Re: [asa] BioLogos - Bad Theology?

From: Nucacids <>
Date: Sun May 31 2009 - 08:54:08 EDT

Hi Terry,

Yes, I think most ID people advocate design-that-requires-a-designer
detection. In my own case, I prefer design-that-comes-from-a-designer
detection. I also think it is more confusing, for most people all around,
to frame the debate as design vs. design-that-requires-a-designer and it is
better to frame it as design vs. the appearance of design or designer vs.
designer-mimic. For example, if I went to speak at a community center and
proclaimed that most scientists accept that biological features are
designed, I would probably be accused of misrepresenting the scientific
community. This is because most people in the audience would connect design
with designer and the audience would think I was making that point. It
would be more accurate to inform the audience that most scientists accept
that biological features appear designed and they attribute this appearance
to natural selection (and then explain how natural selection can mimic a

Terry, I should point out that I come to this topic from my own unique
viewpoint. Part of that is trying to determine the non-negotiable points of
the various groups. For the ID people, the non-negotiable point is that ID
is science and, as such, has discovered scientific evidence of
design-that-requires-a-designer detection. For the non-teleologists, the
non-negotiable point is that evolution is unguided. Since I don't agree
with either side, it leaves me somewhere in between. Now, if I interpret
correctly, you've added the non-negotiable point for TE - "This is the heart
of TE in my opinion--that God is at work in the ordinary processes that
scientists describe." When stated this way, I can see why mainstream ID and
TE are not compatible. Mainstream ID seems to be saying that God is at work
when ordinary processes fail.

As for the "ID, then evolution" point, I was simply outlining one way in
which ID could be compatible with TE. This stems from the fact that
abiogenesis and evolution are not the same subject. Evolution requires a
self-replicating system and abiogenesis is about the origin of such a
system. What's more, the original ID book was Thaxton et al.'s Mystery of
Life's Origin, a book that focused exclusively on abiogenesis with no
mention of evolution. But no, I do not adopt the God-of-the-gaps approach,
so I do not advocate that we embrace direct intervention because of the
failure to find a Theory of Abiogenesis. For me, abiogenesis is a very
difficult call, as it is hard to interpret the meaning of such failure (to
date, at least). There is positive evidence for some form of seeding, but
there is also positive evidence for abiogenesis.

Finally, your side point about textbooks is very important. Yes, the texts
and journals tend to adopt positions that are nuanced and tentative. This
is crucial in science because we always recognize new information could come
in to change everything. The problem comes from many of the scientists who
blog, where such tentative and nuanced positions are often dropped and
replaced with cheer-leading and posturing. This is a problem because the
average person increasingly gets their information from the internet and
this trend will only continue in the future. And scientists who posture and
chest-thump, while often fusing their science with a political stand, tend
to feed into the anti-science sentiments that I have seen on the internet.

- Mike

> Mike,
> Thanks for the comments. But you underscore my point again to some
> extent. If what you say is true then ID doesn't really just want
> design detection. They want design-that-requires-a-designer detection.
> This seems to make it difficult to track with most EC/TE folks who
> don't see why design-that-requires-a-designer design is necessary. As
> for Coyne and the non-negotiable point--I will grant his point from
> the point of the view of the scientist looking at secondary causation.
> This says NOTHING necessarily about whether God has guided the
> process. This is the heart of TE in my opinion--that God is at work in
> the ordinary processes that scientists describe. And it's not just
> true in biology--that's why I'm happy to say that I accept theistic
> chemistry and theistic astronomy, etc. etc.
> If God is always present in every scientifically accounted for
> process, then there is no fear ever from science properly conceived.
> The early Newtonians and atomic theorists were all accused of atheism
> for exactly the same reason. If planetary motion is all due to
> explicable Newtonian forces or if the behavior of matter can be
> explained through atoms, then there was no need of God supposedly.
> Laplace did not need "that" hypothesis in his celestial mechanics.
> Critics point to Occam's razor and say way speak of God if we can
> explain things without him. May answer is simple, I don't believe God
> is present because I need him in order to explain things. I believe
> God is present because he teaches us in scripture that he is present.
> With respect to the designer, it's back to "I believe in design,
> because I believe in a designer", not "I see design that only be
> attributable to a designer", or "I believe in a designer, because I
> have detected design."
> Finally, I want to ask you a question about your previous post that I
> meant to include. You argued for a combination ID/TE perspective where
> ID is involved because "there is no theory of abiogenesis"--the "ID,
> then evolution" suggestion. But is this not ID where we don't have an
> secondary cause account (I don't think I can speak of an evolutionary
> account here). Are you saying, since we don't have an secondary cause
> account of abiogenesis then we appeal to some direct intervention?
> [I'm not necessarily opposed to that if that's the way God did it; I
> happen to think that there are lots of productive fronts for origin of
> life research and theorizing to continue in. There's work to be done,
> not a shrug of the shoulders to say that I guess it was a miracle.)
> Completely on the side--I re-read the chapters from Miller and
> Levine's high school biology text (the 1998 edition) on the nature of
> science, evolution, and the origin of life. I cannot find a single
> thing in that text in the pages I re-read that is problematical from a
> theistic perspective. The closest thing that might cause some people
> pause is on page 299:
> "It is important to remember that genetic variation is not controlled
> or directed toward a goal. It does not occur because an organism needs
> or wants to evolve--an idea central to Lamark's theory. Sometimes
> genetic variation occurs; sometimes it doesn't. When variations do
> occur, natural selection then goes to work, selecting the successful
> ones."
> As long as this is a scientific description and not a metaphysical
> one, I agree. There's nothing in the text to suggest that the authors
> are pushing for an atheistic naturalistic perspective. That can't be
> said of Coyne's rants on his blog--I haven't read his book yet, so I
> don't know if sticks to science there.
> The chapter on "The Origin of Life" has all the standard stuff in it,
> but it's full of "no one can say with certainty", "might", "what might
> have happened next" Even "No part of this system can exist without
> the others. So how could the whole thing have gotten started in the
> first place? No one knows for certain, but scientists have offered
> some interesting hypotheses." (p. 344)
> This is exactly how I remember it through all my training as a
> biologist--all the textbooks, both high school and college, have very
> tentative language about this.
> TG

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Received on Sun May 31 08:54:39 2009

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