Re: "Design up to Scratch?"

From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. (
Date: Sun May 11 2003 - 00:32:40 EDT

  • Next message: Michael Roberts: "Re: "Design up to Scratch?""

    On Thu, 01 May 2003 16:20:52 -0500 Keith Miller <> writes:
    > 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.
    > 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
    I strongly second your points. Why must professed theists adopt a deistic
    view of nature apart from radically SUPERnatural interventions? "For in
    him we live, and move, and have our being" (Acts 17:28) should remind us
    that "He has the whole wide world in his hands." So many are hung up on
    the causal chains of events and the assumption that all natural events
    happen inexorably, unless we can depend on the manipulation of
    indeterministic quantum events. But there is no causal chain except as an
    abstraction. All things happen in a network of causes so complex that it
    seldom if ever has been fully laid out. We abstract from the overwhelming
    complications to present our formulas. Very seldom have I encountered
    something like the mention (see /Science/, 300:235, 11 April 2003) of the
    stabilization of the earth's axis by the large moon and the extreme
    wobble in Mars' inclination which lacks a major satellite, though
    apparently known to planetary dynamicists. In contrast, deterministic
    simplicity seems generally assumed.

    Only recently have considerations of nonlinear equations become
    important. The usual practice has been to use a linear approximation. But
    nonlinearities are pretty much everywhere, and lead to deterministic
    chaos. Minute variations in initial conditions lead to very different
    outcomes. Throw in the complexity of "causal chains" and there is no need
    to call on quantum indeterminism to affect results. Creator/Providence is
    therefore fully competent to bring about the results we observe without
    our being able to detect the slightest variation from strict causality
    (chaos included).

    I consider it strange that those who thank God regularly for their food
    (and pray the Lord's Prayer), though they know the causal processes that
    bring it to the table and never expect it to appear miraculously without
    these processes, nevertheless insist that gigayear development demands
    "unnatural" intervention. Is their God of the present different from
    their God of the ages?

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