Re: It's the Bible or evolution

From: Randy Isaac <randyisaac@adelphia.net>
Date: Thu Sep 29 2005 - 20:37:34 EDT

Good questions, Cornelius. I'll just reply to your first paragraph in this
post and defer the other paragraphs to a later time.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Cornelius Hunter" <ghunter2099@sbcglobal.net>
To: <asa@calvin.edu>
Sent: Thursday, September 29, 2005 11:41 AM
Subject: Re: It's the Bible or evolution

> Randy:
>
> Your descriptions below are nice and symmetric, but I think there is more
> to the story.

Yes, definitely. I didn't mean the comments to be all encompassing. Both
ID and TE are far richer in scope. I only meant to focus on how the two
groups view evolution.

>For instance, if TE is not breaking the link between God and creation, and
>God can accomplish his will via the evolutionary process, then why must the
>detection of divine action be out of bounds?

A "breaking the link" model would be closer to a "deistic evolution" view if
there is such a thing. From past posts, I would think most TE's on this
list would not support that but would insist on a continuing close linkage
between the Creator and his creation. By "out of bounds" I presume you mean
"not part of the scientific endeavor?" This is an extremely important point
in the whole ID discussion and perhaps you can enlighten us. It moves us
beyond a critique of evolution. It's the whole issue of how can we detect
divine action. There are two types of possibilities:

1) A singularity or discontinuity in nature. Examples: the Big Bang.
Miracles--resurrection of Lazarus, resurrection of Jesus. As Glenn often
points out, our faith depends on a connection between the Bible and reality.
At the very least, the resurrection of Jesus is a critical singularity which
is, in principle, detectable. Its meaning depends on revelation. Are there
discontinuities in the origin of life? origin of species? origin of humans?
That's part of what you've been debating with others on this list.

2) Lack of a singularity or discontinuity in nature. Our ability to
describe mathematically or by fundamental principles such a vast
preponderance of nature. The incredible fine-tuning of the physical
constants. The beauty of self-consistency in nature. All of this is seen
as the result of a Designer who created the world in a way that we can
describe.

It seems that TE folks tend to see the second type as evidence of
intelligent design while ID folks see the first type as evidence of design.
(A skeptic could say that if both are true, then there is nothing that could
possibly indicate the lack of a designer. The premise is therefore
self-fulfilling and a tautology.) TE folks are concerned that ID requires a
singularity to see evidence of God while ID folks are concerned that TE
seems to deny the possibility of a singularity outside of the core miracles
of the Christian faith.

>And why is evoluiton a fact? I would be delighted if this were merely a
>misunderstanding, and if I am guilty of imposing a particular view of what
>"evolution" means.

Evolution as a substitute for God's divine action or as a code word for
nature being unguided and without purpose is not a fact. Evolution as a
description of the development of species through common descent from an
original living organism is considered by most scientists to be a fact.
I'll leave it to you to continue the debate with others about the extent to
which it is valid. For this post, I'm concerned about why it matters.
Let's do the gedanken experiment with evolution defined in the latter
sense..
a) If it is a fact, what does that mean? If you believe you can only detect
divine action through singularities and discontinuities, would you conclude
there is no creator? Or at least that we have no basis for believing in
one? That is the impression the ID community is giving. If however you are
in type 2 and you detect divine action through coherence in nature, then
you'll find God despite the appearance of randomness.
b) On the other hand, what happens if evolution is false? That would not
rule out the possibility of another natural explanation. Even if one isn't
forthcoming, there would be no reason to believe one couldn't be found in
the future. The TE community would have a lot of egg on their faces but it
probably wouldn't shake their faith in a creator since the type 2 detection
of divine activity doesn't depend on our knowing the full description of
nature, just a belief that natural explanations are possible as a result of
a Creator. The ID community would still need to demonstrate that a natural
explanation isn't possible. But to avoid the God of the gaps pitfall, David
Snokes encourages me to look on the positive rather than the negative of ID.
He says nature clearly "looks designed" and appears to have the
characteristics of a personal designer. I heartily agree but it begs the
question as to whether the "looks designed" features and the
characteristics of a personal designer are embodied in natural explanations
or not. And we're back to whether we see God in type 1 or type 2

It all seems to boil down to our presupposition as to whether we believe
God's creative action is discernible to us via natural explanations or else
by the singulairities that defy such explanation. I happen to think it is
both--and we're back to the simple view that God does everything, nothing
exists without him, and he does whatever he pleases. We can explain an
amazing amount of phenomena but not everything. And in all things we praise
him.

Randy
....
Received on Thu Sep 29 20:41:10 2005

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