or Foes, Stephen Meyer explained that Darwinian materialism has had a negative effect on ethics, culture and the study of Scripture and theology.
“Many people who have a Christian faith have a sense that something is amiss in our culture. One of the things that I think makes people feel ill at ease about the culture is this pervasive and overweening devaluing of human life,” Meyer said, citing as an example a University of Texas professor who garnered attention for suggesting that 90% of the earth’s population should be eliminated in order to preserve the earth.
“He at one point suggested that the Ebola virus would be a perfectly legitimate means by which to accomplish this, although he later kind of backed off on that. But he has gone on to advocate that we ought to confiscate the wealth of all families with two or more children as a way, again, of saving the earth.”
Such claims, Meyer said, are the result of a worldview based on the same scientific materialism that has resulted in a modern trend of disbelief in God.



report abuse
 

RJS

posted February 16, 2010 at 3:20 pm


R Hampton,
I wonder how many people find ID an attractive idea for this reason.



report abuse
 

ChrisB

posted February 16, 2010 at 3:21 pm


I’ve come to view the ID debate as unfruitful and an inefficient use of time and resources because the ID side will always appeal to “god of the gaps” and the other side will always appeal to “science of the gaps.” It becomes a shouting match shortly thereafter.
But the whole thing has been useful in this: more people are aware now of the differences between methodological and philosophical naturalism and how the latter is often passed off as the former (and vice versa). Flags are raised now when scientists make philosophical pronouncements, and that’s a good thing.



report abuse
 

MarkP

posted February 16, 2010 at 3:34 pm


“Darwinian materialism has had a negative effect on ethics, culture and the study of Scripture and theology.”
Maybe so. But if God chose to use evolution as the mechanism of creation, there’s not a lot we can do about it, whatever we may think of its effect on culture. Denying it because you don’t like the effect you think it has seems short sighted.
PS. I’ve misread or mistyped the captcha text a couple of times lately, and gotten the message that promises “your comment is not lost!” But when I click on the link that’s supposed to take me back to continue, behold, the comment box is empty. Is this a browser related thing (I’m using Chrome)?



report abuse
 

R Hampton

posted February 16, 2010 at 3:43 pm


Sorry about that – I did not notice that Captcha replaced my latest post with a duplicate of my first:
I can’t help but smirk at this defense of ID by way of analogy to gravity, because it also works for Evolution!
God also can act through so-called ?secondary causes.? These include natural processes and laws that he has established, such as the electromagnetic force [or Evolution]. (I think it?s problematic to speak of physical constants as ?causes,? but let that pass for now). An event might be both an expression of a physical law and the purposes of God. It?s not as if atheists appeal to gravity [or Evolution] while theists appeal to miracles. Gravity [or Evolution] is as consistent with theism as are miracles. It?s just that most theists and atheists agree on gravity [or Evolution] but not on miracles…
Ordinarily, when a scientist invokes a physical law [like Evolution], he intends to appeal to some fixed feature of the physical world. A ball falls to the ground when dropped from the Leaning Tower of Pisa ?because? of gravity. So a scientist can say that gravity ?causes? the ball to fall (once dropped). (Again, I think this way of speaking is misleading, but it?s conventional so I won?t challenge it.) Since it?s constant?it always does the same, mathematically describable thing?and isn?t an intelligent agent, gravity [or Evolution] is seen as an impersonal property of matter. But that doesn?t mean the scientist intends to exclude God?s role in some broader sense, or that God is so excluded whatever the scientist intends. The scientist has simply taken gravity [or Evolution] as a given fact about the natural world…
From a different vantage point, the ?fine tuning? of physical constants may itself be evidence for intelligent design. There?s no zero-sum game here. It?s not as if gravity and electromagnetism [or Evolution] are points for the materialist, whereas the bacterial flagellum is a point for the theists. It?s just that we might only notice the ?designedness? of physical constants when we attend to them directly.
So why do ID theorists have a problem with evolution but not gravity? Evolution challenges a common Christian understanding of the Bible whereas gravity does not. To quote the blog, Uncommon Descent:
Those of us who are part of promoting ID know how hard it is to get churches to appreciate the importance of ID. Most of the biology teachers who opposed ID at Dover were professing Christians and Sunday School teachers. The unfortunate situation in Dover is not unique. Darwinism has remained in the culture because churches have allowed it to spread. Churches have allowed it to spread because they are unwilling to engage the facts but rather resort to theology.



report abuse
 

Unapologetic Catholic

posted February 16, 2010 at 3:47 pm


My response to this question:
I read Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box in about 1999. The theses of the book was that certain biological features coudl not have evolved–they must have been designed by an intelligence. Obviously that intelligentce was (most likely)God. After all, how many superpowerful beings capable of mainupulating an entire planet’s ecology were there? It also helped that ID was consistent with my own religious beliefs and offered scietific support for those views.
A practical scientific demonstration of God’s existence! How cool is that? How astounding is that? Almost too good to be true!
I then read every thing online and in print on evolution, genetics and biology and found out that—it WAS too good to be true. Real biologists had alaredy considered and demolished Behe’s arguments.
It turns out that I had been misled. The ID proponents were simply rehashing the same creationist arguments that had been around for years. Then I observed that the vast majority of the ID movement was not acting in good faith…the deception was both intentional and widespread. Scientific evidence was routinely distorted and scientists were “quote-mined” out of context to appear to say the opposite of what they meant. ID proponents “dodge” pointed questions put to them and refuse to offer facts to support their positions and refuse to say what they mean. The entire ID campaign is a form of propaganda. It has an initial appeal and sounds “reasonable” to those who are unfamilair with the issues.
Meanwhile I have children who attended school. One is now a PhD physics major. He ebcame disenchanted with Chrsitianity becasue of the widespread misrepresnetations of ascience made by Intelligent Design proponents.
I have other family members whose medical condition requries the best medications available. Evolution is essntial to udnerstandign medicine and developing needed medications.
It’s true that msot peopel don’t need to care about the ID/science fight. But if there’s ever a widepsread failure to develop needed vaccines to rapidly evolving pathogens, these people will pay for their ignorance with their lives and those of their children.



report abuse
 

Rick Presley

posted February 16, 2010 at 3:58 pm


Curious. If this is such a non-issue as so many assert, then why do Dawkins and Dennett make such a big deal of it? Sagan had his non-overlapping magisterial areas (which relegated religion to little more than the fringes or the corners of serious human endeavor, but at least he TRIED to be accommodating), so why can’t the anti-ID crowd?
I understand the Young Earthers because of their reliance on foundationalism to define their worldview. I even understand the ID’s who don’t want a God of the Gaps and are willing to advocate on his behalf even though it makes no difference what they are doing on the lab bench from a secularist. What I don’t understand is what the materialists are afraid of.
It reminds me of Daniel and his friends in the Bible. For them, kosher was important. And for the chief eunuch it meant his job, but in the final analysis it was results that spoke to the king. I don’t see why both sides cannot allow room for opinions that don’t affect the quality of work. In the final analysis, science is all about results anyway, not philosophy or religion.
At least that’s the way it was for me when I was working on the lab bench in the chemical industry. My boss was an agnostic and his boss was a committed YEC Ph.D. chemist who did his undergrad work at Bob Jones University. The company didn’t care what they believed as long as we were turning out new products and adding to the product mix. Why can’t interlocutors on this issue be similarly disposed?



report abuse
 

Michael W. Kruse

posted February 16, 2010 at 4:03 pm


#31 james-michael
“… ID theory (as Dembski presents defense of in “The Design Revolution”) is logically and philosophically sound …”
Agreed. But is not scientifically sound. While science and philosophy have reason and logic in common, science is a more limited form of investigation. It is limited to the study of natural events and causes. Methodological materialism is absolutely essential. You write:
“Thus, while pursuing naturalistic, non-intelligent origins for working codes in the realm of biology is perfectly acceptable (and the dominant view at the moment), it is intellectually dishonest, or at best hypocritical, to declare the pursuit of intelligent agency as a source of origin for biological systems to be “religious” and “unscientific”…”
Pursing “naturalistic, non-intelligent origins” is not just perfectly acceptable, it is absolutely essential. There are no other options for science to pursue as a self-limited form of inquiry. When you introduce non-natural influences you have by definition left the realm of science … not because the non-natural influences can’t be there, but because they are beyond the detection of science.
While it be an overstatement to say the ID is religious it is patently true that ID is not science. Intelligent agency is not a naturally occurring event. If ID is correct about origins the most science will ever be able to say is “We don’t know,” even as scientists push on … possibly with futility … to find natural explanations.
The exasperation with many in science is not that some may draw upon philosophy to find answers to questions but that they fail see and appreciate the boundaries of science.



report abuse
 

Dr. Virgil Suttles

posted February 16, 2010 at 4:10 pm


So much of this discussion centers on the word before “design.” Is it intelligent or unintelligent, i.e. did the design just happen without rhym or reason? What few are willing to argue with is that there is “design.” Without design, there is chaos. The question then to me becomes “design for what reason?” If we have a pile of steel, plastic, etc., and we need a means of transportation, we can take the pile of material and design it to “create” a vehicle. If we have wood, steel, concrete, we can design a building to meet our needs. What was, is, the “design” we see in the universe for? Why design it as it is? I.e., what was the situation prior to the existence of time and space? What was eternity like, and how did that “culture” influence the “design” that we live in? “The Poultice” by me. On Amazon.com.



report abuse
 

RickK

posted February 16, 2010 at 4:32 pm


Rick Presley #39 asks why can’t Dennett and Dawkins live and let live with respect to the ID-proponents?
1) Because as Hrafn said, an as-yet-undiscovered material explanation is indistinguishable from a supernatural explanation;
2) Because as Dopderbeck said – “Intelligent Design” would cease to exist as a topic if Christian Biblical creationism were permitted in science classes;
3) Because so much of ID is fundamentally dishonest, and I think while it is OK to be wrong, it is not OK to lie.
When Dawkins writes “The God Delusion” or Hitchens writes “God is not Great”, do we expect the theistic community to “live and let live” and to refuse to speak out in opposition?
So when Stephen Meyer writes that he wants to “replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and hurnan beings are created by God”, should those who find value in a materialistic approach to science just “live and let live”?
Let’s at least put the discussion on an open and honest footing, shall we? Let’s remove from the discussion everyone who is using ID to forward a literal Genesis creationist agenda – remove the people and remove their funding. Then, we can engage honestly with whoever is left on whether the universe that we KNOW is old, the world we KNOW is old, and the life we KNOW evolved, actually shows fundamental signs of design beyond what could happen through natural, material processes.



report abuse
 

Sacred Frenzy

posted February 16, 2010 at 5:12 pm


Michael Kruse (#40) writes:
“Intelligent agency is not a naturally occurring event.”
Can you explain this statement? Also, if science is by definition methodologically materialistic/naturalistic, then why is evolution offered as a realist theory (as opposed to instrumentalist theory)?



report abuse
 

Michael W. Kruse

posted February 16, 2010 at 7:52 pm


#43 Sacred Frenzy
From the context “intelligent agency” was used by J-M in #31 it indicates an intelligence operating on the natural system from outside the system. Supernatural entities are not part of scientific investigation.
As to instrumentalist theory, we are trying to discern what happened with past events that can’t be directly observed. Theories are postulated that both explain existing data and predict what future data we should find. The ability to predict findings is becoming ever more accurate. DNA studies continue to corroborate and refine theories of how species evolved. The scientist among us could give specifics that are way above my pay grade (and have here several times) but evolution is much more than a purely instrumental theory.



report abuse
 

Unapologetic Catholic

posted February 16, 2010 at 8:21 pm


“What few are willing to argue with is that there is “design.” Without design, there is chaos.”
don’t agree. The correct word is “structure” not “design.” Chaos may be presnet inthe ansence of structure, but structure readily occurs natually in the absence of miracles.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted February 17, 2010 at 12:24 am


T (32):
You originally said “If, however, the theists are right in that there is a God who stands both within and outside of the physical universe, acting within it both through and beyond its structures, then scientists will inevitably be limited in their knowledge and understanding of even the physical world.”
My point was that, even if we knew with certainty that the supernatural exists, science has no choice other than to accept this ‘limitation’ and stick to natural causes, as supernatural causation is indistinguishable from as-yet-unknown natural causes, are not distinguishable one from another, and allow no predictions or other useful conclusions.



report abuse
 

Michael W. Kruse

posted February 17, 2010 at 9:07 am


#46 Hrafn
“My point was that, even if we knew with certainty that the supernatural exists, science has no choice other than to accept this ‘limitation’ and stick to natural causes, as supernatural causation is indistinguishable from as-yet-unknown natural causes, are not distinguishable one from another, and allow no predictions or other useful conclusions.”
Thanks. Well put. The most a scientist … as a scientist … can say about a supernatural event is “I don’t know a natural cause.” Movement beyond that to ID, theism, or atheism is movement outside of science. I read T to be saying the same things.



report abuse
 

T

posted February 17, 2010 at 1:10 pm


Hrafn,
I think I agree with you, except as follows, if I’m reading your sub-point correctly: “supernatural causation . . . allow[s] no predictions or other useful conclusions.” Certainly, yes, one can’t use scientific methods to make any predictions or other conclusions (useful or not) about supernatural actors or causes because science assumes such things don’t exist as its starting point. Part of my point, though, is that there are many other ways–that are rational though not scientific–of knowing and of making useful and necessary conclusions about all kinds of things, and we all employ these ways every day.
The idea that only scientific methods can give us “predictions or other useful conclusions” is obviously false, and thankfully so, given how very few decisions enjoy the luxury of being completely informed by scientifically verifiable knowledge. Further, that idea (itself a statement of faith, incapable of being a scientific conclusion!) is, IMO, a huge portion of the fuel for the ID fire. “Knowledge” is a much bigger realm than “scientific knowledge.” I agree with other commenters who have said that ID would do well to admit that it is not science, as much of what we teach as history, for example, is also not science, though it is still rational and useful and properly “knowledge.”



report abuse
 

R Hampton

posted February 17, 2010 at 1:51 pm


I agree with other commenters who have said that ID would do well to admit that it is not science
But then that defeats the purpose of the ID movement, which seeks to 1) discredit the science of Evolutionary theory, and 2) elevate ID theory to a legitimate science that can be inserted into science textbooks. The current battle with the Texas State Board of Education is a prime example:
Casey Luskin, a lawyer for the Discovery Institute, said Texas now has the “strongest standards in the country.”
“The language adapted requires students to have critical thinking about all of science, including evolution, and it urges them to look at all sides of the issue,” he said.



report abuse
 

T

posted February 17, 2010 at 3:29 pm


R Hampton,
Yes, in terms of methodology, ID seems more akin to historical studies than scientific research. But in terms of subject matter (key in the public school problem), it is more akin to science. The problem is that nothing can be taught regarding the origin of life without going beyond what has been established scientifically. So either our public schools in science classes need to say nothing concerning the origin of life, or “we don’t know”, or introduce several possibilities including naturalist & ID theories and admit that none of them been verified by scientific research. Then it becomes much more like what various historians think caused this or that historical event. Experts may disagree. Several possibilities are reasonable. Just as one of the reasonable inferences regarding the birth of Christianity as a movement is that Jesus actually did rise from the dead.
When we hit an area where scientific work has not established anything (or perhaps cannot), that’s when assumptions, epistemology and what counts as reasonable inference matter greatly, especially on a question as big as “where did life come from?” I have no beef with scientists who want to continue to assume, for methodological purposes, that the hope of natural causes springs eternal. But that hope, that reasonable inference, is just that, and there are many inferences that are equally reasonable and would be appropriate for students of our world to discuss and contemplate, again, unless we want to teach, as a matter of educational policy, that there are only natural causes for everything in the world. We could teach that, but it also wouldn’t be teaching science. So, yes, let the IDers admit that their theories for the origin of life have not been verified, and even that they cannot be. But please also let the writers of science textbooks and teachers of science classes admit that no theory of the origin of life has been scientifically established. Anything we think we know about that is through other means of reasoning and involves a little faith in one thing or another.



report abuse
 

RickK

posted February 17, 2010 at 4:08 pm


T,
You left out one factor:
Throughout history, supernatural causation has been replaced time and again with natural explanations.
The reverse has never happened.
Therefore, based on the complete failure of the supernatural as an explanatory tool, it is a very valid starting assumption that natural phenomena have natural causes.
So while there is no complete model for the origin of life, it is a very valid starting assumption that life started from processes working within the known laws of nature and without supernatural intervention.
Had there been one irrefutable success among the hundreds of thousands of attempts to prove the existence of the divine/supernatural over the past 2000 years, then science would be more open to non-natural models for the origin of life.
Since there is a million dollar prize waiting for anyone who can prove just one example of the supernatural, there should be no lack of effort in trying to do so. Imagine the fame and fortune that would come to the person that succeeded.
The equation is not “it’s divine or it’s not”. It’s not 50/50. Claiming divine/supernatural causation is like applying for a patent for a free energy machine. It is appropriate to reject such a claim, because it’s ALWAYS been wrong in the past. The person making the divine/supernatural claim has the entire burden of proof, and must supply extraordinary evidence to back their extraordinary claim.
So if your definition of “faith” means having confidence in something that has ALWAYS won in the past, then science is completely justified in placing “faith” in a natural, physically explainable, non-divine origin of life – whether we discover exactly how it happened or not. But if you believe in something based on overwhelming supporting evidence, that doesn’t really need much “faith”, does it?



report abuse
 

R Hampton

posted February 17, 2010 at 4:24 pm


T,
Your last post is a perfect example of the goals of ID science at work – in this case, conflating the Origin of Life with Evolution! The National Center for Science Education published this refutation of a proposed message from the Oklahoma State Textbook Committee (2000):
MESSAGE: This textbook discusses evolution, a controversial theory, which some scientists present as scientific explanation for the origin of living things, such as plants and humans.
…Ironically, well-written science textbooks place even less confidence in current ideas about how life may have originated than the disclaimer does. Typically, ideas about the origin of life are regarded as hypotheses, placing them a rung lower on the scientific hierarchy of ideas than the textbook committee was willing to do.
And this NCSE response to Intelligent design creationist Jonathan Wells’s “Ten questions to ask your biology teacher about evolution.
Q: ORIGIN OF LIFE. Why do textbooks claim that the 1953 Miller-Urey experiment shows how life’s building blocks may have formed on the early Earth ? when conditions on the early Earth were probably nothing like those used in the experiment, and the origin of life remains a mystery?
A: The 1953 studies by Miller and Urey were the first to show that organic molecules could be produced from very simple precursors and inputs of energy. Their experimental apparatus made it possible to investigate the formation of organic compounds under a wide range of conditions. Numerous studies have been conducted since then with various combinations of chemicals thought to have existed on early Earth. Nearly all of these studies have produced some of the building blocks of life. Origin-of-life remains a vigorous area of research. Evolutionary theory can work with just about any model of the origin of life on Earth. Therefore, how life originated is not strictly a question about evolution.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted February 17, 2010 at 10:22 pm


T (48):
I’m afraid I have to unequivocally disagree with your ‘exception’. Taking it through my original points in reverse order.
3) I see no evidence whatsoever that your “many other ways” draw “useful conclusions” as to the natural consequences of supernatural causes. The pronouncements of those who do attempt to draw such conclusions (Pat Robertson comes immediately to mind), do not appear to be particularly useful. But even if these “many other ways” are efficious, why should science get itself involved if it cannot itself draw useful conclusions?
2) As science cannot distinguish between alternative hypotheses of supernatural causes (Zeus versus Thor, or even the Catholic versus a Protestant conception of Yahweh), it cannot even provide any useful guidance to these “many other ways”, further emphasising my question in (1).
1) As science cannot even distinguish between supernatural causation and as-yet-undiscovered natural causation, it cannot even inform these “many other ways” when they should be getting involved in drawing conclusions, again further emphasising my question in (1).
I think my point stands that, even if the supernatural is known to exist, science does neither itself, nor anybody else, any good by entangling itself with the question of supernatural causation.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted February 17, 2010 at 11:49 pm


It should be noted that my post #53 purposefully avoided discussion of the supernatural consequences of supernatural causes. This is for two reasons:
1) If neither cause nor consequence is natural, then there appears to be no conceivable point of contact between the conclusion and science.
2) We already have a field that covers the “supernatural consequences of supernatural causes” — it’s called Theology.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted February 18, 2010 at 2:27 am


Michael W. Kruse (21) asks “What is the downside of being mistaken about evolution?”
Karl Giberson attempts to answer this question in ‘Evolution Matters’, http://biologos.org/blog/evolution-matters/
Among the points he makes is the following:
“Take E.O. Wilson, for example, arguably the most important scientist of the last half-century. Wilson was raised a Southern Baptist and was quite devout as a child. But he was taught that his faith and evolution were incompatible. He went off to study biology at the University of Alabama and learned, to his surprise, that the evidence for evolution was compelling and, like virtually all serious biologists, he accepted it. This, of course, meant he had to reject the Christian faith of his childhood. If he were still in the church his pastor would be fully aware of how important it is to address the issue of evolution. And wouldn?t it be wonderful if E. O. Wilson were still among the group that call themselves Christians, especially considering that Time magazine ranked him one of the most influential people of the 20th century?”
“Evangelical Protestants make up at least 28% of the general population in the United States but they represent only 4% of the scientific community. What happened to the other 24% of the evangelicals along the way?
There are most likely two explanations, both of which are concerning:
1. Evangelicals are raised with a negative image of science and are thus unlikely to choose it as a career;
2. Evangelicals, like E. O. Wilson, who go into science lose their faith, and cease to be evangelicals.”



report abuse
 

pds

posted February 18, 2010 at 7:30 am


The way ID has been misrepresented and attacked on this blog and elsewhere deeply saddens me.



report abuse
 

RJS

posted February 18, 2010 at 9:09 am


pds,
I had rather hoped you would step up and answer the question(s). Where do you see the value in your view of ID and how has the discussion shaped the way you see the key issues?



report abuse
 

T

posted February 18, 2010 at 11:22 am


RickK,
Your first point is exactly where we disagree; and not just you and I, but millions of similar folks on each side of that conclusion. At this point in my life, I’ve long since lost count of the number of various happenings that I attribute to supernatural causes, specifically a living Christ, and I’m a fairly rational guy, which law school only amplified. I’ve just seen and particpated in way too many interactions that are along the lines of Jesus’ interactions with the woman at the well (with myself in both Jesus’ and the woman’s perspective) to think that supernatural causes are anything short of the best explanation for stuff I see happen fairly routinely now.
My goal here is not to convince you of my conclusions on these matters, but to say that the world (today) is full of people who have the same kind of stories we see in the gospels, and I am just one of them. This is a “Jesus Creed” blog; there are many rational voices right here who are “witnesses” of a living Christ, who stands and operates both within and beyond nature, acting in the physical world, directly and indirectly. For many Christians around the world and throughout history, there are a great many things that simply have no better, more rational explanation than the living person of Jesus and his people doing the same things we see in the New Testament.
Surely you know how appropriately difficult it is (given our inherent limitations) to prove a negative, such as your statement that supernatural causes are always wrong. I understand that you’ve not witnessed such things. I appreciate that and respect your position based on that experience. I would no doubt think and feel similarly in your shoes. I think you’d feel similar to me in mine. But you need to know how many people stand in the position of someone like the woman at the well who have had multiple experiences that are nigh inexplicable outside of Jesus being what the NT claims him to be. For us, supernatural causes of physical phenomenon are far and away the best way to explain huge portions of our own, real life experiences and those around us.
Hrafn,
You seem to have missed my point that there are ways of reasoning and making rational conclusions about the physical world (and beyond) that are not scientific in method. I agree with you that scientific methods have their limits, by design (no pun intended).



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted February 18, 2010 at 10:28 pm


T (58):
I do not claim that there weren’t “ways of reasoning and making rational conclusions about the physical world (and beyond) that are not scientific in method”, merely that there are not “ways of reasoning and making rational conclusions about the physical world” based upon supernatural causation. The ancient Greeks may have believed that Zeus caused lightning, but that did not enable them to make any meaningful predictions about when lightning would next strike. Pat Robertson predicted a natural disaster for Dover in punishment for kicking out their ‘lying for Jesus’ school board after the Kitzmiller trial, it didn’t happen. If you can come up with a counter example, then please do so.



report abuse
 

Ron Krumpos

posted February 27, 2010 at 4:06 pm


There are three excellent books related to this topic, written by contemporary scientists who are also deeply religious. Intelligent design need not mean creationism; evolution need not mean lack of intelligence.
“The Language of God,” by Francis S. Collins (Free Press/Simon & Schuster 2006). Dr Collins was head-Human Genome Project. He believes that faith in God and science can co-exist and be harmonious.
“Let There be Light,” by Howard Smith (New World Library 2006). Dr. Smith is a senior astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center. He explains how modern study of the cosmos complements the Kabbalah.
“Intelligence in Nature,” by Jeremy Narby (Jeremy P. Thatcher/Penguin 2005). Dr. Narby has a doctorate in anthropology. He makes a reasoned connection between shamanistic beliefs and modern science.



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

More Blogs To Enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Jesus Creed. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Red Letters with Tom Davis Recent prayer post on Prayables Most Recent Inspiration blog post Happy Reading!  

posted 11:15:58am Aug. 16, 2012 | read full post »

Our Common Prayerbook 30 - 3
Psalm 30 thanks God (vv. 1-3, 11-12) and exhorts others to thank God (vv. 4-5). Both emerge from the concrete reality of David's own experience. Here is what that experience looks like:Step one: David was set on high and was flourishing at the hand of God's bounty (v. 7a).Step two: David became too

posted 12:15:30pm Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Theology After Darwin 1 (RJS)
One of the more important and more difficult pieces of the puzzle as we feel our way forward at the interface of science and faith is the theological implications of discoveries in modern science. A comment on my post Evolution in the Key of D: Deity or Deism noted: ...this reminds me of why I get a

posted 6:01:52am Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Almost Christian 4
Who does well when it comes to passing on the faith to the youth? Studies show two groups do really well: conservative Protestants and Mormons; two groups that don't do well are mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics. Kenda Dean's new book is called Almost Christian: What the Faith of Ou

posted 12:01:53am Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Let's Get Neanderthal!
The Cave Man Diet, or Paleo Diet, is getting attention. (Nothing is said about Culver's at all.) The big omission, I have to admit, is that those folks were hunters -- using spears or smacking some rabbit upside the conk or grabbing a fish or two with their hands ... but that's what makes this diet

posted 2:05:48pm Aug. 30, 2010 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.