Re: [asa] Advice for conversing with YECs (Cheek turning)

From: Schwarzwald <>
Date: Thu Oct 30 2008 - 10:39:22 EDT

Hello John,

The problem is both sides want science to "prove" their positions for them
> but I have news for you, for the Christian side, God is not going to honor
> that. He resisted the Pharisees provoking Him to prove Himself to them and
> He has chosen likewise to not let Himself be "proven" in nature. There are
> enough clues for the honest seekers and "those that have eyes to see" but
> still no "proof" for you to use to bludgeon the unbelievers into
> intellectual submission which is the faulty assumption of ID and RTB.

I'm less familiar with RTB, but I don't think ID proponents see "proof" that
they can "use to bludgeon the unbelievers into intellectual submission".
Dembski, in his most aggressive moments, seems to talk primarily in terms of
inference, however strongly. He insists such inferences are science, which
is a whole other argument. If anything, the one common thread with ID seems
to be that what we see in nature in both specific and broad senses is
utterly compatible with, even indicative of, a designing intelligence. While
I disagree with him about ID being science, I also counter that detecting a
lack of design is not scientific either - and I think strong arguments can
be made that we see design in nature, though these arguments would refer to
without themselves being science.

I want to stress that while I honestly don't think ID is science, I do think
ID and ID proponents tend to have a lot of valuable, even persuasive things
to say. Call it philosophy of science if you like, but we can still use
exactly such philosophical development and conversation.

This is why as Schwarzwald lamented the other day that TE's are not as vocal
> in evangelism as he would like them to be although I know some would
> disagree with me on this, because once you see how God has "hidden" himself
> in creation to an extent to protect the unbelievers, the game changes and it
> will take some wind out of your overzealous evangelistic sails. I believe,
> and I think you will come to see from the evidence, that the design argument
> was intended to be a defensive weapon instead of an offensive weapon.

The problem here is there's a flipside - the evidence of God is inconclusive
in both directions. You can talk about how God has apparently "hidden"
himself in creation, while Dawkins and company are forced to talk about the
"illusion of design" and other such issues. I'm not simply talking about the
evolution of man, or even evolution itself. There is plenty of room in every
science, on every subject, to marvel at the processes, the past and present
accomplishments of nature (even accounting for so-called 'faults' and
imperfections), and to look at the natural scientific world through the
partial lens of a Creator.

I don't think the design argument is either a defensive or an offensive
weapon - that changes based on the context anyway. However, there IS a
'design perspective' - approaching nature in an appreciative way, and
appreciating the Designer of nature as a result. This is what I would like.
I'm not asking for TEs to prove God with science. If anything, I'm asking
for two things: One, taking their own views seriously, and presenting them
aggressively to the public. If nature is seen as primarily unfolding without
the need of intervention from God, then point out the frankly natural
brilliance of a natured designed in such a way. Two, I'd like to see a far
more aggressive response to atheistic overreach with science. I'll say it
again: When prominent atheists talk about how science has proven there is no
God, or that there is no need for God, or otherwise mixes
philosophy/theology with science and passes it off as pure science, the
loudest responses and the most vocal critics really seem to come out of the
ID community.

> I know by you finding your way here via RTB that you are an honest seeker
> of truth and not a YEC but that is not what I am saying nor is it the issue
> at hand. You and RTB assume that man had to be created by separate direct
> intervention (your 3rd miracle) but that is only based on you reading that
> into the Genesis account. There is no scientific evidence to support this
> claim like a disruption of the DNA etc, and in fact there is evidence in the
> DNA to suggest the opposite. This is where RTB abandons the high road of
> "science" and unfortunately succumbs to dogma like YEC.
> This is why you and RTB are defensive on this point and have only your
> speculations to offer, just like YEC. Your position could only be true if
> we spin the evidence and come up with some bizarre scenario that borders on
> deception.

I have to wonder: How would one know whether a miracle occurred in man's
evolutionary/biological history? Why would it be a disruption of the DNA? It
could well have been a guidance of the DNA along its actual path. It could
have been the introduction of mental concepts and characteristics at a
certain point that primarily involved changes above the biological level.
Are you honestly saying science can function as a miracle-detector here?

> All of this discredits Christianity in the eyes of the educated public and
> it is only to justify a literal reading of the creation of man which is not
> necessary. Man does not have to be created by sudden, fiat miracle to be in
> the image of God or for the Bible to be true or for the atheistic baggage of
> Darwnism to be false which is what I know what your motivations are.
> Challenging CD and insisting on a 3rd miracle is the wrong battle to fight
> and the wrong hill to die on because it is not consistent with the science.

I share with you a desire to have people understand that an understanding of
genesis that demands a several thousand year old universe is not biblically
necessary or even (IMO) valid. But I think this debate has nuances you may
not appreciate. Again, I'm a TE myself - for me, RTB's model just isn't
necessary. On the other hand, I'm not sure I can get onboard with an
insistence that no thoughts of design or even miracle can be entertained in
natural history, or that people who do entertain such thoughts should be
shunned and condemned. Maybe you're not going that far.

> I can't show you "that the process from cyanobacteria to man occurred by
> only the natural processes that God sat in motion with the creation of the
> first life" but I don't see why or how that couldn't be the case or what the
> objection would be to it. I find it ironic that RTB sees the natural
> processes such as the laws of physics that explain the formation of the
> universe as the "fingerprint of God" but when it comes to life they insist
> on direct intervention and special creation in order for God to get credit
> for it.
> Simply, we agree on design and God being responsible for the creation of
> life. Our differences boil down to to how and when we think He was involved.
> I contend this is an unknown, therefore the need to exercise restraint. It
> is counterproductive to the cause to come up with scenarios that are
> inconsistent with the evidence to defend God and support our cause. I am at
> peace now letting God reveal Himself how He has chosen to.

I think you're selling yourself short. God's particular actions may be
unknown, but the results of those actions - whether through a one-time
front-loading or otherwise - can certainly be explored, promoted, and talked
about. *That* is what I would like to see out of TEs more. As it stands, the
only people talking about design in nature - or at least, the only people
who are talking about it loud enough to be heard - are those close to the ID
camp. At the same time, the atheist camp is - frankly - often presenting the
exact same argument as the ID proponents ('We can detect design, and it's
not there!'). Something is wrong with this situation.

> Thanks
> John
**Forward, accidentally sent this directly to John. Still getting used to

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Received on Thu Oct 30 10:39:56 2008

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