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

From: Preston Garrison <>
Date: Mon Apr 27 2009 - 07:29:28 EDT

>1. If you understand the meaning of the word "chance" as it is used
>in both everyday speech and in the classical philosophical
>tradition, you know that chance events are always unguided, by
>definition. It is implicit in the definition of the word.

Nothing about the real world is determined by the meanings of words.
The question is, "what is true of the real world?" Getting our
definitions straight helps us communicate, but it tells us nothing
about the world. How do we determine whether an event or class of
events is guided or unguided? That is the point of my earlier
question. We can determine whether classes of events fit particular
mathematical models. But how can we know whether a particular event
is unguided or guided?

>Possibly you mean not all events which *appear* to be chance events
>are unguided. Well, of course, if they are only *apparently* chance
>events, but not really chance events, then they may well be guided
>(or they may be due to some natural necessity, as George Murphy has
>pointed out). But then you're equivocating, and you'd be better off
>using a different word
>altogether, so as not to confuse people.
>If I bang into an old friend at the store, that is a chance event.

How on earth can you know that? I would assume that it isn't a chance
event, believing as I do in Providence, but I don't maintain that
that belief can be made part of science in the modern sense.

> If a cosmic ray strikes a sleeping lioness and causes a mutation in
>her offspring, that is a chance event. (The lioness no more had to
>be sleeping on that spot at that moment than on any other spot, and
>had she been anywhere else the cosmic ray would have missed.)
>Proponents of neo-Darwinism (Mayr, Dawkins, Gaylord Simpson,
>Dobzhansky, Sagan, Gould, etc.) understand "chance" as I have used
>the word. If TEs wish to use the word "chance" in their own
>idiosyncratic way, that is up to them, but then, since both ID and
>traditional neo-Darwinism mean the same thing by "chance", TE will
>be the odd man out, and the obscuring of communication will rest on
>TE's shoulders.
>2. I did not say that a theistic evolutionist bars a Creator from
>controlling the universe. If I were a theistic evolutionist --
>which actually I may well be, but not at all of the variety
>typically represented on this list -- I would *certainly* believe
>that the Creator controls the universe. I would also believe that
>the Creator directly guided the mutations to produce the various
>species, including man. And I would say so, with much less
>vagueness about God's role than is typically expressed by some of
>the TEs on this list and elsewhere.
>3. Only a quasi-Gnostic would refer to nature as the "mask" of God,
>as if nature *hides* God rather than reveals him. When Luther said
>this, he obviously had forgotten that "the heavens declare the glory
>of God". The idea that God is completely "hidden" in relation to
>nature is Manichean, not Christian. Of course nature does not show
>us God directly, but it expresses something of the mind of God.
>Classical Christianity affirmed the goodness, beauty and wisdom of
>creation, and its evident connection with its divine source. Read
>Genesis 1. Read the Psalms. Read Romans. Read the Greek Fathers.
>Read Thomas Aquinas. Read Paley. Read just about every English
>theologian and poet from 1600 onward. (I can't speak for what the
>gloomy Teutonic theologians across the channel believed; nor do I
>4. ID does not say that we can "tear off the mask of God". Many ID
>proponents are very conservative Calvinists who would very much
>insist on the inscrutability of God -- more so than many TEs, who
>seem sure that they know what kind of miracles God would or would
>not perform, how God would or would not create, etc. Please stop
>attributing notions to ID that are your interpretations, rather than
>what ID has to say for itself. Your rage cannot be taken seriously
>when it is based on a caricature.
>5. Finally, I note that you tried to finesse my question with a
>counter-question, but I'm wily to such devices, and realize that you
>are just plain ducking. So I'll rephrase: Do you believe that
>chance mechanisms of the sort proposed by neo-Darwinism can account
>for evolution, *without adding in the guidance of God*? All ID
>people answer with a clear "No". All atheist Darwinists answer with
>clear "Yes". Most TEs answer incomprehensibly. You can break the
>pattern, and answer clearly. Here's a golden opportunity for your
>----- Original Message ----- From: "D. F. Siemens, Jr." <>
>To: <>
>Cc: <>
>Sent: Friday, April 24, 2009 11:41 PM
>Subject: Re: [asa] ID/Miracles/Design (Behe vs. Behe)
>>Where do you get the idea that chance is purely unguided? The May
>>/Scientific American/ has an article on the difference the 1% makes
>>between chimps and humans, with a discussion of the areas of accelerated
>>change in the human genome. We may not know which environmental factors
>>and which genomic ones produce what seem to be unidirectional change, but
>>we observe what seems to be accelerated inline alteration. Can you
>>explain to me how a theistic evolutionist bars the Creator from
>>controlling the universe? Luther's comment that natural laws are the
>>masks of God makes good sense. God is there all the time. But ID insists
>>that we can tear the masks off. Bunk!
>>Dave (ASA)
>>On Fri, 24 Apr 2009 20:36:57 -0400 "Cameron Wybrow"
>><> writes:
>>>Your objection regarding the term "Darwinian" is a verbal
>>>Dave; my point remains the same if you change it to "neo-Darwinian
>>>or if you add in any number of newer "mechanisms" which are
>>>currently mooted
>>>around (drift, etc.), and call it "neo-neo-Darwinian means". All of
>>>are chance mechanisms, ultimately, when all the fancy language is
>>>away. The task of neo-neo-Darwinism, then, is to prove that chance
>>>produce integrated complex systems. Behe's argument is that it
>>>can't. He
>>>may be right, or he may be wrong, but there is no point in
>>>obfuscating the
>>>issue. The choice is, and always has been (since the days of the
>>>Greeks) "by design or by chance".
>>>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
>>>to chance. To read TE writers, the cause of mutations etc. is sort
>>>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
>>>that there must be an input of intelligence. The input might be
>>>before the
>>>Big Bang, with no further inputs necessary (front-loaded
>>>evolution). It might be at one or more points after that
>>>quantum-concealed or otherwise). ID does not specify. But it says
>>>that the
>>>input is necessary.
>>>Tell me, Dave: do you believe that chance mechanisms -- include the
>>>passel of them if you want -- could, *utterly unguided by God or
>>>some other
>>>intelligence*, turn atoms into Adam, molecules into Mendel, bacteria
>>>Bohr? And if you do believe that, why do you bring God into the
>>>picture at
>>>all? And if you don't believe that, how does your view differ
>>>from Behe's, except in jargon?
>>>----- Original Message ----- From: "D. F. Siemens, Jr."
>>>To: <>
>>>Cc: <>
>>>Sent: Friday, April 24, 2009 7:30 PM
>>>Subject: Re: [asa] ID/Miracles/Design (Behe vs. Behe)
>>>> But "purely Darwinian means" are no longer relevant in biology,
>>>> one desires to be anachronistic. Darwin, for example, had no
>>>> understanding of genetics, and even the rediscovery of Mendel's
>>>work is
>>>> now vastly superceded. I have read numerous references to
>>>> complexity, but they seem to represent /ipse dixit/, with various
>>>> experiments indicating that the complexity can be produced by
>>>> processes. Indeed, from what I've encountered, "irreducible
>>>> seems closely equivalent to "God of the gaps."
>>>> Dave (ASA)
>>>> On Fri, 24 Apr 2009 18:24:04 -0400 "Cameron Wybrow"
>>>> <> writes:
>>>>> Uhhh, Bernie ...
>>>>> This is not an accurate representation of Behe's thought.
>>>>> Let me modify your words to make them correct:
>>>>> > Behe 1: "I have no problem with biological evolution of humans
>>>>> from
>>>>> > apelike creatures, *or with biological evolution generally*."
>>>>> >
>>>>> > Behe 2: "Evolution *by purely Darwinian means* is impossible
>>>>> because of
>>>>> > irreducible complexity."
>>>>> Note that Behe 1 is entirely compatible with Behe 2.
>>>>> If I may add a general remark, addressed not just to Bernie but
>>>>> everyone
>>>>> here: why are ID proponents' arguments so often misrepresented
>>>>> mischaracterized here? A couple of months ago someone
>>>>> mischaracterized
>>>>> Behe, and Ted Davis had to jump in to correct the person, with
>>>>> exact
>>>>> quotation from Behe. And over the last several months I've
>>>>> several
>>>>> remarks which suggest to me that some people here are not
>>>>> the actual
>>>>> works of Behe, Dembski, and other ID theorists, but are
>>>>> them
>>>>> based on hearsay. I find this disturbing, especially since a
>>>>> of
>>>>> people here have Ph.D.s. Is it not part of doctoral-level
>>>>> to
>>>>> acquire the habit of reading sources carefully before one
>>>>> them?
>>>>> Cameron.
>>>>> ----- Original Message ----- >> From: "Dehler, Bernie"
>>>>> Cc: <>
>>>>> Sent: Friday, April 24, 2009 4:59 PM
>>>>> Subject: RE: [asa] ID/Miracles/Design (Behe vs. Behe)
>>>>> > Hi Ted-
>>>>> >
>>>>> > Gregory is pointing out the confusion in ID circles. Did
>>>>> evolution happen
>>>>> > or not? I suppose Behe could host a debate featuring two
>>>>> opponents:
>>>>> > himself vs. himself.
>>>>> >
>>>>> > Behe 1: "I have no problem with biological evolution of humans
>>>>> from
>>>>> > apelike creatures."
>>>>> >
>>>>> > Behe 2: "Evolution is impossible because of irreducible
>>>>> complexity."
>>>>> >
>>>>> > ...Bernie
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Received on Mon Apr 27 07:29:57 2009

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