Re: Evolutionary rate

From: Howard J. Van Till (
Date: Fri May 09 2003 - 07:59:40 EDT

  • Next message: George Murphy: "Re: Evolutionary rate"

    >From: George Murphy <>

    > I don't understand why you say "non-miraculous." ID requires the Intelligent
    > Designer to do things which cannot be accomplished through God's ordinary
    > providential
    > action through natural processes. (Or, which would occur with negligible
    > probability.)
    > Such things should certainly be considered "miraculous" (though they are
    > not the only
    > things that might be described in this way).
    > One of the problems with ID is its insistence that the creation of life must
    > have been, in this sense, a miracle - a claim for which there is no
    > theological warrant.
    > In fact, it contrasts with the idea of mediated creation in Genesis 1.

    Well said, George. I heartily agree.

    I include the category "non-miraculous" in the list, not because I believe
    it, but because Dembski claims it. The following is taken from my response
    to Dembski in our exchange on the AAAS web-site:


    3. Does Dembskišs ID hypothesis posit miracles?

    I had argued that the acts of intelligent design posited by Dembski seem
    indistinguishable from miracles. Dembski vigorously objects to the
    suggestion that ID entails miracles. His objection is based on the fine
    distinction between events that are naturally impossible and those that are
    merely exceptionally improbable. Dembski asserts that "miracles or
    supernatural interventions in the classical sense" belong in the category
    "counterfactual substitutions" -- occasions in which some naturally possible
    outcome is, by divine action, replaced by a naturally impossible one.
    Dembski argues that the designeršs form-conferring action that results in
    the formation of biotic structures like the bacterial flagellum is not, in
    the strict sense, a naturally impossible outcome, only an extraordinarily
    improbable one.

    I offer two comments in response: (1) I do not for a moment believe that
    theologians are agreed that all divine acts traditionally taken to
    constitute "miracles or supernatural interventions" can be placed in
    Dembskišs narrowly defined category of "counterfactual substitutions." (2)
    The thrust of Dembskišs appeal to the bacterial flagellum is to argue that
    it could not possibly have been formed by natural processes alone. He argues
    explicitly that the probability that the flagellum formed as the outcome of
    natural processes is so astoundingly low that the ID hypothesis (that the
    flagellum was formed in a way that required the form-conferring action of an
    unidentified and unembodied choice-making agent) is the only viable
    explanation. Consequently, for Dembski to hang his rejection of the label
    "miracle or supernatural intervention" for this action on the delicate
    distinction between "naturally impossible" and "possible but so astoundingly
    improbable as to conclusively preclude natural formation" strikes me as the
    rhetorical equivalent of attempting to hang a 300-pound painting on the wall
    with a tailoršs pin.

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