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April 01, 2011

Comments

Amy,

Interesting post. I’ve read a few things myself on the testability of the design hypothesis and find the issue fascinating. You would probably enjoy Lydia McGrew’s article discussing this stuff:

http://www.lydiamcgrew.com/PhiloTestability.pdf

Elliot Sober also has written extensively on issues concerning intelligent design:

http://philosophy.wisc.edu/sober/recent.html#design

Concerning biologically “useless” features of organisms. If I understand you correctly, you are saying that on the hypothesis of intelligent design, we would predict that there would be no biologically useless features of organisms. Suppose that the designer we are hypothesizing is God. In that case, we would seem to be committed to the following claim:

The Design Prediction: If God exists and designed living organisms, then it is likely that God would have an all-things-considered reason to produce those organisms in such a way that all of their biological features are biologically useful.

What sort of evidence could one have for the Design Prediction, and is that evidence scientific evidence (maybe the latter question doesn’t matter that much)? We have data concerning the behavior and goals of human intelligent agents, but there are huge relevant dissimilarities between the divine agent and human agents! For instance, whereas God’s ends all cohere in a perfectly unified, structured, and coherent plan, the ends humans adopt typically do not. God designs no organisms without also considering how such a design will relate to the rest of creation and his moral and sovereign ends. The same cannot be said of humans. That dissimilarity weakens any argument from analogy from the behavior of human designers to the divine designer.

Furthermore, the theist, when faced with the problem of evil, often retorts, “We simply do not know in sufficient detail God’s all-things-considered ends or what accomplishing those ends requires. We are not, therefore, in the position to know that if God existed it would be likely that children would not be molested.” And that seems sensible enough. But notice that a similar response can be made to the Design Prediction. One could say, sensibly enough, “We simply do not know in sufficient detail God’s all-things-considered ends or what accomplishing those ends requires. Perhaps it would require some biologically useless features, or perhaps not. We simply are not in the position to make those sorts of judgments. We are not, therefore, in the position to know that if God existed and designed living organisms it would be likely that they would lack biologically useless features.”

It seems to me that those who are sympathetic with skepticism about what God would do with respect to evil in the world ought to also be sympathetic with skepticism about what God would do with respect to the biological features of living organisms. I myself am also sympathetic with those who believe that reasoning about the goals, intentions, and behavior of a divine agent is a paradigm case of non-scientific reasoning. That may not be a substantive objection to intelligent design, but I take it to be an obvious truth.

Malebranche, you make a really good point. Personally, I'm not convinced that "no useless parts" is a good prediction of any design hypothesis. Nevermind the difficulty in determining whether something is really useless or not. But I do think "no gratuitous evil" is a good prediction of a perfectly good and sovereign God. The problem is trying to determine whether some evil is really gratuitous without knowing all the plans and intensions of God.

Malenbranche,

Perhaps it would require some biologically useless features, or perhaps not. We simply are not in the position to make those sorts of judgments. We are not, therefore, in the position to know that if God existed and designed living organisms it would be likely that they would lack biologically useless features.”

I agree. The difference, among other things, is one of scope. God has the task of designing an entire Universe, not just animals, even if human beings are the center piece. The "junk DNA" could possibly have other function beyong biology. Nothing comes to mind off of the top of my head, but it's at least possible.

However, since Junk DNA is a prediction made by Darwinism, it seems like finding functionality of all DNA would be a blow against that theory.

Sam and Austin,

Thanks for the responses.

In certain important respects it seems like some intelligent design folks want it both ways. Does it seem that way to you too? Here’s what I have in mind. On the one hand, they want to say that ID makes specific, testable predictions (like there are no biologically useless features of organisms) so that ID looks more like a scientific hypothesis; on the other hand, when apparently sub-optimal design is discovered, they become skeptical and start saying things like, “Well how are we in the position to know how God would see fit to fine-tune the laws? Perhaps he would, for some unknown reason, prefer them to not be set to maximize life.” Consider, for instance, the following remark from Melinda, where she is addressing the possibility that the laws are not actually fine-tuned in such a way to be maximally hospitable to life (see http://str.typepad.com/weblog/2011/01/fine-tuning-disproven.html):

The argument presumes that an omnipotent being would prefer more life to less life, but there's no objective principle to appeal to that requires that. There is no obligation for an omnipotent being to create at all, much less maximize the amount of life He creates. Sure, this is successful in showing that God didn't set up the universe in a way that maximizes the amount of life, but so what? This says nothing whatsoever about the existence of God, or about fine tuning for other purposes. Since there's no reason to think God would want to "maximize life" this tells us nothing about the existence of God.
Clearly here Melinda is playing the role of the skeptical theist. She wants to convince us that these data give us no good reason to doubt the existence of God (I agree with her on that). She does so by diminishing our confidence in our ability to make predictions based on the hypothesis of theism. In other words, in this context Melinda is playing the role of a skeptical theist. In other contexts, however, those at Stand to Reason seem to leave such skepticism behind and suddenly regain confidence in their ability to make predictions based on the hypothesis of theism. That seems to be exactly what Amy’s post is about. All of the sudden all sorts of predictions are being made and we are given guidelines for how to make such predictions. Well surely we cannot have it both ways. That just seems arbitrary and self-serving. If, in the face of sub-optimal design and the problem of suffering, we are going to go on and on about the utter inscrutability of God’s ways, then we cannot very well turn around in a moment of sudden epistemic confidence and start predicting what DNA would be like if God existed.

Doesn't that seem right?

I would agree with Malebranche in that there are huge and massive arenas which are opaque to us, either by Divine Will, or by our Innate Capacity (its limits), or by an as of yet lack of coherent pictures: the problem of pain is a good example. Or more specifically the problem of evil.

Homosapien dies. Young or old. The machine breaks down predictably. Predictable Death. Now there is an avenue for some insight. Things are not as they "ought to be". I am not sure I have read a useful description, on a purely intellectual front, for God fashioning a Reality in which Evil makes a very Real, although temporary, insult. But He has. And it is here where I begin to realize that it is the Existentially Felt Realities which answer me, or carry me, or bridge the gaps here. We ought not allow ourselves to be divorced from that which is Spirit, or Felt, or "Tasted" or "known". Unanswered Questions in this Existential Arena of the problem of Evil are weighty, but they are not overwhelming: inspite of the lack of an adequate, and purely, "intellectual description".

And this has to do, for most of us, with our own subjective and felt encounters with that Massive Other and Outer we refer to as God etc. And on the biological front it will, at some point, always be the same regardless of how many dots we connect in the purely physical arena.

I'm not sure if Malebranche meant by "....in the face of sub-optimal design and the problem of suffering..." that Pain, or Evil, is a result of suboptimal design.... I do not think that was meant, but if so then I think it would be more a result of somemthing wholly different, and not at all of any physical feature: Evil is, ultimately, a matter of Spirit, and of Will, and of Self, and of Love, or the lack thereof, and not of Body. It is out of the heart from whence this outer reality, or its patterns, have come. We must remember, in the business of Design, that ultimately the Physical is, now, after some issue of a Fall, "meant" to die, to break down. Some would even say appointed. But I cannot see enough to go deeper here on such a statement....at least from this current vantage point.

We must not wholly divorce the Spirit from the Body in these discussions of Design, or the Problem of Death/Evil. The Body, or this Universe, ultimately, dies. The Spirit, ultimately, lives.

Luskin wishes those were predictions!

They are not for two reasons: They are all too vague. And some had been observed before ID existed.

The most designers can claimed about these non-predictions is that they are compatible with design. But what is not compatible with design?

Einstein calculated from his theory of general relativity how much gravity deflects light.

This deflection had not been experimentally observed at the time but was soon after. That was a scientific prediction. It was specific enough to be wrong and it predated the observation. Got it?

Here's another: you will find ZERO precambrian rabbit fossils.

RonH

Awesome prediction RonH =)

Pardon the too many lines here......Evidence, of two kinds, and Predictions, of two kinds, are discussed:

I do agree with RonH, there are zero Precambrian fossils. And his analysis of Predictions is helpful. Of course, that offers nothing to the discussion of which is true: Atheism, or Theism. If the whole Bible is bogus, what has that to do with Theism or Atheism? Design or Blind, Indifferent First Causes? Aristotle’s Uncaused Cause is out there somewhere I suppose. Perhaps Mankind will come to the end of Himself, as the world grows more dense, literally unable to rescue himself from himself. And maybe wars will perhaps become commonplace, everywhere, and all circling the drain around some epicenter in some part of the world full of sand. And maybe our antibiotics will grow ever more futile, as plagues become commonplace in a hyper-dense vector filled world. And maybe a third of our sea-life will die. And maybe ever more frequent earthquakes, and man’s innate tendency to destroy one another, will, perhaps, have something to do with this. I don’t know. And maybe we can even go so far as to say that Nature’s Seasons themselves, that which has remained unchanged forever, will in fact change, and winter will no longer be winter, and summer will no longer be winter, or maybe it will all be summer, as the season’s and weather themselves actually change. And maybe the love of mankind will wax cold. And maybe something will happen to the food supply of massive areas of Man, leading to massive famines. And maybe Man will one day have something which allows, not the destruction of villages, but continents. And maybe the prediction or the phrase of, “And except those days were shortened mankind would have destroyed himself” may perhaps one day be applicable.

Those may perhaps be specific enough to be proved wrong, and may possibly pre-date such impossible, earth-ending, love-affirming observations themselves. But what have such statements to do with the Truth of Atheism or Theism? Nothing.

RonH still has not answered the question: What is the Ultimate Ethic? Is it Love? Is it Blind Indifference within the Toughest Survive?

Some of us are not sure what is “real”. Well then? Start with what you know is real. The day. Us…..you and I. Evil. A kind of Ought. A kind of need for mercy. The body. The sky. Other people. A kind of Ought Not. That tree. This chair. From there, follow the solid ground. Start there. Start with that. And when you see genocide, or rape, or slavery, or the sale of a four year old boy by a highly educated adult male to another highly educated adult male merely for the sake of profit for the one and sex for the other, and then, upon seeing such, you find “ought not” hitting you in the face: move forward…….when Atheism then tells you that that certain sort of Ought-Not you sense is, at best, wish fulfillment or, at worst, delusion, or, perhaps, a deterministic reaction to a sequence of stimuli which continues to exist because it fosters more frequent replication of your DNA, then it is up to you to decide if such a statement is a statement of delusion or of reality. Start with what you know is real. Start with that. Start there. If you decide atheism's analysis is right, well then, so much for actual evil. If you decide to believe the Ought-Not, well then, so much for atheism. Follow what you believe is real. That's the best any of us can do.

We can only do our best with the evidence we have........

LoveHimselfRescuedMe,

RonH still has not answered the question: What is the Ultimate Ethic?...

I don't know that there is one. Do you? How do you know?

RonH

Hi RonH:

For "what is real" read the above paragraph that begins with "Some of us are not sure what is real...." and just go with whatever you think....I happen to land closer to the theist explanation of my sense of ought not..... or maybe its just that its further from the atheists explanation.....but thats just my belief.....or sense of it.....we all believe in something.....for multiple reasons.....I think love is the ultimate ethic..... the "why" would fill a book....and is filled with subjective & objective realities..... and you may not be sure, but my bet is that you are not neutral. In fact if you are an atheist then it all starts with and ends with the Bind Indifferent as per our other, lengthy, discussions ....... we all believe something when it comes to that child sold......

PS: For the ultimate futility of all "design" travels, see my above "I agree with Malebranche" post.....the purely physical connecting of the dots ends in a machine which ......well.....dies.....


Typed from phone....excuse typos

"Bind Indifferent" was meant to be Blind Indifferent" etc ..... yadayadayada......

ID is an example of a theory that may have positive validation (not proof) but can never be falsified. As an example take the human eye, if it were taken as too complex to evolve naturally and thus evidence for ID, ID theorists could display it as proof or evidence of their theory. If then someone proves that it could evolve naturally, what would happen to the ID theory? Proponents would just say, well thats how God designed it... to evolve naturally... but hey look at the elbow joint of the lower spotted weasel... that is definately too complex... and so on. It is not impossible to turn ID into a solid theory that is falsifiable and within the bounds of scientific understanding, but only by sufficiently limiting and purposefully defining the theory. This is something that is rarely done.

The better question is, why would God design a universe to appear natural in 99.99999% of its aspects but leave little clues to its design? Think about what this accomplishes, you would have to believe that scientific thought is an afront to god. If it is such an afront, why do you support technology and the advancement of something that is an afront to God. God hates science but must love hypocrits.

Amy,

The existence of "junk DNA" doesn't effect your worldview either way.

If Junk DNA exists, just say: "Another sign of the degradation that has inflicted the world since the fall of man."

If Junk DNA does not exist, just say: "My how perfect is the Lord's creation - beautiful and without error."

Hi MathKills (and Amy and others I guess)

In my discussions of these topics with various chemists, biochemists, bio-physicists (I’m still not sure what THEY study), and others, it is clear there is no lack of sheer, well rehearsed intelligence. On both sides. I often, in times past, “set my sights” or “aimed my weapon” as it were on the Thinking, or Intelligence, of anyone who was so bold, and of course ignorant enough, to think differently than I do about these matters.

There is a whole world of beautiful integration out there among thoughtful and careful thinkers, whether Agnostic, or Atheistic, or Theistic, and etc. I would offer to MathKills that I have yet to find 99.99% anywhere…...there is simply too much we do not know.

I enjoyed your Name here of Mathkills.. ….John Lennox is what is called a “Pure Mathematician” at Oxford, and holds several PhD’s and yada yada yada…etc. He is simply one of many Thinkers out there, along with Hawkings, and Hitchens, and others. I find very little, if any, ignorance, on either side. I do not think God, or Christians, or Atheists, or Agnostics, or Theists, hate Truth, or Science, or Knowlege, or Searching. It is in the asking of our questions where we hope to find our answers.

For the beauty of Science, and the wonder of Reason, and the bridge to Faith, I have enjoyed the following:

1) Faith, Reason, and Integration, by John Lennox http://rzim.christianbook.com/faith-reason-integration-with-printed-booklet/9781612562087/pd/256208?item_code=WW&netp_id=882140&event=ESRCN&view=details

2) God or Science: Stephen Hawking's False Choice, by John Lennox. http://rzim.christianbook.com/god-science-stephen-hawkings-false-choice/john-lennox/9781612562636/pd/1135BD?item_code=WW&netp_id=882676&event=ESRCN&view=details

3) God and Stephen Hawking: Whose Design Is It Anyway? by John C. Lennox. http://rzim.christianbook.com/and-stephen-hawking-whose-design-anyway/john-lennox/9780745955490/pd/955490?item_code=WW&netp_id=891482&event=ESRCN&view=details

4) God's Undertaker: Has Science Buried God? Updated Edition, by John Lennox. http://rzim.christianbook.com/gods-undertaker-science-buried-updated-edition/john-lennox/9780825479120/pd/479120?item_code=WW&netp_id=612645&event=ESRCN&view=details

5) Is Faith Delusional? By Ravi Zacharias. http://rzim.christianbook.com/is-faith-delusional-2-dvds/9781612561868/pd/1274BD?item_code=WW&netp_id=882076&event=ESRCN&view=details


My favorite two are “Faith, Reason, and Integration” and “Is Faith Delusional” as these are DVD’s and therefore require the LEAST effort on my part ~~~~


Thanks for the recommendations, LHRM.
John Lennox is great.

I do agree that the design hypothesis ought to be testable. There should be a way to tell the difference between something that was designed and something that only appears designed. But then how does one tell the difference in a universe that was entirely designed by God? Wouldn't everything bear the hallmarks of design? In such a universe, we don't have any truly non-designed objects as a reference point.

On another note, I'm not sure that evolution is a science stopper when it comes to junk DNA. Though many evolutionists believed that junk DNA served no purpose, the recent explosion in junk DNA research (doi:10.1038/scientificamerican1210-53a) shows they continued to investigate junk DNA anyway. Why did they?

What counts as scientific prediction?

I implied above that only accurately describing a future event would count. Call that a Type 1 prediction.

But, it occurred to me that the gate is wider.

The bending of light had not been observed when Einstein put out general relativity. So that was a correct Type 1 prediction of the theory.

The orbit of the planet Mercury has been known to violate Newton's physics since 1859. If you start with Newton's assumptions and do the math you get the wrong orbit.

Einstein came along with general relativity in 1916. He wasn't thinking about Newton's problem with Mercury; he was thinking about frames of reference. Yet, when he did the lengthy calculation for the orbit of Mercury using the assumptions of general relativity he got the right orbit.

Both the theories can are commonly said to make "predictions" about the orbit of Mercury. This is justified because

1) Both Einstein and Newton were probably not thinking about Mercury's orbit when they set down their assumptions.

2) The orbits implied by the theories are precisely determined by the assumptions.

When Einstein set down his assumptions for general relativity he was as much in the dark about the orbit of Mercury as he would have been had the orbit (and its departure from Newton) been unknown. As smart as he was he needed to do the calculation to know if GR would give the correct orbit. He made what I'll call a type 2 prediction.

The 'predictions' laid out by ID folk are never Type 1 or Type 2.

RonH

Sorry RonH but I just can't resist the fun here!

These are type (something) predictions made by that eternally sacrificed self who tells us that a tree called love, and not of knowledge, is what things will, at some point, come down to.

The universe will one day collapse upon itself, or into itself, as what was once rolled out to expand is one day rolled back up to contract. The machine will break down. All of it. Mankind will come to the end of Himself, as the world grows more dense, literally unable to rescue himself from himself. And wars will become commonplace, everywhere, and all circling the drain around some epicenter in some part of the world full of sand. Our antibiotics will grow ever more futile, as plagues become commonplace in a hyper-dense vector-filled world. One third of our sea-life will die. (Perhaps) ever more frequent earthquakes, and man’s innate tendency to destroy one another, will have something to do with this. Nature’s Seasons themselves, which have remained unchanged forever, will in fact change, and winter will no longer be winter, and summer will no longer be summer, or maybe it will all be summer, as the seasons and weather themselves actually change. The love of mankind will wax cold. Something will happen to the food supply of massive areas of Man, leading to massive famines. Man will one day have something which allows, not the destruction of villages, but continents. The phrase of, “And except those days were shortened mankind would have destroyed himself” will one day be applicable.

Those are specific enough to be proved wrong, and they pre-date such impossible, earth-ending, love-affirming observations themselves.

But what have such statements to do with the Truth of Atheism or Theism? Nothing. And so it is with Type I, or II, or III, or whatever. We believe what we believe, and part of the "Why" is Intellectual, and part of the "Why" is Existentially felt realities. Hence the futility of any prediction whatsover to convince anyone of anything. We believe what we believe for far more weighty, and internal, reasons. All of us, apparently.

That is meant in all seriousness. The Utility of Science is unquestionable. But, again, this is not what is in question. That "Child sold for sex" mentioned above, has yet to receive an answer from RonH. If your existinally felt statement is "ought not" you must defend this from the purely Blind and Indifferent. If "blind and indifferent" contradicts your felt reality, then there is Incoherence within what you feel and what you "say". I'll resist the urge to copy and past our long discussion on Gravity and DNA, both of which define reality as wholly indifferent to good and evil, ultimately.

Science is wonderully beautiful. John Lennox (one of many) offers us such an appreciative look into that process in the context of faith, as mentioned above with Mathkills etc. But again, that is not what is in question. Science, and Others, give us predictions. But we don't believe what we believe just because they "give us predictions that pan out to be true". I'm just not sure that such has anything to do with the Truth of Atheism or Theism.


LoveHimselfRescuedMe,
TLDR

and from what I did see not a response me or even on topic

LoveHimselfRescuedMe,

I'd have to echo Ron... I no longer read your posts on here. Try to be a lot more concise please.

Hmm let's see if I can just give the bullets for the above:

1) RonH offered the presence and/or the abscence of various kinds of Prediction Types as a bar by which we can measure "validity" of an arguement. (very well written/described by RonH by the way)

2) I gave a list of predictions. Predictions about our Universe, our World, ourselves, and etc. Very falsifiable predictions.

3) I then offered that those predictions, though likely to be validated in the future/now etc. really don't sway us. We don't believe arguements due to the presence of this or that type of prediction.

4) I entered some subjective / felt items to show or offer that that's not how our "chooser" works. We are not wholly Cerebral Beings, immune to inner, felt "discussions".

5) I asked RonH "What has all of that to do with the Truth/False of Atheism, or ID, or Theism, or etc.

6) I offered that the presence, or abscence, of type one, or two, or whatever, predictions, do not define what is True or False; they do not help us at all to decifer if an arguement is True/False.

7) We do not believe Christ because of his predictions, though they come true.

8) We do not believe Atheism, Theism, ID, or etc, just because of the presence, or abscence, of various types of predictions. We are not "purely" cerebral beings. I think that is a good thing (for the most part....it has often hurt us though)

Hope that helps....RonH's writting, or ability to put together an intellectual description/analysis is awesome by the way ~~~~

I must say Im sorry to any Star Trek fans. In my 8 points above I offered that the "internal machine" in us that decifers "what I believe and why" is not at all "purely" cerebral, like 'Spok'. We dont believe Christ, or Atheism, or anything at all, due to any type of prediction, as per the bullet points listed. We are, unfortunately, better than Spok: we love. And what we love, well, matters. Call it a flaw if you want......I call it "better".

Thanks for the bullets, LHRM.
I read them, understood them, and agree with you in large part.
I did not do so with your previous comment even though I had made a start.
I suffer the same defect of unawesome wordiness, BTW.

Me too Daron but not to worry; improvement is always welcomed =)

LoveHimselfRescuedMe,

er... I think what you're saying is "humans are not (and ought not be) difference engines"

Instead of writing that rambling treatise, you could have just recommended that people go watch the end of iRobot.

Curiously, I think Will made the wrong choice.

He was faced with the ethical dilemma of whether or not he should save the hot chick, or save humanity from eternal robot slavery.

The robot chose to save humanity.

Will Smith told him to save the hot chick.

The robot got confused but followed Will's command.

Now, because this is Hollywood, the robot managed to pull off a "hail mary pass" in which Will was able to save BOTH the hot chick and humanity.

Earlier in the movie, recall the robot had to choose whether or not to save a grown man in a sinking car, or a little girl in a sinking car -- with a lower probability of pulling off a successful rescue.

Will was mad at the robot for saving him.

And for the moral of the story:

CLICK HERE

Sorry ToNy I didn't see the movie....not sure who the picture was/is of either but I know there's a great take home for me here somewhere =)

@LHRM & ToNy
well, it was funny. sort of.
wordiness = sometimes it is necessary. I understood LHRM perfectly. well said.

I’m still waiting for someone to address Malebranche. Do Intelligent Design folks wish to characterize God as a sort of person--that is, possessing a will and intentions and such, and therefore being effectively unpredictable--or as an abstract principle, having clear and unambiguous effects on the world around us? Or words to that effect.

I would offer that we can define Love Himself only to the degree which we experience Him; perhaps. And, for me, or anyone, to attempt to descrbe God in any absolute terms must be an attempt grounded in, well, for lack of a better term: conceit. Who can "define" Ultimate Reality Himself from this broken, cloudly, fragmented perspective? Maybe CS Lewis can help:

"Yet this seeming also is the end and final cause for which He spreads out Time so long and Heaven so deep; lest if we never met the dark, and the road that leads nowhere, and the question to which no answer is imaginable, we should have in our minds no likeness of the Abyss of the Father, into which if a creature drop down his thoughts forever he shall hear no echo return to him." CS Lewis

"God is basic Fact or Actuality, the source of all other fact-hood. At all costs therefore He must not be thought of as a featureless generality. If He exists at all, He is the most concrete thing there is, the most individual, "organized and minutely articulated." He is unspeakable not by being indefinite but by being too definite for the unavoidable vagueness of language." CS Lewis

"If anything is to exist at all, then the Original Thing must be, not a principle nor a generality, much less an "ideal" or a "value," but an utterly concrete fact." CS Lewis

I can try to tell you all the intimate details of Ultimate Reality. Hmmm.... I'll pass. A better person than I will have to help you. He is Love. That much I know. I cannot give you more.

In short: yes, Intelligent Design folks do want it both ways.

I don't know. I think He probably exist in something more like five and a half BILLION "ways", rather than just your "two". But who can define the Abyss we call God? Not me. I only know He is Love. My guess is there is more. Billions more "ways". But, for me personally, that is only guessing. I can't offer you more. Put words in my mouth if you wish.

You're right. I should not have implied that you'd addressed the question.

Hi Janney,
Which ID folks have you read?

Hello Daron,

Casey Luskin and Amy Hall. Why?

I have read several ID folks; and we all reach out somewhat past what the New Testament "specifically" tells us. Nowhere are we told "God is Concrete" or "God is Vague". We are told three things.

One is that God is Love, two is that we see Him, from our current, fractured vantage point, in a very blurred fashion. Three is that there is more to come; but we wont' know "that" until "then".

Janney wants us to define what is not defined for us. So, again, we know that He is Love. Beyond that is fun, is cool, is good for selling books and filling up blogs, but is, at the end of the day, guess-work to some degree on our part. I know that does not intellectually satisfy her: I'm sorry. But I do encourage her, and all of us, to keep asking questions as THAT is a great thing, and we ought to appreciate her/my/our willingness to engage.

Here is what we are told from Corinthians:


"....understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.


We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us.


But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love."

The best image we have of "The Whole" or of "God" is this: Love.

For now......

Hi Janney,
I'm just wondering who "ID folks" are to you and if it is worth discussing their views of what Intelligent Design can tell us versus who we know God to be through His Word.
Since you don't actually have an interest in the subject matter, but have merely had your curiosity piqued by this post, I won't bother rehearsing the differences right now.

You can start by reading the most prominent of the ID proponents who have expounded on this matter at length, Michael Behe, William Dembski and Stephen Meyer.

Since you read the Luskin piece at evoltionnews you could also check out the ID FAQs there:
http://www.intelligentdesign.org/faq.php

Daron,

ID claims to be scientific--that is, that any specific claims it makes about the world stand or fall based on the evidence--and I’m willing to accept this claim for at least the duration of this conversation.

Malebranche’s observation was simply that "some intelligent design folks" wish to hold this position and a who-can-know-the-will-of-God? position at the same time, which would immunize them to evidence that doesn’t go their way. I don’t know who the particular folks are. Amy and Melinda were given as examples of the "scientific" and "so what" positions, respectively.

You seem to be implying that, if I read more ID material, I’ll stop thinking that these two positions are inconsistent. Is that what you mean? Or do you wish to claim that they aren’t inconsistent after all?


LoveHimselfRescuedMe,

Nowhere are we told "God is Concrete" or "God is Vague".

The point, as per Malebranche, is that folks switch at will from "God is concrete" to "God is vague" and back again, as it suits them. Specific claims, both.

Hi Janney,

I agree that they do that...."they" shouldn't =)

They should not switch back and forth between Vague/Concrete or even say anything at all.... I mean they should not go beyond what the New Testament says without qualifying the statement with something like: "This next statement is sheer quesswork on our part, but we believe....."

God is Love. That much we know. Loving Love-Himself, and loving each other, and practicing our own internal motions of "You and not Me, Thine and not Mine, Other and not Self" as per that eternal pattern of the Eternally Sacrificed Self. That is all that we are given in any "concrete" way.

We know God is Love. I offfer to you that anyone who goes beyond that is engaging in fun, or coolness, or book selling, or blogg filling, or sincere intellectual exploration: but not the New Testament. That is the best I can tell you here Janney. I understand your frustration.

"Ultimate Reality is Love". Or perhaps, "the Ultimate Ethic is Love." These are either statements of Truth or not. If they are, or if you feel they are, or if you are not sure but think they might be, then start there. Start with that. God is Love.

Hi Janney,
I don't see any inconsistency whatsoever in the positions you are describing. Seeing that God, or in the case of ID, the designer, acted in specific ways in history does not imply in any way that all of His actions are predictable, apparent, or amenable to testing.
No Christian theist would make such a claim. He would both assert that God's ways are not our ways, that they are greater than and beyond our ways. He is both unsearchable and inscrutable as well as being perceptible and knowable. We can know what is necessary but not everything. He acts in history in ways that are observable and testable (the Incarnation and Resurrection) and He has plans and means beyond our knowing. Nothing here is surprising or contradictory.

This iteration, though, doesn't seem to have anything to do with your previous challenge about God being either a person (which He is) or an abstract principle (which He is not, but which might not be determinable via scientific investigation). Do you mean your two versions of the challenge to be the same?

Daron,

Isn’t it nice to talk about something other than inerrancy and hell? I think so, at least.

You say,

Seeing that God, or in the case of ID, the designer, acted in specific ways in history does not imply in any way that all of His actions are predictable, apparent, or amenable to testing. No Christian theist would make such a claim. He would both assert that God's ways are not our ways, that they are greater than and beyond our ways.

Well I think that in her original post, Amy actually is trying to convince us that we can predict what God would likely do if God designed a universe. Amy is suggesting that on the hypothesis that life is the product of intelligent design, we would expect to find no biologically useless features of organisms. Now certainly Amy believes that the intelligent designer is God. She seems to be committed, therefore, to the following claim:

The Design Prediction: If God exists and designed living organisms, then it is likely that God would have an all-things-considered reason to produce those organisms in such a way that all of their biological features are biologically useful.

After all, Amy writes,

But if, on the other hand, one predicts that because DNA was designed, then one can discover what each part of DNA is meant to accomplish, would that not prompt further research and discovery of a kind that would have been suppressed by a random evolutionary view? And, in fact, recent research into so-called "junk DNA" has been yielding results, as ID predicts.

Clearly Amy is relying on something like The Design Prediction stated above. In this context, therefore, Amy seems pretty confident in her ability to predict what DNA would be like if God existed and designed life. One wonders whether we would encounter the same sort of confidence when discussing sub-optimal design or horrific suffering, or whether we would at those junctures be met with something like, "We just aren't in the position to know what an omniscient, omnipotent, perfect being would and would not permit in any amount of detail. His ways just are not our ways."

Hey Malebranche, Darron, and Janney,


John Lennox and Ravi Zacharias touch on this in various places and their approach is interesting.

1) They start with the statement "There is no god" as per atheism etc.

2) Then, they take this same atheist and quote him saying, "And if there were a god, he would behave in the following manner".

3) From there, they show how (forgive me here) that is incrediblly arrogant on the part of (any of us).

This next paragraph is sheer hyperbole just to make the point so don't "freak out" guys:

I would extend this to include Theists with, "I, LHRM, stand upon my fallen throne and declare with my finite mind to all the world, and to God Himself, what God "would" or "should" do, say, create, think, reveal, and behave like".

This is really what we are "trying" to "figure out". What "would" God do if He "did A or B or C"? Intelectual Exploration is here very sincere I do not doubt. But, beyond what is fairly specific in the New Testament, I feel we must qualify our limits.

Lastly, I would counter this theory with my own "What God WOULD or SHOULD do..." with this possiblity:

We must remember, in the business of Design, that ultimately the Physical is, now, after some issue of a Fall, "meant" to die, to break down.

We must not wholly divorce the Spirit from the Body in these discussions of Design. The Body, or this Universe, ultimately, dies. The Spirit, ultimately, lives.

This is the end of my discussion....the rest is for fun reading on these topics:

Lennox and Zacharias:

1) Faith, Reason, and Integration, by John Lennox http://rzim.christianbook.com/faith-reason-integration-with-printed-booklet/9781612562087/pd/256208?item_code=WW&netp_id=882140&event=ESRCN&view=details

2) God or Science: Stephen Hawking's False Choice, by John Lennox. http://rzim.christianbook.com/god-science-stephen-hawkings-false-choice/john-lennox/9781612562636/pd/1135BD?item_code=WW&netp_id=882676&event=ESRCN&view=details

3) God and Stephen Hawking: Whose Design Is It Anyway? by John C. Lennox. http://rzim.christianbook.com/and-stephen-hawking-whose-design-anyway/john-lennox/9780745955490/pd/955490?item_code=WW&netp_id=891482&event=ESRCN&view=details

4) God's Undertaker: Has Science Buried God? Updated Edition, by John Lennox. http://rzim.christianbook.com/gods-undertaker-science-buried-updated-edition/john-lennox/9780825479120/pd/479120?item_code=WW&netp_id=612645&event=ESRCN&view=details

5) Is Faith Delusional? By Ravi Zacharias. http://rzim.christianbook.com/is-faith-delusional-2-dvds/9781612561868/pd/1274BD?item_code=WW&netp_id=882076&event=ESRCN&view=details

Malebranche, Darron, and Janney,

Just one more thought to add to my post. I hope this helps paint a picture:

If God were to take a set of eyes that are blind, how "would" or how "should" he go about correcting the retina's layers of tissue and cones and rods, and how "should" he go about restructuring the anatomical features? We can list our wish list, but in the end, Love Himself uses spit. Spit and dirt mashed into the eye. I don't know what spit and dirt look like under an electron microscope. But, in my mind, there is no logical connectioni between what I see there under my mircoscope and "sight". The two just don't logically connect.

Lastly, He told the blind man to "go and wash in the pool". The Purely Physical needed the imput of yet another Will.

We must not wholly divorce the Spirit from the Physical in this business of Design. And, too, we have within us no innate capacity to even come close to guessing what God "would" or "should" do.

Shall we, like that atheist, state, ".....but if there were a god, he would behave in the following manner....." ?

It's all spit and dirt for all we know. Science has its ceiling, its limit. The Physical, ultimately, dies, the Spirit, ultimately, lives.

Daron,

I don't see any inconsistency whatsoever in the positions you are describing.

You cannot be both beholden to the evidence and immune to the evidence. You can claim to be so, but it can't be true.

This iteration, though, doesn't seem to have anything to do with your previous challenge.... Do you mean your two versions of the challenge to be the same?

Yes. The "challenge," if you like, is this: God can be predictable, in the sense of a conventional scientific theory (this is ID's fundamental assertion, at least implied), or God can be unpredictable like a person with interests and intentions and etc. I doubt anyone here wishes to infringe on God's personhood, but it is the opposite of a good scientific theory. Hence Malebranche's observation that some folks seem to want it both ways.

P.S. "God is both predictable and unpredictable" = "God is unpredictable."

You cannot be both beholden to the evidence and immune to the evidence. You can claim to be so, but it can't be true.
You're right. What view would demand that I am?

Your comment is full of false dichotomies.
I shot it down already with the Incarnation.

What?

Hey Darron,

Janney feels that a Being cannot be Faithful, yet have abilities that we cannot fathom, and thus seem Odd, or Unpredictable, to the Finite. Your comment about the Incarnation implies that, because God has Knowledge and Capability totally beyond our comprehension, He can easily appear to be "unpredictable" to the Finite. While, your comment about God's trend of being faithful to love or B or C or whatever implies that He is often "predictable".

This convesation cannot really achieve any end, because Janney appears unwilling to admit that what we mean by "God" would innately have Knowledge, Capacity, Acts, and etc beyond our ability to predict, and yet also be faithful to love, or whatever. Who could predict the Incarnation by a purely Scientific Method? You can't. Because that Method needs a Male/Female etc.... Science cannot contain the Divine. Science has a ceiling.

And thus when the Spiritual impinges upon the Physical, as in the Incarnation, science is stumped and cries FOUL!

Jesus uses spit and dirt to fashion sight. Spit and dirt, beneath the microscope, make no logical connection to "sight". But who can peer into the Mind Infinity Himself? Janney is asking you to do just that. It's impossible.

And, the reason you will fail with her, is that she cannot admit that God, if there is one, could easily enter into the Unpredictable of the Incarnation, thus breaking all the rules, and, at the same time, He may be faithful to love, and save, or, as in my case, rescue.

As in my previous post, the atheist states, first that there is no god, but, if there were a god, he would behave in the following manner..... You can't make headway with that mindset. That mindset assumes infinite knowledge because it proceeds to tell the Infinite how it ought to behave.

The Incarnation, and the rescue of my life, are good examples of God's Complete Unpredictablity on the one hand, and His Complete Faithfulness on the other.

God is both Unpredictable and Faithful. The Hard, Emperical evidence of this is the Incarnation, and the Rescue of my very life.

I would add that these two "features" of the Divine are, by my sheer guesswork beyond what scripture tells us, merely two of five billion "features" He could unmask for us if He chose....but thats all guesswork.......

Thanks for that comment, LHRM (hope you don't mind the shortening?).
It is a good explanation of my point.

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