[asa] Revisiting an ID critique

From: Jim Armstrong <jarmstro@qwest.net>
Date: Wed May 09 2007 - 12:50:14 EDT

Of course the ID folks didn't start out, "... claiming to prove the
existence of design without stating who or what the designer is." Today,
that language is in place as just some sort of window dressing IMHO.

Revisiting two terminology (and credibility) gripes I have with the ID
movement - aside from the substance of the various arguments. Both isues
strike me as consciously disengenuous, and are the cause for some
resultant difficulties when establishing the basic terminology for
discussion of ID.

The first is the shift away from capital letters in "Intelligent
Design". The second is the shift from proving the existence of God to a
more general "designer". Both of these changes introduced over time
reduce precision in terminology, which I think generates support for ID
through confusion.

In the first instance, in order to carry on a first-time discussion with
a person, one must first make the distinction between the fundamental
concept of a creator/designer (which every Christian accepts) and the ID
movement (which some Christian take exception to). The default
understanding encouraged by the lower case useage is that ID is
basically the universal Christian creator/designer tenet. I think that
change to lower case was convenient and conscious to nurture support for
ID in the less informed segment of the Christian community.

In the case of the "designer" useage, the change in terminology to
"designer" rather than "God" is a change of clothing making the useage
more scholarly sterile. But one only has to look at the origins of the
ID concept and its objectives, the institutions of most of the
proponents, and at the sources of revenue and other resources that
sustain the ID movement, to sort out that every motivation has to do
with the Christian Creator God. The shift to the "designer" language
fools no one in academia, but has some value in changing the outer
clothing for others who would look for some readily understood signs of
scientific credibility in the ID movement. Again, it seems to be in the
nature of disinformation, creating confusion that is beneficial only in
engendering ID support from the less informed in the Christian community.

If the motivations were otherwise, I would think that the Intelligent
Design (with caps) label would be desirable to identify and distinguish
matters having to do with the ID movement.

Similarly, integrity would suggest that the true motivation for the ID
principals would be front and center, and not cloaked in this
"intelligent designer" euphemism.

The real motivation for these changes appears to be that of benevolent
(to ID) conflation.

Or so it seemeth to me.
JimA

philtill@aol.com wrote:

> Pim,
>
> I posted this separately because I think it is more important that the
> other replies I sent you.
>
> You said,
>
> > Remember that if ID can be used to infer the existence of a God, then
> > ID can also be used to show the existence of a God to be improbable.
>
> Well, first off I don't agree that ID can be used to infer either of
> these: neither His existence nor non-existence. I don't believe ID is
> biblical or a correct way to lead people to God or to transform the
> culture. I believe you need revelation from God to find God.
>
> But to the point of our discussion, I don't think IDers themselves are
> overtly claiming to prove the existence of God, either. They are
> claiming to prove the existence of design without stating who or what
> the designer is. Now, being consistent with this, if Dawkins wants to
> say that God also shows evidence of design within Himself, but agrees
> to claim with the IDers that we cannot know who or what God's designer
> is, then I can actually agree with that! I agree because God is
> self-existent and therefore any design in God comes from Himself in an
> eternal sense that we cannot fully understand. He is eternally
> "self-determined." He can be like that because He is outside time and
> fundamentally different than anything else you may encounter. If the
> theologians will allow me to use Dawkins' sloppy terminology, then I
> will say that God is His own designer; He is indeed designed, but
> there is no higher God.
>
> Thus, seeing "design" in God does not lead to an infinite regress.
> Only if you want to insist that God must have a designer
> _other_than_Himself_ do you get into the regress. But to insist that
> His designer must be other than Himself is to insist that God does not
> exist as a starting presupposition. Nobody ever in the history of
> orthodox Christianity (or Judaism or Islam, to my knowledge) has ever
> believed that God is not self-determined self-existently from within
> His own nature. To refuse to allow us to talk about the God we have
> always believed in is, like I said, circular reasoning on the part of
> Dawkins. He has said nothing about the God of the monotheistic
> faiths. (This is just another way to say the same thing that
> everybody has been repeatedly saying to you. Maybe putting it this
> way will be a little clearer.)
>
> You also stated,
>
> > Perhaps we should come to the conclusion that neither logic nor
> > science can do much to support our concept of God and that the
> > attempts to infer God's existence through such arguments do a
> > disservice to an entity which cannot be captured by such reductionism.
>
> This is all-or-nothing thinking. The design argument, taken
> wholistically along with our entire engagement of existence in this
> world, contributes to our apprehension of God. This necessarily
> involves science at some level. I think ID's packaging is very wrong
> since it omits Jesus and God's verbal and historical revelation, but
> by no means does ID's error mean that science should withdraw
> altogether from engaging religious beliefs or vice-versa. This is
> especially true when we are talking about historic, revealed faiths
> where observable events have occurred and can be tested. I would want
> to test Mormonism's claims of American history, for example, and so I
> believe testing is allowed across the board. I think repentance is
> more imporantant than science in finding God, but together the entire
> package of life contributes to our experience with God.
>
> God bless,
> Phil
>
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: pvm.pandas@gmail.com
> To: philtill@aol.com
> Cc: asa@calvin.edu
> Sent: Tue, 8 May 2007 12:44 PM
> Subject: Re: [asa] Dawkins, religion, and children
>
> On 5/8/07, philtill@aol.com
> <javascript:parent.ComposeTo("philtill%40aol.com", "");>
> <philtill@aol.com <javascript:parent.ComposeTo("philtill%40aol.com",
> "");>> wrote:
>
> > You also quote Dawkins saying this:
> >
> > > A designer God cannot be used to
> > > explain organized complexity because any God capable of designing
> > > anything would have to be complex enough to demand the same kind of
> > > explanation in his own right.
>
> > But the problem is that Dawkins is seeing only the complexity as the
> issue
> > and so he mindlessly blows over most of the other necessary parts of
> the
> > IDer's argument. Organized complexity alone doesn't demand a
> designer. The
>
> On the contrary, I believe that Dawkins cleverly exploits ID's
> argument, and the argument cannot be easily saved by adding what you
> call ID assumptions such as 'inside space time and subject to physics
> because they are certainly not ID assumptions necessary for the
> Explanatory Filter.
>
> > IDers aren't saying that it does. They are saying that organized
> complexity
> > inside spacetime and subject to physics demand a designer, because
> physics
> > in spacetime is incapable of producing the appearance of design.
> (Whether
>
> regularity and chance are the relevant processes used by Intelligent
> Design. As Dawkins has shown for instance, evolution is quite capable
> of generating the appearance of design. But that's also not really
> ID's argument either.
>
> > or not they are correct is not my point.) Dawkins has latched onto
> just one
> > part of their argument -- complexity -- and ignores the rest. God is
> not
> > subject to the same physics as bacterial flagella. If bacterial
> flagella
>
> On the contrary, Dawkins has latched onto ID's argument 'complexity'
> and 'specification' and that's the full extent of the argument.
> Claiming that he ignores the rest seems to involve an ad hoc appeal to
> claims and assumptions ID cannot rely on based on its own
> formulations.
>
> Remember that if ID can be used to infer the existence of a God, then
> ID can also be used to show the existence of a God to be improbable.
>
> > were likewise outside of physics and spacetime, then the ID-ers
> would never
> > be arguing that they need a designer.
>
> Irrelevant to the discussion.
>
> > You also stated
> >
> > > Dawkins defines the God Hypothesis as follows
> >
> > > <quote> ...<snip>...any creative
> > > intelligence, of sufficient complexity to design anything, comes into
> > > existence only as the end product of an extended process of gradual
> > > evolution.</quote>
>
> > But we conceive of God in a way that is analogous to the way we
> conceive of
> > the number 1 (for example). We didn't invent that concept. We just
> > apprehended it. It appears in nature, for example, in the integral
> values
> > of quantum numbers. "One" is simple, not complex, and thus Dawkins
> may not
> > like it as an analogy for the Designer.
>
> Nor do I because it is a meaningless analogy which can easily be taken
> too far. We have defined 1 as part of a much larger foundation of
> mathematics. Is God a mathematical construct? A definition? Then we
> are entering an area of tautology. One is One, God is God.
>
> > But consider the fact that "one"
> > cannot exist by itself. It must exist in the context of arithmetic, and
> > Godel's theorem shows that no arithmetic system can be reduced to a
> finite
> > set of axioms unless it is incomplete, and no finite or infinite set of
> > axioms can ever be known to be free of internal contradiction
> through any
> > countable set of deductions. IMO, we see through this that arithmentic
> > cannot have real and consistent existence apart from an infinite Mind.
>
> That seems to be a somewhat strained variation on the Godel Theorem.
> Godel's theorem is far less reaching than your conclusion.
>
> > Its
> > existence implies the Mind's existence. Whether or not this infinite
> Mind
> > is "simple" in the theological sense, I do not know, but I do know
> that it
> > cannot be reduced and it cannot arise through an evolutionary
> process from a
> > reduced state the way Dawkins asserts.
>
> Again an unsupported assertion.
>
> > We conceive of God as an eternal being who ends any infinite regress
> and who
> > cannot be reduced to an unthinking, unknowing axiom of physics or
> > mathematics. Dawkins has not said anything in TGD about this being.
>
> Are you sure? It seems to me that your variation to God may be clever
> but rather ad hoc. One can always redefine God or add another
> requirements such as simplicity versus complexity. The question is
> simple, is God simple or complex. Is God specified? based on these two
> simple assumptions, one can draw logical conclusions. If God is
> simple, then we are saying that complexity is reducible to simplicity,
> and thus other simple systems can also generate complexity. If God is
> complex, then we have to deal with the fact that invoking something
> more complex as an explanation for something less complex is not a
> very satisfying scientific explanation as we need an explanation for
> the more complex system.
>
> > But like mathematics in
> > view of Godel's theorem, the infinite regress of nature has to end
> > somewhere, and it must be a wholistic Mind that is eternal, not a few
> > algorithms of physics. When we assert faith in God, we are asserting
> that
>
> That is a conclusion which is not necessarily related to Godel's theorem
>
> > only a Being with God's nature can self-exist. We are asserting that
> > unthinking physics is incapable of self-existing. Dawkins has said
> nothing
> > about this assertion, which is at the essence of monotheism. For that
> > reason his book is silly and unworthy to organize any debate.
>
> I agree that for that reason the book may be silly but the arguments
> presented by Dawkins are hardly that silly. I am sure that 'we are
> asserting' a lot, but from the perspective of a scientific hypothesis
> of God, this does not seem to do much.
>
> Perhaps we should come to the conclusion that neither logic nor
> science can do much to support our concept of God and that the
> attempts to infer God's existence through such arguments do a
> disservice to an entity which cannot be captured by such reductionism.
> I would be fine with that but religious people have opened up God to
> scientific inquiry and they cannot just slam shut the door when their
> approach is turned against them.
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Received on Wed May 9 12:50:39 2007

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