Re: [asa] Random and design

From: David Campbell <>
Date: Tue Dec 05 2006 - 12:42:34 EST

> We often glibly say that scientific randomness does not preclude divine guidance. But wouldn't a system subject to supernatural guidance of any kind show, in some small way, a physical deviation from randomness? If not, then is there any significance to the divine guidance?
    In other words, if a random system shows no evidence of being
guided naturally and we insist that it can still be guided divinely,
is there really any meaningful influence? Or are we just making an
untestable faith claim?

The problem lies in how one detects this deviation from randomness.
Ironically, the ID approach falls into scientism-the detection/testing
must be scientific. In reality, the physical deviation from
randomness (if any) is unlikely to be measurable because, at least for
evolution and human history, the events of interest are individual
historical contingent events. Science is incapable of saying that
mutation X happening at just the right moment is significant relative
to mutation Y that doesn't do anything. In hindsight, knowing that
God is sovereign and was working out His plan to bring about the
Incarnation, we can attribute all the events in the course of human
evolution and human history to His guidance. This conclusion is not
scientific but rather theological.

History provides a good analogy. A general study of history does not
provide clear evidence of God's guidance to the honest but unbelieving
historian. Sometimes the good win, sometimes the bad win, and usually
it's not too clear which is which. The random bowshot that killed
Ahab is a good example-there was nothing about the archer or the shot
that would set it apart, only the fact that it achieved God's prophecy
is remarkable. Others have had similar deaths or near escapes; out of
the countless shots fired, this is unremarkable.

Gravity actually does provide a good analogy. With more than two or
three objects, the detailed outcome becomes indeterminate. Although
the line about Laplace not needing the God hypothesis is fiction, the
attitude is not. The view of the universe as strictly Newtonian,
invariably constrained by physical laws, has been used to argue
against God's involvement. Currently it is more popular to invoke
randomness. Both arguments involve untenable (biblically) views of
how God works in creation. As long as ID is characterized by full
acceptance of such atheistic arguments, it will not be useful against

Genesis 1 makes it clear that, contrary to polytheistic views, there
are no rival powers or untamed monsters. There is thus no purpose or
guidance inherent within aspects of creation. Rather, they all serve
God's purposes. Science studies physical aspecs of creation and is
thus emminently unsuitable for the detection of external purpose.

Dr. David Campbell
425 Scientific Collections
University of Alabama
"I think of my happy condition, surrounded by acres of clams"
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Received on Tue Dec 5 12:42:56 2006

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