From: Debbie Mann (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Fri May 09 2003 - 09:58:36 EDT
I was reading a Scientific American article about feathers on dinosaurs and
how they really weren't needed. I read something on the e-mail on parallel
processing (I'm in heavy duty work mode, now, so I'm mostly scanning
things.) But, in spite of the fact that I was reading evidence to the
contrary and I had no time, I was still struck with a moment of awe. It's
something along the line of when one sees a new baby. These things didn't
exist before and now they do. These feathers with all their intricacies,
their hard parts and their soft parts and their branches and swirls, soft on
the belly and tough on the back - didn't exist before and then they did. It
is awesome, and therefore, my self - whether it is soul or spirit or
intellect I cannot say - but my heart says that it is divine.
How's that for illogic for ya?
From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]On
Behalf Of George Murphy
Sent: Friday, May 09, 2003 8:15 AM
To: Howard J. Van Till
Cc: Jim Armstrong; Joel Peter Anderson; email@example.com
Subject: Re: Evolutionary rate
Howard J. Van Till wrote:
> >From: George Murphy <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> > I don't understand why you say "non-miraculous." ID requires the
> > Designer to do things which cannot be accomplished through God's
> > providential
> > action through natural processes. (Or, which would occur with
> > 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
> > 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
> 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
> 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
> explicitly that the probability that the flagellum formed as the outcome
> 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
> 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
> improbable as to conclusively preclude natural formation" strikes me as
> rhetorical equivalent of attempting to hang a 300-pound painting on the
> with a tailoršs pin.
Howard (& Ted) -
Thanks. I guess I need to replace the battery on my irony meter.
Further comment 1: Dembski's claim is OK _if_ one restricts the definition
"miracle" to events which are completely beyond the capacity of created
with divine cooperation. But that is far too restrictive. & as you note,
it's kind of
perverse to say on the one hand that the origin of biological information
natural processes is "possible" even though it would take (according to ID
10^(big number) years for there to be any reasonable probability of it
happening, & then
to say that it's "impossible" without the intervention of the Intelligent
_because_ it would 10^(big number) years for there to be any reasonable
Further comment 2: The baneful effects of the notion that the origin of
must be miraculous (however terms are fudged) can be illustrated by the
Francis Crick reported on in the recenbt ASA newsletter. He says that one
reasons he went into science was to help to discredit claims used to support
including the belief that "the difference between living and non-living
"inexplicable." Of course one doesn't expect profound theology from Crick,
Christians who promote such notions continue - as I've said before - to
hanging a large "Kick Me" sign on the back of Christianity.
George L. Murphy
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