As I publish this topic, I am particularly curious to hear from those on this forum who affirm evolution. Please share what you would consider to be a good/plausible argument for intelligent design and/or creationism.
Nota bene : your response does not (necessarily, I suppose) mean that you endorse said argument (or ID), of course. Nonetheless, I look forward to reading your thoughtful responses!
I don’t think there are any examples in nature beyond ‘you guys can’t explain x, y or z therefore God’ or ‘I can’t imagine how such and such could have come about via the processes God fine-tuned’ or ‘when you model evolution like this and ignore all the other ways genomes can change, it seems statistically impossible.’
The best argument for creationism in general is from special revelation, i.e. God is the creator.
The only good argument for ID/creationism that I can come up with is the Bible tells us we were created by God who is certainly intelligent. The how God left for us to figure out using the brain He gifted us with.
I am hoping someone else can come up with a good argument for as I have never seen one.
Thank you both for your responses! Does anyone else have anything to add? @jammycakes? @EvolvingLutheran? @Randy? I look forward to reading the thoughts of any other BioLogos friends who would care to answer!
Hey Jonathan. Unfortunately the only ones that come to mind that I once thought were strong contenders have all been effectively answered. I could argue for Primary causation but that’s not really an argument for either Creationism or I.D. as they are properly understood.
I think the best argument for creationism, put most succinctly is the acceptance of both God’s Word (Christ, as now revealed to us by the Spirit and in the pages of scripture) and God’s works (the world around us including what science helps us understand). Of course that’s the creationism that actually does attend to science, (what many here call ‘EC’) that I’m speaking of.
But if I was to presume you only had young-earth creationism in view for your challenge, then it gets much more difficult to find merits in arguments, the best of which have been answered and found wanting, nonetheless …
I suppose the one thing that comes closest to still propping up a YEC view in my mind would have to be the otherwise faithful witness of many I know who still embrace it, and who cannot imagine their faith working without it.
And notice even now, I couldn’t resist sticking that word “otherwise” in there, betraying the fact that I don’t think of this as a good argument (or even an argument at all). But even so, if you wanted to know the one thing that gives me most pause about it all, I guess that might be it: the consideration that not all of the fruit born by it (or more accurately: along with it) is bad.
I think one of the best arguments I’ve heard for intelligent design was from reading some of the (dare I say inspired?) works of Richard Dawkins, such as his “River Out of Eden” or “Climbing Mt. Improbable” both inspired a kind of awe in me (far beyond - and even against the intent of the author, I think I can safely surmise) for the fecundity, the fruitfulness of creation. The perspicacity of life … “life will find a way” continues to to be an inspiring source of wonder to me even as a non-biologist. And the more I learn of all its workings on both the micro and macro levels, the more I’m impressed with how God set it all up to work so well together in such a seamless interaction of processes.
Personally, I think that while fine tuning arguments may not be conclusive, they do actually have some merit. The one that impresses me the most is matter-antimatter imbalance. This is not only fine tuning, but a form of fine tuning that seems to be at odds with what we would expect given what we know about particle physics. Since (as far as our models and best measurements tell us) there is a perfect symmetry between matter and antimatter, the Big Bang should have created equal quantities of both. But it didn’t. Why?
Now before YECs get too excited about this, I should hasten to add that this does not falsify the Big Bang outright, and it does not reduce the age of the universe. There are no arguments for a young earth whatsoever that hold a shred of merit or plausibility. They either play fast and loose with the rules and principles of mathematics and measurement, or else they invent fantasy physics that would have vaporised the earth if it had any basis in reality, or else they resort to claiming that God must have made things look older than they really are in the most complicated and convoluted way imaginable, or in some cases they even flat-out lie.
I must admit that I find it frustrating when people start arguing about “God-of-the-gaps” type arguments. After all, just about any argument could by dismissed as a “God-of-the-gaps” type argument by someone with a mindset to do so. Besides, it could just as easily be argued that opposing arguments are just “naturalism-of-the-gaps” arguments.
It also bugs me when I hear people saying that gaps have a nasty habit of getting filled in, as if science will eventually have all the answers. This seems a bit hubristic to me – after all, it ignores the fact that new gaps have a nasty habit of cropping up as the old ones get closed in, like a game of whack-a-mole, as well as the fact that theorems such as Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem and Turing’s Halting Problem tell us that there will always be gaps in our understanding.
I’m not sure how this is not just another god-of-the-gaps type of argument. We have several examples of CP violation in particle physics experiments but they are explainable within the standard model. However, none of these effects can explain the larger difference required for baryogenesis. Essentially the standard model in present form is inadequate to explain this difference but what exactly about this is an argument for intelligent design/creationism in your opinion @jammycakes? For myself, it just shows us that there is physics that we don’t yet understand at higher energies than our best experiments can test.
I do appreciate you continuing on with putting this in context in that physics that we do not yet know does not falsify the physics that we do know. A neat example was brought to my attention with the stability of atoms which was inexplicable under the theory of electromagnetism. At one point, we didn’t even know how atoms could be stable! Yet this didn’t call in to question what we had learned by the physics we understood (electromagnetism) but was a call to learn new physics (i.e. in that case it was the advent of the quantum world that explained atomic stability).
If the mathematical models used to map out the tree of life from the genomes of living (and recently extinct) things showed only similarity to a close group of relatives, or in any way showed a natural division between related and unrelated creatures, that would be a good argument for creationism and against evolution. But that’s not what we see.
Personally I’ve never heard a convincing argument in favor of ID or creationism. But I think it probably makes a difference whether you are looking for confirming justification or a sufficient reason to believe those things when you start without the inclination to believe.
For what it’s worth I’ve also never heard what I’d call a good argument against belief that could convince anyone not already inclined in that direction.
Me neither. The argument from the Bible doesn’t work for me at all. The presumption is that you can read the Bible interpretation free, and I don’t buy that. I read the Bible with science as my built in perceptive filter and so I obviously didn’t get any creationism from that whatsoever. I think you would do better reading stories like the Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis or Silmarillion by Tolkien. Only in the acceptance of the premise that you are speaking of another reality can the idea sound the least bit plausible.
Abiogenesis: the theory/hunch that there is an innate capacity for some inorganic chemicals to become organic ones under the right conditions by means we don’t entirely understand yet.
Divine genesis: the theory/hunch that there is a being with the innate capacity to transform inorganic chemicals (“dust”) into living beings by means we never expect to understand.
I think the second theory works as confirming justification so long as one is inclined for other reasons to suppose such a being exists, while the first theory amounts to a default working hypothesis if one is not inclined to think a divine option exists.
Good catch. Probably should have added another step. Something like …
Abiogenesis: the theory/hunch that there is an innate capacity for some inorganic chemicals to become organic ones and somehow become self perpetuating organisms under the right conditions by means we don’t entirely understand yet.
For me, I think the fine tuning argument comes closest. I like how it was worded in The Language of Science and Faith (which I’ve leant out, so I can’t quote exactly) - that fine tuning makes God more probable but isn’t conclusive proof.
Now what makes a good argument for me has changed over time. I was an atheist for a good chunk of last year, and some arguments commonly used to strengthen Christians’ existing faith don’t work well for me anymore. When I read The Case for a Creator during my atheist time, none of it convinced me whatsoever. The fine tuning argument was 50/50 - I felt like I could go either way on it. That book was anti-evolution though, and it read like a Discovery Institute brochure, complete with ignoring the last 40 years of science. So that kind of put my skeptical radar into high gear.
Science arguments, for the most part, don’t do it for me, since science doesn’t deal with the existence of God one way or the other. Belief in the Bible as the Word of God leads me to believe that God created all things, so I guess faith is my basis? That wouldn’t be enough to convince an atheist, of course.
This isn’t true anymore. Dawkins is a little bit too much old school and his expertise is limited to evolution. His career and thinking has been entirely focused on the idea of the self-replicating molecule. But… not only is abiogenesis is really a completely different question, but the it truth there really is no such thing as a self-replicating molecule. DNA and RNA does not replicate itself. It requires a machinery outside itself in order to do so. So the old guard idea that all it takes is some DNA/RNA produced by accident is just wrong.
So the more modern thinking known as metabolism first theories and pre-biotic evolution is that there is a process of development that occurred before there ever was any DNA/RNA and these are really innovations developed for the more efficient storage and transmission of information. The new focus is a much more widespread and universal process found in nature called self-organization. The fact is that you can find many physical and chemical process with this feature. But more specifically the very fact that we have both DNA and RNA shows this pre-biotic evolutionary development already and thus an obvious hypothesis is that RNA is a precursor to DNA which hasn’t quite disappeared and become completely obsolete. Now they are looking for a precursor to RNA as well. In this way, scientists are uncovering step by step the chemical path by which these developments can have occurred, which is only a short step away from finding out what must have happened.
So the truth that there is a plausible hypotheses which people are working on. What we don’t have yet but I think we can look forward to in the near future is a working theory of abiogenesis. To be sure it will not be anything nearly as simple as evolution and thus when explained to the youngest students will not go much beyond the main principles such as self-organization which we already understand.
Yeah… this is a bit of an odd thing to say as Lynn has pointed out. Talking about mysterious innate capacities certainly isn’t helpful. The rather universal phenomenon of self-organization in complex systems is better. A reference, if you can find it, is The Self-Organizing Universe by Erich Jantsch. That will give you the most basic idea how the gap between non-life and life can be bridged. It is certainly not in the acquisition of a special “life” nature by some molecules. The unit to look at instead is definitely cyclical processes which can acquire a developmental or evolutionary aspect to them. That isn’t anywhere near so big or mysterious of a jump.
On top of the fact that I misunderstood what counted as an organic chemical, I also didn’t place the bar as high for abiogenesis as for the divine variety. The bridge isn’t really crossed until the organism possesses the capacity to continue its type, asexually at first no doubt. But it does seem that life, however it gets going in the beginning, is basically a complex chemical process - and no less marvelous for calling it such.
Thanks for the referral. I’ll see if I can track it down.