Re: [asa] Four myths - God of the Gaps

From: PvM <>
Date: Wed Jul 02 2008 - 12:23:00 EDT

The problem with ID is that it equivocates on the concept of
complexity. In ID speak complexity refers to a lack of a sufficiently
probable explanation as to how something happened, so biological
complexity must remain unexplainable in ID speak is a tautology since
complexity by definition is something that is unexplained and when it
is explained the complexity disappears. However, ID proponents also
make the leap from their redefined concept of complexity to how
complexity is more commonly understood and defined. Understanding the
bait and switch here is important in understanding why ID is founded
as a gap argument and only by switching to a different meaning of the
terms it uses, such as complexity and design, does ID attempt to
become relevant but then its foundation disappears.

So when ID states that something is complex, it merely means that it
cannot presently be explained with sufficient probability, in other
words, it is the usual probability argument. When ID then claims that
there exists complexity in biology, it merely claims that biology has
a lot of unexplained issues, however this usage of the term complex
does not match how we typically come to understand complexity. In
fact, in ID speak complexity disappears with understanding, while in
common usage, complexity is a description of the state of the object
that does not depend on the subjective level of understanding of its

Which also helps understand why the statement that science cannot
explain complexity in ID speak is a meaningless statement which
basically states that science cannot explain our ignorance since when
it is explained the complexity disappears. On the other hand,
complexity as more commonly understood and defined by science can be
trivially explained in principle by the processes of evolution and
thus cannot be used to broadly reject evolutionary theory. In fact,
since evolutionary theory has at least observable processes that lead
to complexity, I would argue that it has a much better position than
ID which refuses to explain or provide much of anything relevant to
our scientific understanding. In fact, I argue that if ID explains
something complex (as defined by ID) then the complexity (read
ignorance) disappears and ID has the same problem as science namely
that it cannot explain complexity when complexity describes our level
or lack of understanding.

Do I make sense here?

On Tue, Jul 1, 2008 at 4:40 PM, Loren Haarsma <> wrote:
> Jon,
> You are right that the term God-of-the-gaps can be defined several ways.
> Even the "milder" version that I wrote in my post would fit
> "God-of-the-gaps" under some definitions of that term. So I'll try to
> clarify things without using that term.
> If support for I.D. is stated this way:
>> "If biological complexity can evolve, then atheists
>> will have won that territory. We won't be able to point to living
>> organisms
>> as evidence of God's handiwork. However, there must be scientific
>> evidence
>> of God's existence and miraculous action somewhere in nature, and the
>> complexity of life seems to be the best place to look for such evidence.
>> Therefore, biological complexity must be scientifically unexplainable."
> then a bad theological error has been committed. It is seriously out of
> step with traditional Christian theology about God's governance of nature.
> But if support for I.D. is state this way:
>> "But we think - for scientific reasons, or
>> theological reasons, or both - that it is probably the case that God
>> created
>> the universe in such a way that natural mechanisms are incapable of
>> producing biological complexity on their own, and that God chose to use
>> methods beyond normal natural mechanisms to produce the biological
>> complexity that we see. Therefore, we expect that scientists will not be
>> able to find a satisfactory explanation for how biological complexity
>> could
>> evolve."
> then no such theological error has been committed. It is in line with
> traditional Christian theology about God's creation and governance of
> nature. It might be a risky move to make. It might turn out to be
> incorrect. But it is not theologically in error.
> Loren
> 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.
Received on Wed Jul 2 12:23:48 2008

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Wed Jul 02 2008 - 12:23:48 EDT