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

From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. <>
Date: Fri Apr 17 2009 - 18:07:06 EDT

I was looking into what is implicit in the ID approach. You apparently
are requiring that the underlying commitments do not hold.
Dave (ASA)

On Fri, 17 Apr 2009 17:59:09 -0400 "Cameron Wybrow"
<> writes:

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

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
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
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.

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Received on Fri Apr 17 18:13:16 2009

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