Intelligent Design (ID)
is in the news at World magazine, for getting a lot of criticism from Darwinists, who have enjoyed their monopoly on origin theories for so long they think it is a right. Unfortunately, even in this 200th anniversary of Darwin and the 150th anniversary of his book, the wheels are coming off the bandwagon. It is a bit like global warming, actually. If you will notice the hyperventilating used about Copenhagen--"last chance to save the planet from global warming!"--when in fact the data show that the last 9 years have been declining in temperature. What they really mean, is "last chance for me to get a powerful position in an intergovernmental organization."
So also Dawkins' books are all screaming about the victories of Darwin, when in fact, the last 10 years have seen a deconstruction of the very basis of the theory. The twin pillars of Darwinian orthodoxy--random mutation/variation and natural selection--have been shown to be false. Most mutations are directed by the genome, and natural selection is incapable of all but the crudest filtering. Even the twin observations for which this theory was developed--common descent and descent with modification--have been shown to be false with the genome project revealing how horizontal gene transfer completely destroys the "tree of life" that Darwin sketched in his notebook, make it into a "lawn of life" or a "jungle of life". Nothing in the past 30 years has made the Neo-Darwinian Theory any better, and most have made it worst.
Well, do we see any evidence that people are ready to ditch Darwin? Yes, actually, in the panic to make him a saint, and in the vitriol against ID. This blog is not intending to flog Darwin, but an attempt to address a recurrent and major criticism of ID. Whenever there is a debate between an ID'r and a Darwinist, the claim is made that ID is "a creationist in a cheap tuxedo", that ID believes God miraculously made the species.
The ID'r protests in vain that his is not a theory of origins, only a theory of design. But you see, Darwin also claimed his was not a theory of origins, only a theory of non-design too. We are always attacked for the other's sins, and we always see our own sins most clearly in others. The weakest part of Darwin's theory then and now, which he readily admitted, was an inability to explain how life began from non-life, or the origin-of-life (OOL) problem. Theodosius Dobzhansky, said that evolution was a theory of how living things change that had nothing to say about the pre-biotic soup, and therefore OOL wasn't a part of the theory.
There was a jolt of hope when amino acids were made by Miller and Urey in 1952, but when no advance could be found despite countless efforts over the past 55 years, it has faded to ashes. So knowing how hard this question is, the Darwinist accuses the ID'r of papering it over with a miracle. And in fact, argues the Darwinist, there are countless more miracles every time an ID'r needs another species. Such a belief in miracles, says the Darwinist, makes an ID'r merely a theist zombie in disguise, plugging a fideistic, miracle-laden, un-scientific worldview. And that's why, says the Darwinist, all other "origin" explanations aren't science but merely religion in disguise, because they all contain miracles. You let one miracle in, and the next thing you know you will have rain-dances on Wall Street, and seances in the West Wing. (Gingerich
fears snake-handling.) It just can't be allowed.
So that brings us to the question that this blog addresses. What is a miracle? How does God intervene (if He does at all)? And just exactly how do those ID'r figure that the design was put into creation?
The debate has lots of players, so we need to label them all or we will get quite confused.
The Young Earth Creationist
(YEC): Believes that God created the world ex nihilo about 6000 years ago, and appearances of age are deceptive. Science must be subservient to revelation.
The Old Earth Creationist
(OEC): Believes that God created the world ex nihilo about 13.7 billion years ago, and appearances of age are real. Science and revelation must ultimately agree.
The Intelligent Design
(ID): Believes that life and the universe show evidence of design, and that chance is an inadequate explanation for both. No comment on revelation, God or origins.
The Theistic Evolutionist
(TE): Believes that God created the world 13.7 billion years ago, but has done few if any miracles since, allowing life to evolve according to the plan established at creation (front-loading) or by mysterious interventions which cannot be detected since. Revelation is subservient to science.
The Materialist, or Methodological Naturalist
(MN): Believes that matter and space and energy is all there is and all there ever will be, and that God can neither act nor interfere in the cosmos. Law and chance rule the universe, and miracles don't exist.
The Darwinian Evolutionist
(DE): Believes that MN is right, and furthermore, that all life is the product of random chance and natural selection acting over a long time.
ID is defined in opposition to MN and by corollary, opposes DE. We note that it can contain YEC, OEC and TE as members, but in practice TE feel highly intimidated by ID.
DE ridicules YEC and OEC and ID, primarily by painting them as all variations on hidebound YEC, which one might say, is at least medieval if not patristic. Occasionally it tries to distance itself from MN, whenever it wants to pretend that it has no metaphysics and isn't a religion, but most of the time will religiously defend MN. (Wiker's book
demonstrates that Darwin was an MN long before he became a DE, which tightens the relation between the two.)
YEC opposes OEC for not being orthodox, and MN/DE for being atheistic. More often than not, YEC opposes ID for being a-religious, for refusing to commit to the Biblical view of creation.
OEC opposes YEC for being non-scientific, and includes the majority of TE as well as quite a few ID. It opposes MN/DE for being atheistic.
MN as a self-conscious philosophy is a rather small minority of philosophers. It holds much greater sway over scientists, who are often unreflective MN, adopting it because it was part of the science curriculum. Usually this type of MN remains latent until an ethics issue arises, and erupts as they apply some sort of Darwinian or Utilitarian approach, such as can be seen in the stem-cell debates. MN includes all DE, as well as all Marxists, all Communists, most Socialists and Fascists, many Progressives, variable amounts of Libertarians and even a few Conservatives. So it is not a philosophy to be taken lightly. Nearly all atheists and agnostics have a form of MN.
TE. Poor, poor TE. TE opposes YEC strongly, and for the most part, welcomes OEC at Christian conferences while disowning them at scientific conferences. Given the recent animosity of DE against ID, TE has taken to disowning ID
at scientific conferences as well. For TE is a bit of an oxymoron inasmuch as the word "Evolution" is owned by DE. So the first thing a TE will have to explain is why they are not DE. This explanation is more sociological than philosophical, since it comes down to behavior rather than theory, and usually involves either attending a church or praying. TE's founder might well be Asa Gray
, a late nineteenth century anatomist, who supported Darwin's book, but claimed that all of evolution's advances were the result of God's direction. Darwin demurred, but was glad for an advocate and book-seller, and so began one of the longest love-hate relationships in history. The problem is that "Theistic" is incompatible with MN. So TE finds itself trying to pry DE from MN. Gray did not succeed on Darwin, and 150 years later the TE still have not succeeded, but they love the company. So they survive by becoming very fuzzy about MN, using it when in science, abusing it when in religion. (See Gingerich in the Worldmag link
) And for the most part, DE will tolerate TE as long as they don't affiliate with ID and YEC.
Therefore one of the internecine squabbles between ID and TE is over the real significance of MN. This is why
Phillip Johnson's book, The Wedge of Truth
, talked about MN being the real problem, and suggested a strategy of prying TE away from MN.
Does ID presuppose a YEC or OEC position? And aren't both anti-MN? How then can ID claim to be science and not a religion?
The TE have an answer, thanks to Kant, that religion is in the realm of the mind, and science in the realm of matter, so they coexist nicely.
ID reply that this is nonsense, since religion posits a real, living Jesus who came down from heaven, was killed, resurrected and went back up to heaven. Likewise entropy, design, self, and consciousness are all scientific experiences that have little or nothing to do with matter, so that this distinction is completely artificial. And the only reason you TE's still do the Kant two-step, is so you can snag a dance with the DE/MN who control the scientific field and funding.
, but you ID'rs want miracles whenever you can't figure out the science. You're nothing but a bunch of wishy-washy God-of-the-gaps deists who didn't know that you've already lost that battle 150 years ago!
So let's rephrase the question: as ID scientists who have torn down the Kantian wall between religion and science, how do we include miracles without destroying our science, or include chance without destroying our religion?
(to be continued...)