Re: [asa] Conversation with Timaeus, part one

From: Merv <>
Date: Mon Sep 22 2008 - 21:54:11 EDT

I too, read through much of your post, Timaeus, and found myself unable
to disagree with your expressed ideals of what ID at its best
does/should represent. Whether or not the "views on the ground" bear
this out, is still of course a good question, as others have raised.
But any movement is going to have its more reasonable, less reasonable
(and downright wacko) proponents. So to me it's irrelevant to drag in
to one's arguments the "who's been naughtier" card as regards an entire
movement, even if that may be relevant for reflection elsewhere.

In your carefully qualified clarifications for the aims of IDists, I
find nothing that ought to raise anyone's ire. It need not be seen as a
science stopper unless all were somehow required to curtail their
search, and if I understand you, IDists want only to have acknowledged
that a "design inference" itself be admitted as within the domain of
scientific possibility, and beyond that they raise no objections to
stubborn naturalists trying to hammer out further explanation. While
I'm fuzzy on just how design can be shown mathematically (and I'm highly
suspicious that the Devil lurks in the definitions), I'm ready to listen
& read. It gets uglier, however, in the matter of legislating that
some form of ID *must* be taught as a counterpoint to Neo-Darwinian
orthodoxy. In fairness, you didn't mention legislation, and perhaps my
impression that this is one hallmark of the ID movement is a
mis-impression ripe for correction. I balk on these political pushes,
not because I defend the way Darwinism is often promoted along with the
loaded words of 'meaningless' and 'unguided' --I squarely oppose such
Scientism just as I think we all do here -- but I don't see how a
student populace can benefit from a certain approach being forced by
legislative fiat. Such doesn't seem be a formula for fair speculation
(not that Darwinian dogma in the hands of some is currently a model for
open-mindedness). But if it falls, it won't be because of a top-down
ruling. I resonate, however, with you that ID should be able to get a
hearing in principle on clear scientific grounds alone --and according
to some here, it already has and has perhaps failed miserably. And so
be it, if that is actually the case, but we all share the common quest
for scientific truth, and I agree that Theology should not be made into
a driving factor for science within its own arena.

One further response to the handmaid comment:
I actually do hold that science is but a handmaid to Theology in the
sense that Theology has the more encompassing ground in which science is
but one of the strident players. Science will do what it will without
regard to its surroundings or native habitat, and indeed many of its
practitioners like to pretend that there is nothing outside of that
particular player. But the theists have their own grounds for
differing, and the critically thinking theists do not reject a-priori
what the scientific player proposes --especially (and here are the
loaded words) as an established consensus over time. There is some need
to accommodate scientific truth within the larger theology as we can,
while remembering as you remind us that even 'established' science may
prove to be ephemeral in a longer context. But eventually, theologians
did have to come to terms with giving up the immovable earth, after
all. If it is a call for humility for both science and theology that
you want, then sign me up! I am one of the few who will happily share
Burgy's pains on the fence until persuaded by reason, evidence,
revelation, personal experience, Scripture (all listed in no particular
order) to commit to settling elsewhere.

I have been steeped more in E.C / T.E. thought than I.D. style thought
as the paragraph above may reveal, and I do think most E.C.s here are
reasonable and compelling. But I am eager and of open mind to hear the
challenges -and need to be since I've never personally given ID a fair
hearing. Beyond having some read some Wells, and Behe, I've never read
any of Dembski's work (or Michael Stanton's). I can see my reading list
starting to get impossible again!

Thanks for being willing to share your thoughts & challenges on what is
apparently taken to be a hostile site to your perspective. Some of us
spend our time lurking and learning, so you may not hear much from us.
But we do read.

--Merv Bitikofer

> Allan Harvey, on Aug. 29th, writes:
> “I don't mind if ID people say "this is *possible* and we are looking for evidence" or even if they claim to have found such evidence (although I mind when the claimed evidence is flimsy as is the usual case).”
> Allan, this is exactly what ID people do say, when they are being careful. If some overzealous ID proponents say more, they are going beyond what ID proper can say.
> Allan goes on to say:
> “What I DO mind very much is the attitude that seems to dominate the ID
> movement (there are probably exceptions) which makes such scientific
> detection of God a theological *necessity* on which the truth of theism depends.”
> Allan, I know of no major ID theorist who has said that “scientific detection of God is a theological necessity”. ID theorists have said that design may be scientifically detectable. And they have said that if there is a design, there must be an intelligent designer. But they have said that science is utterly powerless to say whether the designer is a God or Demiurge or a Life Force or an alien from Antares. And if the designer is God, science is powerless to say whether God is the Christian God, or the Allah of Islam, or the Siva or Vishnu of Hinduism, or some other God. The answer to such questions can’t be settled by science. ID proponents have said this over and over again, in their books, on the DI web site, everywhere; yet both Dawkins-Darwinists and TE-Darwinists seem to be hard of hearing on this point. It as if they don’t actually read what ID proponents write, but base their opinion of ID on rumour and hearsay. Is it unreasonable of me to ask, on !
> half of ID, that TE people READ intelligent design literature, and read it carefully, before they react to ID?

> So, from the ID point of view, it is the TE people who always want to drag theology into the discussion of design theory and design detectability. The ID people want to talk about irreducible and specified complexity, about intertwined systems which cannot be changed piecemeal but only in wholesale transformations (which seems to bar Darwinian gradualism as the mechanism of evolution), about the apparently much greater role of necessity than of chance in the biological realm, about the lack of demonstration of hypothetical evolutionary pathways, etc. The TE people do not seem (from the ID perspective, anyway) to want to talk about these things. They seem to prefer to talk about the kind of God that Christianity requires, and the kind of world that that kind of God would have created, and how that world can be made to match the world as described by Darwinism.

> By this I had in mind examples like this: Behe implies that noxious creatures like malaria were designed. That makes the designer responsible for all the evil that malaria brings into the world. Both Ayala and Miller have indicated that they don’t like ID because it makes God directly responsible for evil, whereas Darwinism makes nature, not God, directly responsible for evil. Now we could argue about whether this argument of Miller’s and Ayala’s is a very good theological argument. (I think it’s shallow and easily refuted by any good philosophy undergrad, but that’s beside the point.) But the point is not whether Miller and Ayala are good or bad theologians. (They are in fact untrained incompetents in theology, but that’s beside the point, too). The point is that they refer to theology at all. What SCIENTIFIC difference does it make to validity of the argument that “Malaria is designed” even if it DOES make God directly responsible for evil? IF d!
 esign CAN be detected in some cases (as Behe believes it can), and IF it follows from specific evidence that malaria is designed, should we hide our heads in the sand from that result of science, in order to “save” a certain form of Christian theology? Is that a model for how science ought to proceed - to make sure that no conclusion is ever allowed to be regarded as scientific, if it poses problems for Christian theology? Is science, then, to be reduced to the handmaid of Christian theology?
> >From the ID point of view, it often seems as if theistic evolutionists are far more concerned about theological questions than they are about scientific ones. ID people want to reverse that priority; they want to put the focus on science, and they want to do it by re-opening the argument about neo-Darwinism.

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Received on Mon Sep 22 21:49:30 2008

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