Looking for the gifts

Howard J. Van Till (110661.1365@compuserve.com)
Tue, 12 Oct 1999 09:31:57 -0400


Thanks for your comments. I'm a bit rushed, but let me continue the
exchange on some portions of your post.

MIKE: I like your distinction between the mind and the hands. But I see
as a distinction between conceptualization and actualization. Without
either, you have no design. Now, correct me if I am wrong, your views
differ from those of the ID community in terms of actualization (and
not conceptualization).

HVT: Correct. All persons, it seems to me, who view the universe as a
Creation see it as something that shows the signs of being the product of
Mind. But there are numerous and varied ways of "picturing" the Creation's
formational history as the actualization of the Creator's intentions. That
is, there are many versions of the "what happened and when" story.

There are corresponding differences in our concepts of the character of the
Creation that was given being by a thoughtful Creator. For example, was it
gifted from the outset with all of the formational capabilities that would
be required to make something like biotic evolution possible and fruitful?
Episodic creationists judge that such is not the case. For a number of
reasons I am inclined to believe that it is. Neither I nor episodic
creationists can 'prove' our position; each of us must be content with our
judgment call.

MIKE: Whereas the ID community sees design
as that which is actualized by the intervention of an intelligent agent
(such that the "design" in question would not exist without such
intervention), you view the "laws of Nature" (for lack of a better term)
as the means by which God actualizes his design.

HVT: I am becoming more and more convinced that a reference to the "Laws of
Nature" moves the discussion in the wrong direction. Too often it implies
that these 'laws' are prescriptive forces with some sort of independent
ontological status. It often, for instance, leads to the idea that God must
override these laws in order to accomplish God's purposes.

That's why I focus on the 'creaturely capabilities' with which the Creation
was gifted by the Creator. Creatures (quarks, nucleons, atoms, molecules,
cells, organisms, ecosystems, etc) act in accord with their God-given
capabilities. This often leads to patterned behavior and to relationships
between properties and behavior patterns that can be expressed in
'law-like' statements. Creaturely capabilities are, I believe, far more
fundamental than these law-like statements, which are consequences of the
capabilities that are being expressed.

As I see it, it is creaturely behavior that ultimately expresses the
Creator's effective will for the Creation's formational history--creaturely
behavior that does not have to be supplemented or coerced by any sort of
form-imposing interventions in time.

MIKE: The problem, as
I see it, is that there should be some connection between the
and actualization. What I would thus expect from your perspective is
that the actualization carried out by Nature should in some way *reflect*
the conceptualization of the Mind behind Nature.

HVT: I agree, but I would insist on using the word 'Creation' in place of
'Nature'. (It serves to remind us of the identity and status of what is in
action.) If the Creator conceptualized a Creation fully-gifted with the
creaturely capabilities to make evolutionary continuity both possible and
fruitful, and if the Creator was sufficiently generous to give the Creation
such fullness of being, then that creativity and generosity will become
manifest in the Creation's formational history.

MIKE: One possible way to detect these reflections of conceptualizations
to identify the actual gifts given to the "fully gifted creation." Let's
consider the protein hemoglobin. Was hemoglobin directly given to
creation? It doesn't appear so, as the evidence for hemoglobin's evolution
is persuasive.

HVT: Yes, but I believe that the properties and capabilities of hemoglobin
were potentialities that were written into the character of the Creation
from the outset. What happened in time was the realization of those created
potentialities. The 'gifts' were there from the beginning. The
actualization of systems to express those gifts came in the course of the
Creation's formational history.

MIKE: (skipping a bit of detail)
Thus, in this sense, the design of hemoglobin was actualized by the
physical events that are part of creation and did not require intelligent
intervention. However, the origin of the original myoglobin-like molecule
is not addressed in any way by this scenario. In fact, none of the
evidence for the evolution of hemoglobin translates as evidence for
the evolution of the original myoglobin-like molecule. It is thus
possible that one of the gifts given to creation was an original myoglobin-
like molecule. By endowing creation with this gift, the likelihood that
something like hemoglobin would evolve was greatly increased.
After all, hemoglobin is essentially "souped-up" myoglobin.

HVT: Of course your scenario is possible. Your concept of 'gifts' includes
the introduction of structures assembled by non-creaturely means
(extranatural assembly). My concept of 'gifts' focuses attention on the
richness of the Creation's formational capabilities to actualize those
structures as part of the Creation's formational history.

More later if time permits.

Howard Van Till