What does ID mean?

David Campbell (bivalve@mailserv0.isis.unc.edu)
Tue, 14 Apr 1998 16:54:38 -0400

>It also assumes that no
>one will discover evidence for a more extensive use of "means" in
>it (to use the wording of the Westminister Confession),
>[Says who?]

If you say there are no intermediate forms between whales with tiny hind
limbs and land mammals, as in Darwin on Trial, you're in trouble when
someone finds such forms, like those found in the past few years in
Pakistan. Given an existing gap in the record, you could say that it was
bridged via the means of evolution or via special creation. (Better yet,
you might say we don't know yet.) If you say it was bridged by evolution,
then the discovery of a transitional fossil, molecular similarities, or
other evidence would support your claim and decrease the credibility of the
appeal to special creation. However, in the presence of a gap, either
option is possible. Special creation in the fossil record can only be
argued from negative evidence, which is a very weak arguement.

>whereas the current
>trend is discovering more of the means. To me, both the pattern of God's
>action in nature (from the Bible and more recent observations) and the
>available information from paleontology and molecular systematics
>suggest a
>very minor role, if any, for direct craftsman-like action that does
>not use
>the means of natural laws."
>[How do you know that this is a fact and not just a subjective
>perception due to the increase in science in this century? Are you
>willing to say that you know sufficiently about the "historical
>formational economy of nature" to affirm a minor role ("if any") in
>this type of activity? Science will continue one way or another
>discovering the "means" to our exhaustion, but even then I would not
>dare to limit God to my world view.]

(Definitions: Natural laws are everyday patterns in God's running
of the universe. Miracles are events in which natural laws are set aside,
"craftsman-like action". God is equally involved in an event whether it
happens by the means of natural laws or by a miracle.)
The pattern I see of God's action is to make extensive use of
means. Even the Biblical miracles seem to use nature to the extent
possible. For example, Jesus was born of a virgin. The virginity was
exceptional, but the birth was not, unlike the Greek legends about
Dionysus, Aphrodite, or Athena. Likewise, God used the wind to part the
sea. Jesus's temptation and his response to those who said "Show us a
miracle and we'll believe" or "Show us a miracle to entertain us"
demonstrate that miracles have a strictly limited role. In particular,
miracles were an attestation to the truth of a prophet; since completion of
the canon of the Bible, such miracles are largely unnecessary because truth
is checked by comparison with the Bible.
Likewise, in observing the physical world, I see natural laws in
action, but the only miracles or possible miracles I have encountered are
in humans (conversion, healing, etc.). Similarly, studying fossils or DNA
suggests that natural laws have governed the past evolution of living
organisms (my research is on fossil and modern clams).
For us to be useful stewards of creation, as commanded in Gen.
1:25, we must be able to understand causes and effects in creation, so
obedience to natural laws must be the norm.
Thus, I see no particular reason to expect to find violations of
natural law in the creation of living organisms (or of the universe, for
that matter). While it is possible for God to do whatever is in accord
with His will, I see no evidence so far that any physical aspect of
creation could not have been made using the means of natural laws.
Obviously, the spiritual aspects of our nature are not made by physical
laws; I do not know whether this might be "supernatural law" in action or
miraculous at that level as well.

>[I don't believe IDers limit their views only to "direct craftsman-like
>action", a brief reading of Johnson's DOT reveals this. Moreover, they
>certainly do not limit their views to "direct craftsman-like action that
>does not use the means of natural laws," If we humans can create wonderful
>things using natural laws the Creator certainly can/could've also. I can
>summarize my version of ID by saying (as I agreed with Van Till) that
>there is evidence for design in nature, and that the design the
>evidence points to is not an illusion, and that the multitude of
>designs were very unlikely to have been the result of mindlessness.
>Behe sees a crafty hand at the molecular level that rules out (in his
>view) darwinism/gradualism (not evolution in general as he clearly
>states in his book. At what length scale and at what time scale are
>we ready to rule out the creator's crafty hand even if He used/uses
>'natural' means when we _know_ that there are length scales and time
>scales we know nothing of? He may very well say Where were you when I
>laid the foundations of the world?]

I think most of the prominent IDers realize the danger of limiting
God's action to the miraculous or craftsman-like, but I do not think this
is getting communicated well, especially to popular audiences. This is
partly because so many people already have a gap view, e.g. "creation
versus evolution", but the ID arguement tends to see gaps as particularly
important, and the slide from that to god of the gaps is quite easy. All
of creation speaks of its Designer, but to understand this we must know
Him- study of creation alone will not be enough.
Behe sees a crafty hand at the molecular level, but I do not; I do
see a hand making use of means. I do not think we can fully rule out a
crafty hand, but neither is there good evidence to rule one in. "..."They
have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them"..."If they do not listen
to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises
from the dead."" (Lk. 16:29,31). Too much of the ID movement seems to
focus on raising someone from the dead rather than on Moses and the

David Campbell