On the Christian opposition to intelligent design

Some Christians maintain the notion that:

“The term ID is an attempt to remove God from the discussion.”

Well, that might be true…

…if God were in the discussion to begin with. Intelligent design is a strategic move to break the strangle hold philosophical naturalism has on most science classrooms.

In that respect the only goal of ID is to lead people to the conclusion that there is a designer. After that, we can move the discussion down the hall from the physical sciences classrooms, many/most with their presupposition of verificationism as the only or ultimate source of truth (which ID satisfies with flying colors btw) into the philosophy/metaphysical sciences classroom. You see, ID is meant to address the “how” of our existence, that being design by an intelligent being while a further discussion on “who” the designer is can and should be shifted to another classroom.

This strategic approach to leading others towards the designer we know as Christ (that is, for ID proponents that are Christians) is nothing new. The cosmological argument for God’s existence is designed only to lead someone to the understanding that there is a God and not necessarily the Christian God. This is mostly because the cosmological argument came to us from Islam.

We should not be afraid to use any and all evangelistic tools at our disposal. Whether it be ID, cosmology, mathematics, etc. If Romans is right then all of creations speaks to God’s handiwork so it logically follows that we ought to be able to use all of creation as a springboard to lead people to Christ.

As for proponents of 6 day creationism1. I am a proponent of it as well. However I do not hold to a 6,000-10,000 year old universe (young earth)((ID is not necessarily opposed to YEC, but the use of scientific arguments does pose a lot of problems for proponents of YEC.)). And it is this, coupled with a poor view of how Scripture ought to be used in relation with non-believers, that led me to my rash comment from earlier. We simply cannot ignore the findings of science, especially when they in no way contradict the text itself, and still hope to maintain any sort of intellectual credibility. And hiding under the “fools for Christ” umbrella is simply not intellectually valid or honest because while it is true that we are called to maintain a historically unpopular position, it is not true that we are called to abandon logic and reason in order to do that. Moreover, an assault on science and the use thereof to lead others to Christ does great harm to the legacy of Christians who, throughout history, have striven to provide a logical and cogent argument to the people of their times.2 ID is no different.

So while I understand that many, especially those who for some reason still hold to a young earth position, will not join with their brothers and sisters in using and promoting ID, the least they can do is get out of our way and not accuse us of holding strange and heretical doctrines like theistic evolution. It is hard enough to advance in the face of overwhelming odds on rough enemy terrain without having to worry about getting shot in the back by friendly fire.

  1. This is addressed because some who are against ID accuse proponents of ID of denying a literal 6 day creation. Presumably because ID proponents generally simply refuse to comment on it. []
  2. Including Stephen, Paul, Peter, James, Justin Martyr, Augustine, Anselm, Irenaeus, Ignatius, etc. []
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31 responses to “On the Christian opposition to intelligent design

  1. Science doesn't teach philosophical naturalism – it's a way of doing things – methodological naturalism maybe.

    How do you proposed a scientist controls for god?

    • "How do you proposed a scientist controls for god?"

      That seems to conflate two different categories. Historically scientists have only felt intellectually justified in doing science precisely because they held a foundational view that God created a world that operated according to regular and repeatable principles that were discoverable and, to some extent, manipulatable by us because we were created with senses that were a proper fit for the environment we find ourselves in.

      So I suppose the real question is for philosophical naturalists, which is the predominant presupposition of many scientists these days, would be:
      How can you trust your senses to accurately detect anything if they are products of random mutation? Ie. If they are not designed for the environment in which we find ourselves.

  2. "So I suppose the real question is for philosophical naturalists, which is the predominant presupposition of many scientists these days, would be:
    How can you trust your senses to accurately detect anything if they are products of random mutation? Ie. If they are not designed for the environment in which we find ourselves. "

    This screams an ignorance about what science is and how we've evolved.

  3. If you need enlightening on what science and evolution are at a basic level, it's no wonder you post such drivel.

    • I\’m pretty sure I understand what science and evolution are at a basic level (and even a somewhat advanced one!). The ball is still in your court to show me how my understanding is wrong in an objective sense (as oppsed to just you saying so).

  4. "Natural selection over a long long time generated our senses."

    On what basis are you making this claim? I mean, other than the tired line used by proponents of evolution which amounts to "we have senses therefore natural selection MUST have been the causal agent that produced them".

    Here is the logical conundrum. The engine behind natural selection is randomness. It must be because the alternative is design which brings up the whole concept of "intelligent design" which I know Darwinists absolutely loathe. So if our senses are merely cosmic accidents, and if our minds are cosmic accidents as well, on what grounds are we warranted in trusting either one? It seems to me that you defeat your arguments quite well on your own, the only thing a theist like myself needs to do is point out the logical absurdity of your position.

    "Of course, this is all scientific theory"

    It is only if you take the problematic view that naturalism is part and parcel of science. It is not and further it constitutes a logical fallacy of assuming the conclusion.

    "And if contrary evidence arises, science would revise their theories and adopt new working definitions. "

    Except that Darwinian evolution is not a scientific theory. It is a metaphysical belief that is strongly held by people who, like Stephen Hawking, want to write any sort of higher power or being out of the universe. While that may be true, and it would be a fun and potentially fruitful discussion to have, we can't escape the present issue which is that it is intellectually dishonest to attempt to hijack science by presupposing that it rests on a materialistic/physicalistic view of the universe.

    Oh, and new theories have been posed regularly that poke all kinds of holes in the Darwinian model. But rather than abandon Darwinian evolution a long time ago, which would be the most intellectually honest thing to do at this point, new and ever more wild theories have been formulated that all share the same naturalistic presuppositions. In other words, many scientists have abandoned real science a long time ago in favor of a sort of "evolution of the gaps" approach wherein no matter how absurd a theory is, it is acceptable so long as it paints a view of the universe without God.

    "You think dogma from your old book is a more reliable source?"

    Nice try, but my "old book" is not in conflict with the finding of science in any way.

    Tell me, what would it take to convince you that the universe was not one giant cosmic accident? Anything?

  5. "Nice try, but my "old book" is not in conflict with the finding of science in any way."

    I needed a laugh, thanks for this.

    "Nice try, but my "old book" is not in conflict with the finding of science in any way. "

    Sure, good evidence. The theistic answers fall woefully short.

  6. So how do I control for god in my experiments then?

    Yes it's the question you ducked about six comments ago.

  7. Put it another way;

    How do you think the thousands of religious scientists do it?

    • Please don\’t be so intellectually dishonest as to pretend that I failed to answer your question. The truth is that I did answer this question right after you asked it.

      However, for the sake of argument I\’ll answer it again:

      Scientists do not have to \”control for God\” in any sense. They believe their senses were designed for the environment in which they find themselves. They also believe the universe operates on regular principles based on God\’s own character (God is a God of order and not of chaos, like what we find in Darwinism). Based on these two a-priori assumptions they are fully warranted in performing scientific experiments and basing conclusions off of the observed results of those observations.

      On the other hand, it is hard to see how a scientist who holds a foundational view that we are mere cosmic accidents with senses that were randomly produced according to a principle that favors survival (and not necessarily the production of true beliefs) are warranted in trusting any of their senses, let alone their mind which processes their observations.

      Does that answer your question? Or is your question more along the lines of David Hume\’s argument against miracles?

  8. Re senses – we see intermediate forms of all the senses demonstrating how a step by step evolution could work. We see relationships between the physiology and molecules that fit the pattern of a nested hierarchy that you see with evolution – why did your god make it look that way?

    • I'm not sure what your question or point here is. I mean, I know it is popular to claim that some organs appear to be "intermediate forms" of senses. Such as photo-sensitive cells being precursors to eyes, but the problem is that we are not justified in either claiming that such conglomerations of cells came from a simpler conglomeration of cells nor are we justified in saying that they are "on their way" to becoming anything else. In other words, in lieu of observable evidence (in other words, it actually happening), to make the claim that a particular conglomeration of cells is an "intermediate form" is to make an epistemic leap based on a presupposed philosophical foundation.

      By the same token, I would posses just as epistemic warrant if I were to claim that such "intermediate forms" are a sign of genetic degradation.

      Actually, I would be MORE warranted since the underlying issue we face is one of genetic information. Your system presupposes that information can come about out of chaos whereas my position would be based on the destruction of genetic information.

      So the real issue here is this: How can new genetic information come about out of randomness? I would argue that the two concepts are mutually exclusive.

      Things that are intelligently designed must, by definition, have an intelligent designer.

      So which is it? Is the world around us intelligently designed or is it just a great big cosmic accident?

      • Hi Wes,

        You asked;

        "How can new genetic information come about out of randomness? I would argue that the two concepts are mutually exclusive. "

        Well by coincidence I have just read some textbook chapters entitled;

        "Biological diversity and the evolution of novel proteins."

        "Hox Genes and the evolution of body plans."

        So I should be able to help here.

        So fire away – what is it about information from randomness that you don't understand?

        Regards,

        Psi

        • My question is simple. It is actually the same one I asked earlier so I'll just reiterate it here. How can information in general and new genetic information in particular come from randomness?

          • psiloiordinary

            Ok this is just a quick list of the different ways in which we observe this happening in the world in terms of genetic information;

            Mutation – deletion or insertion of single or multiple bases. Including transitions and transversions. Sometimes mutations might mean frame shifts and other times not. Replication slippage is a form of such mutations.

            Recombination by crossing over. (plus errors from such)

            Transposons.

            I will be happy to go into these in more detail if you are not familiar with them.

            Gene numbers can be increased very easily by a mixture of these effects in particular by unequal crossing over. Which is why we observe gene families and pseudogenes. Gene duplication and even chromosome and genome duplication has also been observed.

            To get slightly more technical exon shuffling also helps together with domain duplication.

            Is that enough to be going on with?

            Pick any one and tell me what you don't understand.

            Regards,

            Psi

            PS I can point you at some good introductory biology material if you like

        • New genetic information is not the same as simple mutation erros. What I, and Darwin himself, meant by new genetic information arrising out of the random mutation process is genetic information that leads inexorably to wholly new biological systems. To that end, such generation of new genetic information not only has not been observed despite the myriad of tests that have been concocted (and intelligently designed) specifically to that end, but such tests have actually served to prove what men like John Lennox have shown through information theory which is that new information cannot arise our of chaos. It is simply a logical impossibility. Either you have randomness or else you have intelligent design.

          In short, for Darwinian evolution to survive it must be redesigned every so often to account for the mounting evidence against it as well as the failed predictions it gives rise to (such as new genetic information spontaneously arising out of random mutations).

          Here is an experiment that shows how random mutations not only fail to create new information, but also fail to "rediscover" information previously obtained: http://bit.ly/b4UYph

          Oh, and in regards to your comment earlier that you had not been condescending whereas I have. I would point to your above comment as proof positive that you are not being intellectually honest in your discourse with me by pretending that I am an unlearned fool in this area. You may freely disagree with my conclusions, but please do me the courtesy of not pretending that I have not studied this topic simply because I do not parrot your position.

  9. BTW – where are you getting your information from?

    This is a serious question.

  10. Hi Wes,

    You are very insulting – this isn't very Christian is it?

    I have been very polite and not insulted you at all.

    *Takes breath*

    You appear to be making transparently wrong statements left right and centre. Or we are speaking about different things altogether.

    For example, from your response it appears that you don't even know what a "control" is for in an experimental sense.

    Please prove me wrong and tell me what one is. I like to be shown to be wrong and to learn something 😉

    If you don't know I will explain or I will point you in the direction of an explanation.

    When we have that straight we can start to look at some of the other "issues" you are raising.

    Fire away.

    Regards,

    Psi

    • I'm sorry, were you expecting someone a bit more pacifist in disposition? http://bit.ly/azNxAr

      "You appear to be making transparently wrong statements left right and centre."

      And yet you seem to have a chronic aversion to substantiating your assertions. Including that one.

      What does a control have to do with anything? Perhaps if you were to phrase your question in a more coherent way, bringing your premises and presuppositions out into the open, your question would make more sense. As it stands, however, I'll continue to stand by my first two answers to this question. If you want to take a crack at asking a coherent question we can try again later.

  11. Your scripture speaks of talking donkeys and snakes, immaculate conceptions, men gathering 2 of every species onto arks. and dead people rising and walking around. Try to shoehorn those claims into a scientific proof.

    Your good at bare asserions yourself.

    • Oh, you want to know how miracles can occur. It is really quite simple and scientific provided you do not presuppose a physicalist view of the world.

      In other words, if God exists then miracles/supernatural events are quite logically coherent and reasonable.

      Though, I'm not sure what miracles have to do with what you seem to think is a conflict between the Bible and science. Would you care to elaborate some more?

      • "Oh, you want to know how miracles can occur. It is really quite simple and scientific provided you do not presuppose a physicalist view of the world. "

        You think it's more reasonable to believe in talking donleys than to not?

        And you have to establish that a god exists, and that he is Yahweh, before you can even begin to substantiate your claim of miracles being "simple" to believe in. You have not done so.

        "Though, I'm not sure what miracles have to do with what you seem to think is a conflict between the Bible and science. Would you care to elaborate some more?"

        Do you belive in unicorns or minotaurs existing? Why or why not?

        • "You think it's more reasonable to believe in talking donleys than to not? "

          I still fail to see the conflict here between science and the miracles the Bible records. If there is a supernatural entity responsible for the creation (and sustaining per Aristotle's "prime mover" vein of thought) of the world, then why would miracles be a odd feature of that world?

          It seems to me that your argument rests on a hidden premise of philosophical naturalism wherein the existence of supernatural or metaphysical entities and forces is somehow dismissed a-priori.

          "And you have to establish that a god exists, and that he is Yahweh, before you can even begin to substantiate your claim of miracles being "simple" to believe in. "

          For those particular miracles, yes. But then again we are still far from your initial assertion that science and the Bible conflict in any way.

          "Do you belive in unicorns or minotaurs existing? Why or why not?"

          I do not, simply because they have not been recorded in a source I've found to be trustworthy. However, even if they did exist, how would that conflict with science?

  12. "It seems to me that your argument rests on a hidden premise of philosophical naturalism wherein the existence of supernatural or metaphysical entities and forces is somehow dismissed a-priori."

    This is incorrect. I don't dismiss them a-priori, I ask for evidence of them before believing in them. Until that evidence is shown, I disbelieve them. The Bible itself is no more evidnece of talking donkets than the Odyssey is of cyclops.

    "I do not, simply because they have not been recorded in a source I've found to be trustworthy."

    On what basis/bases do assign trustworthiness to documents?

    • \”Until that evidence is shown, I disbelieve them.\”

      That is the definition of a-priori.

      You are assuming that belief in God rests on something else rather than, itself, being properly basic. In other words, you seem to be ascribing to John Locke\’s \”tabla rasa\” or \”blank slate\” view of man wherein we require proof for a positive belief in anything, including God.

      Our presuppositions or epistemic starting points are what are at odds here. And since we are talking about \”first principles\” I do not see a way, other than comparing the ability for both presuppositions to formulate coherent and cohesive answers to the world in which we find ourselves, for us to objectively evaluate them.

      \”On what basis/bases do assign trustworthiness to documents?\”

      The same way I ascribe trustworthiness to any historical document. What objective historical standard do you use to say the historical documents that constitute the new testament are unreliable? Or do you think no historical document is reliable?

      • "The same way I ascribe trustworthiness to any historical document."

        Would you care to elaborate or are you being purposefully evasive here?

        And I don't know how belief in a claim of a historical event/person etc CAN be a priori. I only exist after the event in question and can only review post-event evidence. I think you may be confused here.

        • \”Would you care to elaborate or are you being purposefully evasive here?\”

          I believe I asked you a question regarding how you propose we should objectively weigh historical documents. Specifically I asked whether you believe we can know, with any degree of certainty, facts about historical events/people/places.

          You answer to that question determines what we\’ll use to examine the documents which speak to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

          \”And I don\’t know how belief in a claim of a historical event/person etc CAN be a priori.\”

          I didn\’t say belief in Jesus was a-priori, I said belief in God. Belief in Jesus could only come about through specific revelation but belief in God I would argue is properly basic.

  13. "I didn't say belief in Jesus was a-priori, I said belief in God. Belief in Jesus could only come about through specific revelation but belief in God I would argue is properly basic."

    But belief in A god vs belief in Yahweh are 2 very different things. To assess the claims of yahweh specifically, we're back to the book with talking donkeys in it.

    "I believe I asked you a question regarding how you propose we should objectively weigh historical documents. Specifically I asked whether you believe we can know, with any degree of certainty, facts about historical events/people/places."

    You asked your question without answering mine. I'll play your little evasion game for now and answer yours: historical documents need to be vetted by their source and other corroborating other documents or evidence from the time. And the more outrageous the claim being made in a historical doceument, the better vetting and more corroborating evidence required.

    I don't need a lot of evidence to "believe" that your best friend had dinner with you last weekend. I would require A LOT more to believe that JFK had dinner with you last weekend.

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