The Language of God gives evidence for an intelligent designer, so why is BL anti-ID?

(Darius Beckham) #1

I know in some sense I’m on Francis Collins’s website, so I want to clarify that I’m not about to bash him personally. I’ve been reading The Language of God though, and I want to address some things.

First, his attempt to explain the problem of evil was cringe-worthy. I literally cringed and closed the book in slight pain. I kid you not, my head started hurting as I contemplated just how wild his claims were on pgs 42 - 47. Especially this one:

Perhaps on rare occasions God does perform miracles. But for the most part, the existence of free will and order in the physical universe are inexorable facts. While we might wish for such miraculous deliverance to occur more frequently, the consequence of interrupting these two sets of forces would be utter chaos. (Collins 44)

How? That last sentence makes no sense, and he doesn’t even expound it, he just moves on. That Collins thought he could rationally explain God’s decision to continue letting evil exist in ~5 pages, when humans for thousands of years have written tomes on this topic, is simply astounding.

Second, how can Collins attack ID when he essentially makes an ID argument his book’s thesis? In fact, the book’s subtitle is an ID claim! "The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence For Belief ". Huh?? This is extremely confusing, and even contradictory. The book has an entire chapter devoted to dismantling ID, yet the purpose of the book is to point to an intelligent designer. Collins explicitly claims that the Big Bang and the universe’s fine-tuning point to God. I do believe that nature points to God but … I’m just legitimately lost. How does the founder of BioLogos (which is resolutely anti ID) rail against ID but advocate ID at the same time? It’s perplexing and not helpful.

All of that aside, I’ve been learning more about evolutionary processes, and I think I’m steadily warming up to a point of view more in line with BioLogos’s. I’m just going to just read Adam and the Genome, hopefully it’s more consistent.

Intelligent Design makes more sense than BioLogos
Intelligent Design makes more sense than BioLogos
(Curtis Henderson) #2

Hello, Darius. Let me begin by offering a sincere “thank you” for your honesty and sincerity in your search for answers. It’s refreshing to read arguments from someone that is open to listening to the answers!

For your first point, I can’t help much there. Although I love the science in The Language of God, and routinely recommend it to my students, it is clear that Dr. Collins is a professional scientist, not a theologian. It would be a stretch to even call me an “amateur” theologian, and my opinions would not be a worthy contribution.

[quote=“Dpiiiius, post:330, topic:35483”]
How does the founder of BioLogos (which is resolutely anti ID) rail against ID but advocate ID at the same time? It’s perplexing and not helpful.
[/quote] On to something I can address with a modicum of knowledge! :stuck_out_tongue: I (and probably quite a few others here) tend to agree with the ID camp quite a bit about many things, but disagree on one important issue. I (and Dr. Collins) believe that evidence provided by the “book of God’s works” is a compelling argument for His existence. In some sense, I am indeed a proponent of ID, if the term is taken at face value. Where I disagree with most proponents of ID is where this leaves the process of evolution. Whereas I see it as a tool God employed in His creation process, many proponents of ID see God’s creation and evolution as mutually exclusive. ID proponents that lean a little further toward the “evolutionary creation” end of the spectrum still maintain that there is sufficient scientific evidence (the “irreducible complexity” of the bacterial flagellum, for instance) to indicate that life could not have arisen from evolution alone. These irreducible complexity claims are frequently easily challenged as new scientific discoveries fill in knowledge gaps.

The bottom line, as I see it, is that Evolutionary Creationists tend to see evolution as a beautiful, complex tool in God’s employ, and can still wholeheartedly agree that the “skies proclaim the work of His hands”. So, although I see God’s hand in creation and believe in an Intelligent Designer, I am still not an Intelligent Design proponent.

(Phil) #3

I agree with your observations. I consider most in the ID camp as family members, and we have both our strongest ties and strongest disagreements with those who are family.

(Darius Beckham) #4

Thank you for the very kind-spirited reply! It was really helpful. Some of these distinguishing features between ID and EC are fairly nuanced, but you clearly communicated what is often muddled up by others. And @jpm, that’s a great way to phrase things / frame this dialogue.

(George Brooks) #5


Once you are at the intersection of Christianity & Science, these are fundamentals… not something to negotiate.

(George Brooks) #6


I assume you mean family as in the Christian family.

(George Brooks) #7


Excellent distinction here.

ID proponents who explicitly state their support for Speciation are my kin! If they don’t, I suspect the worst because it usually means a partisan.

(Darius Beckham) #8

What do you mean?

(George Brooks) #9


I doubt if Collins was trying to convince someone to be a Christian… or that Science is the natural order of things.

For the purpose of the discussion, he PRESUMES his readers agree to these two points simultaneously. I know I would.

(Marty) #10

Interesting comment. I’m beginning to think there are two subjects here which go under the name ID: 1) The evidence of design in the universe itself and possibly in life, and 2) a set of people who actively advocate for a Designer but in ways people here find objectionable. Several people here claim to be EC yet seem to agree with ID under my definition 1, but many BL regulars are very disconcerted about those under definition 2.

Is this a helpful distinction? Are there ID advocates that people here would support? Other definitions for clarification are welcome. I’m still trying to sort out the spectrum of opinions here and their subtleties…


ID is a very, very big tent but I would group some of the supporters as follows.

  1. Those who want to use science to find evidence of design in life. This group subdivides into “therefore there is a creator, i.e. God” and “let’s not talk about a creator or how the design got here.”

  2. Those who talk about ID but in reality are just creationists in ID clothing.

Other dividing lines would be age of the earth old or young, evolution (or common descent) yes or no. Possibly others such as “ID should be taught in school”.

In my opinion the BL regulars only get upset when people try to use science to find, or “prove”, actual design in nature. Actually your definition 2 would apply to most of the BL regulars as we all agree that it is God who creates and therefore designs by default.

My $0.02 worth.

(Curtis Henderson) #12

I think your assessment is a fair one, @Marty. I would go as far as to suggest that most people here would agree with your point #1. In fact, many of us heard Francis Collins at the BioLogos conference at the end of March talk about the fine-tuning of the universe (something heard quite frequently from the ID camp). @Bill_II hit your point #2 pretty squarely.

In my opinion, God left us plenty of clues, but to say there is “proof” of a designer detracts from the role of faith. And good science quite often knocks holes in the “proof” that ID proponents put forward.

(George Brooks) #13


The only ID proponents I could ever trust are those that believe the Earth is extremely old - - and they believe Speciation can and does occur, either because God arranges it, or because it is unavoidable, given sufficient time.

Can you accept both positions? Are you one of the ID Proponents that I could trust?

(Marty) #14

Yes, those are fine! I don’t even miss a beat on them. Now I’ll put you on the spot: I think Behe and Meyer would also agree with those points. Do you then trust them? :slight_smile:

(George Brooks) #15


I’m glad you asked that question! Because it reminds me that really there is at least one more criteria - -

Does the person characterize the process of Evolution with “phony” corollaries? Behe, for example, is known to use the term devolution.

Devolution is not a legitimate principle that defines evolution. Except in the most simplistic of scenarios, It is impossible to know whether any given mutation is “upwards” or “downwards” - - when a snake population loses its legs … is that really devolution? Or is it an advance for that population for penetrating a brand new ecological niche?


Actually I have seen a youtube video of Meyer where he doesn’t support an old age of the earth.

(Marty) #17

He says quite clearly here that he does think the Earth and universe are old, at about 32 seconds in.

(George Brooks) #18

@Marty, I’m a little nervous about Myer saying “quite old”, without saying exactly what that means. If he thinks 10,000 is almost double 6000 years, what if he thinks 10,000 years is “quite old” ?

But for the moment, I want to challenge one thing he does explicitly say. He says he thinks Most ID Scientists are Old Earth supporters. I think he is dead wrong about that. Most of the ID folks we see here on these pages are Young Earth folks … or people who vaguely say they are Old Earth … but they refuse to say How Old… and/or they clearly reject Speciation.

The point of accepting an Old Earth is to accept science’s conclusion about age. Part of this includes what science says about Speciation!

(Marty) #19

@gbrooks9 In the context of discussions about the age of the earth and universe among Christians, it seems impossible to me that Meyer would not know the implications of saying it is “quite old.” I think you can relax on that one.

That’s interesting. That helps me understand what I perceive as some “sensitivity” here around design arguments.

But dealing with YECs, there’s no value in discussing science around this until we talk Bible. We all need to be prepared with a clear explanation of how we hold a high view of the Bible (I do), and “it’s actually clear to me in Genesis that they are not six 24 hour days.” My quick summary: 1) There was time before the first day in 1:1+2, 2) 12 hour of light = day in vs 5, 3) day used of the whole creation week in 2:4 (though some argue that’s just an idiom, it’s still the same word), and 4) Hebrews 4 implies we can still participate in the seventh day, it’s still open. There’s a beautiful rhythm in the six days, but not a 24 hour requirement. Hope that’s helpful!

(Jon Garvey) #20

I don’t get that impression at all - I think you’re confusing the YECs who visit, some of whom have some interest in ID. The most vocal IDist ever posting here was Eddie, who never doubted either the old earth or the process of evolution. Cornelius Hunter has posted recently - old earth. Jonathan Wells (I think he replied on here for a time not long ago) - old earth. Stephen Meyer did a column here in defence of his book - definitely old earth. was in long contentious threads here - old earth and has always identified as a theistic evolutionist in conversations with other IDs.

Kirk Durston used to get involved with threads on information theory here - old earth.

Of those “known” IDists who’ve never posted here, old earthers include Behe, Sternberg, Dembski, Axe, Denton - I’m running out of names I know. The only avowedly young earth ID writer I can think of is Paul Nelson.

And to be honest, as regards being right or wrong on the matter, Meyer is more likely to be familiar with the views of his constituency than any casual EC poster here.