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

From: Ted Davis <>
Date: Wed May 13 2009 - 14:36:43 EDT


With the following comments of yours about TE and miracles, we might be
moving thing forward a bit more; at least we are coming back to that topic
(which at one point I had declined to discuss, for reasons given then) in
what might be a more helpful way.

Here is what I will comment on:
< It is TE's firm insistence on a stochastic form of "naturalism" from
start to finish that implies that Darwinian and other stochastic mechanisms
must be exhaustively competent to explain what we see. And yes, I know that
the odd person here has suggested that maybe life needed a miraculous
kick-start, and maybe in the case of man there was some non-naturalistic
"twigging", but that isn't the general "party line" on this site or among
TEs; the party line is that *any* violation of "naturalism" in science will
undermine the whole structure of modern knowledge, and is fundamentalist
"miracle-mongering". On this site, interventions in nature are allowed if
they are performed by Jesus (and not even, apparently, all of those), and
they are allowed in some spots in the Old Testament (though apparently in
most cases those interventions are fictional or hyperbolic); but outside of
the Biblical record, to accept "intervention" is to be accused of being
anti-science. So the picture of the universe portrayed here (generally
speaking) is that it exhibits a consistent naturalism from the Big Bang to
the present, with this one odd little island of supernaturalism, limited to
a couple of thousand years in the history of one people, the Israelites.
So, while I respect your attempt to soften the edges of TE and make and
ID/TE rapprochement possible (which is essentially what I am trying to do),
the edge you are trying to soften is frequently rigidly hard. There is a
kind of religion of stochastic naturalism among many TEs.>

There's a lot here that I won't be able to go into right now, with final
exams needing attention, but I will respond to the general tone: TEs (at
least those within or interested in ASA) do their best to reduce biblical
miracles to a minimum and don't accept the possibility of miracles outside
of those few, such as in natural history or modern life. Furthermore, the
acceptance of "intervention" in natural history is "anti-science."

On the first part, Cameron, I've already commented in other posts. There
are excellent reasons why many Christian scholars -- including I have no
doubt many ID adherents (though you have the advantage of hiding their views
from us in this exchange, but I stand by my claim until proved otherwise by
their own words) -- think that quite a few biblical stories traditionally
seen as miraculous probably do not involve genuine miracles. You seem to
see this (judging from your tone) as an inappropriate, uncritical acceptance
of modernity, in the form of unbridled naturalism (I gather), despite the
fact that everyone here (as far as I can tell) who has spoken to this, has
firmly upheld belief in several biblical miracles. I hear you calling,
Cameron, for some sort of simple-minded approach to an issue that can't be
approached in that way, once we are past Hume and the Enlightenment. We've
all clearly rejected Hume implicitly, and I have rejected Hume explicitly,
but this doesn't seem enough to satisfy you that we aren't the Enlightenment
lackeys you seem to think we are. If we all need to say that the earth
literally stopped rotating for "about a whole day" at Joshua's request, or
that God literally made Eve out of Adam's rib, or that the serpent literally
spoke to them in the garden, or that God separately created the main
"kinds" of plants and animals -- if (I say) this is what TEs need to affirm,
in order to gain your respect for them as Christian thinkers, then there is
hardly any point in continuing. First, you'd undoubtedly discover (if you
asked them) that plenty of ID adherents don't accept every traditional
miracle story as a genuine miracle; many OECs (and many IDs are in fact
OECs, not YECs, if the truth be told) also hesitate to accept a number of
biblical stories as fully miraculous. OECs long ago came to terms with the
fact that the flood wasn't worldwide, that the world is vastly older than a
few thousand years, and that the Jonah story might be parabolic. You don't
seem to be getting this message; your language consistently implies that
only TEs have such misgivings -- and that is out of step with the truth. If
you want to keep pushing this line, Cameron, then it's time to start asking
similar questions of ID proponents -- and letting us see their answers.
Without that kind of evidence, I'm perfectly within my rights to assume the
validity of what I've been saying about the similarities you will discover,
based on my (pretty extensive) knowledge of what has been said about
specific miracle stories over the years by Christians with different views
on origins. (I cited Bernard Ramm as only the most prominent example of an
OEC who wondered about a lot of those stories; I could spend all month
adding more of the same.) Indeed, without such testimony from several ID
proponents, I will take your point here to have been refuted.

Second, the tone of your critical comments about TE (as seen here) seems to
imply that ID requires miracles in natural history, and that TEs are
incorrect to view miracles as "unscientific." I'm confused, Cameron. I've
heard you arguing all along that ID does *not* require miracles in natural
history and, taking you at face value, I can't see why you are making such
an issue of demarcation (ID vs TE) out of this. To be sure, most TEs
probably would not appeal to miracles in natural history -- though many TEs
might say (as I would) that the origin of life might well have involved a
genuine miracle, but I thought you said that front loading was all well and
good for ID so (apparently) some IDs would have an identical view of this.
Please clarify. What am I missing here? Why does this seem to bother you at
all, let alone a great deal?


To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Wed May 13 14:37:48 2009

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Wed May 13 2009 - 14:37:48 EDT