Re: No Scientific Theory

Andrew’s disagreement with John West, it seems to me, comes down to a single word: “directs.” In essence, West presents two opposing possibilities:

  1. “God… intentionally directs the development of life toward a specific end.”
  2. “God himself cannot know how evolution will turn out.”

Andrew’s hypothetical of God’s experimenting with “multi-creation,” picking “the one He likes best and [making] it permanent” would fit within possibility #1, with God’s method of “directing” being, essentially, a series of model runs. I’d argue that such a possibility would have, in West’s words, “consequences for how we view life” that are more similar to the tweaking God than the ball-rolling God, because the critical difference is the belief that God has a preference that may be understood (admittedly to a limited extent) by observing that which he has made, as St. Paul put it.
My own view is that all realities that could exist do exist in the only way that it makes sense to call “real.” (In religious terms, one might say that God’s imagination is reality.) What we experience as the linear progression of time is actually the movement of our souls across a playing field of options, and God acts mainly by drawing our souls toward a particular range of those possibilities.
Moving more than a clarification or two beyond that stage in the discussion requires many, many more paragraphs than I intend to pile on, here, but the salient point is that there remains an indication of “intelligent design.” If there is a distinction worth making between West’s statements and Andrew’s, I wouldn’t characterize it as one of West limiting God’s rules, but one of Andrew limiting God’s definition of “directing.”

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Citizen Critic
Citizen Critic
13 years ago

In reading your opening post, it occured to me that it all depends on what your definition of the word “IS’ is.

Citizen Critic
Citizen Critic
13 years ago

Liberals have Global Warming, and Religious Conservatives have Intelligent Design.
Both are unproven fantasies designed to fit their ideology and mobilize their following.

Justin Katz
13 years ago

Your equivalence is stunningly ill considered. The “mobilization” of intelligent design is narrowly applied and with the motivation of not having the group’s understanding of the world locked out of the public square.
Global warming, by contrast, is used as cover for any number of left-wing policy preferences, most of which involve dictating behavior well beyond the inclusion of a particular point of view in the public education that children receive.

Andrew
Editor
13 years ago

Justin,
I disagree that the two possibilities you listed are inherently opposites, specifically because John West holds them both to be simultaneously true. It’s West’s position that God intentionally directs the development of life towards a specific end, therefore God did not use evolution to created human life, because even God himself cannot know how evolution will turn out.
That’s West placing evolution outside of the means that God is able to use to achieve His ends, not me placing a limit on the meaning of “directing”.

Justin Katz
13 years ago

Andrew,
Unless you’re bringing in information from something else that West has written, I think you’re attributing to him an extremity of position that doesn’t accurately apply. His reference to evolution is (quoted from memory): “If evolution is an unplanned process.” What you’re attributing to him is “evolution must necessarily be an unplanned process and is therefore false.”
It’s the word “unplanned” that brings you and he within the range of semantics with “directs,” inasmuch as your hypothetical about choosing the desired evolutionary course is clearly a planned process.

Andrew
Editor
13 years ago

I haven’t attributed any position on the truth or falsity of evolution to West. I’m saying that he’s saying — and I think I’ve got this right — that if evolution is a random process, or more precisely, if evolution is driven by a random processes, then God is somehow diminished.
But even more precisely, what West is saying is that if evolution appears from our perspective in the universe to be driven by a random process, then God is somehow diminished. That assumes that our human perspective can be as wide as that of an omnipotent God, which is not a good assumption.

Justin Katz
13 years ago

But you’re playing with the idea of randomness. West emphasized a particular (albeit perhaps dominant) vision of evolution as “an unplanned process.” He describes the “Darwinian worldview” as one in which “even God himself cannot know how evolution will turn out.” That’s the strain of evolutionism against which he is arguing.
To argue against him, you presented the possibility that (1) evolution is planned [by modeling] and (2) God knows exactly how it will turn out. Where’s the difference?

rhodeymark
rhodeymark
13 years ago

I think you let CC off the hook too easily, Justin. The parallels between Darwinism and Global Warming science are many, and easily proven. In both cases, powerful establishment organs (i.e. NCSE, IPCC) have been formed to prevail in the political argument that the science has spawned. In both cases, the skeptics are mocked and vilified while their real arguments get ducked. In both cases, mainstream media are overwhelmingly decided on one side of an unresolved (and in the case of “origins”, scientifically unresolvable) issue. As far as I am concerned, anyone who watches the animations of messenger RNA transcription, and says “oh yeah, natural selection can explain that” is a powerfully deluded individual, bordering on the fool.

Andrew
Editor
13 years ago

My point is that the best scientific description of the creation of life that we may ever be able to come up with — where “scientific” means that which is based on observable and repeatable phenomena, the realm that science is limited to — may appear from the perspective of mere mortals to be driven by random processes. If so, that description imposes no limitations on God. We don’t have to add a disclaimer to the biology, just like we don’t have to add a disclaimer to the physical theory of gravity adding that God can make objects that normally attract repel, lest God be viewed as less powerful than gravity.
And just to be clear about what I’m not arguing: Scientists and others who think they can draw moral conclusions based on the fact that the concept of randomness is useful for describing the processes they study in their fields aren’t making any contribution to science, and usually precious little to philosophy, theology or any other.

Andrew
Editor
13 years ago

And furthermore, upon re-reading the badly constructed 2nd paragraph of my last comment, I feel I need to be clear about what I’m being clear that I’m not arguing.
I am saying, definitively, that scientists and others who think they can draw moral conclusions based on the fact that the concept of randomness is useful for describing the physical processes they study in their fields aren’t making any contribution to science, and usually precious little to philosophy, theology or any other field.

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