Re: [asa] Rejoinder 1B from Timaeus: to Mike Gene, Jack Syme, et al.

From: Don Nield <d.nield@auckland.ac.nz>
Date: Thu Sep 25 2008 - 00:34:38 EDT

Hi Timaeus:
I find much to agree with in what you are saying, and I am very pleased
that Ted has introduced you to our group and that you are willing to
discuss matters in depth. I am very interested in what sort of pure ID
remains when the accretions of Phillip Johnson and others of the
Discovery Institute are distilled away. Here I respond to what you have
written about Michael Denton (I get the impression that you, Mike Gene
and Denton are kindred spirits! )

In response to Mike Gene you wrote:

>
> However, I agree with you that Darwinian processes need to be supplemented by intelligence. So does Behe. And I agree with you that it is very possible that the intelligence was built into creation from the beginning. Essentially that is the position of Michael Denton. And the advantage of Denton’s position is that it allows for an entirely naturalistic operation of evolution; there are none of the tiny little miracles that Darwin forbade. God does not have to sneak in and do little miracles, hidden behind quantum fluctuations, as some TEs have speculated; he has given to nature the capacity, indeed the destiny, of evolving on its own, to a predetermined end. Further, Denton’s position does not require absurdly low-probability events, in which co-ordinated mutational sequences capable of building complex organs arise by chance; for Denton, those mutational sequences were programmed from the start. So Denton avoids miracles on one hand (and thus is more naturalis!
 tic than either “creationists” or those TEs who believe that God sneaks miracles into nature indetectably), and on the other avoids the ludicrous improbability of the classic “chance” explanations of neo-Darwinism. He is thus superior, from an ID point of view, to neo-Darwinism, and, from the point of view of “methodological naturalism”, he is superior to either creationism or certain forms of TE. In a way, Denton provides a perfect blend of ID and TE. He thinks design is detectable, and he thinks it is programmed from the beginning of creation, to run naturalistically. The only thing he is not clear about in his two books is whether or not God is the cause of all this. It is not clear whether his references to God are figures of speech, and that he is speaking as an agnostic, or whether he believes in God, and if so, what particular God.
>
> It sounds as if your position is close to, if not identical with, Denton’s. Have you any comments on his work, if you’ve read it?
>

> Further, in response to Merv you wrote:
>
>
> You asked about books. For the critique of Darwinian mechanism, see Denton’s first book, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis. There’s not a single religious argument against Darwinism in the book. All the arguments come from standard scientific literature. For Denton’s positive alternative to Darwinism, see his second book, Nature’s Destiny. They are two of the best books on evolution you will ever read. And Denton, while an ID theorist of sorts, belongs to nobody’s party. Highly recommended for all IDs and TEs (who will like much of him), and for all neo-Darwinists (who will hate much of him, but need to hear it).
>
Further, in response to D. F. Siemens you wrote:
> To D. F. Siemens:
>
> I never argued that difficulties with Darwinism show that we must abjure naturalism. Michael Denton has shown how you can keep evolution (understood as common descent), get rid of the implausible parts of Darwinism, and maintain naturalism. See my remarks above, to the others.
>
> I never said that “I don’t know” is to be replaced by “an intelligence did it”. That would presuppose that we can scientifically know only things that are produced unintelligently, and that we have to jump beyond science to speak of intelligent design. I believe that for a full understanding of life, you have to understand both the non-intelligent causes (natural selection and random mutation) and the intelligent ones (design, whether administered miraculously or naturalistically). You need a designing intelligence not just to explain the bacterial flagellum, but to explain just about everything interesting in living organisms, but that is not at the expense of material and mechanical explanations, which still apply. Intelligent design is not some miraculous principle that undercuts science; it fills out and completes science, not in the sense of filling in “gaps” in mechanical explanation, but in the sense of revealing the supervisory principles which s!
 tand over mechanical explanations and work with them, as the architect stands over the workmen but does not actually do any of the work. You cannot explain a building without an architect. But architects are not supernatural, and their thinking and planning does not violate any of the laws of bricklaying, wiring, cement pouring, riveting, etc. For more evidence that intelligent design is an absolute prerequisite for the evolution of life, see again Denton’s two books, and of course Behe’s two books.
>
I now add my own comment. I am interested in the difference bewteen Denton's two books. It seems to me that Denton has changed his mind on a number of issues, and he has now distanced himself from the Discovery Institute, and in particular he has distanced himself from the positions taken by Dembski and Behe. For example, he no longer sees evolution in terms of mechanisms. It seems to me that in making this move he has come a step closer to a TE position. Do you agree?

Don Nield

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Received on Thu Sep 25 00:35:27 2008

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