Re: [asa] Doug Groothuis v. William Dembski

From: Nucacids <>
Date: Fri Jan 02 2009 - 14:25:38 EST

Hi David,


"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.)."


Yes, and that is the end of the road for any ID-based investigation. You cannot get any further than this if the investigation is built around analogy.


"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."


Sure, but unless someone can turn this version of the analogia entis into an open-ended investigative tool, this additional step is not part of the ID investigation.


"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")."


But I'm not talking about a designer of "heaven and earth." I have always been focused on one topic - the origin of life on this planet. I explained this just last month on this list:

That being said, there are forms of inquiry that can get us closer to the
identity issue. I think it is fair to ask an ID proponent a) what was
designed and b) how was the design implemented (allthough I don't think it
fair to demand very specific answers to the latter request).

For example, if someone proposes that the Universe itself was designed, ETI,
which are part of the Universe, would not be a plausible explanation. Or,
if someone proposes that a bacterial feature, a vertebrate feature, and a
human feature all came into existence through intelligent intervention (due
to the insufficiency of natural cause), this entails a designer who
intervenes across great spans of deep time, and again, ETI do not appear to
be a plausible candidate.

Yet I propose a single event of intelligent intervention - the origin of
life, and that this act of design had an eye to the future, such that these
original life forms front-loaded the outcome of evolution (the echoes of
design). In this case, ETI remains a very plausible candidate (their origin
is of secondary concern). In fact, as I explain in my book, front-loading
is the solution to a design problem - how does one design the future if
restricted to a single act of intelligent intervention (as in seeding a
planet)? This is only a constraint for beings limited by time and space.

Yet as I continue to mull over these issues, I am beginning to appreciate
front-loading from a more divine perspective. For example, take proteins as
a rational design material (I don't know if you remember me posting about
that here). It doesn't matter whether proteins are some sophisticated
artifact or emerged from geochemistry - either way, the inherent rationality
(reflection of mind) remains. So front-loading could extend back to the
origin of the Universe, which would indicate God is the designer. What's
more, I have come to view front-loading as a means to guide/design while
retaining freedom. That's of theological interest.

So the theological side of me urges me to push front-loading back to the
origin of the Universe, but the investigative side of me urges restraint and
caution. As a Christian, it remains an open question. What plays no role in
my thinking is any cultural or political consideration.


 "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."


I don't. I see no logical or theological reason that forces me to insist that the designer of life on this planet must be the Christian God. I believe that God is indeed the creator who brought this reality into existence and sustains it. But that doesn't tell me how life arose on this planet.


"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."


Political reasons do not apply to me. That would leave the other option, and it certainly is possible that I have not thought through my position carefully in theological terms. My position is simply intellectual agnosticism about the identity of the designer of life as I strive to remain intellectually honest. You would have to come up with a powerful theological case against the possibility of directed panspermy. So what are the theological reasons for favoring the spawning of life on earth vs. the seeding of life on earth? What are the theological reasons for thinking God must use geochemistry rather than neurochemistry to form life on this planet?


- Mike

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: David Opderbeck
  To: Schwarzwald
  Sent: Friday, January 02, 2009 1:48 PM
  Subject: Re: [asa] Doug Groothuis v. William Dembski

  But the difference is, ID, as Mike describes it, says "the designer could be an alien." The probabilistic / reason-based arguments made by Aquinas, William Lane Craig, etc. are all meant (properly) to point towards the Christian God. Yes, these arguments don't get you "all the way to God" -- but they are meant to point in no direction other than towards God. If the result of the ontological, teleological, moral, etc. arguments is a space alien, those arguments have utterly failed.

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

  On Fri, Jan 2, 2009 at 1:45 PM, Schwarzwald <> wrote:

    Heya David,

    On Fri, Jan 2, 2009 at 1:35 PM, David Opderbeck <> wrote:

      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.

    Absolutely, but the specific arguments that Aquinas offered in proof of a creator-God did not on their own indicate 'This God is triune, Christ is part of the trinity which comprises this God' etc. The unmoved mover, Aquinas' five ways, etc - those alone will get you to 'creator-God', but they won't get you to 'the creator-God who sent his only begotten Son to die on the cross for our sins'.

    Yes, Aquinas (who I'm reading of more and more lately - as an aside, I suggest 'The Last Superstition' by Edward Feser for a thought-provoking book) certainly did get into the more specific and Christian topics in great detail. All I'm saying is that the arguments Aquinas - or even William Lane Craig, among others - offer as proof of God, or inference of God, do not on their own bring them to 'The God of Christianity'. Other arguments do, and taken together, their whole intellectual offering could be viewed as specifically leading to such a conclusion.

    But the same could be said of a Christian invested in ID. ID alone would encompass a number of arguments for/proofs of a creator-God. But their 'whole thought' could be comprised of ID, philosophy, even personal testimony - and point unmistakably towards the God of Christianity.


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Received on Fri Jan 2 14:25:52 2009

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