Re: [asa] Natural Agents - Cause and Effect, Non-Natural Agents [re Keith Miller's comment]

From: Cameron Wybrow <>
Date: Fri Apr 17 2009 - 17:59:09 EDT


I am having trouble following your comments.

Regarding point 3, In saying that according to intelligent design theory "God's activity is explicitly detectable scientifically", you are merely re-wording the claim of Keith Miller that I found to be ambiguous. You do not appear to understand why I found it ambiguous. Let me try an analogy. I can detect the present activity of a baseball player by seeing him swing a bat and hit the ball, or I can detect the past activity of a baseball player by observing my smashed bay window and the ball on my living room floor. Regarding the latter form of detection, it strikes me as a misuse of language to say that by such an inference I am "investigating the batter's activity". "Investigating the batter's activity", in normal usage, would mean going to the park and studying his swing, his stance, his taunting remarks to the pitcher, etc. Analogously, "investigating divine activity" would mean "studying God in action", "watching God affect nature at the precise moment of intervention", or the like. No ID proponent that I know of claims that science can do this.

Also regarding point 3, your statement that ID "demands that God's activity can be controlled by scientists" does not correspond to anything that any ID proponent has ever said. In fact, I do not know of any sane human being who would make such a claim about God and scientists. I simply have no clue where you are coming from on this.

I cannot follow point 2 at all. I said "metaphysical and/or physical" because I didn't know what Keith Miller had in mind, and was trying to cover all bases in guessing at his meaning. I was not speaking for myself or for any ID proponent, and I made no claim regarding the propriety of speaking metaphysically in scientific matters.

Regarding point 1, can you please tell me exactly where Behe says that the blood clotting mechanism (or any mechanism) "cannot be attained through natural forces but requires divine or superhuman intervention"? You appear to be putting words in his mouth. I believe that he argues that such mechanisms cannot be explained without "design". I do not know of any place where he adds that design "requires divine intervention". (I assume that by "intervention" you mean a break in the nexus of natural causes.) In fact, I know of places where he says that design could be "front-loaded" and thus transmitted entirely through natural causes.

You appear to be reading far more into my note than was intended. I was asking Keith Miller for clarification, and setting forth the problem I was having in understanding his charges. I am still hoping that he will reply to me, but since he may not have known that I was addressing him from the title of the thread, I have added his name to the thread.

---- Original Message -----
  From: D. F. Siemens, Jr.
  Sent: Friday, April 17, 2009 2:42 PM
  Subject: Re: [asa] Natural Agents - Cause and Effect, Non-Natural Agents

  Without the slanting, (1) is what I see Behe doing when he says that the blood clotting mechanism cannot be attained through natural forces but require divine (or superhuman) intervention. This applies equally to the flagellum. That they do not specify the specific moment of that intervention or the change wrought does not change the assumption.

  (2) The mention of "metaphysical" makes this irrelevant to ID. Theists are content to deal with metaphysical/theological explanations outside of science.

  There is something left out in (3), namely that God's activity is explicitly detectable scientifically. This requires them to falsely identify metaphysical and methodological naturalism. It also demands that God's activity can be controlled by scientists, at least to the extent that geologists control the measurements of rocks and fossils.

  It's easy to say, "This is just like ..." when the qualifications and limitations are omitted. But ID is not id, nor TE or EC. Indeed, ID officially denies theism when it is advantageous to do so.
  Dave (ASA)

  On Thu, 16 Apr 2009 12:47:27 -0400 "Cameron Wybrow" <> writes: (in part)

    It seems to me that the words "investigate divine action" require clarification. These words might mean:

    1. Attempt to catch God in the act of altering the normal course of nature.

    2. Study and theoretically expound the metaphysical and/or physical ways and means of God's interaction with the world of nature.

    3. Draw an inference, based on the results seen in nature, that God has acted.

    In the works of intelligent design theory that I have read, I have never seen examples of 1 or 2. Nor have I ever seen any indication that design theorists even wish to engage in 1 or 2, as scientists at any rate. My impression is that most design theorists would regard 1 as absurd, and that all design theorists would regard 2 as an activity belonging to theology, not science. Further, even regarding 3, design theorists (a) regard the identification of the intelligent designer with God as an extra-scientific supplement to the design inference proper, and (b) even after such an identification is made, do not claim to detect the actual divine action, but only its effects. In light of point (b), the phrase "investigate divine action" is a bit of a stretch as a characterization of ID theorizing.

  Be your own boss. Click here for information on starting your own business.

To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Fri Apr 17 18:01:15 2009

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Fri Apr 17 2009 - 18:01:15 EDT