Re: [asa] on science and meta-science

From: Cameron Wybrow <>
Date: Fri Nov 06 2009 - 18:04:01 EST

Dave Siemens wrote:

>But if he produces a mutation in order to change a species, it would be undetectable scientifically.

This would be true of a single mutation; it would not necessarily be true of an extended series of mutations which formed a pattern.

Also, Dave Siemens wrote:

>But the classic Christian view is that God is greater than we can imagine--though many then waffle.

All of the Christian ID proponents that I have conversed with would give a resounding affirmation of the first part of this sentence. God is greater than we can imagine -- which means not only that he could have risen from the dead, but also that he could have (if he chose) created new species ex nihilo, and that he could have (if he chose) miraculously modified a few simple types into over thirty phyla during the Cambrian explosion. It does not follow that God *did* such things, but Christian ID people are at least open to the possibility that he did them. Many TEs apparently aren't. And this is why many Christian ID supporters see many TEs as (to use Dave Siemens's verb) "waffling". ID does not require miracles -- it is compatible with some sort of front-loading, a la Mike Gene or a la Denton -- but it has no theological *problem* with miracles. When miracles are discussed among ID people I chat with, there is none of the squirminess and awkwardness and ambiguity and apparent embarrassment about the subject that I have seen in TE circles. TEs may well assert that God is greater than we can imagine, but in fact they generally conceive of him as acting in the way that we imagine -- a way that is indistinguishable in practice (albeit not in theory) from the way that a Deistic God would act.

I don't believe that this conception is *entirely* accounted for by empirical evidence, i.e., evidence that God has acted in nature only through natural laws. When it comes to origins, we are, for the most part, in the dark about how God chose to act. Yet most TEs have a strong *preference* for a naturalistic explanation of origins. And the source of this preference is not scientific but metaphysical. This is why I have a hard time accepting the criticism of ID from TE quarters which says that ID people confound the scientific and the metaphysical, thus doing damage to both science and theology. As far as I can see, TE is based on a metaphysical preference -- that, outside of a few (in the case of some TEs, *very* few) Biblical miracles, God always acts and always has acted exclusively through natural causes. Given this preference, TE people are in no position to accuse ID people of contaminating the objective study of nature by imposing metaphysical requirements upon it.

Note that I am not asserting that miracles are required to explain origins. I am merely pointing out that either assumption, i.e., that miracles are required (held by some but not all ID people), or that no miracles were involved (held by many if not most TE people), is equally metaphysical, and equally (in the Christian context) theological. A metaphysically assumptionless science of origins (if such a thing were possible) would regard it as an open question whether or not miracles were involved the process of creation.


  ----- Original Message -----
  From: dfsiemensjr
  Cc: ;
  Sent: Friday, November 06, 2009 1:43 PM
  Subject: Re: [asa] on science and meta-science

  On one point, God is not restricted except by himself, his wisdom and love functioning concomitantly with his power. Detecting his activity is obvious when the dead are raised, for example. But if he produces a mutation in order to change a species, it would be undetectable scientifically. That he entered the world in the incarnation has been declared impossible by some philosophers. Given their presuppositions, they are right. But the classic Christian view is that God is greater than we can imagine--though many then waffle.

  On detecting and classifying the various metaphysical schemes, rots o' ruck. Most declarations are those of amateurs without precise articulation or consideration of all the consequences. I suggest an analogy to the classification of items by color, with the difference between a group of ordinary individuals (some colorblind in various ways) and a trained specialist, with or without the full set of filters (supplanting the once-printed book) under standard conditions as well as whatever comes up in lighting.
  Dave (ASA)

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Received on Fri Nov 6 18:04:53 2009

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