RE: [asa] ID/Miracles/Design

From: Dick Fischer <>
Date: Thu Apr 23 2009 - 10:25:26 EDT

Hi Cameron, you wrote:


>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"<


"Strict naturalists" do not see "some sort of intelligence at work."
Natural evolution is totally natural whether you are a born-again believer
or a non-believer. That doesn't mean it IS totally natural. We really
don't know, but for science to do its work it has to rely on natural
causation. That's what science is. For a theist like me I see God's
creation all around me. I gawk at the Grand Canyon and see God. Yet the
sculpting of the Grand Canyon was done by simple water erosion over millions
of years. No miracles, no intervention, no "front loading." Just water
working on rock.


It's God's choice to remain in the background, unseen and undetectable. Yet
here come the God cops who want to pry open a big black box, grab the God of
the universe and drag him kicking and screaming out for display to the
jeering crowd. On the other hand God deliberately chooses to reveal himself
to persons and at times that are known only to him on his terms and a time
of his choosing. I can live with that. Yet the ID crowd wants to set up
trip wires and flash cameras, catch God in action and dangle him out there
for public display. If he wanted that kind of publicity he could get it on
his own.


Natural evolution produces brilliant human beings and pesky mosquitoes. Any
theorist who posits manipulation of the processes of life by an unseen
disembodied spirit being needs to have a satisfactory explanation for both
ends of the spectrum. ID theorists don't bother with that. Add to that
genetic diseases caused by genetic defects, which likewise is unaddressed by
ID theory, and you should be able to see that ID follows the same path as
all other creationist explanations - brandish one side of the argument and
suppress or ignore the counter arguments.


By all means help an elderly woman cross the street, but Spiderman can make
it on his own.


Dick Fischer, author, lecturer

Historical Genesis from Adam to Abraham



-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of Cameron Wybrow
Sent: Wednesday, April 22, 2009 9:15 PM
Subject: [asa] ID/Miracles/Design


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 explanation.)


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





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Received on Thu Apr 23 10:26:24 2009

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