Re: [Bulk] RE: [asa] Design Inference Mixed with Faith WAS Stupid/Dumb Science and Intelligent/Intelligence Science

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Tue Oct 23 2007 - 15:42:20 EDT

Back in Ohio & semi-functioning so -

2 points need to be made about Romans 1:20 in this connection. 1st, as I noted earlier with Ps.19, Whatever else Paul is saying here, his statement about "the things he [God] has made" must refer to things that were known to himself & other people in the 1st century Mediterranean world. These did not include the bacterial flagellum - or even bacteria! - so it's simply an anachronism to point to this verse in support of attempts to use such biochemical structures & phenomena as evidence for God.

2d & more profoundly: Paul's concern in the whole passage Romans 1:18 - 3:20 is the universal problem of human sin, not some concept of general revelation. That problem is not atheism but idolatry - not failure to worship any deity but worship of "the creature rather than the creator." The evidence for God may be there but everybody misinterprets it & constructs idols (& the Intelligent Designer can be one of those idols.) "The things he has made" play a purely negative role here - to show that "they are without excuse" rather than a positive role of actually pointing people to the true God. & so when Paul has established that everyone is a sinner he does not then say, "OK, now that we've seen the problem, let's go back & interpret natural phenomena properly as divine revelation." Instead he immediately starts talking about what God has done in Christ (3:21 ff).

Luther is very clear about this. He will at times point to Rom.1:20 to show that all people have some idea that there is "a God," but insists that that is exactly the wrong place to start to do theology. "That person does not deserve to be called a theologian who looks upon the invisible things of God as though they were clearly perceptible in those things which have actually happened" (Heidelberg Thesis 19). That he has Rom.1:20 in mind is shown by comparing his Latin with the Vulgate of that biblical verse.

I don't think that anybody here is saying that we should "surrender the terms of the debate to science." The limits of science need to be pointed out, & we have to insist especially that science isn't the only means of knowing anything about reality. But it is how we know the physical world, & the fact that it can know that world thoroughly is not just a claim of science itself but a theological implication of the belief that God's characteristic MO is the kenosis shown in the Incarnation. & from a practical standpoint, making scientific claims about irreducible complexity &c that just aren't true of course tends to discredit the religious motives of the people who make those claims.

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: John Walley
  To: ;
  Sent: Monday, October 22, 2007 11:09 PM
  Subject: RE: [Bulk] RE: [asa] Design Inference Mixed with Faith WAS Stupid/Dumb Science and Intelligent/Intelligence Science

  George, I appreciate this thoughtful dialogue and I am trying to more fully understand your and all the positions presented here as well as my own. I also don't mean to be antagonistic but it is just hard for me to surrender what I consider to be just basic spiritual discernment to the much more nuanced claims of science which appear to me to be missing the point. That is what I am struggling with.

  For instance, in your two enumerated foibles of ID below, I agree with your second one but we seem to still be disconnecting on the first one. As was pointed out in another response, the Romans 20 quote seems to me to be at odds with this claim. In fact the scripture seems to make clear that Design and a Designer not only can be inferred but is actually mandated from observations of nature (primarily at a general level but this should still hold at a scientific level as well) to the point that those that reject this conclusion are without excuse, so clearly according to this scripture, this is an absolute spiritual truth independent of any faith commitment.

  So therefore, if we are to remain true to the teachings of this scripture, I don't see how we have any choice but to recognize that both design in the secular sense as well as Design and even the more ambiguous Intelligent Design that you define below, are made manifest in Creation, regardless of any faith commitment or lack thereof, and that this is binding truth on all of us. That appears to be God's position on the matter anyway if we accept the scripture to be a reliable and authoritative revelation. And He doesn't imply that it is rational to deduce that aliens designed us or the universe either.

  And as a non-scientist, for me it is easy and logical to accept this premise as a fundamental position of truth, and besides them overplaying their hand and carrying it too far in the public square, it is not in my opinion, all that much at odds with the ID of Behe and Dembski from what I can tell. Therefore it is hard for me to abide the constant criticism of ID and these over the top statements about what ID is and isn't, especially in light of what appears to be God's thoughts on the matter, which seemingly should be ours as well.

  I understand that technically the arguments for Irreducible Complexity in micro examples like bacterial flagella and blood clotting mechanisms can be debunked and may even be flawed and that may not be an accurate example of ID and it may not be good science, but that does not invalidate the larger macro examples of ID that we see in Rom. 20. That is what I am struggling with. I think the truth lies in here somewhere between these extremes but I have not been able to pinpoint exactly where yet.

  I do think it is a mistake though to surrender the terms of the debate to "what is science" rather than "what is truth?" This is in my opinion the same as trying to evangelize someone who doesn't accept the notion of sin or the need for salvation. I think you would agree that that is pretty much a lost cause until that debate is reframed and to me that is exactly the same as letting the atheists put the onus on us to defend God against their definitions of science. As we have seen that is impossible because when cornered they will always play the aliens or multiple universes trump cards, and that can never be defeated. Once we agree to reducing God or truth to science, the best we can do is call it a draw and be content to be intellectually fulfilled Christians like Pim says. I am happy to do that but to me the injunctions of scripture seem to call for a more aggressive stance than just that. For this reason as well I am sympathetic to the intentions of the ID movement, however I agree that their tactics and strategies have not been the right formula so far.



  -----Original Message-----
  From: George L. []
  Sent: Sunday, October 21, 2007 11:10 PM
  To: John Walley;;
  Subject: [Bulk] RE: [asa] Design Inference Mixed with Faith WAS Stupid/Dumb Science and Intelligent/Intelligence Science

  I should have said 'Design" or "appearance of design" in itself has no theological significance. My slip - but I think my meaning should have been clear from the following sentence ("It's only if they're thought to point to a designer that they do.").

  I agree completely that "Those that seek Him must believe first" - & "faith comes from what is heard, & what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ" (Romans 10:17). It doesn't come from observations of stars or bacteria, though such observations may help us to see better what God is doing once we do believe.

  It seems to me that you're being confused by the ambiguity of the phrase "intelligent design" - an ambiguity that ID proponents exploit to the full. Anyone who believes that the world is God's creation & that God has purposes for creation believes in "intelligent design." That again is an expression of faith. It's a quite different matter to think that (a) intelligent design & a Designer can be inferred from scientific observations independently of such a faith commitment & (b) that intelligent design & a Designer should be & need to be parts of scientific theory. The latter ideas are distinctive of today's ID movement & they are represent bad science and bad theology.

  I make no dogmatic claim that "the age of miracles has ceased." But as I pointed out near the start of this thread, there is no scriptural or other theological basis for the idea that the development of living things involves continued miracles.

  This will probably be my last post till Tuesday. If you want to understand my position in more detail you can look at my book The Cosmos in the Light of the Cross or my 2002 PSCF article "Chiasmic Cosmology and Creation's Functional Integrity," which is on the ASA website.



> > > > > >Design" or "appearance of design" has no theological > significance > > > > I don't understand how you can say this. > Either we observe design or we don't. And to answer Pim's > question about appealing to secular scientists, the fact that they admit it as > well (albeit without attributing it to God) establishes objectively that design > exists and it is not just an overactive imagination of Dembski or Behe. Once > established, the only question remaining is how it got there, and that is where > the parallel with the Pharisees come in. > > > > Maybe calming the storm wasn't the > best example of God using miracles to directly establish His credentials but > there are many. In fact in one case he argued with the Pharisees and specifically > mentioned His miracles and said that as a result the Kingdom of Heaven had come upon them. He > also used the fact that their own sons and daughters were doing miracles as > well to counter their charge of him doing do from Beelzebub which clearly makes > the link between miracles and divine authorship. > > > > I am not thirsting for signs and am aware > that Jesus denied them to the Pharisees but He very plainly established them as > key testimonies to Him even ongoing through out NT church history by declaring > that these "signs" would follow all that believe. It looks like you > and I take opposite theological positions along the cessationist divide but > that is a side issue. The important point is that God appealed to Israel's > innate spiritual knowledge of God as being the author of the universe to > establish His credentials with them so it is logical for us today (including > Behe and Dembski) to respond the same way. I will concede it may not be > scientific but as demonstrated, God didn't expect a scientific response, > but one based on this innate faith. > > > > That is why trying to represent God in > these purely scientific terms to those in the terminal clutches of scientism is > misguided. They are the ones seeking the same signs as the Pharisees that were > denied. Those that seek Him must believe first or as Jesus said even if they > saw someone raise from the dead they wouldn't believe. So that is why > winning the battle for science is a shallow victory. It is only winning the > battle for truth that matters. > > > > John > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > -----Original Message----- > From: > [] On Behalf > Of George L. > Sent: Sunday, October 21, 2007 > 7:07 PM > To: > Subject: Re: [asa] Design > Inference Mixed with Faith WAS Stupid/Dumb Science and Intelligent/Intelligence > Science > > > > No, what Davies et al belief about the source of > design (or, as Dawkins says, the appearance of design) is the whole point. > "Design" or "appearance of design" has no theological > significance. It's only if they're thought to point to a designer that they do. > > Jesus didn't still the storm "to establish his > supernatural credentials" but to keep the boat from sinking - Note his > responses when a sign "to establish his supernatural credentials" was > demanded - e.g., Mk.8:11-12. Anyway, I am of course not saying that God has > done nothing to reveal himself but that that revelation is 1st of all his > historical acts culminating in Christ & not natural phenomena accessible to > everyone. The latter must be seen in the context of the former to tell us > anything about God, as I already said. Job illustrates that quite well. > > I suggest that you tame your thirst for signs by > reflecting on I Corinthians 1:22-23. > > I may not be able to respond again for a bit - I'll be > on the road & in the air & in staff meetings. > > Shalom, > > George > > > > > What Davies and Hoyle believe about the > > source of the design is irrelevant. The point is they recognize it > and > admit it as existing and even Dawkins begrudgingly admits it > appearance. > > > > Similarly, this shared acceptance > of this manifestly > obvious truth that God is the source of creation and > our being was the same "methodology" > that Jesus used to > establish his "supernatural" credentials. > When He calmed the > sea, the disciples exclaimed in shock that "even the > wind and waves > obey him" but they could have appealed to a scientifically > > reductionist physical explanation. > > > > When God spoke to > Job from the whirlwind > and asked him if he was there when He laid the > foundations of the earth, Job > could have accurately and scientifically > responded that one day a naturalistic > explanation for the origin of the > universe would be posited and universally > accepted, but I don't > think that was the response God was looking for. > > > > In > both these cases and in all the other > miracles, God assumed that those > that had "ears to hear" would > rightly equate His > supernatural exceptions over otherwise regular natural laws with > His power > and His divine authority although He knew there would be those who > reject > them due to hardness of heart, even before scientism was conveniently handy > > to put a rational spin on it. > > > > Also the > Pharisees denying the divine source > of Jesus' miracles and instead > attributing them to Beelzebub was the > context in which Jesus warned His > disciples of the grave consequences of > blaspheming the Holy Spirit. I > contend that it shouldn't be that hard to > see that the enemy's > plans today are the same as then, to take the > obvious spiritual truth of > God being manifest in His creation and with enough > nuance and spin and > pride and arrogance, can convince people to reject this and > replace it > instead with naturalistic abiogenesis and multiple universes and > other > such foolishness. > > > > I think that is a dangerous path > to start > down indeed. > > > > John > > > > > > > > > > > -----Original > Message----- > From: George L. > > [] > Sent: Sunday, October 21, 2007 > 10:25 AM > > To: John Walley;; > PvM > Cc: > > Subject: [Bulk] RE: [asa] > Stupid/Dumb Science and Intelligent/Intelligence > Science > > > > The fact that Davies doesn't & Hoyle > didn't > believe that design was the work of the God revealed in Christ is > > significant. (I'm not sure about Rees' beliefs.) As you point > out, > there are other ways (e.g., multiverse) to account for them. We > see them > as the work of the triune God Trinity only when we have come to > faith in that > God through God's historical revelation. > > I don't > think God has any commitment to > "scientism," but do believe that > God's action in the world is > characterized by the kenosis shown in the > Incarnation. > > Shalom, > > George > > > > > Again, > ID here is summarized as > only the biological > components that can > be supposedly reduced. But as > a physicist George, what > about the > arguments of design in the universe > from Martin Rees, Hoyle and Daives? > > > > Don't the > scriptures give us reason > to consider > that these aspects of design are > valid? > > > > > Although they as well require them to be > > mixed with faith for us to > appreciate their lesson. Otherwise, we could say > > they are insufficient > and "scientifically vacuous" as we could > > always appeal to > multiple universes and us just getting lucky if we wanted > to > be > strictly scientific about it. > > > > This is the > > danger in assuming that God > shares the same commitment to scientism that > > we do. > > > > John > > > > > -----Original > Message----- > From: > > > [] On Behalf > Of George L. > > > Sent: Saturday, October 20, 2007 > 11:41 PM > > > To: John Walley; PvM > Cc: > Subject: RE: [asa] > Stupid/Dumb > > Science and Intelligent/Intelligence Science > > > > > > There is not the slightest scriptural reason to think > > that the bacterial > flagellum or blood clotting cascade are part of > "God's > chosen > methodology of revealing himself to > humanity." > More > generally, there is no scriptural > reason to think that God either creates > > or sustains life miraculously > - i.e., other than through natural > > processes. & more generally > still, the whole notion that God's > > "chosen methodology of > revealing himself to humanity" is through > > scientific study of > the world. That methodology is his actions (both > > natural & > miraculous - please note that I do not deny the latter) in the > > history > of Israel which point to & culminate in Jesus Christ. > > > > Theologia naturalis delenda est! > > George > > > > > > > > > >Of course, that ID is merely the > set > > theoretic complement of regularity > >and chance shows that 'design' > > > is not an explanation but rather a > >position of ignorance based on > the > > fact that science cannot (yet) > >explain a particular > feature. > > > > > This sounds like the modern day equivalent of > the Pharisees > rationalizing > > and dismissing the miracles of Jesus. > God is the author > of our natural > laws > and He chose exceptions to > these laws that he > worked at His will to > be a > testimony to Him. > > > And in fact > for this correlation to be > logical, God > obviously intended a > common > sense interpretation from the > masses > of His exceptions to the > > standard laws to show His divine handiwork > > based on their improbability, > not > an appeal to ignorance (this > goes both > ways) and a faith that > science will > one day explain > it. > > Thus > Pim, your rabid ID > bashing goes against God's chosen > methodology of > > revealing himself to > humanity. > > John > > > > -----Original > Message----- > > From: > [] > On > > > Behalf Of PvM > Sent: Saturday, October 20, 2007 7:09 PM > To: > > > (Matthew) Yew Hock Tan > Cc: > Subject: Re: [asa] > > Stupid/Dumb > Science and Intelligent/Intelligence Science > > As > George > has > already pointed out, this is a very inept response. Of > > course, that ID > > is merely the set theoretic complement of > regularity > and chance shows > that > 'design' is not an explanation > but rather a > position of > ignorance based on > the fact that > science cannot (yet) > explain a > particular feature. > > > I > have invited many an ID activist to > present their best explanation > > for > how the bacterial flagellum was > 'designed' but given the fact > that > there > do exist plausible > evolutionary explanations or > hypotheses, ID > cannot even > speak about > the flagellum being > designed. ID proponents > argue that these > > explanations are not > detailed enough and that design > is still the best > > explanation, > but that is an illogical position > because ID does not > explain > > anything. > > What has ID to offer beyond 'design'? Nothing > at all > > really. And the > proof is in the pudding so the speak as ID has > > yet to > propose ANY > scientific explanation for what it claims is > > 'designed'. > > > On 10/20/07, (Matthew) Yew Hock Tan wrote: > > > > > From the THE NATIONAL CATHOLIC BIOETHICS QUARTERLY -- > > > > > > > [my title] Stupid/Dumb Science and Intelligent/Intelligence > Science > > > > > > I chanced upon this very excellent > article on intelligent > design > which I > > want to recommend to > all who are open to > intelligence design. > Among other > > > things, it explains why > intelligent design is science, > and that it > makes > > predictions, > and is falsifiable, and that the > > Darwinist theory of NO > DESIGN > > > needs to be tested against > the > competing intelligent design theory of > REAL > > DESIGN, and > that was what > Darwin himself was doing. [But > present-day > > > Darwinists are obviously > afraid to deal with > intelligent design > theory.] > > > > Let me > quote just the > following response > to intelligent design being a > > > "science > stopper". > I think this reply is most excellent and should > put a > > > stop > to all "science stopper" allegations. Same for > God-of-the-Gaps. > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > To unsubscribe, send a message to > with > > > "unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the > > message. > > > > > To unsubscribe, send a message to > > with > > "unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as > > the body of the message. > > > > George L. Murphy > To > > unsubscribe, send a message to with "unsubscribe > > > asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message. > > > > > > > > > > > > George L. Murphy > > > > > > > > > > > George L. Murphy > To unsubscribe, send a message to with "unsubscribe asa" > (no quotes) as the body of the message. > > > > > > >

  George L. Murphy

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Received on Tue Oct 23 15:45:59 2007

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