RE: [asa] ID/Miracles/Design (Behe vs. Behe)

From: Alexanian, Moorad <>
Date: Sat Apr 25 2009 - 11:43:38 EDT

How can we know, “how far science can go in establishing that the designer is God” if we have not defined what we mean by science? Whether people like it or not, physics is the prototype of science, witness the notion of “physics envy.” However, physics deals only with the physical aspect of reality. Therefore, the metaphysics that is regulative of physics is physicalism or materialism, which delimits the possible. However, theology may assert something as actual, which from the standpoint of certain metaphysics is impossible. Herein lies the source of the conflict between the metaphysics underlying physics and theology.
That the world that we investigate requires reason, logic, and, in some cases, very sophisticated mathematics for its understanding definitely indicates that such existence cannot come from the purely physical since self, consciousness, and even rationality, has no physical foundation and is more likely supernatural, that is, above the merely physical.
The fundamental question is if purely physical entities and processes can characterize life and its coming into being. In my estimation, that would imply a faith over and above that required to believe the accounts of biblical miracles. Therefore, to conclude that there is design in Nature is almost trivial. Further, if we integrate our knowledge of the purely physical together with the whole of the human experience, then the implication that there is a Supreme Intelligent Being that possesses all our rationality, love, consciousness, etc. to an astronomical, if not infinite, degree is equally trivial.
Miracles are unique historical events and so the results of experimental science cannot be used to disprove the possible existence of miracles as unique events. The laws of Nature are generalizations of historical propositions, viz. experimental data. For instance, in 1931 Paul Dirac showed that the existence of magnetic monopoles lead to the quantization of electric charge, a very fundamental feature of Nature whereby the electric charge of any object, other than quarks which have fractionally charged, is an integer multiple of the charge of the electron (Dirac 1931). Blas Cabrera presumably detected the hypothetical magnetic monopole (Cabrera 1982). So far, however, this remains the only experimental detection and so it may be that magnetic monopoles do not exist at all or the event, whatever it was, is not reproducible. Therefore, in the order of being, the historicity of the magnetic monopole is on a par with that of a miracle owing to its historical uniqueness.
I posted a note under the subject heading of “on knowing.” That post would add to what I have just written here.

From: [] On Behalf Of Cameron Wybrow []
Sent: Saturday, April 25, 2009 9:42 AM
Subject: Re: [asa] ID/Miracles/Design (Behe vs. Behe)

Dear John:

Thanks for your gracious manner of disagreement in the post below.

I am not sure that you and ID are far apart. You accept the notion of
intelligent input. You question how far science can go in establishing that
the designer is God. Is that correct?

Let's see if we can isolate exactly where your doubts begin.

1. ID says that we can establish at least the fact there is design, i.e.,
that chance is not a sufficient explanation for certain biological
phenomena. Do you reject this idea even in principle, or are you open to
the possibility of design detection in this very limited sense? (Note:
Being "open to the possibility" leaves you free to reject any particular
argument put forward by design theorists, if you think it's weak. It
requires only that you allow that such arguments might be valid, and
therefore should not be rejected by TEs out of hand.)

2. Most ID proponents would say that design implies a conscious designer
(or something with an instinct approaching consciousness) -- e.g., a human
being, an intelligent alien, a beaver, or God. But even this, strictly
speaking, is not required by ID theory. For example, Aristotle's God does
not appear to be conscious of the universe, even though he is in a sense the
cause of its existence and of the end-seeking tendencies of the various
things in it. So, do you accept that it is reasonable to infer the
existence of something "intelligent" in the universe -- if only in a very
broad sense of "intelligence?"

3. The majority of ID proponents would say that, in the case of living
things (as opposed to beaver dams), the designer is, as Aquinas says "what
men call God". (And Aquinas means a generic God there, not the God of
Christian revelation.) But this identification, though quite plausible, and
natural for Christians (most ID people being Christian), is *not* part of
the theory proper. Do you accept that ID has made a proper distinction
here, between inferring a designer on the basis of nature, and identifying
the designer with God on philosophical, religious or other personal grounds?

4. *All* ID proponents agree that, even if the designer is indeed God,
design theory can establish nothing whatsoever about the nature of God
*other than what is implied in the design itself*, i.e., that God is
extremely intelligent, and powerful. Do you agree that ID people have been
very cautious in inferring only a minimal natural theology from design in
nature? Have you ever seen any of them trying to infer anything more? If
so, what, and where?

5. *All* ID proponents agree that the knowledge of God arrived at by design
theory does not contain the truths of special revelation, and therefore is
not salvific. Therefore, faith is still required for salvation. Do you
agree that ID has been very careful in acknowledging that knowledge of
design is not saving knowledge?

Think about these questions. You may be closer to being an ID proponent
than you think. At the very least, you may be less hostile to ID (when it
is properly formulated) than you thought you were.


----- Original Message -----
From: "John Walley" <>
To: <>; "Cameron Wybrow" <>
Sent: Friday, April 24, 2009 9:56 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] ID/Miracles/Design (Behe vs. Behe)

> Cameron,
> I agree with your two paragraphs below but the problem is that the
> evidence for how God interacted with evolution in His creation is vague.
> That is the best we can do from the evidence. In contrast ID may be razor
> sharp in where it draws the line but that is unsupported by science. I
> think most TE's here would say that this demarcation eludes scientific
> verification. I accept that input conclusion but it is a matter of faith
> and not science in my opinion.
> Thanks
> John
> The problem with TE (at least in most of its formulations) is that it is
> simply unclear about the extent of the complexity-building powers it
> allows to chance. To read TE writers, the cause of mutations etc. is sort
> of chance, and sort of God's action, and sort of neither, and sort of
> both -- that's what TE sounds like, to an outsider seeking theoretical
> clarity. It sounds vague.
> ID, on the other hand, is razor-sharp in clarity on that point. It draws
> a line in the sand. It says that chance is simply not sufficient. It
> says that there must be an input of intelligence. The input might be
> before the Big Bang, with no further inputs necessary (front-loaded
> naturalistic evolution). It might be at one or more points after that
> (intervention, quantum-concealed or otherwise). ID does not specify. But
> it says that the input is necessary.

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Received on Sat Apr 25 11:48:01 2009

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