Re: [asa] ID/Miracles/Design

From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. <>
Date: Wed Apr 22 2009 - 23:26:05 EDT

As I read this, I gathered that there is no content to ID, for it is
equally compatible with natural development, direct intervention and
front loading. But this renders it essentially empty.

Design involves a pattern which requires implementation. The structure
could be brought about by front loading. Then the original creature or
creatures would have to contain all the genes necessary for later
implementations, which would proceed by shedding genes over time. This
does not fit the billions of years of microbes before the supposed
Cambrian explosion. The individual cells are too small to carry that many
genes. Further, unless the majority of Cambrian creatures disappeared
without a trace, there aren't enough of them to carry the vast load of
essential genes into later ages. Thus we are forced to implement new
designs by later interventions. We then have a choice: the interventions
were by creatures vastly smarter than we by natural means we do not
understand, or they were by the Creator by means other than what we
understand as natural. This last is what I would call a miracle. It fits
the biblical term /dunamis/. This may be obfuscated, of course, but I've
tried to boil things down to essentials.
Dave (ASA)

On Wed, 22 Apr 2009 21:14:34 -0400 "Cameron Wybrow"
<> writes:
Thanks for your reply on Biblical miracles, George. I found it somewhat
clarifying, and will get back to you on the subject later. For now,
however, I will restrict myself to replying to just one point in your
post. You wrote:

"But even more relevant to the ID context you’ve noted is that the
fundamental claim of the ID program is that some phenomena (bacterial
flagellum, blood clotting cascade) must be miraculous. Of course that
isn’t the language ID proponents use, but when they say that those
phenomena cannot be explained in terms of natural processes, & when one
recognizes that the Intelligent Designer is a rather transparent disguise
for God, then what is being spoken about is a classic definition of
miracle. And when ordinary Christians believe these arguments, use them
to support their faith and resist scientific arguments that those
phenomena can be explained in terms of natural processes, we have a
situation not unlike that in the Marcan text."

This criticism of ID would be understandable a few years ago, when the ID
people weren't being 100% clear about a number of things. I think the
lowest point of ID fortunes in this area was the Dover trial, where some
ID proponents gave, to my mind, some confusing testimony about naturalism
and natural causes, which would justify the sort of criticism you offer
here. (Of course, to be fair, it is hard to think straight in a
courtroom situation where lawyers, who are interested in victory rather
than truth, are controlling the line of questioning in an aggressive way.
 But nonetheless, some damage was done.)

However, in recent years, ID has been correcting and refining itself, and
I think your criticism is no longer applicable (as I think Keith Miller's
criticism, made the other day, and to which I responded, is no longer
applicable). I think that the whole business about "intelligent vs.
natural" and "supernatural vs. natural" and "designed vs. natural" has
become much better formulated now, as can be seen in Dembski's *No Free
Lunch* and in Behe's second book, and in the work of non-DI people like
Denton who think in design terms.

In the new, polished formulation, ID is not a theory of historical
origins but a theory of design detection. The argument from the
flagellum is not an argument that one or more miracles must have
historically intervened (between natural steps on either side) in order
to create the flagellum; it is an argument that the flagellum is
designed, rather than a product of chance, so that whatever the
efficient-cause explanation of its production, its existence is an
argument for a higher intelligence of some kind.

So, for strict naturalists, the historical cause, i.e, the efficient
cause of the flagellum, could be some form of front-loaded evolution, in
which there is obviously some sort of intelligence at work, but no
"miracles" in the sense of "interventions". On the other hand, for those
who believe in divine interventions, the efficient cause of the flagellum
might have been a blast of mysterious energy from God, that transformed a
bacterium without a flagellum into one with a flagellum. There may be
other possibilities as well. ID theory can't distinguish between the
various historical possibilities, because it's powerless to detect
anything but the design itself. So ID theory is compatible both with
traditional notions of divine intervention and with modern notions of
seamless naturalism. That leaves the field wide open for evolutionary
biologists to try to explain the flagellum in terms of stepwise natural
modifications, if they can. (Though so far they've come up with only one
possible intermediate stage, which is nowhere near an adequate

So it's now clear that ID does not rule out naturalism per se, but of
course there are different kinds of naturalism. Denton's necessitarian
naturalism is explicitly different from Darwin's naturalism of chance.
ID refutes, or purports to refute, the naturalism of chance. If ID is
right, Darwin misconceived how nature works, but "evolution" is not
thereby falsified or rejected.

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Received on Thu Apr 23 00:12:14 2009

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