Re: Once again...ID

Garry DeWeese (
Mon, 27 Apr 1998 09:27:52 -0600

At 10:30 AM 4/27/1998 -0400, Bill Hamilton wrote to Moorad Alexanian:

>The task of discerning design in nature may be further complicated by a
>tendency to confuse several sorts of design: the fundamental design of the
>properties of entities in nature that God does, the descriptive laws that
>we derive by our own investigations, and the sort of design that we humans
>God designs the very rules by which things function. Science is an
>enterprise that seeks to discover the laws by which entities in nature
>function. But the laws we discover are at best approximations that will be
>superseded by the results of later investigations.

The problem is this, I suggest. Granted that God designed the space-time
manifold and all possible forms of matter/energy that it might contain, and
he also designed the properties (including capacities for structuration,
etc) of the manifold and matter/energy. (This is Howard Van Till's "Robust
Formational Economy," I take it.) Our representations of the relations
between these properties are what we call the laws of nature. Now it
appears that some of the laws are indeterminate in principle, not merely
due to the limits of our knowledge.

But the uneasines some of us feel derives from allowing indeterminism to
drive the evolution of humans. Several times Glenn Morton, for example,
has shown how there are some parameters which set limits on the phase space
of genetic change, but he claims that such a conception can explain the
random mutations and selection which led to humans. Yes, this trajectory
through phase space is "possible" in the sense of nomological possibility.
But our feeling is that this possibility has such a low mathematical
probability of
actually being realized that God's intervention somewhere along the way is
not only probable but required.

The problem is that if God only designs the initial entities and their
properties, and establishes the initial conditions, then the outcome of an
indeterministic system is governed by counterfactuals of chance. So to
insure the process resulted in the human species, God would have to have
taken account of these counterfactuals of chance. But do such things
exist? How does God know them? And in virtue of what does he know them?
The classic answer to this is that God knows them through his knowledge of
his own will. But if so, then either (i) God knows when he must act to
make determinate certain indeterminacies so that the continued evolution of
the whole continues towards his willed end; of else (ii) the
indeterminacies are nor really random at all, but are pseudo-random.

(i) is certainly compatible with providence, but involves not only a
"Robust Formational Economy" but also continual (or at least periodic)
providential intervention, while (ii) flies in the face of the general
conception of evolution as propelled by chance.

So on (i), then, God is not only the "purposeful conceptulizer" but also,
from time to time, the "efficient artisan."

Now I don't know what the ID guys would think about this, nor do I know if
there would be any way using empirical methods to identify some or all of
the ponts where God did so intervene (I'm inclined to think not). But it
is my impression that (i) does not commmend itself to many of you.
(Moorad, Burgy, is this along the lines of your objections to naturalistic
approaches to evolution?)

(Note: This presumes that it is true that if God decides to create, then
he will create a world in which there are free moral agents who will freely
go wrong so that the incalcuable good of the Incarnation can occur. That
would seem to require that the product of evolution be at least a certain
kind of creature, if not homo sapiens.)

Garry DeWeese