Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

What should a Roman Catholic think about naturalism and evolution?

Charles Pope on the Archdiocese of Washington web site. (H/T Joe Carter on First Things)

Excerpt:

It is common to experience a rather simplistic notion among Catholics that the Theory of Evolution can be reconciled easily with the Biblical accounts and with our faith. Many will say something like this: “I have no problem with God setting things up so that we started as one-celled organisms and slowly evolved into being human beings. God could do this and perhaps the Genesis account is just simplifying evolution and telling us the same thing as what Evolution does.”

There are elements of the truth in this sort of a statement. Surely God could have set things up to evolve and directed the process so that human beings evolved and then, at some time he gave us souls. God could have done that.

The problem with the statement above is less theological than scientific because there is a word in that sentence that is “obnoxious” to evolutionary theory: “God.” The fact is that most Catholics who speak like this over-simplify evolutionary theory and hold a version of it that most Evolutionary Theorists do not hold. They accept the Theory of Evolution uncritically.

Yeah, because what evolutionists mean by “evolution” is that GOD HAD NO DETECTABLE EFFECT ON THE PROCESS. They mean that THE PROCESS OF EVOLUTION OCCURRED ENTIRELY WITHOUT DIVINE INTERVENTION. That’s what evolution means – fully materialistic, fully random, no intelligence needed, emergence of all the diversity of life we see.

Now what this means is that God is excluded as a cause by evolutionary theory. It would be fine if evolutionists (as natural scientists) were either silent on the question of God. Or, perhaps if they simply stated that things may be acted upon by an outside force or intelligence but that is beyond the scope of their discipline. But that is not what is being said by most proponents of evolutionary theory. They are saying that biodiversity results MERELY from natural selection and random (i.e. non intended or non-purposeful) genetic mutations. They are saying that observable effects of biodiversity are wholly caused by something natural, random and without any ultimate goal or plan.

But a Catholic cannot accept all of this. Even if a Catholic wants to accept that things have evolved in some way (whether through macro or microevolution) a Catholic cannot say that this process is simply random, chance, blind, or with no purpose. We believe that God alone created all things, and that he sustains all things. Neither do we confess some sort of “deist” God who merely started things off and then lets them take their own course. Rather, God sustains and carries out every detail.

Joe Carter adds:

In my experience, most people haven’t considered the issue of how the theological and scientific claims can be compatible. For instance, to be a “theistic evolutionist” in the sense that modern scient will accept, requires one to adhere to polygensism (the theory that Adam was not one historical man but, rather, a euphemism for “mankind”). That position, however, is not compatible with the teachings of the Bible, the Church, or of Jesus.

The dividing line between theists and non-theists is as follows: did God act in history in a way that his creative agency and intelligent agency is discernable to us using the objective methods of science? Atheists (and theistic evolutionists) say that God’s creative agency and intelligent (selection/sequencing) agency is neither necessary to explain what we observe in the universe, nor are the effects of agency detectable through science. Theists (and deists) say that God’s creative agency and intelligent agency is necessary in order to explain what we observe in the universe, and these effects of agency are detectable through science.

That is the dividing line. I don’t how I could be much clearer.

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56 Responses

  1. Richard Ball says:

    I agree with what you say about what darwinists mean by evolution, but I don’t think you’ve got the dividing line quite right. Science is a man-made construct using empirical methods of external observation. I see no reason why God must have created the heavens and the earth in a way that makes his creative/intelligent agency explicitly discernible by the methods of science.

    To illustrate, we say that God made us; yet we also acknowledge that in a very real sense our parents produced us. Well, did God make us, or were we made by purely natural means? False dichotomy. Similarly, there is no reason, in principle, why God couldn’t have created biological life through purely natural processes which he created, or through biological processes created, directed and enhanced by him where these directing and enhancing events are undetectable by science because of the limitations of science.

    I would say that God’s creative agency and intelligent agency are necessary to explain what we observe in the universe [based on the principle of sufficient reason], but that these effects of agency may or may not submit themselves specifically to the limitations of scientific inquiry.

    And, I would add that they are blazingly obvious through a merely common-sense look at the order and design of the universe around us — but this would be more of a direct intuition than the result of science.

    • “I see no reason why God must have created the heavens and the earth in a way that makes his creative/intelligent agency explicitly discernible by the methods of science.”

      Well, I read Romans 1:18-20 and Psalm 19:1 and I get that science can detect the creation/design work that was done.

      • Richard Ball says:

        I covered that in my last paragraph — discernible yes, obvious even — but neither of these verses have anything to do with science, the scientific method(s) per se. What is true in Romans 1 and Psalm 19 was true prior to the advent of science, and remains true whether affirmed by the findings of science or not.

        And, Wintery, I am not saying that creation/design is not discernible by science, just that it need not be. Science is a limited, finite, man-made construct that looks for natural causes to natural phenomenon. The scientist may explain how a weather event formed, but the Christian still insists that God sent the storm — whether this is discernible by science or not.

        • When I am talking about science, I am speaking about a specific effect in nature, namely, specified complexity. Can you please explain to me what it is about specified complexity that scientists cannot detect. It might be a good idea to define specified complexity for me in your own words, then explain to me why scientists cannot recognize it rigorously and why it is not possible to rule out naturalistic mechanisms as being the cause of specified complexity in certain cases.

          • Richard Ball says:

            “why it is not possible to rule out naturalistic mechanisms as being the cause of specified complexity in certain cases.”

            Because God, an omnipotent personal agent, is the creator of natural processes. That is why it is impossible to rule out natural processes.

            Mechanism is a very, very, loaded word, based on an unfortunately mechanistic view of nature and the universe.

          • Foxfier says:

            Because God, an omnipotent personal agent, is the creator of natural processes. That is why it is impossible to rule out natural processes.

            Over-broad to the point of worthlessness. Reduces everything to “because God did it”– may be technically accurate, but incredibly lacking in usefulness.

    • Richard, can science show us that the universe came into being from nothing? If so, what explanation of something coming into beig from nothing is consistent with naturalism/materialism? (I.e. – conservation of matter/energy)

      • Richard Ball says:

        No it cannot — which goes to support my argument that science has built-in limitations and can only go so far to explain reality. Everything that exists not only requires a cause, it requires a sufficient cause, and that sufficient cause is God.

        Plus, origins of the universe was not the topic being discussed in this post — it was biological evolution.

        • Foxfier says:

          Hehe, one of my pet peeves… apparently, we have similar views, I’m just still clinging to the original science angle.
          Science isn’t supposed to explain reality, it’s supposed to discover the existing framework. There’s theories, but those are supposed to be things that can help you make accurate predictions, not some sort of just-so story.

  2. Shalini says:

    Oh!!! Thank you so much for this, WK!! You are the best!!

  3. Richard Ball says:

    I thought this comment in the comments was interesting:

    “THE PROBLEM WITH ATHEISTS is that they conclude that because God is not a secondary cause, neither is he the primary cause.

    THE PROBLEM WITH INTELLIGENT DESIGN THEORISTS is that they conclude that because God is the primary cause, he is also a secondary cause.

    And, finally, THE PROBLEM WITH STRICT CREATIONISTS is that they conclude that because God is the primary cause, there are no secondary causes.

    BUT THE THOMIST (calm and collected as he must always be) concludes that because God is the primary cause, all else must be secondary causes — and he never confuses the two.”

    I don’t think this analysis is air-tight, but it does provide a way of framing the issue. It would be interesting to know what this commenter does with the resurrection and miracles in general with regards to primary vs. secondary causes.

  4. Foxfier says:

    I’d say that the dividing line is more along one side saying God can be involved in evolution, and the other saying (outside of their discipline) that he must not be at all involved in evolution.

    Strictly speaking, God (as in the one we follow specifically) can’t be used as an explanation for a scientific theory, since he can’t be scientifically observed. It’s sort of like proving miracles for sainthood cases– science can’t say “God did it” it can only say “we cannot find a scientific explanation for this result.”
    God is outside of their discipline.

    Amusingly, intelligent design is better about this than evolutionists/Darwinists/atheistic evolution folks; ID just says “something designed this;” the other says “God could not have been involved.” The strongest statement possible would be “we see no evidence for outside involvement.”

  5. mknz says:

    @Richard: The problem with those statements is that in trying to clarify the issues, they create a straw man regarding intelligent design “theorists.”

    Intelligent design theorists need not rely or allude to the fact that the universe had a beginning (the only “primary cause” one may ultimately defend) that required an immaterial, uncaused, atemporal mind in order to come into existence.

    Rather, the conclusion they logically come to is based in analysis of the specified information found in DNA, beginning with the origin of LIFE (not the universe) and its simplest form, a single-celled organism (testing the naturalist’s theory on its own terms). They simply ask the question, could this organism, or even the information contained in its DNA, have arisen from purely natural causes, or time and chance, given the prebiotic conditions?
    http://www.unlockingthemysteryoflife.com/
    http://www.signatureinthecell.com/index.php

    They also give an astounding analysis of the Cambrian explosion proving the point once again, also with no reference to the primary cause of the universe: http://www.darwinsdilemma.org/

    In short, it’s intellectually dishonest to chalk up the proof in the pudding of the intelligent designer’s argument to merely say “God did it because He created the universe.” That’s the “God of the gaps” argument, using God to fill in what we don’t know rather than inferring Him from what we DO know.

    • Richard Ball says:

      “In short, it’s intellectually dishonest to chalk up the proof in the pudding of the intelligent designer’s argument to merely say “God did it because He created the universe.”

      I didn’t say this, and I don’t think anything I quoted said this, so I’m really not sure what argument you are addressing here. Not mine, at any rate.

      • Richard Ball says:

        “Intelligent design theorists need not rely or allude to the fact that the universe had a beginning (the only “primary cause” one may ultimately defend)… ”

        I’m not a Thomist philosopher, but I’m pretty sure that you have failed to understand what they mean by primary and secondary causes.

        “In short, it’s intellectually dishonest…”

        In which case, it would be preferable not to accuse them (or me) of intellectual dishonesty.

  6. mknz says:

    I should also have added that after examining the time, chance, and genetic mutation model of biological origins and finding it impotent, the scientists found that DNA contained more than just amino acids, it contained information that directed the material organism the way computer code directs a computer. What we then can infer, based on cause and effect, that something designed has a designer.

    • LOL. I was just adding a comment to explain that there are no natural explanations for the origin of biological information at the origin of life and the Cambrian explosion when I saw your second comment explaining exactly that.

    • Richard Ball says:

      “What we then can infer, based on cause and effect, that something designed has a designer.”

      I don’t disagree with this. What I disagree with is the presupposition that information could not come from (what we would see and define as) natural causes. It is creating a division between natural causation and divine causation that is unwarranted. When an ID advocate says that information could not be created by natural causes they are saying, in effect, that it would be impossible for God to create a natural process that produces information. This is setting an a priori limitation on God and God’s creative abilities.

      What I think the ID advocate is trying to argue is that information cannot come from natural processes as understood by atheists and materialists, i.e., natural processes which are neither created, sustained, nor directed by God. In other words, they are making the mistake of viewing natural processes in atheistic, materialistic, darwinian terms rather than in the terms of a theist who believes that God is the creator, sustainer, and, when he so chooses, director of all of creation, including what we understand as natural processes.

      • Richard, it’s not a pre-supposition – it is AN INDUCTION based on what we know about what natural mechanisms can or cannot do based on experiments and observations and measurements.

        MKNZ didn’t mention divine causation, she is arguing for intelligent causation. The same kind of causation you use to write your comment. Surely you don’t deny that you are an intelligent agent? Capable of making choices at time t? Capable of generating specified complexity using Scrabble letters or amino acids or text characters?

        You say that natural causes can generate specified complexity. Can you please explain a natural mechanism for generating a protein? I’d like to see a link to the peer-reviewed paper where it was done, so that I can make sure that it was done with an intelligent agency interfering.

        What MKNZ is saying is that the naturalistic mechanisms we know about (self-organization, pure chance, chemical evolution, etc.) do not work to create specified complexity. But we know that intelligent agents DO create specified complexity – like the characters I sequenced in my comment. So I need you to show me your naturalistic mechanism for creating proteins. I’ll spot you the amino acids. Show me the natural causes that take those amino acids and create proteins without intelligent agency. I’m interested in experiments, not philosophy or theology. Show me the experiment that creates a protein from bare amino acids without intelligent agency. I’ll wait here.

        • Richard Ball says:

          “You say that natural causes can generate specified complexity.”

          Wintery, I most emphatically did not say this.

        • Richard Ball says:

          “Can you please explain a natural mechanism for generating a protein?”

          No I cannot. But that does not mean that there could not have been one, unless you are saying that God is by definition insufficiently omnipotent to have created one.

          What I am arguing for is it is not impossible that God could have used a natural process — mechanism is a very unfortunate term with very unfortunate connotations — to create life. That is all.

        • Richard Ball says:

          “Richard, it’s not a pre-supposition – it is AN INDUCTION based on what we know about what natural mechanisms can or cannot do based on experiments and observations and measurements.”

          To the extent that it is an induction and not a presupposition, then I accept your argument.

      • Foxfier says:

        When an ID advocate says that information could not be created by natural causes they are saying, in effect, that it would be impossible for God to create a natural process that produces information.

        No, they say that the observed result could not (reasonably) be randomly generated in the context of the accepted/observed system then it had to be generated by a willful act.

        If I’m in the forest and find a log-table with three stump-seats on each side and in front of each stump there is a toadstool and bowl-fungus, I’m going to observe that there’s no reasonable way that it could be randomly generated, thus someone must have set it up. They may have used natural methods, but it was clearly guided by an intelligence. There is no claim about what that intelligence could not do, only what it’s observable that they did do.
        (If they claimed that it was not possible for the designer to design a system that would be invisible, they’d be going outside their discipline just as the atheistic requirement in Darwinisim does.)

        • It’s a perfect comment, Foxfier.

          That is why I am pressing him to show me that natural causes acting without an intelligence can sequence the amino acids (there are 80 types of amino acide, and only 20 are used in living systems) into a functioning protein. That’s a 200-character sequence with constraints on chirality (only left-handed ones are used in living systems), bonding (only peptide bonds are used in living systems), cross-reactions (have to keep other reactions from interfering with your chain as you build it up), and specificity (you need the sequence to have biological function – 199 characters with 1 wrong character has ZERO function).

          So let’s see what these natural causes have been OBSERVED to do in experiments or probability calculations. I can bound the probabilistic resources he has access to, as well. I can spot him X elementary particles, Y seconds in the history of the universe, and Z reactions/second. He’s still not going to come up with a single protein.

          • Richard Ball says:

            “That is why I am pressing him to show me that natural causes acting without an intelligence…”

            Sheesh. You still don’t get it. When natural causes are themselves created, sustained, and directed by God, they cannot rightfully be said to be acting without an intelligence. As I have said, you are using a definition of nature, and natural causes, that better suits a godless, mechanistic, materialistic view, and you don’t seem to realize it. It’s a false distinction.

            I am not saying that ID is wrong; in other contexts I vigorously defend it; I am saying that to say that God could not create a natural process that results in information is putting an a priori limitation on God.

            What the ID advocate should be arguing is that natural processes, as understood by materialists and atheists, cannot account for life. Whether God used a natural process which he created, sustained, and directed, or whether he got out a divine needle and miraculously injected information directly into biochemical objects at various points and stages (or created them ex nihilo) is secondary.

          • Richard, I really need you to focus on the protein. Can you please show me the experiment where natural causes sequence 200 amino acids into a functional protein without requiring intervention from an intelligent agent? I don’t want to hear any more about faith or philosophy or personal preferences or personal beliefs or wishes or opinions. I want to know what natural causes ACTUALLY DO IN THE REAL WORLD. I want the science. Show me the experiment in which natural causes produce a functional protein by sequencing amino acids without needing intervention from an intelligent agent.

            My contention is that the creation of a protein requires intelligent agency – an intelligent cause. The same kind of intelligent cause that caused your comment to have function because an intelligent agent sequenced the letters into meaningful functional sentences.

            Never mind could or could not. I want to know WHAT IS. Where is the “natural process that results in information” that you speak of? Show me the peer-reviewed publication that documents the power of this “natural process” that “results in information”.

  7. Richard Ball says:

    Wintery — Why are you attacking me? I have already answered this question.

    “My contention is that the creation of a protein requires intelligent agency – an intelligent cause.”

    I agree with you. I am going further than you, and saying that all of nature requires intelligent agency and an intelligent cause. My only issue is whether an IDer must insist that the intelligent agency/cause must be external to natural processes, some in-time miraculous infusion of information or whatever, as you seem to insist (and which I personally agree with), or whether God could be capable of building it in to the process itself.

    Until IDers come to grips with this scenario, and address it, and articulate an argument concerning it, there is a huge gap in their argumentation.

    As for what this natural process would be (if it ever existed at all), I have no idea what it is or was or would be. It would be an historical occurrence — like the miraculous infusions assumed by IDers — that is inaccessible to us.

    • Don’t caricature the position of intelligent design theorists. Our view is not that “miraculous infusions” occur. Our view is that God is a non-material mind like you and I are non-material minds. And that God can act as an intelligent cause to create effects in nature that exhibit specified complexity just like we humans can.

      Richard, I am going to ask you a question. Was it a miracle when I wrote this comment? Or was that me exercising my intelligence to sequence characters? And then I have another question. Is it a “miraculous infusion” if God sequences amino acids to form proteins? Why is one a miracle and not the other? These are not miracles, they are just acts of intelligent agents. Very normal and boring. Non-material agents causing effects in nature. Big deal. Happens all the time. Happens when Java code is written. Happens when proteins are sequenced using amino acids.

      IDers don’t have to come to grips with make-believe. If you have a naturalistic mechanism to produce a protein, then show me the experiment and the data. The burden of proof is on you. You are the one making the claim that natural forces can create proteins. I am asking you to support the claim, yet you are refusing to shoulder the burden of proof. I want you to show me the data. I am not interested in speculations and counter-factuals. I want experimental observations, published in a peer-reviewed journal.

      Also, please explain whether you think that the resurrection occurred in space-time. That seems to be a miraculous infusion in time. Did that happen? If that happened, then what is so awful about non-miraculous actions in time by an intelligent agent about the time that life originated?

      • Richard Ball says:

        “You are the one making the claim that natural forces can create proteins.”

        No, I am not. I am saying they could, if God authored them. And I have also stated that, since the origin of life is an historical event, it is inaccessible to direct science.

      • Richard Ball says:

        “Also, please explain whether you think that the resurrection occurred in space-time….”

        Of course I do. But I find your idea that the resurrection was a miraculous action by God, but God’s intervening in natural processes to create life non-miraculous (if that is what you believe) strange. The usual Christian view is that all actions by God as an intelligent agent to alter the regularities of nature are miraculous in nature.

      • Richard Ball says:

        ” Is it a “miraculous infusion” if God sequences amino acids to form proteins? Why is one a miracle and not the other? ”

        Yes.

        Because we are part of the material, cause/effect universe and God is not.

    • Foxfier says:

      ID simply states that some intelligence DID act and that it can be detected from looking at the results. Given the lack of things to compare reality as we know it to, “could” or “could not” is outside of the scientific range for the theory.

      • Richard Ball says:

        Foxfier — I agree that the results of intelligence are discernible; the issue I have is with the wording. “Intelligence did act” implies an external agent acting upon nature at a point in time to produce life. This is very probably what happened, but I am leaving open the possibility that God engineered the potential for life into the fabric of the cosmos, and then brought it forth. In which case, the words “intelligence did act” are too strong.

        Let me give you an example I have used before. Let’s suppose you see my signature written out in all its glorious detail on a document produced today. Is my signature evidence of intelligence? Yes (hopefully!). Did I act to write it? Yes. When? Well, I could have signed it today, in which case I “acted”, or I could have created a signature writing machine that would produce my signature under certain conditions. Both scenarios imply intelligence and purpose and design. But the circumstances under which this intelligence and purpose and design are realized are very different. And an investigator under scenario one would discover a person, while under scenario two would discover a “mechanism” (which in the context being illustrated would be described as a “natural mechanism”).

        In other words, just because something may be the result of a natural process does not preclude either intelligence or design.

        • Foxfier says:

          In the context of your example, it would require that it be a norm– not common, but not unknown– for signatures to come from machines for them to see it as a natural mechanism.

  8. Mary says:

    Hmmm… I don’t think you’re all listening to each other terribly well. ;-) Richard is not suggesting that intelligent intervention was not needed. He’s just suggesting that such intervention MAY POSSIBLY occur via an intelligently designed process which has been worked into nature by the Designer Himself. This is different to randomness and chance. So it’s not really evolution, as per the mechanism outlined in the theory of evolution, but something which looks the same but has entirely different workings under the hood, so to speak. In such a case, that would resolve the problems with the improbability of each purported stage of biological evolution. The problem with the approach is that we have not observed such mechanisms at work, so it’s pretty much conjecture.

    Richard is also challenging our understanding of what is meant by the term “natural”. The atheist takes this term to exclude God. But nature is God’s creation. Nature is a collection of regular miracles really. I was recently reading something which said pretty much this. I’m trying to remember whether it was Bill Craig or Bill Dembski. :-P

    • But Mary, I am not interested in maybe-possibly based on Richard’s personal preference against miracles subsequent to creation. I am only interested in what science can show using repeatable experiments and direct observation. Can nature do its own creating? If Richard says it can, then I want to see his evidence for the claim – and in a peer-reviewed publication, too. I don’t have to deal with what-if scenarios rooted in his personal preferences about what God can and cannot do. I am saying that an intelligent cause is needed because non-intelligent causes cannot create a protein. And I’ve got the data to show that. If he denies it, let’s see his data. I want to see him produce a protein with non-intelligent causes. If he can’t produce the protein with non-intelligent causes, then we have to accept the best explanation of the protein, which is an intelligent cause. Inference to the best explanation.

      I don’t think that the origin of life is a “miraculous infusion”. I think that an intelligent agent made proteins by intelligently sequencing amino acids, and then sequenced the proteins into a minimal cell. Why is it so hard to see that – we are writing comments right now, it’s the same thing!

      • Richard Ball says:

        “But Mary, I am not interested in maybe-possibly based on Richard’s personal preference against miracles subsequent to creation.”

        Wintery, you have got me so wrong. I have no personal preference against miracles subsequent to creation. None. I believe in them. I love them. Sheesh again!

  9. Mary says:

    Wintery: A couple of points…
    1) You SHOULD be interested in what-if scenarios.
    2) Richard believes that life was brought about by an intelligent agent. Your refusal to recognize this after he has said it umpteen times can only be attributed to an alarming refusal to listen.
    3) Richard is on your side, you lobster. So quit being mean just for the sake of being difficult. ;-)

    • Foxfier says:

      Bah, Richard is just being difficult– sort of like when folks say “what color is the sky?” and then insist that it has no color, because it’s not an object, and what we see as blue is just a trick of the light.

      Then asks what color *points at white wall* that wall is, then says it has no color, because white objects reflect all light.

      All of this when the topic is the Catholic view of evolution and Darwinism….

      • Thank you, Foxfier. I really appreciate you tolerating my scrapping with Richard. Boys will be boys.

      • Mary says:

        Foxfier:

        I must disagree with you. Richard is not being difficult. He is being honest about a thought that occurred to him. I don’t have a problem with Wintery disagreeing with him. I do have a problem with him refusing to at least listen properly.

        Moreover, Richard is ON topic. Wintery brought up the “dividing line”. Richard is simply saying that 1) the line is between intelligently designed on the one hand and on occurring atheistically, via chance and random processes on the other, and 2) it is not impossible that the Designer could intelligently design things by putting mechanisms in nature that achieve His ends, so if one were to discover such mechanisms, they would not invalidate the concept of an Intelligent Designer.

        Wintery:

        Like I said, I have no problem with you scrapping with Richard. But you’re being unnecessarily aggressive, and, what is worse, flatly refusing to listen to what he has said.

        And I really dislike the expression “Boys will be boys”. It’s usually used to justify all sorts of immature behaviour on the part of individuals who ought to behave like men instead. There is nothing unmanly about courtesy and respectfulness. On the contrary, such qualities are signs of maturity. You’re being a bully. I expect better things from you – because I know you are capable of better.

        [assumes defiant lobster-pirate posture :-P]

      • Richard Ball says:

        I’m not trying to be difficult. I’m trying to make a serious point.

        I’m trying to show that evidence for intelligent design is not the same thing as saying that at some point in time there is evidence that “an intelligent agent acted” — especially when the hypothesized intelligent agent is the creator of the process itself that he is supposedly intervening upon.

        We can be sure of intelligent design, but not as sure of when, where, and how.

        And this is very germane to the topic of a Catholic view of evolution.

        • Foxfier says:

          If that’s what you’re trying to show, you are wrong.

          Intelligent design is a very specific, limited theory that an intelligence acted and this is detectable by observation.

          It does not matter if you think it actually acted or not, the theory is “an intelligence acted in a detectable way.”

          Naturally, a lot of ID’ers believe that God did it, but that’s not part of the theory because it’s outside of the theory’s range.

          Exactly as the Darwinist insistence on “absolutely unguided, random” evolution is outside of what science can do.

          They could argue that there was no detectable guidance, or that the results are consistent or could be caused by utter random chance, but not “There cannot be a god in involved.”

          I’m not even sure how you’d phrase and attempt to prove the theories; scientifically, it’s booger-hard to prove everything is created, the same creator is still involved in the process, and depending on how those are phrased there will be more.

          • FF, I had the crazy delusion that you were not that into this stuff. I see now that I was horribly mistaken and I see that you have a deep understanding of these issues. Carry on. I’m very very pleased with you.

          • Foxfier says:

            The sad thing is, I don’t actually have a preference either way. I don’t care how God did it, I’m busy dealing with the fact that it is.

            I just can’t stand folks mis characterizing the stances they’re arguing around. Same reason I know about the Birther theories, cryptozoology claims, a couple of flavors of witch, and other such things.

            It’s a very bad idea to let folks get away with spreading a misunderstanding what they’re arguing about, even if you disagree with them.

            There’s a lot of stuff science just can’t comment on. >.<

            Ended up deleting most of the mail this morning, since there's nothing new said in it and I do have other things to do. Kit doesn't sleep THAT much!

    • Richard Ball says:

      Lobsters: Intelligently Designed by God™.

  10. Richard Ball says:

    “I don’t think that the origin of life is a “miraculous infusion”. I think that an intelligent agent made proteins by intelligently sequencing amino acids, and then sequenced the proteins into a minimal cell. Why is it so hard to see that – we are writing comments right now, it’s the same thing!”

    Wintery, you have a very, er, unusual view of what is or is not a miracle. Most Christians would view God acting to intelligently sequence amino acids as a miraculous event (if this is what you are postulating). Unless, since you have not mentioned God, you are postulating some material entity other than God doing the work, in which case, material entity part of the created material universe, not a miracle.

    • 1) Are you a non-material being who can exercise libertarian free agency?
      2) When I wrote this comment, did I perform a miracle?

    • Mary says:

      Richard:
      Interesting as these musings are, I think one question you would have to answer is whether such natural processes have ever been scientifically observed. If such processes exist we should see them in operation in the lab in the creation of proteins. But we don’t. There is NO EVIDENCE for such processes. So it’s sci-fi to the same extent that atheistic arguments are sci-fi. ID is the scientifically robust stance. We must be careful not to support scientifically unfounded ideas at the expense of the scientifically robust ones. I think you will agree with me. :)

  11. Richard Ball says:

    “… you are wrong. Intelligent design is a very specific, limited theory that an intelligence acted and this is detectable by observation.”

    I did some research this morning. William Dembski’s blog. Topic: Does ID presuppose a mechanistic view of nature?

    In the comments, #26:

    “Michael Behe, Michael Denton and Bill Dembski are all on record as saying that design is not in principle incompatible with a wholly naturalistic evolutionary process.

    Design theory does not require miracles. One can imagine, for example, a “front-loaded” evolutionary program which over time “outputs” the various species via wholly naturalistic means. But such a program would be intelligently designed, not driven by chance. Darwin, Dawkins, Dennett, etc. would still therefore be wrong.

    [This is EXACTLY what I was arguing for.]

    It is not “naturalistic means” per se that ID is against; it is naturalistic means conceived of in terms of blind natural laws combined with sheer chance.

    [And this was another point I was making.]

    On this point, I would suggest that you read carefully Michael Denton’s work, *Nature’s Destiny*, which shows how one can logically combine naturalistic evolution, anti-Darwinism, and intelligent design. Not all ID people would agree with Denton’s conclusions, but his approach does not violate any of ID’s core axioms.

    This is my last comment on this. I’m out of here.

    • OK, Richard, don’t be upset. We can agree to disagree.

      I wouldn’t hang your whole theory on a blog comment though – that’s just some commenter’s opinion, after all. I was looking for that peer-reviewed article showing which natural laws in particular can do the work of an intelligent designer and sequence those amino acids into a protein. I’m not really interested in what “One can imagine” – I want the scientific evidence. Sorry!

    • Foxfier says:

      Intelligent Design is the study of patterns in nature that are best explained as the result of intelligence.
      William A. Dembski

      And here is a short discussion on why a designer centered approach won’t work, from a blog that is very friendly to the front-loaded theory of ID.

      All of that verbal barrage and you still don’t respond to the simple statement of what ID is, as opposed to expounding again on what your personal theory that includes something ID like.

      Let me put it very, very simply:

      I do not care what you’re arguing for.

      • Wow.

        Check out this quote from that thing you linked:

        The designer-centric approach not only gives up on the question of detecting design, but also gives up on trying to accurately reconstruct our past. There can be no evidence for design and there can be no evidence against design. Design would be forever hidden away firmly in our collective intellectual blind spot. The designer-centric position is thus fundamentally agnostic about ID.

        Yeah, this is why I am being so strong against poor Richard. I want us to look and see what is in nature before we make any hasty decisions.

  12. mknz says:

    I would recommend that anyone who hasn’t read Stephen C. Meyer’s Signature in the Cell, does. He sufficiently analyzes naturalistic, Darwinian, biochemical evolution, finds it lacking (especially when time becomes a factor) and then provides an alternate explanation that fits the facts, based on reason and sound scientific observation regarding specified information contained in DNA, that the designed has a designer.

    Thanks, Richard, for clearly acknowledging that the intelligent design argument is an induction, not a presupposition. Meyer’s book is far from dry, so I highly encourage you to read it!

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