Re: [asa] Are TE and ID Really That Far Apart?

From: Jim Armstrong <>
Date: Sun Apr 27 2008 - 16:23:08 EDT
I don't have time at the moment to elaborate much on this notion, but let's talk about imperfections for a moment. FWIW, I've come to the conclusions that the "imperfections" you speak of are part and parcel of the ultimate robustness of the universe we inhabit. It seems that for most every strength one can mention, there is a certain element of fragility that is intrinisic to the "system" (for lack of a better term just now) that ultimately serves to advance the greater system of which it is a part. Just to name a couple of examples, DNA is like that. It is robust, and yet a certain susceptibility to damage and/or alteration is the very instrument of change that feeds the processes of mutation and subsequent natural (or other) selection. Without that intrinsic fragility, we would perhaps be merely clones of one another.

Granite is robust, yet has a slight susceptibility to the subtle but unrelenting decomposing influences of wind, rain, and temperature variation - without which we would not in time have soil and such.

Changing genres a bit, love has great consequence, but is not itself an influence of raw power, embodying a certain type of weakness. Scripture records many unlikely people called out to do the extraordinary, yet characterized by certain very recognizable human flaws. Strong organizations must retain flexibility. Etc., etc. One cannot possess the woner of free will without the potential for deviation from "the optimal plan".

If you ponder this intriguing pairing of strength and susceptibility, more instances will occur to you from time to time. Accordingly, my sense is that incorporation of "susceptibilities" or "imperfections" is a primary design constitutent, one whose presence may be noted at all scales of existence in our universe, and without which the universe would not operate as we know it. 

I am reminded of a Jewish Rabbi who observed that there must be multiple layers to all of the major stories of Scripture, else the writers would have left us better stories. Only in this case, there must be importance to weakness or "imperfections", or they would be absent.

Or so it seemeth to me......

JimA  [Friend of ASA]

David Opderbeck wrote:
George C. said:  If I invite a robot that can go out and build to the highest standard a house with complete independence, am I the lesser for it because I didn't show up with nails in mouth?  This doesn't mean I'm not watching from a distance, nor does it mean I might not visit on occasion.
I respond:  I think there's a problem with your hypo in that the robot can't really build with "complete independence" if you've programmed into it the capability to build a house, which would have to include lots of "front loaded" knowledge about house building, the "standards" you mention, and so on. 
If you in fact design into the robot all those capabilities, and the design necessarily includes some "imperfections," then I don't think you get "off the hook" for those imperfections just because the robot does the physical work.  And it's easy to see how even a house built to "the highest standards" will have possible imperfections.  Even the best-constructed house, for example, has to use building materials such as wood which can catch fire, degrade over time, include surfaces on which people can bang their heads, etc.  The physical universe, practical cost and time constraints, and so on, mean the "best" design cannot be perfectly safe.
Instead, let's assume you create a very basic robot with the capacity to learn, but you set no parameters as to what it will learn or how it will employ its knowledge.  Let's say the robot then independently decides to build a house, learns the necessary skills, and finishes the construction.  Perhaps then you can argue that you're "off the hook" for any dangers in the house design, though even here you're arguably culpable for releasing the free-thinking robot into the world in the first place.  But I think this pushes the analogy too far into the territory of open theism.  I'm not sure the person who releases a completely autonomous creating robot is really analogous to the sovereign creator God of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. 
So, open theism-type models seem to help with some theodicy problems, but they do so (it seems to me) at the expense of an adequate conception of God.

On Fri, Apr 25, 2008 at 2:50 PM, George Cooper <> wrote:
Hi Dave,
[Dave: But then you have a God who isn't sovereign over His creation, which trades a theodicy problem for an even bigger one.]
If I invite a robot that can go out and build to the highest standard a house with complete independence, am I the lesser for it because I didn't show up with nails in mouth?  This doesn't mean I'm not watching from a distance, nor does it mean I might not visit on occasion.
[Dick: I'll stick with natural causation without divine interference, thank you.  That way I can swat them without feeling I'm squashing a divinely "designed" creature.]
That's a dandy! :) 
George C


Dick Fischer, author, lecturer

Historical Genesis from Adam to Abraham



-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of Nucacids
Sent: Friday, April 25, 2008 12:13 AM
Subject: Re: [asa] Are TE and ID Really That Far Apart?



TE and ID are far apart when ID is proposed as a substitute for evolution.

However, both ID and evolution can co-exist, where evolution has, in some

way, been shaped by design.




----- Original Message -----

From: "Rich Blinne" <>

To: "David Opderbeck" <>

Cc: "asa" <>

Sent: Thursday, April 24, 2008 10:18 PM

Subject: [asa] Are TE and ID Really That Far Apart?




> On Apr 23, 2008, at 5:52 PM, David Opderbeck wrote:


>> I really enjoy Stephen Barr's work and he's a very interesting guy.

>> Query though:  is cosmological design really not a form of "ID"?  It

>> seems to me that many people who find cosmological design arguments

>> potentially helpful are put off of biological design arguments  because

>> of the overstatement, politicization, etc. of the "ID  movement" -- 

>> myself included.  So making a distinction between  cosmological and

>> biological ID is almost more of a necessary  difference in politics,

>> style, and emphasis.




> Absolutely correct, David. I'll strengthen your point. Both are design

> arguments. They have the same form and have the same substance. In

> addition to that both have roughly the same concept of evolution.  Dembski

> saying TE could be OK at the Messiah 2005 debate. Behe holds  to common

> descent and natural selection. The one difference on so- called random

> mutation could be lessened if ID understood what is  meant by us by random

> and by focusing on the non-randomness of the  evolutionary process. By

> this I mean that evolution is random in the  same sense that our children

> are male or female randomly or to use the  Biblical example the random bow

> shot that killed Ahab. I'll spare the  rest of the rehash of concursus

> divinitatis. BTW, I liked your  discussion on analogia entis but that just

> proves that I am Reformed  and George is Lutheran. :-)


> It seems to me that ID's problem is its own little form of scientism.

> Perhaps they cannot seem to identify the designer because of the  issues

> that you as a lawyer have brought out previously. The other  reason that I

> have heard specifically stated is they think it makes  them sound more

> reasonable when it does the exact opposite.  I have  absolutely no problem

> that my kind of ID is not scientific and that my  intent is to provide

> evidence for the Christian God. Again, as you  have noted earlier science

> isn't more objective than other kinds of  truth. It just uses a process

> that deals with our inherent  subjectivity by having the checks and

> balances of peer review and  testing hypotheses physically. Thanks for the

> heads up today on their  journal which hasn't published anything in years.

> If the scientific  elite truly were suppressing the truth or demarcating

> it into oblivion  then this journal provides a way to get their vaunted

> research program  out. But, there is no research program even though

> Philip Johnson  promised not to move on to getting ID into the schools

> until they  had  real science to be taught. I believe -- correct me if I

> am wrong --  that it should be able to be taught in a philosophy class or

> the like  in a survey style -- much like comparative religions. Now, they

> seem  to think that this is inferior or more likely they perceive that

> *we*  think it is inferior. At least for me, this is not true. Just

> because  I believe that ID is not science does not imply I believe ID is

> not  true (although some of the arguments are really, really bogus.)

> Furthermore, ID is better classified as philosophy anyway. What

> biological ID went through does serve as a cautionary tale for us when  we

> use a cosmological ID argument which in my opinion is the strongest  arrow

> in their quiver. Nevertheless, as George has noted the "many  worlds"

> hypothesis for quantum physics and multiverses in general  still are out

> there as legitimate possibilities. Any of these  arguments should be more

> confirmatory rather than as a freestanding  "proof".


> I really don't understand why we cannot talk about philosophy and

> theology. As your legal analysis has shown I see very little chance  ID,

> or "teaching the controversy", or whatever the strategy du jour is  ever

> getting in the schools. Given that, why not show our colors? But,  this

> cannot happen as shown when both of us got booted from Uncommon  Descent.

> Or, that theology was off the table at Messiah '05.


> I do have an idea for their research program. Show how the  evolutionary

> process is not random, not how it cannot happen. We can  give them help

> here. This could be like the '95 Behe/Miller debate in  reverse where Behe

> showed that Miller's textbook claimed purposeless  evolution and Miller

> knowing that evolution is not random in the  popular sense fixed the

> error. It came back to bite him in the Dover  trial where the old version

> was being used and Miller pointed to the  new version. If the heart of the

> problem ID has is a random,  purposeless, evolution, then we are here to

> help show how current,  mainstream, evolutionary theory shows otherwise.

> It would require them  to risk getting "expelled" by their YEC allies,

> though.


> Rich Blinne

> Member ASA


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David W. Opderbeck
Associate Professor of Law
Seton Hall University Law School
Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology

David W. Opderbeck
Associate Professor of Law
Seton Hall University Law School
Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology
To unsubscribe, send a message to with "unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message. Received on Sun Apr 27 16:25:08 2008

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