Re: [asa] Because of us - Steve Fuller's anthropic principle - Darwin's original sin

From: Ted Davis <>
Date: Wed May 13 2009 - 09:26:52 EDT


I very much appreciate this exchange you are having with "Schwarzwald." Quite illuminating all around, I would say.

I have only two comments.

First, this discussion of programming and our knowledge of the programmer's intentions sounds remarkably like some of the things from Charles Babbage's (unofficial) Ninth Bridgewater Treatise, "On the Power, Wisdom and Goodness of God, as manifested in the Creation." I am assuming that both you and Schwarzwald know that work, but lots of others here might not. The text is available online.

Second, I want to respond to this parenthetical note of yours, Cameron:

P.S. I am told that in early ID writings, "naturalism" was cast as the enemy, and of course in YEC writings "naturalism" is cast as the enemy, and perhaps many people here still have this in mind when they think of ID. But Behe and Dembski and others have in the last few years been very clear that naturalism can be incorporated into an ID framework. Of course, the creator of the natural laws themselves must be supernatural; but on the day-to-day level of science, even "origins science", naturalism could reign supreme, and ID could still be a valid inference. Man could have been front-loaded at the time of the Big Bang, with nary a miracle in between then and now.

My comment:

Darn tootin'. "Naturalism" was indeed enemy number one. There simply has not been an ID proponent more influential than Phillip Johnson, and this is what he wrote in "Darwin on Trial," p. 114: “Theistic or ‘guided’ evolution has to be excluded as a possibility because Darwinists identify science with a philosophical doctrine known as naturalism.” And, according to the title of another of Johnson's books, ID is the "wedge of truth, splitting the foundations of naturalism.” This kind of rhetoric simply cannot be separated from the movement that Johnson, more than anyone else, helped to launch. At this point, it would take a nuclear bomb to remove the mountain of opposition to "naturalism" that is attached to ID in the public understanding--and in my own, academic understanding. Indeed, if "naturalism" isn't the issue, then what's the source of all the opposition to "methodological naturalism," whether or not that is the best term (as you and Schwarzwald are dis!

Suppose you are right about "materialism" being the real enemy for ID, Cameron. I've long argued that myself, but apparently to deaf ears among ID proponents, who kept telling me it was naturalism. If it really is simply "materialism," then TEs and IDs have no basic disagreements on this at all, and it ought to be perfectly acceptable to IDs if TEs continue to make their arguments at the level of philosophy and theology, not science itself. But, I keep hearing leading ID advocates, such as John Calvert and his "Intelligent Design Network," make "naturalism" the bogeyman here. They want to change the way science education is done, as you probably know, by getting rid of "naturalism" in science. The image on their home page says it all. Go see for yourself:

Now, Cameron, if ID is really not worried about "naturalism," why isn't Calvert getting the message? And why don't we find a new ID book, called "Naturalism is OK, Evolution is Fine, but Materialism is the Real Antichrist."

In short, Cameron, I'm fascinated by your claim above, and it could have some truth in it, but I'm not at all persuaded that "naturalism" isn't the issue for the large majority of ID adherents.

Also, Cameron, I'm still not fully persuaded that is isn't the issue for you, too. Your references here to an "origins science" that is done by different rules--rules that apparently would rule out methodological naturalism--sound, to my very experienced ears (this is something I've followed for decades and have also written a scholarly essay about), very much like a crucial element of creation science. I've been wondering, mostly quietly but partly out loud, whether or not ID is committed to the same distinction between "operational science" and "origins science" that is central to the YEC view. If they are, then that's a powerful argument in support of the commonly quoted claim that ID is just "creationism in a cheap tuxedo."


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Received on Wed May 13 09:27:42 2009

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