Re: [asa] Doug Groothuis v. William Dembski

From: David Opderbeck <>
Date: Thu Jan 01 2009 - 11:23:25 EST

Yes, but, I don't want to be hasty in dismissing the analogia entis
altogether. First, I think we do have intuitive a priori knowledge of God
-- a key question is the degree to which that natural knowledge is
surpressed by sin (Romans 1). Second, it seems reasonable to assume that
something created will bear some characteristics that are analogous to
characteristics possessed by its creator -- e.g., beauty, rationality,
order. If we see beauty, rationality and order in nature, and we have at
least some dim sense that there must be a God, it seems reasonable to
suggest that these characteristics point towards a creator-God who also
possesses those characteristics. A weak form of the argument from design --
"small i.d." if you will -- seems to me a reasonable argument to make.

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

On Thu, Jan 1, 2009 at 10:08 AM, Iain Strachan <>wrote:

> On Thu, Jan 1, 2009 at 2:53 PM, David Opderbeck <>
> wrote:
> > In fairness, most ID advocates do often cabin their arguments a
> > probabilistic, but they seem to act like they have acheived absolute
> > certainty.
> >
> > The other important difference between a design inference in nature and
> the
> > work of a forensic scientist in a criminal case is that criminal trials
> are
> > all about human conduct. Here we get into the theological questions: to
> > what extent is there an analogy between God's attributes and the creation
> > sufficient to draw an inference of divine design from an artifact of
> nature
> > that looks designed to a human.
> I think in the above paragraph you put your finger on the whole
> problem with the intelligent design inference. I don't think the
> question of "absolute certainty" is the issue here (after all, even
> Dawkins doesn't claim to be absolutely certain that God doesn't exist
> - he is content with "almost certainly").
> However the key issue with the Design inference applied to criminal
> acts, or makers of watches is this very fact that in both cases we are
> trying to detect human activity. And the reason for this is that we
> know a priori that humans commit crimes, make watches and so forth.
> We can point to _independent evidence_ of these things taking place
> (go to a watch factory; the act of crime caught on the video camera
> etc). Hence, to use probabilistic terminology, the Prior Probability
> of the existence of the criminal or the watchmaker is one, certainty.
> Given we know the prior probability, it is then straightforward to
> compute the probability that a particular set of evidence may be
> attributed to the actions of the intelligent agent. But the whole
> problem, as I see it, is that there is no way to assign a Prior
> probability to the existence of God. We can't see God ( the bible
> says so - see John 1:18). Hence there is no _independent_ evidence of
> the existence of God.
> What is the probability of God existing? I don't even think that's a
> meaningful scientific question.
> In the case of forensic evidence - we are attempting to show that
> certain observations may be attributed to the actions of someone we
> already know exists.
> However, in the case of Intelligent Design, it seems to be the case
> that we are trying to prove the existence of the Intelligent Agent
> given some evidence, rather than attempting to assign the cause to a
> particular Intelligent Agent of whose existence we are already
> certain.
> Iain

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Received on Thu Jan 1 11:23:51 2009

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