a revealing parallel between Intelligent Design and conservative/evangelical views of the Bible

Here’s an observation I’ve been pondering for a few years but never thought to put it in writing until now. No big reason why. I just never got to it.

I’ve observed a revealing parallel between Intelligent Design and conservative/evangelical views of the Bible.

In a word, both tend to get nervous about what I will call, simply as a placeholder name, “natural processes,” where God doesn’t show up in a special, supernatural way.

So, humor me and let me unpack that a bit.

Some sort of evolutionary theory is tolerable for some advocates of ID, but only if punctuated by moments where God does something to intrude into an otherwise “natural” process.

ID research is dedicated to finding and exploiting alleged “gaps” where a naturalistic evolutionary processes would collapse in on itself were it not for God’s direct intervention. A classic example of defending this “God of the gaps” approach is the allegedly “irreducibly complex” motor of the bacterial flagellum.

Conservative views of the Bible work in a similar way. Some level of biblical scholarship is tolerable, as long as, say, the origin and rise of the Bible (to pick one topic) are at the end of the day explained as an act of God’s direct, supernatural intervention–by God coming from the outside, as it were, and invading the “natural” process of men of old thinking, meditating, and writing.

For example, the two histories of Israel’s monarchy–one in the so-called Deuteronomistic History (Samuel and Kings) and the other in 1 and 2 Chronicles–are clearly contradictory (or at the very last in serious tension) on many points. A “natural” explanation is that these histories differ because they were written at different times by different authors for different purposes.

A “God of the gaps” approach to addressing this phenomenon can agree with this “natural” analysis, but only to a point. The “naturalistic” process must in some meaningful sense be punctuated by God’s direct intervention, i.e., inspiring the authors. Evidence of such an intervention must be sought, explicated, and defended in order to show how Scripture necessarily transcends a naturalistic process.

The common way of demonstrating this divine intervention is by arguing for the “basic” or “essential” historical value of these histories, despite their divergencies, and in doing so safeguarding the fundamental divine nature of Scripture.

The common response to ID by theistic evolutionists is that God is actually part of what is erroneously called a “naturalistic” process. Evolution, it is argued (and I agree), is God’s way of creating. Of course, there can be all sorts of philosophical baggage attached to evolution–e.g., that a naturalistic process disproves God, etc. But such philosophical conclusions are rooted, I would argue, in the same mistaken notion that “God’s involvement” is necessarily of an interventionist kind.

Likewise, the, let’s call it, post-evangelical response to a “God of the gaps” process of Bible production will see the Bible’s “evolution” (as it were)–from oral traditions, court records, various legal traditions, etc., to a corpus of material that achieved authoritative status first in postexilic Judaism and then in Christianity–as “God’s way of producing” the Bible.

In both areas–the evolution of life and the “evolution” of the Bible–the issue among Christians is, “What does it mean for God to be involved?”  Must it be (1) in some sense that can be discerned and defended as an “outside” intervention”–or–(2) are the processes themselves the way in which God is present?

The problem as I see it is that the kind of evidence needed for #1 doesn’t exist.

In biological evolution, the alleged “gaps” that can only be filled by positing an intervening act of God continue to shrink and do not accord with the evidence, at least as it comes to use from mainstream sources (which includes Christians).

In biblical studies, the necessary interventionist presence of God, seen in the preservation of the “essential” historical accuracy and “essential” univocal theology of its components, is likewise out of accord with the evidence at hand and how that evidence has been interpreted in mainstream scholarship. Biblical scholars disagree, of course, on many things (they always have), but not on the notion that the Bible as we know it is the end product of a complex process of development that can be quite adequately explained without recourse to special outside intervention by God.

One reason why I continue to think that an incarnational model of the nature of Scripture is helpful, rather than other models (like an inerrantist one),  is that it provides some theological language for addressing the phenomenon of Scripture.

And with that, I bid you all a Happy New Year.



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  • denatured man

    What surprises me is how readily, even today, that many evangelicals continue to accept the supernatural/natural as binary opposites–just as do many of their adversaries from outside the church. The notion that the natural is a subset of the supernatural just isn’t on their radar screens. I don’t get it: evangelicals behaving like deists.

    • AHH

      Someone a few years ago referred to the ID approach as “stroboscopic deism”, and I think it’s an accurate characterization. The picture that the only action of God that really counts is occasional interventions, implying that God is absent the rest of the time (i.e., in things where we have “natural” explanations).
      The church would be healthier if we learned to see God not only in “gaps”, but in the entire fabric of creation.

      • Nancy R.

        And the danger of that view, AHH, is that it requires ignorance on our part. Once we do have a natural explanation for something that had previously mystified us (and that ID proponents had claimed was proof of God’s intervention), then God is once again squeezed out of the picture. The god of the Intelligent Design movement is a god that gets progressively smaller as we grow in understanding – not much of a god at all, is he?

        • AHH

          Nancy R.: Exactly.
          Does anybody remember the old kid’s game Booby-Trap? That’s a good illustration IMO of the “God of the Gaps” approach. You have gaps holding back the force trying to squeeze out God, and every “natural” explanation pulls out a gap/piece and leaves less “room for God”. And it can lead the the whole faith crashing apart.
          The root problem is the structure of the game the ID folks set up, with its false dichotomy between “natural explanations” and “God’s work”.
          And Pete makes a good point that some would apply a similar false dichotomy between human writing and God’s Word in the production of Scripture.

          • Nancy R.

            That’s a great analogy!

        • Go Sox

          I agree with everyone here that the ID movement, as characterized by its words and behavior, is a creationist movement that is both fundamentally anti-science and gap-based. No doubt about it.

          But what is always missed in these discussions, I think, is the fact that thinking about and looking for design in the universe is not in any way unscientific, and that the thrust of ID thought has no necessary reliance on the existence of gaps.

          To illustrate this, consider a thought experiment I learned from a friend, Del Ratzsch, a Christian philosopher known for his work on philosophy of science. Suppose the first humans to land on Mars exit their lander and immediately discover a diesel bulldozer. How will their thinking proceed? Will they first attempt to discover a “natural” explanation, perhaps some kind of strange wind pattern or geological feature that could explain the arrangement of atoms into metal (and yellow paint)? Of course not. They will look for evidence that an earth-based spacecraft preceded them there, and then maybe they will consider the possibility that a non-earth-based spaceship got there first. Think about it.

          At its best, ID thought asks us to consider what we would do if we discovered something similar on the earth (in biology, maybe, but not necessarily). We would, according to Ratzsch (and I agree), conclude that like the bulldozer, this thing is designed.

          The problem for ID, of course, is that they have to show that they have found an equivalent of a bulldozer and that they have found it on Mars. Now it seems to me that the argument about whether some biological machines exhibit bulldozer-like design is a tough one. Some, like Dan Dennett (and me) would say that the biological world is full of bulldozer-like design. My favorite is ATP synthase, a close second is a voltage-gated ion channel, but there are thousands of things in the natural world that (to borrow a phrase from the intellectually discredited Michael Behe) cry out “design!” Where ID fails, and fails badly, is in the Mars test. The bulldozer is not remarkable because it’s designed: it’s remarkable because it’s on Mars. ATP synthase is truly remarkable, but it happened in a place that seems well-suited for such things to happen, and the processes that generate such design (variation and selection) are well known. ATP synthase is a bulldozer in a Caterpillar parking lot.

          So I think it’s a mistake — strategically and intellectually — to say that ID has failed to identify design. Their failure, which I think is utter and final, is to find design in the natural world that requires supernatural (or at least superhuman) action.

          • AHH

            So I think it’s a mistake — strategically and intellectually — to say that ID has failed to identify design. Their failure, which I think is utter and final, is to find design in the natural world that requires supernatural (or at least superhuman) action.

            I don’t disagree, although I note that the term “design” is slippery and difficult to define. The way you seem to be using it differs from the popular sense in which interventionist action of a “designer” is implied.

            But what I wanted to say is that I don’t think the flaw you point to is their biggest failure. From where I sit, their biggest failure is theological, in assuming a framework where their apologetic depends on finding the equivalent of a “bulldozer on Mars”, where they are not only looking for such “design” (not unreasonable) but staking the truth of theism on being able to demonstrate it. A few ID proponents avoid this mistake, seeing these things just as a possible apologetic help, but most of the movement (including most of its presence in the church) errs badly by making it a theological necessity.

      • Klasie Kraalogies

        Spinoza’s God, but modified as it were?

        • Daniel Merriman

          Most definitely Spinoza’s method of scripture interpretation.

  • Just Sayin’

    Happy New Year, Dr. Enns.

  • ID “researchers” have shown that they behave exactly like Young Earth Creationists. When a transitional fossil is found, the YEC’s who first said that there were no transitional fossils, then change their story to say that there are two gaps instead of one!

    When Ken Miller and others demonstrated that the flagellum was clearly not “irreducibly complex” by showing that smaller sections of the flagellum can also be found in other cellular structures, Michael Behe replied that he wasn’t wrong, because no one had proven those smaller sections to be irreducibly complex. No acknowledgement that he was wrong about the flagellum – he just changed the goalposts to suit himself!

  • Pew Research: “Public’s Views on Human Evolution”
    The over-all support for creationism has declined, even among conservatives.

    • Agni Ashwin

      Support for creationism has increased among Republicans, the poll also shows.

      • I think the change in percentages is today’s White evangelical Christian Republican Party, rather than an increase in the anti-science bias of that demographic group. The Pew news item said otherwise, but didn’t show their numbers. I will try to read the full study soon.

  • Go Sox

    The overall point here is a good one, and the appeal of ID is undeniably in its seemingly credible challenge to “naturalism.” (This is the stated goal of the Discovery Institute.) But it’s important to avoid understandable mistakes in describing ID thought and claims. For example, in your post and in at least one comment, it is claimed/suggested that ID claims of irreducible complexity (wrt things like flagella) are wrong. But the basic definition of an IC system is that it is no longer functional when one of its parts is missing. There are thousands of systems, including most flagella, that are in fact IC. The failure of ID is not in their identification of IC in the world, but in the false claim that such things cannot arise by standard evolutionary mechanisms. Identifying a system as IC says nothing about how it got to that point, what its components were in the past, or how the components changed after they first came together. In short, it is simply false that the property of IC rules out (or even strongly challenges) an evolutionary explanation.

    Similarly, identifying ID proposals as “god of the gaps” arguments can be tricky. Many ID ideas are more like fine-tuning than standard miraculous creationism, and though fine-tuning isn’t that different from gap thinking, it isn’t typically associated with the god of the gaps. Perhaps more importantly, design thought needn’t rely on gaps at all — see great work by Del Ratzsch on this topic.

    These things have nothing to do with your observation about the Christian (evangelical) need for supernatural explanation. But it’s probably important to keep them in mind when criticizing the intellectual disaster of ID.

    • Behe made up the term “irreducible complexity” in a popular book. It has gained no traction as a scientific term in peer review. He defines an “irreducibly complex system” as:

      “one that contains one or more unselected steps (that is, one or more necessary-but-unselected mutations). The degree of irreducible complexity is the number of unselected steps in the pathway.”

      But this definition is scientifically meaningless, because the only measure that a mutation is “unselected” is Behe’s opinion. There is no need to credit “IC” as a term of any explanatory value.

      • Go Sox

        That definition of IC is not the one commonly discussed in the literature, and it is not true that the concept lacks “traction” in the literature. This is because while Behe may have coined the term, he did not invent the idea. See the review of Behe’s book by Allen Orr. There you will learn what IC really means, why it is certainly not scientifically meaningless, and why you should read Allen Orr a lot more. 🙂

        [I’ve tried twice to post this comment with the URL of Orr’s review, but it doesn’t take, so I’m trying again without the URL. Just google for the review, it’s in the Boston Review and is Orr’s review of Darwin’s Black Box.]

        • We probably agree on most salient points, given that we both consider Intelligent Design a “disaster” (at least in terms of setting some public opinions on science backwards).

          But although Allen Orr reuses Behe’s term “irreducible complexity” in his mostly negative review of Darwin’s Black Box, the term has most certainly not gained traction in scientific literature (though popular writing bandies it about). If you’d like a peer reviewed assessment of the concept, I suggest you read the article, “Irreducible Incoherence and Intelligent Design: A Look into the Conceptual Toolbox of a Pseudoscience” by Maarten Boudry, Stefaan Blancke, and Johan Braeckman, in the December 2010 Quarterly Review of Biology.

          And so that you know I’m not alone in finding little scientific value in the term “irreducible complexity”, here are a few expert opinions:

          Ken Miller
          “In reality, those two arguments, one invoking irreducible complexity and the other specified complex information, both depend upon a single scientifically insupportable position. Namely, that we can look at a complex biological object and determine with absolute certainty that none of its component parts could have been first selected to perform other functions.”

          Eugenie C. Scott
          “Neither Dembski’s design inference nor Behe’s irreducible complexity has fared well in the scholarly world … A search of scientific databases, such as PubMed or SciSearch, reveals that scholars have not applied the concept of irreducible complexity or the design inference in researching scientific problems.”

          David E. Levin
          “‘Irreducible complexity’ of biological systems was denounced universally by the scientific community as an intellectually bankrupt notion because of the great plasticity of the evolutionary process.”

          Statement of the International Society for Science and Religion
          “ID has not yet opened up a new research program. In the opinion of the overwhelming majority of research biologists, it has not provided examples of ‘irreducible complexity’ in biological evolution that could not be explained as well by normal scientifically understood processes.”

          Douglas Theobald
          “Michael Behe’s term “irreducible complexity” is, to be frank, plainly silly.”

          • Go Sox

            Well, we’re splitting hairs here, completely, but I’ll offer this explanation of what I was trying to say. Orr notes correctly that the concept of IC, a legit concept and question, was first discussed decades before Behe. It is true that IC has not been widely discussed under that name in the literature, but it is wrong to conclude that scientists (especially evolutionary biologists) don’t care about the ideas associated with IC. That’s what Orr is saying, and he’s right.

            So if your point is that Behe’s IC didn’t stimulate research by ANYONE (most notably by design proponents themselves), I certainly agree. But I’m afraid I side with Orr here.

            (BTW: Orr quoted Behe directly on what IC is, and gets it right; your response got it wrong.)

          • Ah … as it happens, Go Sox, Orr and I BOTH quoted Behe directly on what IC is – which is part of my point. Behe doesn’t use the term consistently – yet another reason that it is valueless.

            Go back and read Orr again (I just did). What you’ll find is that he begins with one of the most eminent scientists of a previous generation to support a notion similar to IC, Fred Hoyle, a physicist – not a biologist:

            “… the days of biologists suffering physics envy are long gone … If a Hoyle were to now announce that biologists are deeply confused about natural selection or neurobiology, he’d be greeted, if at all, with a big yawn”

            You may be considering Orr’s description of the work of H.J. Muller, early in the 20th century, on the evolution of genes. It’s true that you could use the most simplistic version of Behe’s notion to describe Muller’s work as a focus on “IC”, but Muller was concerned with genetic pathways, not with defining end-results as having a property of “IC”. The term (or really even the notion of “irreducibility”) adds nothing to biological studies of evolution, because Muller et alia were concerned with the evolution of structures not with their “irreducibility”.

            Take a look at Douglas Theobald’s article on Muller and “IC”. He has the same basic points to make as Orr, and he begins by saying that the term “IC” is “to be frank, plainly silly”.

            Neither Orr, nor Theobald, nor Muller, are terribly concerned about the value of identifying systems as “irreducibly complex”. By Behe’s more complex definitions, “irreducible complexity” is simply wrong. By his simplest definition, “irreducible complexity” is a valueless term for biological structures that interested biologists for more important reasons.

            When you say that Orr is saying that “it is wrong to conclude that scientists don’t care about the ideas associated with IC”, I have to disagree. That is not what Orr is saying. Orr is saying that structures that Behe would define as “IC” (at least by one of his definitions) have already been shown to have evolutionary pathways by geneticists as early as Muller.

            The term now is, 99 times out of a hundred, just another code phrase for IDers trying to poke holes in evolution theory.

          • Go Sox

            First off, great conversation, lively and interesting. It’s nice to meet someone who knows her/his stuff. Second, I hope we agree that it’s not a good idea to say that no one has found IC. This error is made all the time, and it should be avoided. IC structures are ubiquitous in biology.

            Okay, so here’s the thing we disagree with (maybe). I think IC is interesting, and I think Theobald does too (he even proposes a better term for it, using Muller’s name). IC isn’t interesting because it can’t be explained by evolution — it easily can. It isn’t interesting because evolutionary biologists had to come up with a special mechanism to account for it — they didn’t. It’s interesting to me because it describes a state of a system that suggests future evolutionary constraint. It’s an interesting way station in an evolutionary trajectory. A machine like ATP synthase or a flagellum or a system like the citric acid cycle or the clotting cascade creates interesting questions about robustness, evolvability, canalization. Such systems are very unlike, say, a kinase cascade or most other intracellular signaling systems, which are famously flexible. How evolution arrives at an IC system is interesting enough — how (or if) it might leave to explore new horizons is more interesting still.

            I’ll stop here and thank you for a great conversation, while noting that I’m amused that I found myself in the position of seeming to defend Behe, for whom I have no professional respect at all.

          • I don’t agree that “IC” has been “found” simply because the term has been defined in too many ways to be clear, the term is now too closely associated with “ID” to be useful in any other context, and because there are better ways to describe interesting evolutionary pathways.Virtually all legitimate evolutionary biologists avoid the term unless they’re addressing Behe’s drivel.

            Theobald most certainly does not “think IC is interesting”; he thinks “IC” is a silly misnomer. He proposes a more constructive term, “Mullerian interlocking complexity”. Why? Because Behe uses the term “irreducible complexity” to describe “structures [that] are in fact evolvable and reducible”. The name itself is wrong.

            We’re agreed about Behe!

            Thanks for the conversation!

        • By the way, I took your advice and read Orr’s review. I loved it! But as I read it, he is using the term “irreducible complexity” only as a means of answering Behe’s argument. I don’t gather from this article that he has become a proponent of new studies in “irreducible complexity”. And he is using Behe’s simplest definition of the term; as many reviewers have noted, Behe doesn’t stick to a single definition.

  • Zeke

    Happy New Year Dr. Enns. Looking forward to more fascinating posts in 2014.

  • Jacob

    My question though, is how you distinguish your view from deism. I don’t know if that question is in the back of conservativebiblicist/ID proponents minds or not. Maybe some yes and some no.

    The rub is in your statements that the conservativebiblicist/ID view involves the “mistaken notion that “God’s involvement” is necessarily of an interventionist kind.”

    Does you think that God wound the cosmos up and let it go? Or do you think God intervenes in indeterministic processes? This seems to me to be your choice. I’m not sure where you are, because it’s a fuzzy issue whether or not the latter is a case of “intervention.” But if God neither breaks otherwise deterministic laws, nor “intervenes” in indeterministic processes, we may have a form of deism on our hands.

    I’ve never heard you address this.


    • Jesus seems pretty antithetical to deism, and Dr. Enns seems to be pretty sure Jesus really came, really died, and really rose from the dead. So the question, at least in my mind, really seems to be: will we be able to increasingly discover how God does things? If so, his actions will begin to look ‘naturalistic’, because that’s just a word that describes when we can understand how things work pretty well.

      • Good point Luke, I said pretty much the same thing in my new comment above.


  • Hi Pete

    Just a heads up about a patheos bug that seems to be affecting your site.

    Currently, on your main page, both the current post, “a revealing parallel between Intelligent Design and conservative/evangelical views of the Bible”, and the next-to-last post, “doing church without singing (or, getting out of our God-rut)”, are both presented with the same graphic image – a diagram for a flagellar motor. Rather than presenting the appropriate picture for “doing church without singing”, Patheos seems to be displaying a copy of the graphic for the current post.

    I’m seeing the effect both on my PC and on my Ipad.

    Or perhaps, we can all get out of our God-rut propelled by a flagellar motor?

  • Jason

    Hi Pete,

    My question is similar to Jacob’s question below. I believe that Evolution is real and this belief (over the last several years) has caused me to re-think things quite a bit. In the past, I tried to not think about it very much, but this “laziness” also caused me to naively swallow false-hoods from the pulpit and other Christian friends.

    So, with that said, here is my question. If God is not an interventionist, then what about our own stories? I base quite a bit of my own, personal belief in God on how I believe he has intervened in my life. But if God is truly not an interventionist God, then these “so called interventions” (in my life) must only be coincidence.

    Man, I’ll tell ya…. If some of the things in my life cannot honestly be attributed to God’s intervention, then it might be time to just abandon ship, because I’m having a hell of a hard time believing much of anything else these days…..

    Does that make sense?


    • AHH

      I’m not Pete, but I think the point was NOT to say that God isn’t ever “interventionist”. It was to say that God ALSO can and does work in things (be it natural history or writing Scripture) even when no “intervention” is apparent.
      If we want to extend the principle to our personal lives, it would not deny the interventions of God of which you speak. It would just say that God can also be at work in our lives at times when we don’t perceive “interventions”, which I think is good theology.

    • Ajl

      I think you are going to have to give a couple of examples of you “own” story so that we might take a stab at things.

      Remember, God is in all things and by them we move and have our being. Also, he has set up his world to obey His laws – not just physical, but also spiritual. So, if you are generous you generally prosper. Not because God intervenes and turns some dial, but because he has mysteriously built into the fabric of existence these principles.

      • Jason

        I’ve just recently started to write down some of my own stories and my own beliefs. My thoughts and writings, however, are in their infancy.

        I’ve been a Christian for almost 20 years and I’ve never attempted to write down what I believe (or why I believe it) until only recently. I started doing it, because my beliefs have changed so radically and my wife has been struggling to understand what on “God’s earth” I believe these days. Heck, I’ve been struggling to understand what I believe as well. There are many things that I am still unsure about it.

        Anyway, a couple of my stories can be found here:



    • peteenns

      Jason (and Jacob),

      That’s a fair question, but as I see it, what I am claiming re: evolution and biblical scholarship has no bearing on whether we commune with God. That communion is not “interventionist” in the sense that that term is relevant for the topic of this post. I would say that those moments that might seem interventionist are actually times when we are simply more in tuned to God’s presence. It may not be so much a matter of his showing up but ours. And putting it that way does not denigrate the reality of the connection.

      • Jason

        Thanks so much for your reply Pete. Deeply appreciated.


      • There’s another option. One hypothesis of the Jordan River stopping up is due to the banks collapsing upstream and blocking the flow for a period of time. I see no reason for why God wouldn’t build up some sort of ‘potential energy’ over time, with the ability to trigger it whenever he wishes. This would fit in with what we currently know about physics (God could muck around in the ‘noisiness’ defined by Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle), and it would explain how God sometimes does ‘intervene’, in highly improbable ways.

        We also know that God tends not to like doing the above. He’d much rather humans do their job, than have to do it for them. I just love Isa 59:14-21, especially v16. God looked for someone to intercede, and sent Jesus when nobody was found. God wants us to do our parts and if we do, he often doesn’t need to intercede in crazy ways. At least, that’s my take on him at my current understanding level.

      • Andrew Dowling

        “I would say that those moments that might seem interventionist are
        actually times when we are simply more in tuned to God’s presence.”

        Well said, and I think that notion gels very much with what was preached by a guy from Galilee awhile back . . .

    • Hello Jason, I am myself a strugling Christian but would really like to help you.

      I haven’t dealt a lot with divine action, but written several posts related to evolution

      I agree that if God does nothing in the world, Christianity is false because Jesus did not rise from the dead.

      But there are clearly ways for God to “intervene” without violating the laws of nature He created.

      If you are interested, I would be very glad to discuss with you about this.

      Maybe we could even skype.

      My email is lotharson57@gmail.com


  • A perennial favorite of mine is the Talk Origin’s Index to Creationist Claims talkorigins.org/indexcc/list.html

    • I certainly appreciate that but also believe that many “Darwinists” (especially evolutionary psychologists) present historical interpretations based on a few elements as far more certain than they actually are.

      I think that for honesty sake one should recognize that many things are uncertain but that the fact of evolution and universal common descent is established AND that our lack of knowledge can never be a reason to believe in a gappy god.

      Cheers from Europe.

  • Mark Chenoweth

    I think this is true for SOME ID proponents. One of the main one’s, Michael Behe, however, prefers to think that God didn’t intervene at all. He and the agnostic Michael Denton believe the evolutionary process was “front loaded.” I think this criticism can be made more to the Reasons to Believe types like Fuz Rana and Hugh Ross.

    • I think that Fuz Rana is very honest,insightful and careful, even though I am convinced he is wrong.

      Hugh Ross is certainly a kind person, but he is very sloppy and constantly overstate his case in a considerable manner.

  • Happy New Year to you too, Peter!

    There are many vital issues raised here.

    First of all, I find it pretty ironic that conservative Evangelicals keep complaining about being “expelled” from academia for their creationist views whereas they are the ones who fire people not holding fast on their dogma concerning the Chicago statement of inerrancy.

    Second, I believe that (due to the enormous time span involved) there are many uncertain things about evolution.
    I think that ID arguments are doomed to fail because in an infinite multiverse everything will happen that can happen and nobody has been able to show that we (likely) not live in such an infinite multiverse.

    Finally, if (like you say) the Bible is the result of the “process of men of old thinking, meditating, and writing”, it seems logical to me to view it as a tradition of the Church and not necessarily as being more inspired than the books of C.S. Lewis, John Wesley or Martin Luther.
    Such a view would mean leaving Evangelicalism behind, but it does not entail liberalism if you are open to God’s action and miracles in the world.

    It is worth mentionning that I don’t believe that God has to break the laws of nature for carrying out miracles, not even for a resurrection. Using the laws of quantum mechanism and chaos theory (as well as other laws we have yet to discover) can very well do the job.

  • J.Nelson

    I really don’t see ID using a God of the Gaps approach since it relies heavily (and successfully) on Specified Complexity in its argument. I do see evolutionary biologists invoking a “gaps” argument quite frequently since they assume an evolutionary pathway that scientifically does not exist. They consistently use the language of assumption and assertion to fill in the unknown “gaps”. If ID was truly a “gaps” type argument I don’t think you would find people like Harvard geneticist Dr. George Church and distinguished NYU professor Thomas Nagel giving strong merit to the argument.

    • “Specified complexity” is a term made up by William Dembski, presumably utilizing the calculations of the free lunch theorem. The term has not been adopted by the scientific community, because the concept has been completely debunked, most notably by the creators of the free lunch theorem that Dembski thinks he is using. Thomas Nagel is a philosopher, not a biologist, and George Church, as even the Discovery Institute acknowledges, is not an advocate for ID.

      ID has not been stated as valid hypothesis in any peer-reviewed journal. 98% of the scientific community completely supports the theory of evolution as the definitive model for the development of life on earth. There are tens if not hundreds of thousands of peer reviewed scientific articles, including field and experimental research, supporting it. The handful of ID supporters have published barely a handful of papers on the topic, most only touching on ID indirectly, none of these proposing a testable hypothesis for ID, and there has been no biological field or experimental research set up to study ID. Even if ID were a legitimate hypothesis (it is not), the paucity of research into the subject doesn’t merit a footnote in scientific literature, much less a credible challenge for the theory of evolution.

      • J.Nelson

        The logic and tools that William Dembski uses are actually used and applied in forensic sciences. George Church has stated that ” Darwin’s Doubt” represents an opportunity for bridge building rather than dismissive polarization. He understands that the arguments have logic and force behind them even if he is not part of the ID movement. It is probably not a good idea to dismiss philosophers so readily since science actually answers to philosophy. The very tools of science (the laws of logic, causality, and uniformity) are actually assumed philosophically, they are not proven scientifically. “Darwin’s Doubt” is very peer reviewed and has not been credibly refuted. Neither have the works of Michael Behe or William Dembski. Many of the historical breakthroughs in science have not been initially accepted by the scientific community.

        • jmg000

          Interesting you mention Behe, when he himself has acknowledged his claims of ID are dependent on one’s belief in God. ID is not science and cannot be considered such unless you redefine science to allow for supernatural factors. Something which the ID “movement” and Discovery Institute have shown publicly to be their objective.

        • Dembski doesn’t use the tools of forensic science; he uses forensic science as a poor analogy for ID. The mathematician, David Wolpert, who derived the No Free Lunch Theorem described Dembski’s use of it for ID as “written in jello”. Since Dembski depends on Wolpert’s equations for his “specified complexity” argument, this is devastating criticism. Philosopher’s do not determine the direction of scientific research – that would be hubris on their part. The author of Darwin’s Doubt, which makes arguments in the field of biology, was written by a philosopher – not a biologist – and the book has been thoroughly refuted by experts in the field (a field for which Meyer isn’t even remotely qualified). Behe’s notions of “irreducible complexity” have also been thoroughly refuted by multiple experts in the field, including his own university department.

          • J.Nelson

            Have you actually read “Darwin’s Doubt”? I personally used to be a Darwinist myself and have read a great deal of pro evolutionary arguments. I sometimes wonder how many people have actually read the books they are criticizing and claiming have been refuted.

          • I have. And though I recognize that the theory of evolution is the best explanation for life on earth, supported by mountains of evidence, I have never called myself a “darwinist”.

  • Seraphim

    It’s an interesting perspective, and I could see it working for the Histories. That said, prophecy as a phenomenon is by its very nature an “outside intervention.” Thus says Yahweh! The prophetic utterances often called to mind God’s activity in the life of the nation- the exodus is the supreme mark of Israel’s God as the promise-keeping God, and it is the guarantee that He will fulfill His covenant to David. The New Testament picks this up and claims that Israel’s story has been dramatically fulfilled in the death and resurrection of her promised Messiah.

    So I suppose the question is this- was God uniquely involved in Israel’s story in a way that He was not involved in the story of Egypt or Assyria? I don’t find this similar to the creationist position at all- after all, the claim of the Apostles was precisely this. Israel was the vessel through which light shines all all nations, and its calling to be that vessel was actualized in Jesus.

  • ctrace

    God of the gaps? Seriously? Is this the extent of your study of the theory of evolution and opposing views?

  • MacPeter

    I’m late to this party, but great post, Peter. I have come to similar conclusions while studying the formation of the biblical canon. There just isn’t any magical point in time (despite what hyper-conservatives say) when the Bible magically coalesces into the canon we recognize today (esp. the Protestant one); the closer we look for such a magic moment (“canonical inerrancy”), the more fleeting it becomes, and the more goofy we look trying to maintain that it really is there. The parallels with ID and inerrancy are obvious.

    What it boils down to, I think, is our modern insistence on only accepting authorities that we have (consciously or not) guaranteed to ourselves on our own terms and to our own satisfaction. In other words, we evangelicals tend to only accept authorities that bow to the idol of humanly-sanctioned reason, and this can only be bad news for any kind of authentic faith.