Re: Re: Dembski and Nelson at MIT and Tufts
Sat, 3 Apr 1999 07:37:41 EST


In a message dated 4/2/99 you wrote:

<<2. Since I wholly reject the comprehensive worldview commonly known as
'naturalism,' I suspect that Bert and I may well agree that "naturalism
alone cannot get the job done."

But my question is, What specific "job" are we here talking about? The
_mental_ work of conceptualizing a universe that is capable of making the
process of evolutionary development possible? The uniquely _creative_
work of giving being to such a remarkably gifted universe? The _manual_
work of imposing form on materials not sufficiently gifted to actualize
specific novel species or biotic subsystems? My plea is for greater
specificity and clarity regarding the issues being discussed.>>

My response,

You and I differ on how God went about creating the universe. You make it a
once- for-all conceptualization and creative action on the part of God of
"giving being to such a remarkably gifted universe". Do I have that right?

Then you set up this strange third option of "God imposing form on materials
not sufficiently gifted to actualize specific novel species or biotic
subsystems." Who holds this third option? I don't. I doubt if IDers do. It
seems to me if you are referring to the ID position, you are misrepresenting

I believe that the first book of Genesis reveals that God's creative work was
_sequential_, not once-and-for-all. Every sequential creative act involved
the work of conceptualizing as well as creative work, just as you claim for
the once-and-for-all creation. It wasn't that creation up to a certain point
was not sufficiently gifted, and then that God had to step in a remedy a
deficiency, but rather that God chose to work step by step in creating the
universe, life, and human beings.

Don't you count it significant that the creation of human beings is not even
hinted at in the first verse of Genesis, but that it comes about at the end
of the book, after a conference within the God-head occurred about whether
and how it should be done? So I have no difficulty in believing that God
deals with creation in a seqeuntial, dynamic fashion, much as a gardener
conceives of, plans, and plants a garden--a creative act; then continues
throughout the growing season adding a seed here, pulling a weed there,
watering, and fertilizing--each a planned, creative act. Was his first
planting insufficient? Not at all. Gardening is a long term process of
creative response to the dynamic growth of the garden.

Let me suggest in passing, if I may, that you also should be required to
explain how God operated in the “work of imposing form on materials” in the
universe. You called it, “the uniquely _creative_ work of giving being to
such a remarkably gifted universe.” Calling it “uniquely creative” as you do
does not explain what you want IDers to explain--how does God operate in
design. How did God _operate_ in the initial creation. Was it manual work?
Was it “theokinesis”, a word I believe you coined. We are all faced with the
same problem of how to conceptualize the manner in which God materialized or
actualized the material world. It’s not just a problem for IDers, but for
all of us.

So I have no problem with God as the Intelligent Agent working creatively,
according to plan, operatively and invisibly behind design we uncover in
nature. What is Intelligent Design? Behe, I believe, “defines it as a
purposeful arrangement of parts.” The key word to me is “purposeful”.
That’s at least is a starting point.

I too, Howard, write in the interest of clarity; I respect your position,
even though I disagree with it.