Re: [asa] Doug Groothuis v. William Dembski

From: David Opderbeck <>
Date: Fri Jan 02 2009 - 13:35:21 EST

Aquinas would *never* have said that the "designer" of creation could be
other than the creator-God. For Aquinas, the teleology he saw in creation
traced back to an unmoved mover, which must be God. And yes, it would have
been heretical (and completely contrary to his system) if Aquinas had
suggested that creation could have been designed by some other created being
-- by definition, for Aquinas, all created things have a cause, and all
causes trace back to an uncaused cause, which is God.

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

On Fri, Jan 2, 2009 at 1:28 PM, Schwarzwald <> wrote:

> Heya David,
> Some comments below.
> On Fri, Jan 2, 2009 at 1:06 PM, David Opderbeck <>wrote:
>> I don't think this holds up, Mike. If you're drawing an analogy between
>> human artifacts and biological features, you're suggesting that the
>> biological feature was designed by an entity that possesses some human-like
>> attributes with respect to its capacity to create designed things (e.g.,
>> orderliness, patterns, logic, etc.). If the "designer" is the Christian
>> God, then you must employ some version of the analogia entis to get from
>> human-like design to the creator God. If the "designer" is not the
>> Christian God, then from a Christian perspective, the argument from design
>> being offered is heretical (in no Christian creed is any entity other than
>> "God" the "maker of heaven and earth").
> I'm just about certain that essentially all Christian advocates of ID
>> intend that any indication of a "designer" ultimately must point to an
>> orthodox version of the Christian God. Therefore, I think Christian
>> advocates of ID, when they deny that the "designer" must be the Christian
>> God, are either hiding the ball for political reasons or have not thought
>> through their position carefully in theological terms. I'm aware that there
>> are non-Christian ID advocates, but honestly I'm not convinced their
>> arguments can be useful, since I start from a position of belief in the
>> Christian creator-God.
> Would you consider Thomas Aquinas, among many other Christian
> philosophers/thinkers, to be heretical? They often employed arguments and
> proofs that pointed in the direction of God in a broad sense, but typically
> argued that additional factors needed to enter into play in order to get to
> the God of Christianity.
> I'd see ID as taking a similar route. Their tact is typically that the
> study of nature points to design by an agent, or that such a conclusion is
> the most natural one given what we see. They would also typically argue that
> this is as far as that specific mode of inquiry is able to take them - to a
> creator, perhaps (if you include cosmological ID) a big-c Creator. They
> certainly would not end the inquiry there, but the investigation would then
> switch to another, more clearly non-scientific field. They aren't denying
> that the 'designer' must be the Christian God - they're denying that that
> designation is within the scope of their chosen method of inquiry
> (scientific observation/investigation.) I doubt they would deny that there
> are other modes of inquiry that could work in tandem with said method, or
> even independently.

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Received on Fri Jan 2 13:35:51 2009

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