RE: Critique of ID & No Free Lunch

From: Rich Blinne (
Date: Mon Sep 02 2002 - 11:05:04 EDT

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    > -----Original Message-----
    > From: []
    > Behalf Of Terry M. Gray
    > Sent: Saturday, August 31, 2002 9:43 AM
    > To:
    > Subject: Re: Critique of ID & No Free Lunch
    > I do think that in answering these questions Howard's discussion of
    > flavors of "naturalism" come into play. Phil Johnson once called our
    > "theistic evolutionist" claims vacuous because they looked no
    > different than full-blown (maximal) naturalism. While I'm not totally
    > comfortable with the terms "naturalistic theism" and "minimal
    > naturalism" or the way they are defined in Howard's paper or Howard's
    > aversion to "coercive supernatual intervention", I am comfortable
    > with a version of God's action in the world that can be described
    > without reference to God's direct action (or injection of
    > information). The scholastic (?) doctrine of concurrence as part of
    > the doctrine of providence sees God's action as neither coercive nor
    > interventionist. It fully gives account to the character of the
    > creature to behave according to its God-given abilities. As such, it
    > can be described in terms of those creaturely capacities without
    > reference to the enabling and concurring and providential work of God
    > (this by the way is how we normally do science, history,
    > jurisprudence, etc.).

    Yes, concursus has scholastic origins (Boethius, The Consolation of
    Philosophy). It is also in the Reformed scholasticism of Turretin. The
    discussion of second causes in the Westminster Confession also shows the
    marks of this doctrine. The failure to admit the efficiency of second
    causes in ID not only sets up an unbiblical system it appears to me to
    be yet another opportunity for the unbelieving world to falsify
    Christianity, even theism itself.

    Let's say that I was designing a semiconductor device. The delays of
    the various circuits depend on an optimization of the placement of the
    individual subcircuits (the metal traces' capacitance and resistance are
    dependent on the placement topology). We give the requirements of the
    delays into an automated placement engine. This engine works by the
    process of simulated annealing. At the beginning, subcircuits are moved
    around even if it doesn't improve the situation because we are at the
    higher temperatures of the cooling schedule. As the placement "anneals"
    the motion becomes slower and the placement eventually stabilizes.

    Let's now observe the behavior from the outside. We see random
    movement, ending in something which has a useful function. But because
    a "naturalistic" explanation is seen (high temperature Brownian motion),
    ID would conclude that my circuit is NOT intelligently designed. The
    test for intelligent design in ID is thus broken.

    This also follows from looking at this from the Biblical perspective.
    Scripture tells us in 1 Cor. 14 that God does things decently and in
    order. So, it is reasonable to assume that the providence of creation
    would also follow a natural order. Supernatural events are rare, even
    in the Biblical record. The character of these events are such that
    regardless of the scientific sophistication all would agree that these
    are NOT second causes. The classic example is a biologist and the "man
    on the street" would both conclude that there is no natural explanation
    from returning from the dead. In 1 Kings 22:38 a certain man drew his
    bow at random and struck Ahab in between the breastplate and armor by
    the design of God. Would a scientific analysis of the flight of the
    arrow showed the design of the event? I think not. There is a reason
    why theologians call providence the SECRET will of God because we cannot
    always infer the design of events. It is thus presumptuous on the part
    of ID proponents that they can device a test for Divine design.

    I think we need to add a category of presumptive naturalism to the
    possibilities in Howard's critique of ID. Recognizing the facts that
    God is a God of order and that supernatural activity is extremely rare,
    we presume that events have a natural explanation. The only time we
    don't is when there is overwhelming and universally obvious evidence to
    the contrary. It would help if God helped us out by saying so. Thus, I
    further presume against supernatural consideration unless it coincides
    with Divine revelation. Even though there is a naturalistic explanation
    to an event, Divine design is not disproven. Rather, the natural order
    itself which science depends on is where we recover our teleology.

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