Podcast: Stephen C. Meyer | Is God a Hypothesis?

Proponents of intelligent design and evolutionary creation have some different ideas about the relationship of science and faith, and relations between BioLogos and the Discovery Institute have not always been easy. But there is some common ground. We explore some of that common ground in this episode while also discussing the philosophical differences between the positions. Stephen Meyer is a leading advocate for intelligent design and is the Director for the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute, and his new book, Return of the God Hypothesis, frames this conversation.

This was meant to be a conversation and not a debate and so the intention was not to stop every time a claim was made that we disagree with. Instead, we made a companion piece to this episode where we point to many resources that do respond to these claims and help to further explain some of the philosophical concepts covered in this conversation.

LISTEN: https://biologos.org/podcast-episodes/stephen-c-meyer-is-god-a-hypothesis

READ COMPANION: https://biologos.org/articles/a-guide-to-the-stephen-meyer-podcast-episode/

Great job, as usual by Jim and the crew. I think conversations like this go a long way in clearing up misunderstandings. Perhaps if the DI could tone down some of rhetoric in Evolution News, or maybe rename it Intelligent Design News to be less deceptive, it would help further that cause.

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About to listen to this … but first can’t resist noting how important punctuation is! Just reading the link for the first time gave me quite a start! I read it as if there would be a semi-colon right after ‘god’.

…stephen c meyer is god a hypothesis …

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That would certainly be an entirely different episode!

When I click on the companion piece I seem to get a blank page. Is this something on my end?

Try this - It was a broken link this morning but I fixed it…!

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This was my favorite LOG podcast of all time. Loved the give and take between two professionals.

I thought of the topic of “theistic science” as Jim and Stephen were talking toward the end about demarcation issues setting off science from non-science. I read about the possibility of theistic science a long time ago and don’t recall it well. But perhaps Stephen was arguing for a kind of theistic science in blurring the lines between metaphysics and science in a quest for ultimate causal explanations.

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Good to see you here @RickM. I was pretty deeply into the academic debate about theistic science back in the day (which centered around a series of article by Notre Dame Christian philosophers Alvin Plantinga and Ernan McMullin). I don’t think any Christian scientist would disagree that our Christian faith commitments ought to bear on how we interpret the findings of science and incorporate them into the bigger explanatory picture we all have. The question is whether we ought to call that bigger explanatory picture “science”. And I totally agree with Meyer that too many of the high profile people on the atheistic side have allowed their metaphysical beliefs to influence their own bigger explanatory pictures and called that science. I also don’t think we can always draw a definitive line of demarcation between science and non-science (just like we can’t between species in an evolutionary development!).

But it doesn’t follow from those concessions that we can’t ever helpfully demarcate science from non-science. And Meyer agreed with that too. It’s just that we seem to draw those lines differently. One of the tremendous virtues of science is its ability to transcend metaphysical differences, such that you get the same experimental results no matter what your creed. That’s what I’d like to call science, and then say that we must also interpret those findings and our interpretations will of course be influenced by our creeds.

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@jstump, thank you very much for the podcast. I hope that we can take this opportunity to reconcile the differences between BioLogos and ID.

My first comment is that Stephen seems to accept the claim that the biosphere is not designed, but just appears to be designed. I do not know for sure if BioLogos has taken a stand on this issue. I do not think so, which gives the appearance of agreement.

My research indicates that this claim is based on the book, Chance and Necessity by Jacques Monod originally published in French in 1970 and in English in 1972. Monod was a Nobel winning biologist, who fought in the Resistance in World War 2. He clearly states that he was a Marxist atheist, who left Marxism behind.

The problem with saying that life is only apparently designed is that we can say that the earth only appears to be round. If we know what designed looks like, which we do if something appears to be designed, then it is either designed or not. It can only be apparently designed if we have secret knowledge that it is not, which is what Monod says.

Monod says that natural entities cannot be designed because they are natural and nature cannot think. That also means that nature is irrational for the same reason, so science is also irrational for the same reason, because nature cannot think.

Dawkins says that animals including humans are survival machines. This must mean that they appear to be designed, because machines are designed by rational beings.

So this is where EC differs from Dawkins & Co. EC (and ID) say that we live in a rational universe designed for rational humans. The real issue for everyone is how is this design carried out.

ID says “evolution” is a mechanical, random, unguided process. The would mean that apparent design is nothing like real design. If Dawkins could show me how this mechanical, random, unguided process works, I would agree with him. Instead his chapters in The Selfish Gene, 10 and 12. he talks about zero sum game rather than natural selection.

In the other hand Christians are blessed with the concept of Jesus as the Logos, God’s Rational Word as found in John 1:1- 3, which tells that the Logos is rational, embedded in nature, and good, rather than evil. The Logos is not mechanical, random, and unguided. Either this understanding of evolution is wrong or the Gospel is wrong. My bet is for the Gospel, but I am willing to look at the facts.

Thus far no one has come close to proving it wrong. Fortunately God is smarter, wiser, and more powerful than even men like Charles Darwin. God can find ways to do things that we would not. That is the reason for good science that tells us we have to prove our ideas, not be satisfied with the fact that we think we are right.

God the Father gave us Jesus Christ, the Logos. God also gave us the idea that Jesus is the Logos of Life. It is up to us to fill out this idea with the facts.

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How so? Science is the merely empirical domain of rationality. Eternity is a rational fact, it is so. The eternity of nature for a start. It cannot possibly be empirically, scientifically demonstrated; it doesn’t have to be, any more than abiogenesis or the emergence of shared intentionality between emergent consciousnesses does. The multiverse isn’t science so is it non-science [implying that it has no rational validity, when that’s all it needs and has]? Regardless of the fact that it is a rational fact derived from uniformitarianism, Kolmogorov complexity, common sense. That there is no alternative to it whether God grounds it or not.

There are presuppositions involved in those statements that are not necessarily true. ‘Eternity’, God, exists without being constrained to sequential time. So the ‘eternity of nature’ is not a given, unless you lump God into your definition of nature, which rather makes the word meaningless.

This was my favorite episode of the LOG podcast. We need more conversations like this.

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Thanks GStanto!

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Would it make the word nature meaningless? Perhaps it give nature meaning as without God id does not have any - which is the problem that atheists have. Perhaps the confusion stems from people confusing natural with physical and then the expecting the supernatural to be not natural like super glue to be not glue :slight_smile:
To me nature is eternal in God as God transcends it, e.g. is everywhere in nature, like I am eternal in God. And that is the atonement I understood in Jesus that when I submit myself to God’s authority I can live with death and get through it.
So to me God is natural, but he is not physical / material as the material is not eternal but subject to time.

where do you take that from? I did read him as promoting the idea that if it walks line a duck and looks like a duck and quacks like a duck - it probably is a duck. In that way he coherently defended God as a rational cause of reality.

Pity Jim did not argue ownership of the evolutionary process by God which would overcome the ID communities fear of evolution to undermine the design argument. Instead of the God of the Gaps the should have addressed the “not God” of the gaps in the context of argument from ignorance

As I said last night, but didn’t appear, which is either because responding to someone I’ve blocked goes to oblivion, or I didn’t actually hit [Reply]: Or it was simply censored because you are not reading for comprehension.

Paraphrased: (a) The presuppositions are yours. My statements and presuppositions are all necessarily true. (b) ‘Eternity’ != God as demonstrated by the fact that eternity is the natural attribute of sequential time, i.e. the given of the eternity that is nature. (c ) Your premiss is wrong and your nesting fallacy around that one is wrong, pantheism is heterodox and the meaning of nature is independent of the meaning of God unless He grounds it, which is no given.

By itself nature, the physical - there is no confusion - has no meaning, which doesn’t negate it. You are affirming the consequent again by declaring the supernatural to be natural, which makes both meaningless but enables you to do the same with your straw man ‘confusion’ of nature and physics which is no such thing. They are synonyms. If God grounds eternal nature, i.e. if the natural is God, then it acquires His supernatural purpose. The atonement.

@marvin, thank you for your response. I quite agree, but there are some problems there. One is that I do not think that BioLogos @jstump wants to say that God owns the evolutionary process and the other is I do not think that BioLogos knows what the relationship between God and evolution is.

God is not evolution, because that would be pantheism. Evolution is not separate from God because that would be dualism, which is where most people are. I would say that God is the Source of the universe and evolution, which means that there is an intimate connection, but they are not the same, but most modern folks do not accept this.

My hope in introducing Monod into the conversation was to put it on the right plane. We are talking not about science itself, but the philosophy of science. It is not a problem that the New Atheists have a philosophy, even though they might want to sweep it under the rug, but we need to examine it critically.

A sure path to confusion is talking philosophy to someone who is talking science or thinks that they are talking science. This seems that this is what ID tries to do. Of course. its philosophy is terribly outdated.

The Key is the Logos, which is a philosophical concept, a theological concept, and thanks to John 1, a scientific concept. He is just waiting there for someone to discover this goldmine of meaning and knowledge.

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I think the underlying supposition is that God has ownership of all creation, including evolution.

it was simply censored because you

 

Yes. I did not mean to equate God with eternity. I was too concise and inadequately precise. Like someone else.

 

It is not and it is not a given. God is eternal, nature is not. Only God possesses aseity, time does not. Big bang cosmology more than suggests that sequential time as we know it had a beginning. Please try and comprehend that, or at least apprehend it a little. Insisting it did not is merely supposition and assertion without evidence.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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