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Tag Archives: intelligent design
Here is a textbook example of how to discuss what it means to “teach the controversy”. Casey Luskin does a great job of diffusing the “anything other than accepted Darwinist dogma is religious in nature!” argument that is rather common among the high priests of Darwinism.
A large amount of change in our cultivated plants, thus slowly and unconsciously accumulated, explains, as I believe, the well-known fact, that in a vast number of cases we cannot recognise, and therefore do not know, the wild parent-stocks of the plants which have been longest cultivated in our flower and kitchen gardens. If it has taken centuries or thousands of years to improve or modify most of our plants up to their present standard of usefulness to man, we can understand how it is that neither Australia, the Cape of Good Hope, nor any other region inhabited by quite uncivilised man, has afforded us a single plant worth culture. It is not that these countries, so rich in species, do not by a strange chance possess the aboriginal stocks of any useful plants, but that the native plants have not been improved by continued selection up to a standard of perfection comparable with that given to the plants in countries anciently civilised.
In the first part of Darwin’s famous book it should be noted that Darwin understood selection in light of animal and plant breeders. And in the section above it is clear that Darwin thought that intelligent beings were the chief agents the selection of genetic traits. It is also worth noting that Darwin thought that purpose or intentionality, even if “slowly and unconsciously accumulated”, was a central part of his theory of natural selection.
So when modern proponents of Darwin’s theory like Richard Dawkins advocate Natural Selection as the alternative to blind chance on one hand and design on the other, it seems fair to question what real reason we have to conclude that the selecting is not done according to a definite design and by intelligent agent(s).
Darwin apparently thought so.
The human mind is a pattern-matching machine. I have a habit of pattern matching license plates as I drive. Since I work in the field of IT, I’ve developed quite a list of acronyms that I recognize and can match for. My license place, for example, contains the letters AJX, which I expand to AJAX.
This behavior, I believe, gives us great insight into how the mind works. First of all, the mind is wired to try and make sense out of the environment in which it finds itself. It is almost as if we expect the world around us to make sense.
Second, our pattern matching abilities are commensurate with the patterns we know about beforehand. One of the strongest patterns all humans excel at recognizing is that of the human face. We are so good at matching it that we often come up with false-positive matches where we see “faces” where none really exist.
Third, our pattern matching is surprisingly fluid. Our minds, often unconsciously, will go to great lengths to match a pattern even if the data we are given isn’t an exact match for an existing pattern. That is what happens when I expand my co-worker’s license plate to read ‘bible’ even though the actual letters are BLE.
Now one could believe, I suppose, that this powerful pattern matching ability just magically arose through the combination of random mutation and the liberal application of time (though not infinite time). However I would argue that our cognitive systems, our mental faculties, themselves bear the markings of design. And because of that I believe that the human mind is among the most powerful evidence that exists for an intelligent designer being at the heart of the world we find ourselves in.
In fact, we might call this entity the intelligence designer.
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.
“scientific knowledge” is a misnomer in itself as science does not stand by itself but is rather a means by which we may form and fashion our beliefs. In other words, facts are not self-interpreting.
Many say there is not a shred of evidence to support ID, and I would grant that they are correct..
..provided your criteria for acceptable evidence is dictated by your prior commitment to philosophical naturalism as opposed to a truly open commitment to truth regardless of where it may lead. Scientifically speaking, this would not negate the prior formation of a working hypothesis. But it does negate the stubborn refusal to accept the plausibility of an alternative explanation. Especially when that plausible alternate explanation carries with it more answers than questions (which is the unfortunate case in regards to all Darwinian theories).
Many also amusingly claim that theists like myself believe in magic. Well nothing is more magical than the claim that the universe suddenly sprang into existence uncaused out of nothing. All I am positing is that the universe suddenly sprang into existence out of nothing by a cause that transcends natural (which includes recurring) phenomenon.
As Plantinga also notes in a recent debate of his, the question really comes down to whether evolution was guided by an outside force or whether it was unguided. Coincidentally we have more than enough evidence to claim that the process was guided and that consequently strongly points to an intelligent being that did the guiding. I find it interesting that even astrophysicists (like Hawking) will grant that the process appears to have been guided, but then react so viscerally when the concept of an intelligent designer is posed. It’s not surprising, however, as we all know what such an admission of an intelligent designer would mean to how we conduct our lives and see ourselves in relation to the Cosmos (with a capital C, Sagan would be so proud).
In terms to the damage you (this was, as usual, part of another conversation, apologies for the rough transition here) think Christianity has done. I would like to remind you that Christianity is what gave birth to modern science. No other world view (even a naturalistic one) can rationally sustain the belief that the universe contains order and that we, through the proper application of our epistemic faculties, can accurately understand it (something Darwinism has no rational basis for).
I would also like to point out that we just emerged from the most secular, and consequently most bloody century in human history. The cold reality is that it is atheism, not Christianity nor any other religion, that offers such an unrestrained view of mankind’s moral obligations (indeed, as Ivan eloquently noted in The Brothers Karamazov, without the promise of immortality anything is permissible). This unhinged view of moral obligation has led to bloodshed on an epic scale in the 19th century. I find it amusing how you like to bring up admitted failings of Christians throughout history but you give a gloss to atheistic regimes. Yes, I know some will claim that Hitler claimed to be a Christian, but take a minute and ask yourself whether his actions matched the words of Jesus Christ or Friedrich Nietzsche.