Re: [asa] ID vis a vis id

From: David Campbell <>
Date: Tue Jun 09 2009 - 20:01:24 EDT

>> The underlying error is assuming that Christian science ought to look
>> different from atheistic science when the atheists are making
>> assumptions about science that are compatible with Christianity.
> I agree that there should be one science for all, as there is one nature for
> all.  And as far as I can tell, ID proponents, TE proponents, and atheist
> Darwinists adopt the same view of "normal science", which is why they can
> all splice genes together, infer the gas composition of Saturn together,
> calculate the orbit of a space shuttle together, etc.  That is, they all
> assume that nature is governed by laws and that those laws are of a
> mathematical character.

Not always-some ID proponents sometimes (and many young-earth
advocates frequently) claim that the practice of science by those who
disagree with them is inherently atheistic. As a rule, this is either
an ad hominem red herring in response to claims that their scientific
claims are invalid rather than a credible assessment with reasonable
definitions of what atheistic versus theologically correct science
should be, or else theologically correct science is defined as that
which agrees with their view (whether it is a young-earth
interpretation, rigid antievolutionism, or more middle of the tent

> If not for a practical reason, then, could the preference for naturalistic origins be for a theological reason?<

"Naturalistic" is not the best term here. From a traditional
Christian perspective, the question is whether events occurred via
ordinary providence (God making use of created means such as the laws
of nature) or by some other type of action by God. Neither is
naturalistic in the sense of resembling metaphysical naturalism.

Why might one assume that things are likely to happen by ordinary means?

Of course, process theology, deism, and similar views tend to hold
that God is either constrained to act "non-coercively" or else is not
actively involved in everyday events, and lead to the expectation of
ordinary means. However, there are also considerations more in line
with orthodoxy.

Empirically, there is the observation that most things happen by
ordinary means. We might therefore conclude that God usually makes
use of them, and expect that to be likely in the past.

Caution supports not making excessive claims about God's
activity-avoiding the god of the gaps problem. "But shouldn't we
claim the greater miracle for God?" is a reply I have seen. The
answer is no, on two grounds. First, it is moot whether direct
miraculous action versus planning everything out and designing it to
work out by ordinary means is greater. Much more importantly, our
calling is to be faithful witnesses, not PR agents.

Why do we need to be witnesses, anyway? It's part of a strong
Biblical pattern that reinforces the empirical observation above.
Salvation is the work of the Spirit, but usually it relies on the
ordinary means of reading or hearing the gospel. Even within the
Bible, miracles are relatively rare, contrasting strongly with
apocryphal writings, tales of the saints, fairy tales, etc. They have
a special function as signs. At several points Jesus refused to or
could not do miracles. When they occur, the actual setting aside of
natural law seems to be minimized. Thus, thousands were fed from a
few loaves and fish, but the leftovers were carefully saved. The axe
head floated, but had to be picked up and put back together. Moses
was tipped off in advance, but a wind parted the sea. Some
theological views (e.g., those under the general heading of kenotic)
make more of this pattern than others, but certainly it suggest that
we should not a priori expect miracles as more normative than use of
ordinary means. Given that positive examples of ID would not uniquely
point to God, but rather seem to merely compensate for a postulated
inability of natural laws to do something, they seem in a different
category from a miracle that points to YHWH versus gods of Egypt or
Canaan (or syncretistic Baalish versions purportedly of YHWH) or to
Jesus rather than Judaism or paganism.

Dr. David Campbell
425 Scientific Collections
University of Alabama
"I think of my happy condition, surrounded by acres of clams"
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Received on Tue Jun 9 20:01:49 2009

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