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

BL clearly is political. It must be to counter the toxic politics of ID Creationism. BL does not do research, nor does it claim to AFAIK.

Meyer and his constituency, however, routinely and explicitly claim that what he is doing is science.

There’s a big difference there, and I suspect you see that.

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@Dpiiiius
The use of the word design has baggage. This is unfortunate, because as Christians, of course we believe in intelligent design of creation.

You might like this short blog article: http://biologos.org/blogs/brad-kramer-the-evolving-evangelical/reclaiming-design

I’m glad that the original post was made here. Until reading Dr. Collins’ book recently, I would not have taken any exception to labeling my views as ID until Dr. Collins drew the distinction and I realized I had never truly examined the foundation of ID. My own theory of creation, which until recently I believed I was almost decidedly alone on, is that God created the universe, and the universe is consistent and ordered because God himself is these things. And the consistent and ordered laws of the universe will naturally lead to the existence of life because it was the intent of the Creator that life should exist, and thus it does.

By Dr. Collins defining God in the ID sense as a “god of the gaps” who intervenes when nature is unable to create complexity and variation, I understood that I do not ascribe to ID as it really is. I could blather on with what is probably too many details, but ultimately if God is perfect, then the universe was perfectly equipped to lead to life from the beginning without needing a boost every so often. And while biology is incredibly complex and often times very clever considering these mechanisms ultimately boil down to inanimate material, it is still natural phenomena–but in the overall sense, it is natural phenomena ultimately made possible because the natural world was created in a way that makes it possible.

And much like a parent watching a child grow into themselves and discovering what talents and interests they develop, so the natural world produces life in many forms and it is a delight to the Creator to watch his creation bloom and flourish as it will. After all, if we enjoy being delighted, it’s not hard to believe that God would also.

I think if you pay close attention to what he’s saying, he makes a very clear distinction, though, I too had to digest it a couple of times to parse it out fully.

Personally, I think instead of “design,” I prefer the term “divine intention.”

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Welcome to the forum, Alli. Hope to see you around lots when you need to procrastinate from your studies. :wink:

Thank you, Christy! Glad to be here and I appreciate the welcome!

I’ll try not to procrastinate too much :innocent:

Hi Allison,
Welcome to the Forum! Feel free to start a thread of your own if you’re interested in discussing a particular question or thought you have.

Yes, although @Jon_Garvey would probably (and correctly, imo) want to point out that a characterization of God as one who is merely “watching” would fall short of the kind of active involvement we expect within a Christian worldview. I like the analogy Jon offered in terms of music. If we view nature as a musical piece, God is both the composer (“designer”) and the musician (i.e., playing the individual notes). Altogether, the result can be captured into patterns which we call “consistent and ordered laws of the universe” (much like the rules of thumb we can find in the music of Bach, for example). This picture makes clear that God is never in some sort of “standby mode” and that He knows exactly where things are going (He composed the entire piece).

For me those terms are interchangeable as far as God is concerned. But the cultural baggage that is linked to the term “design” could be a reason to avoid the term.

Casper

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Thanks for the puff, Casper. If we’re looking for a word with cultural baggage, “evolution” is surely it! Another is “creation”. I feel that every word we abandon because it has (in someone’s view) been misappropriated tends to paint us into an intellectual corner.

The word (and concept) “design” has a history of use in Christian theology going back to the Fathers, and indeed to the Bible. Hedge it around, define it or use synonyms by all means, but human nature tends to create taboos around forbidden ideas. Fear the word, and we are in danger of shunning the concept. Already we’re in an intellectual climate where for some people - including some Open Theists who have written articles here - God’s “intention”, if it means something he achieves rather than a pious wish, would be “coercive” and “tyrannical”.

So I say keep a full dictionary, and do not fear words, but explain them! Glory in God as the Creator of everything in heaven and earth, explore what it means, and shrug off both atheist accusations of abandoning science, and Fundamentalist restriction of the term to one week’s labour. “Design” is nothing but intention cashed out in a plan, with an implication (in God’s case) that he speaks it into reality by his Logos - that makes it a pretty good word to wave a flag about.

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Alli, can I just pick up on this idea, which seems pretty widespread here, and echoes what Leibniz said to Newton: the lawlikeness of the universe shows God’s faithfulness, and his lack of a need to intervene shows his brilliance. On long reflection I’ve come to see that both are very culturally conditioned conclusions.

On the first, the regularity of the world does indeed show God’s faithfulness - but that regularity is as incomplete as that of any person’s acts. The ancients knew that the world isn’t so predictable that it doesn’t contain surprises, disasters and miracles, and science can no longer believe in Leibniz’ deterministic clockwork universe because quantum events are (it seems) not determined by anything in creation - the universe is not a closed system. And chaotic systems may be fundamentally lawlike, but are sufficiently unpredictable to make the world significantly unpredictable to us.

On the second point, detailed examination suggests that for God to create a universe such as our ours is, as a deistic, closed system that reaches his goals simply by the otworking of initial conditions and laws, is as logically impossible as his making it both spherical and cubic. Maybe he could make such a universe, but the evidence is that this one isn’t it. There is a must-read (but insufficiently consulted) essay on that question here by physicist Rob Sheldon.

But the desire for such a system only carries theological weight if it’s framed in the emotional way Leibniz did: “Surely a competent God wouldn’t need to keep interfering with his own laws.”

Frame it another way, and suddenly Leibniz’s argument looks very cold and mechanical (as it indeed reflected the “mechanical philosophy” of those times): “Surely the Word of God who cared enough to become flesh for us would also want to be intimately involved with what he made rather than create a clever automaton?” The virtue of God’s fully equipping the universe to get on with things suddenly looks like the vice of leaving the kids with a houseful of food and going on a world cruise.

In itself that’s as weak and emotive an argument as the other - both imply that we know how God must do things. But neither is logically stronger. So the contrast drives us, at least as Christians it ought to, back beyond Deism to enquire what Christianity teaches about the triune God’s role as Creator. Does the Bible teach that he’s a very clever artificer working only at the beginning of time (as the most literalistic Creationism teaches), or a very caring Father creating in eternity through the Son and demonstrating alike his faithful regularity, and his inventive genius in the details, and his providential love in particulars?

Apart from anything else, for me, seeing things that way stops me driving a wedge between science and Christian experience: I can pray for my daily bread and mean it without it simply being a hope that God got the Big Bang exactly right for my needs, and without having to expect him to multiply special miracles on a daily basis. I can pray about the weather too - whilst being pretty certain that overall it will follow the patterns that enable me to plant my seeds when I always have and expect a crop at the usual time.

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What a marvelous essay, Jon!

The only thing that I would add is that quantum events are not beyond laws and regularity, in that they conform quite predictably to probability distributions in the aggregate.

Thanks Chris

And I agree about the quantum events, whose exact statistical distribution shows that they do indeed have an orderly cause. Furthermore, the consensus seems to be that there is little, if any, throughput of quantum “indeterminacy” to creation at the macro scale to make events arbitrary, though one could at least conceive of, say, genetic mutations being susceptible to quantum fluctuations.

If quantum events were “uncaused” (meaning, I suppose, that they created themselves, as Lou Jost once suggested to me) they would have no reason to exhibit that statistical pattern.

However, it seems largely agreed that such a unifying cause does not exist within the causal system of “nature”, and so it seems to be the only category of events that would properly be seen as “indeterminate” from a strictly scientific viewpoint.

On the other hand, all that would really confirm is that the universe is indeed open to causes from beyond it - and statistically predictable causes from outside nature demonstrate God’s faithfulness to exactly the same degree as regular occurrences within it, “obeying the laws”. Indeed, they pose no more ontological problems than the existence of those laws of nature, either, if you think about it.

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@Casper_Hesp
@Jon_Garvey

Thank you both for your replies. Please forgive me for addressing you together, I need to be efficient with time at the moment.

You both correctly point out that my original post does make God sound like a spectator. And I thought about this last night whether I should do more to parse out that very important detail or if I should simply aim for brevity. I failed to mention God’s role as loving father, a role in which I believe he is most genuinely active more than we could ever know. Perhaps it is ultimately flawed, but I use the father-child relationship quite often as a model for our relation to God because we are limited to our own small-mindedness and in this life, father-child is the best I can come up with.

That’s not to say I could not use correction, only to ensure that it’s starting at the right jumping off point, though in hindsight I originally did a terrible job of defining it (hey, I’ve got finals coming up, my brains are already running out of my ears!)

@ Jon - I must say, astrophysics (well, perhaps physics in general) is an area where I am severely lacking, so thank you for expounding in that sense and shedding some light. I recently discovered wave phases don’t even work the way I had happily assumed they did (my whole life has been a lie!)

I will give more thought to what you have both said over the next few days. Again, I’m glad to have found this community as I’ve mostly been polishing my thoughts on my own without anyone around that I really resonate with. But even Jesus sent them out two by two for a reason!

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Looking forward to returning to this forum in a week. The end of this semester is trying to kill me. Prayers would be appreciated!

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I’ll pray for your back, you pray for mine!

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Best wishes to you on your exams, Darius. Meanwhile, I’ve appreciated the topics you are exploring on these threads. (You’ve raised some great topics.)

I’ve not yet caught up on this entire thread, but I can certainly understand why many people are confused that many of us affirm an “intelligent designer” even while rejecting the idea of “ID theory” as legitimate science. I usually explain it as “I can hold a theological/philosophical position quite firmly without claiming that I can defend it by means of the scientific method.”

The Discovery Institute has tried to build a scientific theory to support their philosophical position by relying on the Argument from Personal Incredulity fallacy along with the Argument from Ignorance fallacy. All of their arguments basically consist of “I don’t believe that there is any series of natural processes which can produce what we observe in the earth’s biosphere. Therefore, I declare that nobody knows of any such processes, nor will they ever know!” Yes, it is a god-of-the-gaps fallacy to pretend that such a philosophical position can be mascaraed as if it were a scientific theory.

Imagine going back to the year 1500 A.D./C.E. Newton hasn’t been born yet so the laws of motion are not yet formulated, nor is much known about aerodynamics. Nobody can explain how birds fly. Therefore, a theologian states, “Birds can fly because God created birds with the gift of flight.” I don’t have any argument with that philosophical position. Now imagine a natural philosopher [modern science is slowly evolving from William of Ockham et al but the word “scientist” is not yet the common term] saying, “Science can’t explain the natural processes by which birds can fly. Therefore, birds are scientific evidence that an Intelligent Creator-Designer gave birds the gift of flight.”

I’m not entirely sure why so many people can understand the difference between philosophy/theology and science but then ignore those differences when the Discovery Institute pretends that their philosophical and theological position is a scientific theory—a scientific theory which they never seem to get around to formally publishing in the expected standard format of a peer-reviewed scientific journal. I think even the DI realizes that having personal incredulity about natural processes is not actual evidence for their position.

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Well, I’m hoping I can help folks here understand without coming across as harsh. Please accept that the statements here are offered in good faith.

First, let me state, that I don’t really know a whole lot about Discovery Institute. I know who some of the players are, and the ones I have listened to and/or read, I respect: Belinski, Meyer, Behe. These are obviously extremely bright, capable, and honest men, trying to communicate some important truths.

I think one perception is that BL folks are shooting at their allies. Rather than come alongside them and help recast their arguments in a way that would be more acceptable, people here focus almost entirely on the phrase “it’s not science!” There is never a parsing of the ID argument to find what is correct in it, and to fix only the error. The entire thing is dismissed cuz it doesn’t meet this one criteria. And consequently the distancing of yourselves from Discovery Institute sometimes gives appearance of being primarily to ingratiate yourselves to the rest of the scientific community. I’m just saying. That’s what it looks like from the outside.

Then one of my own questions along these lines: Folks here seem to consider the Anthropic Principle a significant truth in the debate about God’s existence. It uses the science to argue for a Designer. How is that different from an Intelligent Design argument? So the BL position seems to me inconsistent.

I think my basic question is: rather than shooting at them, why don’t you help them? Why not point out what is right about what they are saying, rather than laser focus in on the one thing you think is wrong?

And BTW this isn’t just to @Socratic.Fanatic. Comments welcome.

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The average forum ID decrier may not add much to the conversation, but I think if you investigate, you’ll find that our published articles are indeed trying to help ID folks “recast their arguments” and are offering fairly in depth critiques of details, not just repeating the “it’s not science” refrain. In addition, authors like Stephen Meyer have been invited to publish their responses to BioLogos critiques and book reviews here, and have done so.

http://biologos.org/blogs/dennis-venema-letters-to-the-duchess/series/from-id-to-biologos

http://biologos.org/blogs/dennis-venema-letters-to-the-duchess/series/evolution-and-the-origin-of-biological-information

http://biologos.org/blogs/dennis-venema-letters-to-the-duchess/series/bacterial-flagellum

Thanks, Christy, I’ll get busy on those links… ah, but if only this was the only stuff I needed to work on!

But I can still say with fairness, I think, that given the “average forum ID decrier”, then either BL accepts their approach, or BL is not getting the message across that it is the wrong approach. I’m finding many of the regulars here very engaging and thoughtful, yet there are certain refrains that do not seem to get countered. The general disparaging of ID and of everything at Discovery Institute is one of them.

I sincerely appreciate the links, and look forward to getting a more formal assessment of the BL perspective.

Hi Marty,

I think you have done a fine job of writing carefully and respectfully, and I hope you feel I have done the same. If I haven’t, I hope you will let me know so I can do a better job.

A forum by its very nature is going to have a variety of voices and approaches. I’m not sure there’s a way to rid the forum of all sharp comments, short of draconian moderating.

Also, a lot of our participants are very passionate about doing science well, and they feel very strongly that some of the works that Discovery Institute has published or promoted fall very far short in their handling of the scientific evidence. Not all of them, though. Biologos recently published a positive review of Michael Denton’s latest book, for example.

My $.02,
Chris Falter

I hear what you’re saying, but you have to keep in mind the concept of “open forum.” We can’t force people to read our articles before they spew their opinions all over the place, and even those who claim to be “BioLogos supporters” are so by free association (there is no vetting process or membership you can earn or lose or required reading list). I think BioLogos should be held responsible for what BioLogos publishes.

Just curious, who would you expect to counter them? The vast majority of the people who participate here are not affiliated in any official capacity with BioLogos, don’t speak for the organization, and often have had the same conversations over and over again with certain regulars. So I think it is unrealistic to expect that every statement that someone disagrees will be challenged. Plenty of times, I for example, roll my eyes and think, “There goes so-and-so again. Jeesh.” We can moderate certain behavior, but we can’t censor people’s ideas and opinions (barring certain obvious things like being blatantly racist or sexist or whatever).

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@Alli

Hi Jon,

I’m not going to let you get away with that! Again, the belief that Alli is suggesting is not, “deism”. Deism is the idea that a creator unleashed the universe with no involvement after the Big Bang. This god doesn’t care what happens in the universe, he has no intent, doesn’t listen to prayers and has no role or purpose for humans. A believer, say a Christian, holding that God created nature to evolve humans, with no active, “interventions” in nature to accomplish that does not amount to deism, as I’ve written here before.

Let’s recap what a Christian theist believes. With any faith in the scriptures, someone like Francis Collins or Denis Lamoureux believes that God performed miracles, big and small, in the OT and NT eras, put Jesus in the womb of a virgin, inspired humans to say and/or record His thoughts, willed prophets to predict the future, rose Jesus from the dead, aided the Israelites in battles, and answered many prayers along the way, for the purpose of promoting His kingdom. Today, we believe that God still answers prayers, and that, at least IMO, could include causing a natural disaster. So God IS intimately involved in creation to accomplish his goals, only that some of us hold that this involvement is on a substrate of a miraculous physical creation that has the ability to intelligently evolve without any direct interventions. For me, that’s a display of His love, power, intelligence and creativity.

You could respond by saying that your vision of God being involved in his creation requires him to, “do” something before humans arrived, but not mine and others. Also I’ve noted that you seem to go back and forth on whether God has the ability create a self-sustaining universe, as in following:[quote=“Jon_Garvey, post:42, topic:35661”]
as a deistic, closed system that reaches his goals simply by the outworking of initial conditions and laws, is as logically impossible as his making it both spherical and cubic. Maybe he could make such a universe…[/quote]

I’ll read your must-read link and have read others that you’ve posted, including the one about one of Jupiter’s, I believe, moons who’s chaotic orbit and can be 1 of 5 orbits at any time. I don’t know about you, Jon, but the God I have faith in can know which orbit it will be, even if evolved homo sapiens in 2017 can’t. :wink: Similarly, I don’t have any angst from the, “macro effects of quantum indeterminacy”, as if we have exhausted our knowledge of quantum mechanics. These arguments to me are merely, “God of the gaps” arguments. You say the evidence is that God couldn’t have created the self-sustaining universe, but is that really too difficult for the God of the bible?

I’ll give you credit for acknowledging that you yourself used emotive language at one particular point in your post, but I would say that the whole post was expressed rather emotively, no less by even using the words, “deistic” and, “deism”.

To summarize, one can believe in a warm, loving, sacrificial and purposeful, as well as omniscient and omnipotent God, while holding that he initiated a universe capable of evolving humans on its own.

“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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