ID/non-ID Resolution

Dennis Feucht (
Wed, 25 Mar 1998 12:58:02 -0500

The first step in attempting to reconcile conflicting viewpoints is to try
to identify what the crux of the difference between them is. In dealing
with differences over Intelligent Design, the difference is illustrated,
for instance, by George Murphy's (non-ID) emphasis on the hiddenness of God
and Phil Johnson's (ID) point that a God who does nothing tangible is
indistinguishable from a deistic God.

It seems to me that the question reverts to the theological issue of the
nature of signs from God. In Scripture, those who seek signs, like the
Pharisees, were denied them. Yet, that God has given us signs at all
implies that we need them. (Even the Pharisees were given the "sign of
Jonah.") Non-IDers (and the Apostle Paul, Psalms, etc.) generally argue
that God has given us sufficient evidence of his existence and that the
issue is one of how we regard this evidence. In other words, non-IDers
generally see the problem of belief in God as _epistemological_. Walter
Thorson has made a good deal of this point. Alternatively, IDers generally
see the issue as primarily _ontological_.

While "seeking signs" may be spiritually inappropriate, being watchful for
them or attentive to them seems biblical. If the participants of the Mt.
Carmel/Baal showdown were not paying attention, opinion would not
necessarily have shifted against the prophets of Baal. And even the
Jerusalem Establishment had to look the other way to avoid the evidence of
the resurrection of Christ (or Lazarus). So one might then ask: if God were
to give us signs in a scientific age, might he do so through our scientific
endeavors? The ID movement seems to be betting on a "yes" answer and is
attentive to (if not seeking) signs through science.

But is this theologically justifiable? God spoke historically to people
within their framework of meaning. The plagues of Egypt picked off major
Egyptian deities. Jesus's mighty works attested to his authenticity as a
representative of God (John 12:48-50) through acts quite meaningful to
Palestinian Jews. So it seems to me that the crux of the issue might be to
what extent we should be open to scientifically-oriented signs from God.
Science is our culture's (still) dominant framework for understanding the
physical world, and developments in cosmology over the last few decades
have gotten the physicists talking in a transcendent way about God (though
not always - e.g., Frank Tipler's attempt at a wholly materialistic
eschatology). Biology, especially biochemistry, is approaching its heyday.
If what defines ID is this kind of openness, and not the view that
irrefutable proof for the existence of God can eventually be adduced from
science, then it seems to me to be a valid viewpoint, even theologically.
If ID ("strong ID"?) is the quest for such irrefutable proof, then
Scripture seems to weight in on the side of George's and others theological
arguments about ID.

Any opinions on signs from science?

And then there is the other issue surrounding ID about the limits of
science ...

Dennis L. Feucht
Innovatia Laboratories
American Scientific Affiliation Newsletter Editor
Great Lakes Rocket Society
14554 Maplewood Road
Townville, Pennsylvania 16360