Re: [asa] Cameron- question of Adam

From: Ted Davis <>
Date: Thu Jun 18 2009 - 00:46:05 EDT


A few weeks ago, I recall you advancing the point that ID isn't necessarily
opposed to naturalism (apparently including MN), that this was one of the
differences between ID as it presently exists and ID as it has sometimes
been presented in the past. Rather, you said, ID is simply opposed to the
claim that the universe lacks all evidence of design (those are my words,
but I think they fairly express your point).

I objected -- that is, I expressed great scepticism that ID is now OK with
naturalism. Your posts on this topic seem to support my scepticism. You
seem once again to be pointing to deep problems (from your perspective) with
the way in which advocates of TE use the distinction between MN and
metaphysical naturalism, and I keep wondering why if you are correct about
recent trends in ID.

Let me respond more substantively to your point about how a reliance on this
distinction "enables" a YEC position. I don't see this at all. It isn't a
matter of preferring one explanation over another, *simply* b/c one conforms
to naturalism and the other does not -- although I do think that scientific
explanations ought to be naturalistic (we've talked about this often before,
and this particular view of science predates the idea of MN by millenia as
you know). There is much more to this. The naturalistic explanation
provided by Collins, whether or not it is actually true, seems to me very
much like the kinds of wide-ranging, highly satisfactory explanations that
we obtain from geology concerning the history of (say) the Lewis Overthrust
in the US and Canada. We see now what we see now, and we get a coherent
explanation of what we see from the naturalistic hypothesis that has been
put forth. To use a related example, humans and chimps both have identical,
broken genes for making vitamin-C. By far the most obvious explanation,
IMO, is that we share a common ancestor that also had the same broken gene.
To claim that there is a common design element here, involving as yet
unknown functions of a gene that to all appearances is just a broken gene,
seems both silly and pointless. Certainly it's not scientific -- not unless
those functions can be found and shown to be relevant to humans and chimps
-- and with what we presently know the two explanations are hardly on the
same planet, let alone in the same ballpark of plausibility.

A further, relevant point. The kinds of explanations that we have in
historical sciences such as geology -- the explanation, e.g., of why the
Hawaiian archipelago has active volcanoes on the southeastern end and a long
string of coral atolls on the northwestern end -- which are based on the
assumption that naturalism is also applicable in the past, can be tested
against a very wide range of phenomena and found to work very well in many
cases. The YEC approach, on the other hand, is simply a string of ad hoc
explanations drawing on miracles at various points to avoid conclusions that
imply an "old" earth or universe. I see the same thing operating in the
suggestion you are making about God designing the human genome (as an
alternative to common descent). It is offered by some ID advocates, IMO,
precisely and only to uphold the view that humans have been separately
created, even though the observed facts do not favor that view. As ID
proponents are fond of saying, we need to "follow the evidence wherever it
leads," and it surely seems to lead to the conclusions that (a) the early
and universe are enormously older than humanity; and (b) humans and modern
primates have common ancestors. It might also lead one to conclude that
life was created miraculously (at least presently no one has a clue how it
might have happened naturalistically, and abstract mathematical calculations
suggest that it didn't happen by itself), but it doesn't lead one to
conclude that the YEC view of the human genome has any real merits.


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Received on Thu Jun 18 00:46:41 2009

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