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Friday, December 23, 2005

Reaction to the Intelligent Design Court Decision, 2

I didn't anticipate posting about Intelligent Design again today, but (for me) I received a landslide of comments (4) to my yesterday's post. So I'm posting again. Some of this is written because of those comments, which I appreciate so much.

1) The central message of Christianity is Christ's redemption. Since that has to be accepted on faith, it isn't surprising that believing in God's creative action also requires faith, not scientific proof (Hebrews 11:3). (The New Testament emphasizes the creative activity of God the Son, not God the Father or God the Holy Spirit. See the first chapters of John and Colossians.)

2) I have read Darwin's Black Box, even used it as a text once. Michael Behe's thesis is interesting, and he may even be correct, but his book is not proof, in my opinion. It attempts to show that some aspects of living things are too complex to have arisen by natural selection, but saying that, and proving it, are two different things. At least some of his examples of specified complexity have been explained, since he wrote the book, without invoking a Designer. (Which can be one problem with Intelligent Design. If you say that anything that you can't explain the origin of was done by God, then if you find an explanation, it seems to make God smaller. God is responsible for the things we think we can explain, as well as those we can't. He is responsible for 2 + 2, as well as infinity.)

3) Behe is right about this:

Many people, including many important and well-respected scientists, just don't want there to be anything beyond nature. they don't want a supernatural being to affect nature, no matter how brief or constructive the interaction may have been. In other words, like young-earth creationists, they bring an a priori philosophical commitment to their science that restricts what kinds of explanations they will accept about the physical world. Michael J. Behe, Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution. New York: The Free Press, 1996, p. 243. Emphasis in original.

Those who "don't want there to be anything beyond nature" have done some unscientific things. I don't doubt that there are universities and public schools where science teachers (and perhaps others) say, in so many words, or imply, that science has proved that there is no God. It hasn't, and it can't. Statements like that should be just as unconstitutional as requiring prayer in public schools.

4) Prayer can be practiced, even on public school campuses in the U. S., by voluntary groups, but not as part of a State-mandated educational program. Intelligent Design could be studied and discussed in the same way. Unlike many, I am opposed to letting prayer and other religious practices be required by the public schools. So is the Supreme Court. I have two reasons for this opposition. First, if, say, prayer were required, this would mean that some teachers who are not believers could be leading it. Second, this would open the door for other faiths to have the same privilege, out of fairness, or if their religion became the majority in a school district.

5) One problem with stating whether or not one believes in "evolution" is that the word has so many different meanings. If it means "Change in a population, over time, in response to the environment," which is usually called "natural selection" and is what Darwin's theory was written about, he was right. Natural selection has occurred, for example in humans--if all humans came from one stock, there have been changes and divergence, just as would be expected from natural selection at work. Natural selection also explains insect resistance to insecticides and bacterial resistance to antibiotics very well. As far as I know, all scientists, including those who are young-earth creationists accept the validity of natural selection. These latter would say, however, that there hasn't been enough time for natural selection to have produced all the varieties of living things, but that much of this variety was specially created, or designed, by God in the beginning.

However, if by "evolution," is meant that there is no purpose in the universe, that's a different matter. There is no scientific evidence proving that, and Christians must reject it. "Naturalism" is a term often used to mean that there is no purpose in the universe, or at least excluding God from explanations. It contrasts with "supernaturalism."

There are various other meanings to "evolution."

Thanks for taking the time to read.

Merry Christmas.


Julana said...

Merry Christmas to you, too!

People bring their presuppositions to the table when they talk about intelligent design. At one level, they're talking about their religious beliefs; you can't avoid it.
I think one goal of the ID team is allow criticisms of Darwin's theory into the classroom, at this point. They are not advocating teaching intelligent design as a theory.
I would have to read Behe's whole book, to discuss it well. I read the chapters I found most interesting. I find his arguments worth listening to, at the general level, whether or not some particulars have been altered. I think the man has a lot of guts. And I haven't seen a whole lot of people in the academy who do. PC rules.

The disturbing thing is that the scientific community appears to be acting like an old boys network regarding ID. I've seen enough of that in my lifetime, in enough different environments, to cause their attitude to call their whole position into question.

Martin LaBar said...

I agree with your comment. Thanks for reading again, and commenting.

Russell Purvis said...

I must say that I am glad that you made the point of scripture that most people who debate any side forget, and that is the God of Heaven and Earth, may he reign forever.

Adam said...

I can't deny the march of evolution, in the form of natural selection, as it effects change on a day-to-day basis. I can, however, find fault in the so-called "molecules to man" school of thought. I've watched it blind people from seeing God through His own creation. ...So that men are without excuse. (Rom. 1:20)

It hurts, and it frustrates me to no end.

I freely admit that I believe God created the Universe not so very long ago (at least, compared to what modern Astro-geology says), but to say that there are no fundamental principles handling the 'trivial' bits of Life is to be ignorant. Even if grand-scale Evolution handled the whole progression, God is still holding the pieces together: And I find peace in that fact. "He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." (Col. 1:17)

Now we must consider how to get others to see Him, too.

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks for reading, Adam. I agree with you almost totally, especially your last sentence.