Re: [asa] An Intelligent Design Riddle

From: Murray Hogg <>
Date: Thu Oct 22 2009 - 21:23:30 EDT

Hi Schwarzwald,

I'm currently musing over responses to a number of other posts, one of which is that of Cameron Whybrow on my comments about an engineering systems approach to evolution.

I don't, at the moment, have time to do those issues justice, but one thing which did occur to me is that Gribbin's proposal resonates with exaclty the sort of concept I have in mind. He is, after all, arguing essentially that a civilization with sufficiently advanced technology could "engineer" a universe identical to ours - one which would "naturally" see the origin and development of life through evolutionary processes.

In this, I think, he is implicitly affirming that it is necessary to posit some sort of intelligent agency to explain the *process* of evolution - by which process the *artefacts* of evolution can come into existence "naturally".

I would make three comments;

1) To directly answer your question as to whether this entails an ID claim: I would have to say that I very much see his position as entailing an ID claim - but a claim which distinguishes design of *process* in distinction to (direct) design of the *artefacts*.

2) Gribbin may have well provided evidence that one can posit intelligent design of *this* universe without engaging in an attempt to smuggle in religious truth claims by the back door.

3) One unpolished musing - actually a grab-bag of related musings - which would require quite a bit of development before I would even remotely call it a "position" (let alone an "argument");

If one wants to argue (as Dawkins et al do) that the "higher" human faculties (such as religious belief!) can be "reduced" to explanations at the level of biology. Then, consistently, they should argue that biological faculties can be reduced to explanation at the level of physics.

So, if the explanations of theologians are made redundant by the theorizing of evolutionary biologists, then the explanations of evolutionary biologists are made redundant by the theorizing of physicists.

So, if one wants to consider "design" in biological systems then the "experts" are, in fact, the physicists - and guess what discipline Gribbin is from? And guess what he is positing?

Thus, given Dawkins own reductionist programme, it would seem that physicist Gribbin's sense that biological systems require a designer is a more credible position than biologist Dawkins' view that Darwinism eliminates design.

In addition, just as Dawkins doesn't need to know anything about theology to refute it, so biological objections to Gribbin's position wouldn't be the least relevant (I don't personally believe this, only it occurs to me that this might the logical consequence of Dawkins' own refusal to consider the possibility that "higher level" explanations may be equally as true as "lower level" ones).

As I say, that thought is VERY rough and I wouldn't be the least surprised if it doesn't hold water. But as a crude first-approximation it does (perhaps) suggest that Dawkins' reductionism position might be delightfully self-refuting.


Schwarzwald wrote:
> This is a question I've been wondering about for quite a while now, and
> I'm curious of how christians on this list (and on both sides of the ID
> debate) would answer.
> Popular science author John Gribbin recently wrote a book called "In
> Search of the Multiverse". The multiverse aspect alone is not what
> interests me, however. What's interesting is that Gribbin is using the
> multiverse theory to suggest that our universe was created. From the book:
> "The intelligence required to do the job may be superior to ours, but it
> is a finite intelligence reasonably similar to our own, not an infinite
> and incomprehensible God. The most likely reason for such an
> intelligence to make universes is the same as the reason why people do
> things like climbing mountains or studying the nature of subatomic
> particles using accelerators like the LHC – because they can. A
> civilization that has the technology to make baby universes might find
> the temptation irresistible, while at the higher levels of universe
> design, if the superior intelligences are anything at all like us there
> would be an overwhelming temptation to improve upon the design of their
> own universes. This provides the best resolution yet to the puzzle
> Albert Einstein used to raise, that ‘the most incomprehensible thing
> about the Universe is that it is comprehensible.’ The Universe is
> comprehensible to the human mind because it was designed, at least to
> some extent, by intelligent beings with minds similar to our own. Fred
> Hoyle put it slightly differently. ‘The Universe,’ he used to say, ‘is a
> put-up job.’ I believe that he was right. But in order for that ‘put-up
> job’ to be understood, we need all the elements of this book."
> Gribbin isn't the first person to make this observation. Paul Davies
> suggested this sort of conclusion became very likely on multiverse views
> (and he regarded it as a reductio ab absurdum of such views), Martin
> Rees has apparently suggestly it may be possible or likely. There are
> others, and variations on the theme (Nick Bostrom's simulation argument,
> and so on.)
> But I have two questions for those on this list.
> To ID proponents: Is John Gribbin making an ID claim here? If not, why
> not? And if so, what are your thoughts on this?
> To other christians on the list regardless of ID sympathies: If our
> universe is, in fact, an intentional creation - even if we speculate
> that omnipotence may not be strictly necessary to achieve this - isn't
> it the case that deism, at the very least, is true?
> And I want to play with a prediction here. A lot of time and attention
> has been paid to the "New Atheists", though it's been petering out over
> the past couple years in my estimation. To be frank, I don't think
> atheism in the style of Dawkins and company has much of a future - too
> empty, too dogmatic. What I suspect does have a future, however, are
> speculations like Gribbin's. Personally, I don't think this is atheism.
> At the same time, it certainly isn't (or is not necessarily, at least)
> Christianity.

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Received on Thu Oct 22 21:23:35 2009

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