Re: "Design up to Scratch?"

From: Keith Miller (kbmill@ksu.edu)
Date: Thu May 01 2003 - 17:20:52 EDT

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    > We all agree with design, yet we differ strongly between
    > "pre-planning by a Mind" (PPM) and " inferring occasional form-conferring
    > interventions" (OFCI). (Pardon the hateful acronyms here.) Currently, we
    > have people who have alot of faith in the creative ability of evolution and
    > the RFE of the universe, and thus argue for PPM. Others see great trouble
    > with the FE of the universe and suggest that God "must"/ "may have"
    > (depending on the strength of their feeling towards biblical interpretation,
    > evolution theory, Reverend Moon, etc.) employed OFCI in addition to/ instead
    > of PPM (I don't see an either/ or here). How could we distinguish between
    > the two in a more rigorous fashion? To me, a great way would be to
    > quantitate the probability and causative effectiveness of various laws and
    > creaturely capacities, to determine whether or not OFCI is required. With
    > the appropriate calculations, somewhere along the line a probablistic
    > analysis will reveal the necessity of mindful creative activiy of some sort-
    > either PPM or OFCI.

    One of the major problems here is that we simply cannot calculate the
    probabilities involved, or to give meaning to such probabilities once
    calculated. To do so requires an exhaustive understanding of all relevant
    physical laws and their operation in biological systems. It also assumes
    that we know all the critical processes active not only in the operation of
    existing biological systems but also relevant to their assembly over time.

      Also, the questions concerning how biological systems are assembled is an
    historical one. Biological systems during the course of there history took
    specific directions among the available possibilities open to them. We have
    little understanding of the range and variety of those non-actualized
    possibilities. All this lack of current knowledge make the calculation of
    such probabilities meaningless as a method of eliminating the likelihood of
    specific possible pathways in the history of life.

    Finally, from a creation theology perspective, I believe that all events are
    sustained and upheld by God's providence. Many individuals have suggested
    that God may act in nature in such a way as to actualize specific courses of
    events in nature without intervening in the continuity of cause-and-effect.
    This theological perspective makes it impossible to distinguish divine
    "intervention" from God's providential action by the use of probability.

    In other words, I see the efforts to calculate such probabilities as futile
    and distraction from the central issue of a proper creation theology.

    > This analysis, if done properly could also distinguish
    > between the effectiveness of natural laws operating alone, or the necessity
    > of inquiring into a mask of God for event X. In either case, having such
    > calculations supporting the view will only help the case. Making an
    > argument without quantitative support is simply saying "per my personal
    > judgement, this is the way phenomena X happened." This expresses itself in
    > the argument such as "although it is next to impossible to build a protein
    > that has biological function, God did not help the process because I see
    > evolution as capable," or vice versa. Either way without calculations and
    > rigourous analysis, it all boils down to how good you feel about the
    > functionality and utility of evolutionary processes (in the absence of true
    > knowledge), and people obviously have different feelings. This is my main
    > motivation for "forcing" everything into Dembski's filter.

    But natural processes never "operate alone." That is one of the
    misconceptions generated by the ID argumentation because it implictly
    assumes that something like independent natural law or process exists. From
    a Christian perspective, everything exists and is held in being by God. I
    don't want ID concluding that this event or process was a result of "natural
    processes alone" because their probability calculations have showed that it
    falls below their probability cut off. By doing this they immediate place
    99% of all creaturely action into the category of autonomous processes
    independent of God. But the Bible is clear that it is the everyday stuff of
    our experience that is under God's continuous and providential care. God
    brings the rain and storm, causes the sun to rise and the wind to blow. It
    is God that feeds the lion cubs in their den and knit me together in my
    mother's womb. The argument of ID proponents have the effect of rendering
    all this mere impersonal nature devoid of God's presence and action.

    Keith



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