Re: What does ID mean?

Brian D Harper (
Thu, 16 Apr 1998 17:19:28 -0400

At 11:39 AM 4/16/98 +0100, Will wrote:

>Bravo, Paul.


>I can easily understand looking at the biological and physical world and coming
>away with a very deep feeling of design. A deep feeling of design, not an
>argument from design. This view is only a small step from atheism. Young people
>are not fools; they will see that if nothing in the observable world
requires an
>argument from design, and can be approached by the methods of modern science,
>then the "feeling of design" can be jettisoned, no matter how strong in the
>beginning. I went through this process. Giving up the feeling of design seemed
>momentous, but it wasn't.
>Howard Van Till, I think we are not really so far apart. We agree that the
>argument from design does not wash. Your "argument" is more like the
"feeling of
>design." So If I regained my earlier feeling of design, I could perhaps be near
>your camp. And if you lost your feeling of design, you would be in mine.

Hi Will,

I really appreciate your contributions, even though I find it
practically impossible to understand you when it comes to
religion and theology :). As a matter of fact, theology played
an important role in my own decision to switch from progressive
creationist to theistic evolution. I am very indebted to
Howard Van Till, Owen Gingerich, John Polkinghorne and many
others for helping me. Quite frankly, I'm rather repulsed by
the image of God which comes (to my mind anyway) from the
argument from design. God the Engineer, God the Machinist.
Yech ;-).

Your comments in this post reminded me of my all time favorite
FDG (famous dead guy), Blaise Pascal.

Hopefully people won't object too loudly if I paste in some of
my favorite Pascal quotes which relate to the argument from

I marvel at the audacity with which some people presume to
speak of God. In giving their evidence to unbelievers,
usually their first chapter is to prove the existence of
God from the works of nature. [...] If such an argument
were to be presented to them, no wonder they would react
and say that the proofs of our religion are feeble indeed,
and reason and expedience tell me that nothing is more
likely to bring it into contempt in their sight.


It is a remarkable fact that no writer within the canon
has ever used nature to prove the existence of God. They
all try to help people believe in him. Neither David,
nor Solomon, nor others ever said: "There is no such
thing as a vacuum, therefore God exists." They must
have been smarter than the smartest of their successors,
all of whom have used proofs from nature. This is most

If it is an evidence of weakness to attempt to prove
God from nature, do not despise Scripture. If it is
an evidence of strength to recognize these contradictions,
then respect Scripture for this.
-- Pascal, Pensees

If there were no obscurity man would not feel his corruption:
if there were no light man could not hope for a cure. Thus it
is not only right but useful for us that God should be partly
concealed and partly revealed, since it is equally dangerous
for man to know God without knowing his own wretchedness as
to know his wretchedness without knowing God.
-- Pascal, Pensees

And that is why I shall not undertake here to prove by reasons
from nature either the existence of God, or the Trinity or the
immortality of the soul, or anything of that kind: not just
because I should not feel confident to find in nature
arguments which would convince hardened atheists, but also
because such knowledge, without Christ, is useless and sterile.
Even if someone were convinced that the proportions between
numbers are immaterial, eternal truths, depending on a first
truth in which they subsist, called God, I should not consider
that he had made much progress towards his salvation. [ ... ]
All those who seek God apart from Christ, and who go no further
than nature, either find no light to satisfy them or come to
devise a means of knowing and serving God without a mediator,
thus falling into either atheism or deism, two things almost
equally abhorrent to Christianity.
-- Pascal, Pensees

God wishes to move the will rather than the mind. Perfect clarity
would help the mind and harm the will.
-- Pascal, Pensees

We have an incapacity for proving anything which no amount of
dogmatism can overcome. We have an idea of truth which no
amount of skepticism can overcome.
-- Pascal, Pensees

There is enough light for those who desire only to see, and
enough darkness for those of a contrary disposition.
-- Pascal, Pensees

Brian Harper
Associate Professor
Applied Mechanics
The Ohio State University

"It is not certain that all is uncertain,
to the glory of skepticism." -- Pascal