What does ID mean?

Howard J. Van Till (110661.1365@compuserve.com)
Tue, 14 Apr 1998 10:20:50 -0400

Dennis Feucht,

I must begin by thanking you for a couple of comments that have "made my
day" recently:

1. 3/29/98, in regard to difficulties in the communication between Phil
Johnson and many of us in the ASA: "Phil's use of key words vv. ASAers use
of those same words often fail to correspond in meaning. Phil's meanings
are optimized for their rhetorical usefulness while most ASAers, I notice,
craft them (as Howard Van Till did) for their conceptual power within a
system of explanation intended to elucidate the subject-matter generally."

2. 4/13/98, in regard to my continuing question, What does it mean
(according to proponents of ID) to be 'intellgently designed'?: "As I see
it, ID is not so much a concept as a movement...."

Thanks, Dennis, for those classics of understatement.

In part, my concern is over the rhetoric. When the term ID is used by its
proponents, 1) what do _they_ actually mean by it? and 2) what do most
readers/hearers think that it means? My suspicion is that there is a vast
gulf of miscommunication between the answers to 1) and 2). If that is so,
then I would expect all parties of the discussion to be eager to come to a
better understanding of the way in which this highly touted term is to be
employed and evaluated.

As has been evident in discussions on this lestserve, the term 'design'
conjures up all sorts of good thoughts about the way in whch that term
functions in an engineering setting. I suspect that most people today are
likely to think of that meaning of the term, and rightly so.

The question is, however, is that the meaning that the ID proponents
actually have in mind? Or do they have in mind somethiing more like the
consociation (to use Jim Bell's word) of 1) design (planning for
functionality, etc) AND 2) the need for ASSEMBLY, fabrication,
manufacturiing, or form-imposing by some dexterous, craftsman-type agent?
If that is so, then it must be said with clarity, candor, and integrity by
the proponents of ID.

In response to a comment of mine, EGM writes:

"Behe will be forever criticized, I believe, in either case, whether he
states who he "believes" the creator is or not - isn't that the case
Dr. Van Till? But after a good close and honest look at his
scientific presentation of some simple but very complex biosystems, it
is difficult to walk away without meditating on the potentiality of a
designer with a mind, not mindless."

Once again, the communication problem is immediately evident. Ed takes
Behe's promotion of 'design' as a call to recognize the prior action of a
creative mind. If _that_ were the whole meaning of ID, I would be
wholeheartedly in favor of it. I believe with all my heart that the
universe is a Creation that was given being by a Creator having an
unfathomably creative mind. I see evidence of that Mind in essentially
everything that is accessible to the empirical sciences. But the
argumentation of the ID proponents centers mostly on the claim that bioform
X or biosystem Y could not have been assembled for the first time without
the form-imposing action of a dexterous, craftsman-type agent.

Howard Van Till

PS: My reference to Behe's book and its popularity with Christianity Today
was originally intended to be more of a commentary on CT and the
conservative evangelical Christian community than on Behe. Behe has a right
to withhold his views on the identity of the form-imposing agent. However,
given that strategy, why was the book considered to be a "Christian" book?