Re: Directed evolution: evidence for teleology?

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Fri Oct 14 2005 - 20:26:55 EDT

----- Original Message -----
From: "Cornelius Hunter" <>
To: "George Murphy" <>; <>
Sent: Friday, October 14, 2005 4:48 PM
Subject: Re: Directed evolution: evidence for teleology?

> George:
> Actually, IDs do not "say that some phenomena are due to direct divine
> action." What they say is that one way or another we can infer design. The
> design we infer may have gotten there by secondary causes. There are IDs
> who would prefer primary causation, in some instances, to secondary, but
> they must justify that beyond merely the design inference.

A lot of people who aren't IDers in the current sense of the term, & in fact
including some who oppose ID in that sense, believe that we can infer
design. What is distinctive about the modern ID movement, as seen in its
best representatives Behe & Dembski, is the claim that some aspects of life
(irreducible complexity, complex specified information) can't be explained
without the idea of an intelligent designer, which should therefore be made
part of science. I.e., this involves not just the inference of design but
the use of design to explain certain phenomena.

This putative designer is God. (The claim that it wouldn't have to be is
simply a tactic used to distance ID claims from religion for purposes of
getting them into public school science curricula. It would only push the
problems that a designer supposedly solves back a step.) So does God act
directly or indirectly - through secondary causes - in creating irreducible
complexity &c? In the latter case we can in principle explain the phenomena
in question in terms of the secondary causes
through which God works & the explicit introduction of a designer is
unnecessary. Thus if the distinctive ID claim is to have any content - & to
be of any use in the battle with "naturalism" - God must work directly in
those situations.

Most IDers don't say explicitly that the phenomena in question are due to
direct divine action because they're either coy or confused about the way in
which divine action is related to created agencies. But that is a clear
implication of their claims.

> Second, IDs do not seek to analyze primary causation and make that part of
> a scientific theory (none that I know of anyway). Perhaps you could
> provide some specific examples if you think I'm misrepresenting ID.

I didn't say that they do seek to do that. My point was that if they're
going to maintain (as their claims require - see above) that God as the
intelligent designer acts directly, apart from cooperation with creatures,
to bring about certain phenomena AND that the work of an intelligent
designer is part of science then they have (by making God part of a
scientific explanation) made God the subject of scientific explanation. The
solution to this dilemma is pretty easy: Stop claiming that ID is science.


>> I think this is correct, & there's another nuance. It's certainly been
>> part of traditional doctrines of providence to say that on rare occasions
>> God acts directly rather than through second causes. I don't think
>> there's any compelling reason to say that such miraculous acts are needed
>> in the evolutionary process but let's grant for the sake of argument that
>> they are - e.g., for the origin of life. But then you just have to say
>> "It's a miracle" and not pretend that you can investigate it
>> scientifically, because we can't subject God to experimental testing.
>> The IDers want to have it both way - to say that some phenomena are due
>> to direct divine action AND to make that part of a scientific theory. As
>> far as incorporation into science is concerned, a miracle in that sense
>> can at most be a boundary condition (temporal &/or spatial) which can't
>> otherwise be explained.
>> Shalom
>> George
Received on Fri Oct 14 20:29:25 2005

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