Re: Creationists Running for School Board (miracles)

From: Keith Miller (
Date: Wed Sep 24 2003 - 22:23:15 EDT

  • Next message: Walter Hicks: "Re: Questions to Allen Roy"

    > Ted: Here we disagree, at least somewhat. If the event was what N.T.
    > Wright says it was, taking the sense of the original authors in their
    > time
    > and place--that is, if it was an actual "resurrection," a genuine
    > embodiment
    > in this world of a transformed body and not simply the brief
    > appearance of a
    > "divinity" now dwelling shadily in never-never land--then I see no way
    > we
    > will ever understand this with our science. It doesn't take "science"
    > to
    > know that this is not possible. We believe it, or we don't.

    I fully agree with you that "... I see no way we will ever understand
    this with our science." But I cannot exclude the possibility that some
    future science will possess knowledge of aspects of the created
    universe that we cannot even imagine, and that this understanding will
    include the possibility of bodily resurrection. My point is simply
    whether created reality turns out to have such possibilities or not,
    does not change the miraculous nature of the resurrection or its
    theological significance.

    > A last point -- "science" as science can never conclude a "miracle" (in
    > the
    > sense of a divine intervention) occurred, it can only plead ignorance.
    > Ted: One the one hand, I agree with this implicit definition of
    > "science,"
    > I do think that "science" ought to plead ignorance when "science" can't
    > explain an event. The problem is, of course, that so many modern
    > scientists
    > believe that the utter inability to explain a purported event MUST
    > mean that
    > the event did not happen. Blame for this state of affairs lies mainly
    > with
    > David Hume and his Enlightenment cronies, not so much with scientists
    > themselves. As Hume said, he would not believe reports of a
    > resurrection
    > even if all of Paris should claim to have seen it. This is not
    > open-minded
    > inquiry, and frankly some responses to ID do seem to be in this
    > category.
    > Consider as an example the fuller context for the passage that Steve
    > Petermann quoted earlier today. Here it is:
    > Franklin M. Harold , *The Way of the Cell* (Oxford 2001), p. 205:
    > "We should reject, as a matter of principle, the substitution of
    > intelligent
    > design for the dialogue of chance and necessity [here Harold cites
    > Behe's
    > *Darwin's Black Box* and Coyne's 1996 review of it in *Nature*] ; but
    > we
    > must concede that there are presently no detailed Darwinian accounts of
    > the
    > evolution of any biochemical or cellular system, only a variety of
    > wishful
    > speculations."
    > Hmm... as a matter of principle? this does seem a priori, Keith.
    > Does it
    > not seem so also to you? Isn't truth the issue, not conformity to some
    > specific way of knowing?

    The problem it seems to me is what people do with current ignorance of
    cause-and effect explanations. How we understand such things springs
    from our larger philosophical and religious perspectives. For someone
    to reject the occurrence of events that seem to lie outside of any
    currently conceivable scientific explanation involves the application
    of particular assumptions which themselves lie outside of science. To
    do so cannot be a scientific conclusion. What needs to be made very
    clear in such debates is what are conclusions drawn from the scientific
    enterprise and which are conclusions which must be defended on other

    With regard to the quote above, I have not read the book so my comments
    are devoid of any larger context of Harold's argument. Firstly, I do
    not know what he means by "intelligent design." If he is rejecting to
    the appeal to divine action (either by intervention or direction) AS A
    SCIENTIFIC DESCRIPTION of life history then I think that that is
    appropriate. It is not that there is some arbitrary law that prohibits
    science from addressing such questions, but that the methods of science
    simply are incapable of addressing them. I have indicated already
    that I have yet to see any practical application or description of a
    scientific research program that does not employ a MN approach. MN is
    simply a description of what science is.

    However, if the quote above is intended as a statement of the ultimate
    nature of reality, then it must be pointed out that it is a statement
    that goes far beyond anything that science as science can state. it
    must be defended on other grounds.

    Truth is the ultimate issue. But science can only contribute to
    understanding a limited aspect of that truth. To try to make science
    do something that it is not equipped to do - compromises the utility of
    science within its own limited realm. I think that both creationists,
    ID proponents, and scientific naturalists are guilty of the desire to
    make science do more that it can.

    A last point -- I would take issue with the statement that we "must
    concede that there are presently no detailed Darwinian accounts of the
    evolution of any biochemical or cellular system, only a variety of
    wishful speculations." I am not a biochemist or biologist but I have
    seen descriptions of plausible scenarios for the evolutionary assembly
    of a number of complex biological systems, including some of those used
    by Behe. I will let others on the list who are more knowledgeable than
    me expound on this. I suppose that a person could always claim that
    any given proposed scenario was not sufficiently detailed to qualify
    (Howard has made this point). But this quickly becomes reduced to the
    argument of personal incredulity -- It doesn't convince ME therefore it
    is invalid.


    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Wed Sep 24 2003 - 22:22:52 EDT