Re: Design up to Scratch? (again)

From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. (
Date: Tue May 13 2003 - 14:42:38 EDT

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    On Mon, 12 May 2003 18:15:57 +0000 "Josh Bembenek" <>
    > <snip>
    > Keith: "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."
    > Josh: In this scenario, there are infinitely concievable pathways
    > to obtain
    > the universe, and we should never try to unravel them. In the end,
    > we
    > should simply settle for the hand-waving arguments about organism X
    > trying
    > to fly and getting a little better generation by generation until
    > fully
    > developed feather-covered wings are derived by natural processes. I
    > should
    > like to try and obtain more detail than hand-waiving explanations.
    > Despite
    > your obfuscation of the situation, I do not believe that
    > understanding it is
    > that untenable, nor that sorting through or finding methods to sort
    > through
    > possibilities and scenarios for originating biological complexity is
    > a
    > useless exercise.
    > Keith: "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."
    > Josh: Yes but do you have a direct cause and effect scenario from
    > the
    > formation of the earths' planet, through abiogenesis, to current
    > biological
    > complexity (for example lightning bolt at 0.5billion hundred hours
    > after
    > earth planet formation produced x temperature rise in soup pond y
    > yielding 5
    > fold increase in alanine which caused the assembly of the first
    > replicator)?
    > Since there is none, we must either supplement our current laws
    > and
    > creaturely capacities to derive deeper reliability of our models or
    > begin to
    > hypothesize that God had something more direct to do with it other
    > than the
    > "autonomous operation" of "divinely sustained" natural law.
    > Additionally,
    > even if God did act through cause-effect scenarios, the likeliehood
    > of event
    > X causing effect Y may be infinitely improbable without God having
    > some part
    > of the outcome selection process. Within reason, we may be able to
    > make
    > educated guesses about what natural processes may be insufficient to
    > produce
    > certain aspects of biological systems, and those that are
    > sufficient.
    > Insufficiency should interest us all as an outline of where science
    > should
    > proceed.
    > Dave, do the last couple of thoughts above adequately address the
    > issues you
    > were mentioning in your post wrt infinite causal and effect
    > relationships,
    > etc?
    Not really. In the first place, you've assumed knowledge of the
    probabilities, which Keith has been at pains to deny, and which I
    seconded. God in all things requires that he is not the immediate
    material or efficient cause, to use the ancient terminology. But God as
    cause is implicit in your "infinitely improbable without God having some
    part in the outcome selection process.

    Your final paragraph below also assumes that God has to intervene in a
    way that is obvious. But ID and OEC do not apply this to the development
    of the universe with its fine tuning, but only to biology. If ID is truly
    relevant, then they need also to point out causal gaps in the cosmology.
    > Keith: "But natural processes never "operate alone." That is one of
    > the
    > eptions 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."
    > Josh: But the idea I get from the theistic evolutionists is not
    > that God
    > plays the natural laws like some finely tuned instrument, but that
    > he
    > upholds the action of those laws such that they may accomplish the
    > function
    > that they serve in creating biological complexity. There is a
    > difference
    > there. Also, you argue a strawman, since Dembski himself sees
    > Christ at the
    > center of the universe, upholding it etc. If ID shows the utility
    > of the
    > action natural laws to produce biological complexity, it will not
    > mean that
    > they have also proven that God does not sustain nor act through
    > around above
    > over under those same natural laws. It will only mean that we
    > cannot use
    > the formulated approach they have generated to formulate such
    > arguments
    > about God acting providentially in nature, and must rest on our
    > faith in
    > revelation and biblical truth to discern such matters. If opponents
    > of ID
    > use the defeat of ID arguments for such a purpose, they will clearly
    > be in
    > err. This will not be the fault of ID for attempting to articulate
    > aspects
    > of biological complexity that bear the marks of design. You are
    > almost
    > saying that design is a non-issue, and thus we should not even
    > attempt to
    > detect it, because all events, things and properties are the product
    > of
    > providential action. But this first requires the recognition of
    > God's
    > action in nature to appreciate it. And as above, I think that a
    > theological
    > system does not need to completely ignore the
    > complexity/beauty/reality of
    > the natural world to be useful or effective as an evangelical
    > strategy. In
    > the end, you would thus be arguing that for ALL events, once the
    > proper
    > calculations were understood and applied, they would all fail the
    > UPB (be it
    > that it would only fail for the sustaining action on natural laws,
    > or the
    > correct harmonious "playing" of these laws by the "masks of God".)
    > Josh
    > _________________________________________________________________
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