Is Intelligent Design Dead? (RJS)

There is an interesting column by Paul Wallace on the Huffington Post: Intelligent Design is Dead: A Christian Perspective.

Wallace quotes another blogger, Jason Rosenhouse:

In the nineties and early 2000s, ID seemed to be producing one novel argument after another… it was [then] possible to wonder seriously if ID was a serious intellectual movement, or just another fad that would die out on its own. That verdict is now in. ID is dead.

And then continues:

Rosenhouse is right. ID has no future. His arguments — that over the last few years ID proponents have given us nothing new, that it is mired in the past, that it has merely been recycling its arguments — are all convincing. He rightly points out the scientific weaknesses of ID while simultaneously shining a light on the strengths and recent successes of evolution.

In sum, Rosenhouse does an admirable job dismantling ID from a scientific point of view. But there are other perspectives from which the folly of ID is evident. One of them takes us back to a Christian astronomer who worked at the dawn of the scientific revolution.

Read the rest in Wallace’s post.

Wallace goes on to point out that Johannes Kepler used as his axiom: The universe has been designed; therefore it must be comprehensible. In contrast the axiom of Intelligent Design is, Wallace suggests: The universe is incomprehensible; therefore it must have been designed. This puts a stop to scientific investigation.

I am not sure Wallace has quite the right sense of the axiom of Intelligent Design. Rather it seems that the axiom is: The universe is designed, therefore it must be incomprehensible, … as though God, if he exists, must as a matter of course have left incontrovertible scientific evidence of his involvement for us to find.

I agree with Kepler and with Wallace – from a point of view of faith it makes more sense to say: the universe has been designed, therefore it is comprehensible. And we can take this a step further: the universe, in its comprehensible design, points to the creator.

Comments?

Is Intelligent Design Dead?

If not, why not?

If you wish to contact me directly you may do so at rjs4mail[at]att.net.

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  • Jeremy

    I think it was DOA, it’s just a matter of how long it will take the establishment to realize it. The evangelical establishment, that is…

  • http://jmsmith.org JM Smith

    I remember God being pronounced as “dead” a few decades ago too…

  • http://nateduffy.blogspot.com Nathan Duffy

    Seems like Wallace via Rosenhouse makes a false equivocation between ‘novelty’ and ‘strength’ or ‘fecundity’. “Giving nothing new”, “being mired in the past” etc. are inherently value-neutral qualities. It’s like dismissing literature as a legitimate art or form of expression just because you think all the best novels have already been written. If that really is their strongest objection, then their case is pretty weak.

    And Wallace’s characterization of (good) ID is way off base visa vis his (mis)appropriation of Kepler’s maxim.

  • http://www.exit-25.com paul del signore

    Intelligent Design as re-defined by the media or certain proponents is dead. Intelligent Design in it’s purest sense is not. It is too broad a movement to define away by a proposition or statement.

    Intelligent Design may need to evolve into another name (no pun intended) as the name is highly tainted. It’s amazing how often I hear ID being misrepresented in the media as synonymous with creationism.

  • http://www.jasoneichacker.com/ Jason

    I would argue that, when looked at from the framework of scientific theory, intelligent design’s life span as considered in popular culture could only have been short. Those who have turned it into an anti-evidence standpoint have ensured its demise without serious consideration.

    However, I think the general perspective — from those who believe and those who have yet to start — is more along the blended axiom pointed out at the end of the post. Where we direct the awe inspired by investigating anything is a always matter of faith, whether in God or something else.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    Where is that guy that used to run around here with the ID tatoo? I have not seen him for a long time.

    I work with people who carry on the faith. I should not judge them for that, right?

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    I’m don’t like the notion of the comprehensible universe, or even a designed universe. I like an elegant universe that points to a creator. The more we look the more we appreciate the elegance.

  • Gavin

    Given the last two decades during which modern forms of biological ID have failed to uncover or present any firm, positive scientific evidence to back up its own claims to a standard acceptable to the (multireligious) scientific community it is indeed dead.

    Unfortunately as part of an agenda driven movement in some quarters of the Christian church we haven’t seen the last of it just yet.

  • David S.

    I do not believe ID is dead. I believe that article rehashes the same old caricatures of ID that have been brought up time and time again. Not to say that all of it is wrong, but for the most part it is an oversimplification of ID. I believe that Stephen Meyer thinks that DNA is comprehensible, and that is why he believes it points to a greater intelligence. I have only heard a few evolutionists who actually take the ID arguments seriously. Richard Dawkins will never debate an ID proponent because he does not want to give them a level of respectability. I think that is how most scientists try to deal with ID, by simply ignoring it. I believe most of them want it to be dead so they won’t have to put up with it.

  • http://jesus.scilla.org.uk/ Chris Jefferies

    Intelligent design simply doesn’t account for the evidence. Evolution accounts for it exceptionally well. Intelligent design is not a scientific theory, it’s an hypothesis that is, frankly, insupportable.

    But this debate needs to go way beyond intelligent design and evolution. The scientific understanding of the first moments in the development of the universe remains speculative, but from about a millionth of a second onwards it’s pretty secure. An expanding universe with an origin about 13.5 billion years ago is almost a certainty. Nothing else really fits the facts.

    Against this backdrop intelligent design seems a minor side-issue.

    We need to stop arguing against the evidence, we need to shift our focus onto the fact that the way things are is the way the Almighty made them.

    I have no problem with that and I know I’m not the only Jesus follower to think so.

    See http://jesus.scilla.org.uk/2010/04/science-and-faith-war-or-peace.html

  • David S.

    Intelligent Design does not argue against the universe starting 13.5 billion years ago.

  • Kenny Johnson

    I was once an ID supporter/proponent, but have since become more sympathetic to theistic evolution (I never really wholly denied evolution in the first place). However, I’m still sympathetic and believe its possible to detect design in nature — and therefore am a bit sympathetic to the ID case. I think Meyer and Behe in particular have brought interesting questions to the table. I respect them both.

    I’m also still a bit skeptical of the purely naturalistic powers of evolution. E.g. that random mutation and natural selection are the cause of speciation and all the diversity of life on Earth.

    But as someone who struggled to get a B in college biology… I’m not ready to defend either view. :) I’ll just be happy to read on ponder the different understandings.

  • Michael Fox

    Since when is the Huffington Post capable of a Christian perspective?

  • http://jesus.scilla.org.uk/ Chris Jefferies

    David S wrote: Intelligent Design does not argue against the universe starting 13.5 billion years ago.

    I didn’t suggest that it did.

    What I mean is that the ID/evolution debate is a rather small matter against a much larger backdrop. Faith and science need to find ways to get along amicably by understanding that there is no basis for disagreement over what we observe and what we believe.

  • David S.

    I agree with you to some extent, Chris. The only problem is that we have to interpret what we observe, and not everyone is going to come to the same conclusion on evolution.

  • JohnM

    Kenny Johnson #12 – Appreciate your post. I more or less share the sympathies you express – and definitely share your skepticism. One question I have to ask: If it’s theistic, is it evolution? Honest question if anyone is able and willing to explain how that might be.

  • Kenny Johnson

    JohnM,

    My understanding is that those who claim the label “theistic evolutionists” believe that God was not directly involved in the evolutionary process. That those were natural processes.

  • Robert A

    It’s only dead in the media and popular conversation. ID still has legs.

  • David F. Schultz AIA, NCARB

    I think Behe and his argument for “irreducible complexity” in particular has brought to the discussion a real conundrum for the pure evolutionist who sees mutation as the answer to all life progression. I think the attempts to discredit his posit have all fallen short of explaining how blood, or the eye sprang or mutated into existence.

    For those who have not read it, his book “Darwin’s Black Box” is a must read.

  • AHH

    I agree with RJS’s restatement of the core idea of most of the Intelligent Design movement, which is that it is necessary for God to be scientifically detectable in nature. The best 5% of the movement would use “possible” rather than “necessary” there, and that I don’t particularly object to.
    Of course in practice often the idea of ID just provides cover for blanket rejection of evolution, including things like common descent that are beyond a reasonable doubt (and that are not intrinsically incompatible with ID, as we see in ID proponents like Michael Behe who hold Theistic Evolution views).

    So is ID dead?
    Intellectually, I agree that it has been dead for years now, turning into primarily a propaganda movement and participant in the “culture wars”.
    But in terms of influence in Evangelical churches, it is far from dead. As influential as ever, and maybe more so as old-fashioned “creationism” gradually diminishes and ID becomes a landing point for those who have been deeply inculcated with the lie that evolution and Christianity are incompatible.
    When Willow Creek (for example) stops promoting ID, or Biola, or FotF, then I’ll be more willing to declare it truly dead.

    Maybe a similar question would be whether “The Rapture” is dead. Dead intellectually IMO, but not in terms of popular influence.

  • AHH

    Kenny @17,

    It sounds to me like your definition of “theistic evolution” has been influenced by the ID propagandists.
    Theistic evolution simply means that one accepts the basic idea of evolution (common descent, the branching out of the tree of life over time) and believes that God was in some way in charge of that process. Some holders of a TE position would see God as directly intervening at points during the evolutionary process; others (probably more numerous) see it as happening via normal natural processes (still under God’s authority, of course).

    And that last is a significant point. A theological mistake some make in these discussions is to set “natural explanations” and “God’s activity” as mutually exclusive. I think proper Christian theology sees the workings of nature as tools of a sovereign God, so we don’t need to find room for God by looking for gaps in natural explanations (which is basically what the ID movement does) because God is over the whole process, not just the gaps.

  • Joe McFaul

    Dead.

    If you google “Intelligent Design”. You’ll see only three types of articles…creationism (and yes most IDists are creationists) The Discovery Institute whining that ID is misunderstood and architects, computing geeks and car makers all extolling their “intelligent design.”

    What’s missing? Any ID scientific research.

  • RJS

    AHH and Kenny,

    Interestingly one of Polkinghorne’s points in “Theology in the Context of Science” is that the cloudiness and intrinsic uncertainty in quantum theory and chaos leaves room for God’s providential action in the world. Whether this plays a role in evolution or not is unknown. He doesn’t see the details such as five-fingered humans as inevitable, but does think we as sentient beings are intentional products of God’s creation. This doesn’t lead to ID though – which generally suggests that there are features that must be a result of the direct intervention of God.

  • http://highroadkokko.blogspot.com Bruce Kokko

    Oh, please, stop the madness. I’m a doctor of organic chemistry and my brother is a mathematician specializing in probability. He was a longstanding atheist until his beloved mathematics proved that atheism is an impossibility. ID, at least the way I couch it, says the universe is too complex to have happened by chance. The honest materialistic scientist will admit that the event horizon is too recent for all the complexity to have fallen into place without something from the outside effecting order. They are also quick to point out that that doesn’t mean they have to invoke a deity as the outside agent; but that is nothing more than a faith statement. Darwin stated that his theory would fall apart unless it could be shown that things get progressively simpler as one reaches back to the beginnings of life. They have recently discovered complex protein synthesis machinery in prokaryote cells. There is order and design that defies time and probability. As my brother proved the odds of creating a random protein from a soup of amino acids over a billion year period is equivalent to winning the powerball every day for a year (can you say zero?). And this doesn’t even begin to account for nucleic acids and the necessary information they must contain. Natural selection only works if there is information and information that can differentiate advantage from weakness. Natural selection could not have driven the inception of the original machine of protein synthesis because there was no information. Such a decrease in entropy could not occur randomly in a universe that is given to increasing entropy. Finally, I would like to take exception to Dawkin’s assertion that Christian faith quenches scientific curiosity. That’s nonsense. The fact that God created an ordered universe has always driven me and no doubt thousands of other scientists of faith to want to figure it out, marvel at its beauty, and yes worship its Creator. Dawkin’s assertion is nothing more than a poor excuse to justify his militancy. Again I say, stop the madness.

  • http://www.modsynthesis.com modsynth

    The Discovery Institute is the fountainhead of the ID movement. I think they left the laboratory too early and just started putting out documentaries, showing up on TV, and going to court over “viewpoint discrimination”. That’s all they seem to talk about these days. If someone comes up with some new ideas from the design viewpoint, they may want to also come up with new terminology to distance themselves from ID and the DI. The DI really got beaten down in Dover. Their flagship example of Irreducible Complexity was thoroughly discredited, the antics of the school board unjustifiable, and their textbooks tied them to creationism via a poor find and replace job in an earlier manuscript. ID is now a political movement used by both sides in an unscientific way. It may always be popular among social conservatives trying to sneak in a creationist school board or otherwise undermine science education, and the Discovery Institute seems all too eager to roll into town and further erode the credibility of everyone that’s ever been associated with them. If the movement wants to be scientific, the next generation needs to stay far away from the conservative PR machine and make their case in the lab to their peers.

  • kenny Johnson

    Actually, my definition comes from many TE proponents own words. By your 1st definition of TE, Michael Behe is a a TE. Your 2nd definition which you say is more common sounds an awful lot like what I said — so why are you picking a fight with me?

  • DanS

    RJS, it is mind-boggling to me that after all this time blogging about TE and ID, you could include axioms like these as remotely resembling what ID actually is.

    “The universe is incomprehensible; therefore it must have been designed. This puts a stop to scientific investigation.”

    Utter nonsense. No one in ID teaches that the universe is imcomprehensible or that incomprehensibility could ever prove design.

    “The universe is designed, therefore it must be incomprehensible”. Again, totally misses the mark.

    This is the sort of stuff that drives ID folks nuts, when Christians can so completely misrepresent their views while quoting the HuffPo about the death of ID.

    How about something like this as a starting point. “Complex specified information is always observed to be a product of intelligence. Life is teeming with complex specified information, therefore life is most likely the product of intelligence.” That would only represent one key aspect of ID, but at least it would be a honest starting point instead of knocking down a simplistic argument nobody makes.

  • http://trinitariantheodicy.wordpress.com Deb

    Evolution is the mechanism God created to fill the earth (and perhaps more).

    AHH (post#21) makes a crucial observation: God’s creativity is seen in all of the natural order around us – the ‘tools’ of our amazing God. Which speaks to what I have come to see as the weakness of ID (I spent some time in ID on my transition from creationism to EC, or TE). It seeks to discover God at various points rather than seeing him in all. Once I understood that, I saw the richness that evolution offers and marvelled at what God has done in ‘creating a creation that can create itself,’ that operates within the parameters God set (the inherent limits built into the creation).

    I would change one small thing about AHH’s last line, from “because God is over the whole process” to “because God is IN the whole process.”

    I highly recommend http://www.biologos.org and Dennis Alexander’s “Creation or Evolution: Do We Have to Choose?” I am thankful that we do not; thankful that we can shed ‘either/or’ and embrace ‘both/and.’

  • RJS

    DanS (#27)

    Thanks.

    The first summary of ID – starting with the Universe is incomprehensible … came from Wallace. This is not a particularly good way to start the summary, using the word “incomprehensible” – and yours is a more specific statement.

    The rephrasing is mine. It doesn’t reflect the scientific starting point, but what seems to me to be a more significant motivation in a large part of the movement. The word “incomprehensible” in my phrasing came from Wallace’s article and is not a term I would have chosen. I’d skip the word incomprehensible and simply state The universe is designed and therefore God must have left clues of this design that could not have arisen through “natural” processes.

    Anyway, back to your comment – As I said, your rephrasing is an accurate summary of part of the ID movement. No question. The clue to design is said to be complex specified information. But I see two real problems here.

    The most important problem is that nothing in this idea of CSI undermines evolution. Even Meyer in his most recent defense of his book points strictly to the origin of life as the evidence of design. The most reasonable inference, he suggests, is that God (or an unnamed designer) must have started or seeded the process. I am not going to get into this because the origin of life question is a huge mass of speculation – evolution following the origin of life is far better attested.

    The second problem is with the opening: Complex specified information is always observed to be a product of intelligence. This is the most poorly argued part of Meyer’s book. One cannot argue from analogy the way he does and expect to be taken seriously unless one is using the analogy to explain rigorous theory. There is no rigorous theory. If the ID movement could produce something here they’d start to have more of an impact.

    This last gets to the statement by Rosenhouse. When ID was putting out novel ideas for consideration it had potential … but these ideas need to be developed and defended, not merely asserted.

    If ID is dead, it is dead because the ideas are not being developed by their proponents.

  • http://modsynthesis.com modsynth

    The lack of development in the ideas haven’t stopped ID’s supporters from continue to spread the word. I still see the bacterial flagellum being used to explain how things are irreducibly complex even though it’s been reduced and shown to serve another function. This is a common concept in biology, but explanations of IC given to a popular audience seem to ignore this principle. I have no doubt that Luskin can get some students excited about ID, especially if the alternative is a strawman they call “Darwinism”. Ben Stein, Lee Strobel, the World Net Daily, D. James Kennedy, and so many others seem so impressed with Meyer and Behe that it doesn’t matter if a journal or other Christians in science like Collins and Ken Miller (and RJS!) have demonstrated the fallacy of their methods and arguments. Hopefully they will begin to dedicate more time to dealing with the obstacles their critics are pointing out rather than offering public defenses that appeal to their base.

  • http://homewardbound-cb.blogspot.com ChrisB

    “The universe is incomprehensible; therefore it must have been designed.”

    “The universe is designed, therefore it must be incomprehensible.”

    I don’t think either of these statements describe ID at all. I haven’t read everything ever written on ID, but I can’t believe I’ve missed that much.

    If anything I think the best summary would be:
    “The universe is comprehensible, therefore it has been designed.”

  • DanS

    Response to the HuffPo piece at Uncommon Descent.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2012/01/paul_wallace_at054751.html

    Key quote: “… fear of falsely attributing something to design only to have it overturned later has prevented design from entering science proper. With precise methods for discriminating intelligently from unintelligently caused objects, scientists are now able to avoid Kepler’s mistake.”

    So one project in ID is the development of rigorous criteria for distinguishing design from that which is the product of unguided natural processes. Personally, I think it is like “lighting a candle to see the sun”, but that is what is needed to satisfy the academic community. ID is about many things, many ideas being developed, but the other side simply doesn’t want to hear it.

    Neither side in this debate will convince the other. ID says Darwinism is dead. The academy says ID is dead. The general public continues to believe what it will. In the end neither side can prove what happened in the distant past – both sides make claims based on assumptions and inferences from current observations. My view – the existence of natural laws is itself evidence for intelligent design and it is illogical to think that the intelligence who formed those laws is bound to work only within those laws. Christian faith demands belief in things that cannot be explained by natural law alone, not only in the virgin birth and resurrection, but many Old Testament events as well. Seeking natural law explanations for events that took place during the formation of time/space/matter/energy – perhaps while natural law itself was in flux – is presumptuous from the outset. Getting free from the shackles of all forms of naturalism is essential.

  • RJS

    ChrisB,

    Many of us, including Polkinghorne, Collins, McGrath, and more, agree with the idea that the comprehensibleness of the universe points to design. This is the point made by Kepler and Wallace as well, although Wallace expresses it a bit differently.

    But this is not the ID position as I understand it. The design in ID, it seems, must be distinct from any possible “natural” explanation. It constitutes a proof that “natural” is not enough.

  • Kenny Johnson

    modsynth,

    I do not have the scientific background to comment, really, but I do know that Behe has responded to many of the challenges put forth to IC — including those about the bacterial flagellum. This may be why ID proponents still use it — because they feel it has still been adequately defended.

  • DSO

    AHH @20, “Maybe a similar question would be whether “The Rapture” is dead. Dead intellectually IMO, but not in terms of popular influence.”

    Don’t stop there. We probably can add the Exodus and the accompanying “miracles.” The same can be said of the “miracles” that took place during the time of Elijah & Elisha, right? Should we include the things that are said to be “signs” during the time of Jesus and the Apostles too? Of course Jesus and the Apostles existed and we think there might have been an Elijah or Elisha but there is no way they could have done the things described.

    Where do you propose we draw the lines on what to retain of the biblical accounts and what to discard?

  • DanS

    RJS

    “The design in ID, it seems, must be distinct from any possible ‘natural’ explanation. It constitutes a proof that ‘natural’ is not enough.”

    Again, I don’t think that is entirely accurate. Design “may” be distinct from purely natural explanation in ID, not “must”. If God exists he can work through natural processes. But yes, if no known natural process exists to account for the appearance of design, if the apparent design is sufficiently complex (with sophisticated interdependent parts and systems) and if the appearance of design is analogous to actual design we can observe, then it is not unreasonable to infer design.

    I would suggest the other side has a more rigid view, in order to be “comprehensible” the observable universe “must” be explainable by natural Processes. When no natural process is known, a natural process must still be assumed and pursued. “Natural” is always the only acceptable option.

  • http://trinitariantheodicy.wordpress.com Deb

    Given God, as creator and intelligent, does such a thing as a “purely natural explanation” even exist? I don’t think so. We have created a false distinction; perhaps that is where the issue more accurately lies.

    In God’s cosmos there is no ‘God-absent process.’ Design is therefore plentifully evident at every level and point of its evolutionary development.

    And that is the weakness in IDT (it is important to distinguish between ID, to which all Christians would subscribe, and IDT(theroy) as a separate belief/movement/interpretation). It seeks detectable evidence of God in what science cannot, as of YET, explain.

    ex., per Dan S., #36: “… IF no known natural process exists to account…, IF the apparent design is sufficiently complex …., and IF the appearance of design is analogous …, THEN it is not unreasonable to infer design.” All of the ‘ifs’ are like a house of cards.

    The view is that God is necessary for some things and not for others.
    IDT diminishes God; that is where my concern with it lies.

  • http://homewardbound-cb.blogspot.com ChrisB

    RJS, I think you’re mixing ID with the idea of irreducible complexity. ID is bigger than that one concept from biology.

  • AHH

    DSO @35,

    I’m not looking to “discard” anything from the Biblical accounts.

    I used the example of the “Rapture” because most Christian scholars agree that it is a bad interpretation of Scripture, but it still holds much popular sway.

    Similarly, I would say that the expectation that we should be able to find God’s fingerprints as gaps in scientific explanations of natural history is bad theology (not to mention the lack of fruitful ID science so far), so rejecting the ID movement is on that basis, not at all a matter of looking to discard any Scripture.

  • RJS

    ChrisB,

    I know that ID is bigger than irreducible complexity. But irreducible complexity isn’t the biggest issue here. Back when he wrote a couple of posts for this blog Logan Paul Gage noted that that ID is best characterized:

    When all of the scientific (not religious) evidence is put on the table, are certain features of nature better explained by an intelligent cause or by unintelligent causes like natural selection?

    And in the next post:

    First, if ID is only the proposition that an intelligent cause explains some features of nature better than mere material causes, then the ID advocate is not necessarily committed to intervention in the process of creation.  God could (intelligently) set up nature to unfold a certain way.  He need not intervene in “gaps.”  All ID requires is that intelligent design was involved and that the effects of this design are empirically discernable.(emphasis added)

    The main place where I have a problem with ID is in the part I’ve emphasized above – that the effects of design are empirically observable. Design is observable through they eyes of faith and wonder – but it may not ever be empirically discernible because it may be that we are wrong to try to separate the action of God from so-called “natural” processes. My use of the word “must” in the original post and my previous comments reflects the “are” in the quote here. I would have no problem if the phrase was “may be empirically observable”. I also have no problem with the parts of the ID effort that is looking for positive evidence of design, although the burden is on them to demonstrate and defend their claims.

    If ID is dead, or dying, it is because there is a lot of anti-evolution rhetoric and no positive demonstration.

  • http://ingles.homeunix.net/ Ray Ingles

    DanS –

    So one project in ID is the development of rigorous criteria for distinguishing design from that which is the product of unguided natural processes.

    That’d be useful for detecting if a new disease arose naturally or was created in a lab somewhere. I’m… skeptical the ID folks will be the ones to crack that nut, but good luck to ‘em.

  • DanS

    Deb 37

    The “ifs” are logical ifs, nothing more. Choices between alternatives are commonly “if – then” constructions. If I am a rational being, then I can discern something is true. If I am a committed materialist, then I will be skeptical of supernatural events. If I am a Bears fan, I will be less likely to like Aaron Rodgers.

    If, as you say, “if statements” are a house of cards, then logic is not possible. Is it possible to say no natural process presently exists to account for something? That a level of complexity exist to make an event almost infinitely unlikely? That we can observe and define events in such a way as to say there was an intelligent cause? I think none of those are unreasonable.

    “Given God, as creator and intelligent, does such a thing as a ‘purely natural explanatio’” even exist?” I guess purely natural explanations only really exist in the mind of folks like Richard Dawkins, but that misses the point. Normal folks understand babies are born as a result of natural cause and effect, even if God sustains nature. But the birth of Christ in Christian faith has always been understood as something different from the normal routine of cause and effect. Trouble is, science has been defined so rigidly that even if the virgin birth is true it must by definition be “unscientific” to believe it. I think that is the central problem. Science battles faith because science is defined to exclude the supernatural.

  • DSO

    AHH @39, you don’t like my use of the term “discard” and that’s fine.

    But I still would like to know where you draw the line as to what you discard or reject or do not think is good exegesis (you pick the term). Take the Exodus, for example. Or how about the “miracles” that accompanied it. How about the “miracles” of Elijah & Elisha? Do “most Christian scholars” hold to the literal occurence of these events or are they too spiritual or figurative, just like whatever Paul is describing in 1 Thess 4 is. It seems he is describing something. I have read the commentaries and journals too but I do not think the majority of biblical scholars think Paul is being figurative. I am still in the dark as to what you think he is describing.

    I’m not trying to be a jerk about this but am really curious as to what your exegesis is. You do not believe Paul is describing something literal is about all I can figure out.

    While this may seem to be off topic of the OP I think it has relevance in that it goes to how we portray our opponents and/or those we think are on our side of the debate. It is clear that there are a few who believe ID is being misrepresented and conclusions drawn from the misrepresentation.

  • http://www.TilledSoil.org Steve Wilkinson

    It is either I.D. or it is not. If not, then deism is about as good as thing get on the theistic side of things.

  • AHH

    DSO @43,

    This is not a thread about the “rapture”.
    As I understand it, the consensus of most Christian scholars is that the verse normally cited is a description of Jesus’ return to claim his kingdom on Earth, and that it does not speak of us being whisked away but rather is imagery of us as the Lord’s representatives coming to meet the king and escort him into his kingdom on Earth (as happened in the Ancient Near East when kings came to town).

    Read “The Rapture Exposed” by Barbara Rossing, or “Surprised by Hope” by NT Wright for more.

    My policy would be that if I “discard” a particular interpretation (which is NOT the same as discarding Scripture) it is because sound Christ-centered theology and careful analysis of the text in context tell me that the interpretation is bad. Whether a particular interpretation is somehow too spiritual or miraculous is not the point. I’m sure I am far from perfect in living up to these principles.

  • AHH

    Steve W. @44 said:
    It is either I.D. or it is not. If not, then deism is about as good as thing get on the theistic side of things.

    That depends on what you mean by ID. If we simply mean that our world is designed, the product of our intelligent creator, then all Christians believe in Intelligent Design.

    But this post is talking about the ID movement. Which is not just about saying things are designed (which all Christians affirm), but is rather centered around the idea that God’s design must be scientifically detectable.
    Between that form of ID and deism is enough room to drive the proverbial truck through, including historic Christian orthodoxy that sees God as sovereign in all things, not just in the things science can’t currently explain.

  • DSO

    AHH @45, thanks for the response.

    My concern was not so much on secondary issues as to the method of argument. Often people will reject certain teachings of the Bible because they do not like some who have almost become defined by the teachings. The rejection or reinterpretation has less to do with solid scholarship than to do with rejecting a particular group. On this blog there is a clear resistance against some in the church for a number of reasons, some legitimate, some not so much.

    Yes, I am familiar with Rossing but am not impressed. It does seem that Wright is the new Calvin for some here. He seems more careful and measured in his work than Rossing.

  • http://www.TilledSoil.org Steve Wilkinson

    @ AHH #46 -

    Thanks for the response. Sadly, when I listen to most secular scientists, or even a lot of theistic evolutionists, I don’t get the impression they understand what you’ve just said.

    One question though, if design, then why would we NOT be able to detect it? We seem to be able to in just about any other case. For example, how does SETI intend to ever succeed (assuming there is alien life). How would they ever be sure they found intelligence and not something with just the appearance of design?

  • http://www.TilledSoil.org Steve Wilkinson

    Also, wanted to pass this along, as it directly addresses the question posed in one part of the interview:

    http://www.apologetics315.com/2012/01/interview-on-intelligent-design-casey.html

    It is an interview with Casey Luskin of the Discovery Institute.


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