Re: RFEP: response to Will

Tue, 31 Mar 1998 11:41:16 -0800 (PST)

Will Provine wrote:

[large snippage, fore, aft and in between]

> From the evidence alone, I cannot detect the God. On organic evolution, you
> agree with Keith Miller. And you will understand why I think your God is a
> paper-tiger in evolution, and indeed since the origin of the universe.

Sorry for intruding, but while Howard may understand your point, I don't,
and I have not understood it any of the other times you have made it. Why
is it that a creator who operates through consistent laws any less
powerful or interesting than one who doesn't? (It is of course easier
to _believe_ in the "irregular" divinity than in Howard's, but that
doesn't seem to be your point.)

To explain my confusion, an analogy: I have read a number of novels
which describe consistent, "naturalistic" worlds. In them, events
have causes that make sense within that same world; cause and effect
are governed by consistent rules (rules which happen to look a lot
like the rules of our world, to be sure). Nowhere in the world of
those novels does the novelist appear, nor are there any causal "gaps"
in the events of the novel. Now, my impression based on your messages
here is that you would claim that such worlds can have only
"toothless" creators, paper-tiger novelists who aren't worth having.
Have I misunderstood you?

My apologies if you have explained this point and I missed it.

> And one comment for Keith Miller: I am a historian of science and would never
> argue that belief in Christianity or Islam or Shintoism prevented one from
> doing great science, even if belief in the argument from design were part of
> it. The only problem is when the scientist stops, says this problem is too
> complex. and argues that God did it. That is the end of science. I think you,
> Howard, and I agree with this, and our conclusion differs from that of Phil
> Johnson and Michael Behe.

I entertain the suspicion that if our world were one in which natural
causation clearly did stop at some points(*), then science would have
developed some mechanism for declaring such points to be boundaries of
the effectiveness of science (if only because scientists would
eventually stop working on those problems). But I don't seem to live
in such a world, even if others on the list do.

(*) E.g. a 6000-year old world, in which astronomy, geology and biology
all pointed to the abrupt appearance of everything.

Steve Schaffner
SLAC and I have a deal: they don't || Immediate assurance is an excellent sign
pay me, and I don't speak for them. || of probable lack of insight into the
|| topic. Josiah Royce