Biologos in contrast to Intelligent Design/Darwin's Doubt?


#1

Hi Folks,

I have really enjoyed Biologos as a resource. I read Collins’ book a few years ago. Recently, I have soaked up books by Falk, Alexander, and Coyne. So interesting! It’s like I am learning about a completely different planet from the one I learned about when I was growing up (thanks very much 1980s and 1990s young earth creationism).

I’ve got a little bit of a recent confusion on the Biologos position vs. the Intelligent Design camp, specifically Stephen Meyer’s brand of it (Darwin’s Doubt). I thought I had it figured out. Biologos accepts a harmony between virtually all of science and a Creator God. Intelligent Design rejects scientific consensus on issues like evolution, but often has a sensible view on things like age of the earth. ID tries to exploit “gaps” in scientific explanation to indicate that a Creator must have intervened in some direct way. (They would probably disagree with that framing, but it’s what makes sense in my head.)

I did read Darwin’s Doubt by Stephen Meyer recently, and I heard him summarize some of his position in a recent video. In the video, he says there are three types of evolution:

1. Change over time. Animal forms have changed over time. Galapagos
finch beaks, etc.
2. Common ancestry.
3. Unguided, undirected process. Natural selection operating on random mutations giving the
appearance of design

He says that intelligent design does not challenge the first two, but challenges the third (I am aware that most of the folks in the ID camp probably do not buy the second point either). This has me a little bit confused. I know there are incompatibilities with the ID movement and Biologos. How exactly are these incompatibilities framed?

If both camps do not challenge common ancestry, then what is left to disagree on? The mechanism of evolution? ID challenges explicitly that the mechanism behind life’s diversity is unguided random mutations and natural selection. But doesn’t evolutionary creation also hold that there is a creator behind it all? Does evolutionary creation also challenge the third point above, just as ID does? So it seems in some sense there is agreement on the “unguided, undirected” part?

Or does the disagreement just boil down to how science can be used? ID proponents think they can use scientific evidence to gaps that point to a creator (framed differently), but evolutionary creation proponents believe that science points to gaps that can be explained by further science?

In an area where I previously thought I was clear (ID vs evolutionary creation), I now find myself a bit fuzzy. Any thoughts?

(I have read Biologos response to Meyer’s book but still find myself fuzzy.)


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #2

@Josh

To make things more confusing Dawkins agrees that evolution appears to be designed, but says it is not, just as the earth appears to be round, but it is really square.


#3

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(Patrick ) #4

Rogers,
You statement is ridiculous. Yes Dawkins says every plant and animal looks like it has been precisely designed for its environment and niche. However, each species wasn’t designed, but evolved via natural selection to be adapted to its environment.


(George Brooks) #5

The BioLogos reflex (if there is one) to argue against ID needs to be redirected to support the Biggest of all Tents: God-Guided Evolution.


(Patrick ) #6

Couldn’t God-Guided Evolution look exactly like Unguided Evolution where no amount of investigation could find any difference at all?

Is looking for evidence for God-guided evolution similar to looking for the soul in a human body or looking for the image of God in a human genome?


(George Brooks) #7

Patrick, this is the PERFECT descripton! All I can say is “BINGO!”


#8

@Eddie

Wow, thanks for your thoughtful analysis! It was helpful.

Good points. I think this is consistent with what I’ve observed so far.

If we assume these are the points of contention, then from the evolutionary creation perspective, why are these points important? For point #1, would one say that disputing the neo-Darwinian mechanism conveys scientific ignorance or some sort of obstinence? And point #2 is important for philosophical reasons, because the “detectability” route creates a “god of the gaps”–gaps which may be bridged in the future and cause ID to train wreck?


(Patrick ) #9

Regarding ID, Biologos and Dawkins are in sync.


#10

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#11

@Eddie

That make some sense regarding having some flexibility on the neo-Darwinian mechanism, if it’s actually up for debate. I guess I need to do some more research to see if this legitimately questionable or not. (Versus being questionable in the same sense that the old age of the earth is questionable.) I could look again at Darwin’s Doubt, because I know he talks about this, but I would prefer a non-ID resource.

As for the “god of the gaps” argument, I think I am closer to the EC position of Biologos (in that ID does seem gap-ish). A design inference seems warranted in the case of Stonehenge. Interesting to think about the differences between biological life and Stonehenge. Perhaps the only difference is information. We simply know a lot more now? There is simply no conceivable bridge for the “gaps” of Stonehenge other than a designer. The “gaps” are so incredibly large. For life, I don’t think we can say that anymore. Perhaps what was once a warranted inference is no longer? It’s possible we will be wrong on Stonehenge too, but in the mean time we infer design based on the enormous “gaps” with no conceivable natural bridge. I’m not sure if that’s coherent, but those are my “out loud” initial thoughts.


#12

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(George Brooks) #13

There’s nothing to dispute if both camps just used the phrase “God Guided”.


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #14

@Patrick

Dawkins’ position is not that each species evolved to be adapted to its environment. Dawkins position is kinship selection, not environmental selection. For Dawkins evolution is guided by DNA, not natural selection.

My point is that we need to keep our scientific positions clear and not confuse Dawkins’ neoDarwinism with some other position. If I am mistaken please point out where Dawkins has changed his position.

Dawkins does not argue that evolutionary design is the same as God guided design, Dawkins & Co. claim that evolutionary design is apparent design or no design at all, which is my problem with it. YEC says that the earth has apparent age and Dawkins claims that evolution has apparent design.

The basis for this position is Monod’s theory that the universe is not rational. Design requires the ability to think, and since the universe has no ability to think, evolution cannot be designed. If evolution were designed, then the universe cannot think, then there must be an intelligent God Who programed the universe in such a way to make designed evolution possible.

Dawkins has developed an effective argument against God that depends upon the fact that the universe is not rational. The problem with this argument is that it is not rue, and it goes against the very basis of science. Thus if Dawkins & Co. win their argument against God, we all lose science and the rational basis of Western civilization.

The basic question concerning evolution is not guided or not, but How does it work? Traditional neoDarwinism works by genetic change, which is incomplete and thus false. The proper view is the ecological evolution, which is what Patrick described above. @Sy_Garte has promised to give us an update on the current scientific scene soon.

The sad truth is that the New Atheism has gone antirational in the name of absolute science, just as Conservative Christianity has gone anti-science in the name of absolute rationalism.


(George Brooks) #15

Roger, I don’t really understand your comments along this lines. I’m pretty sure Dawkins would say BOTH environment and natural selection are fully engaged in Evolution.

What makes you think he is excluding a whole realm of natural operations?

George


#16

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(George Brooks) #17

Eddie,

If a Theistic Evolutionist can’t use the term “guide” or “guided” … what kind of Theist Evolutionists could they really be?

BioLogos might as well know up front whether someone is really one of their supporters or not. … without getting camouflaged behind the controversies surrounding ID and TE.

By making supporters to sign their name to “guided” it would help our P.R. with Evangelicals too I think …

George


#18

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(George Brooks) #19

I think the answer is as you explain it. So it is not my place to attempt to bring them to heel. As the opportunity arises, I will be happy to offer my critique … the BioLogos boards offer plenty of opportunity.

George

P.S. Part of the fear in these writers could very well be the anxiety that is provoked when they realize how similar ID and TE positions really are … In contrast, there is no shame under the “God-Guided” umbrella.


(Mervin Bitikofer) #20

@Eddie

The people you should be asking are those TE leaders who look for the emergency exit the moment someone asks them if they believe that evolution is “guided” by God.

Perhaps it is more accurate, Eddie, to say that most TE folks around here would give a facile “yes” to your question, but then when you give your immediate followup question of “okay … so exactly how does God do it …?” --that’s when they start looking for the emergency exit! I suspect that might be closer to the heart of what you so crave from TE leaders and are finding so hard to pin them down on, maybe for good reasons.