Re: [asa] Revisiting an ID critique

From: PvM <>
Date: Wed May 09 2007 - 13:05:31 EDT

Yes, and the metaphysical baggage extends far as can be seen from Paul
Nelson's latest contribution on UcD where he argues that intelligence
is not natural.

<quote>Science itself depends on our ability to detect natural versus
intelligent causes. While the author of a manipulated image is of
course natural, in familiar senses of that word you can kick him,
for instance he is also intelligent, meaning that an effect he
caused points back to him, as an agent, uniquely as its

For comments and feedback from nelson see also

Of course Paul is a philosopher but the vacuity of said position can
be easily shown by the simple fact that science uses regularity and
chance hypotheses very successful to infer design while ID has so far
remained infertile.

On 5/9/07, Jim Armstrong <> wrote:
> 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
> 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:
> To:
> Cc:
> Sent: Tue, 8 May 2007 12:44 PM
> Subject: Re: [asa] Dawkins, religion, and children
> On 5/8/07, <> 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 13:17:23 2007

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