Woodward and Pitts on ID

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In an article published October 1 in the New York Times, “Evolution as Zero-Sum Game”, Kenneth Woodward makes an interesting observation:

The danger in intelligent design is not just that it is bad science but that it seeks to enlist evidence from science in the service of religious truth. … But the designer God of intelligent design is no more necessary to Christianity (or other monotheisms) than was the deistic God of Newtonian physics. In both cases, God ends up being made in the image of an intellectual system.

And in a column in the Lawrence Journal World today, Leonard Pitts writes,

I would argue that faith and science are in some ways more complementary than contradictory. But it’s telling that where they do conflict, as in the question of human origin, it’s always people of faith who beg for validation. … There is an unbecoming neediness about these constant schemes to dress religion up as science. Why are some people of faith so desperate for approval from a discipline they reject? …

We inhabit a universe vaster than human comprehension, older than human wanderings, more wondrous than human conception. And in the face of that, we do the natural thing. We ask questions and seek answers.

That’s not a denial of God. It is evidence of Him.

Let me comment on Woodward’s quote first: Deism is an out-dated theology based on the 17th century’s clock-work view of the world. Deism reflected the scientific paradigm of the times in which the world inexorably and thoroughly followed strict mathematical laws of nature. Deism is seen as inadequate theology by mainstream Christians because it denies the active will of God – a God who is everpresent in the outflowing of natural law in ways that are beyond our comprehension. In addition, what we now know of quantum mechanics renders deism inadequate theology because the universe doesn’t unfold in a rigorously deterministic manner.

Now we have intelligent design: a sort of reverse deism in which God’s intervention is necessary to accomplish those things that natural causality cannot do by itself.

It seems to me that in both cases we wind up with a watered-down God, “made in the image of an intellectual system”, rather than a God who transcends both the physical world as well as our attempts to fully understand His nature.

The irony of this in reflected in Pitts’ comments. This subservience of theology to science is at the hands of the very people who most feel that the role and validity of religious belief is in jeopardy. It seems to me that the “unbecoming neediness” they display in concocting “these constant schemes to dress religion up as science” belies quite a bit of insecurity about the God they profess to believe in.

They live with a pervasive cognitive dissonance, I think – simultaneously wanting to inspire people to believe in God and to give Him the glory He deserves for all of creation and at the same time limiting Him by making Him merely a reflection of the current state of scientific understanding.

Real religious faith transcends this viewpoint, a viewpoint which is both petty and arrogant: petty because it reduces God to merely being an “image of an intellectual system”, and conversely arrogant for believing that through science we can determine what God can and cannot do.

20 Comments

So, is it Woodland or Woodward?

Really interesting.

So let me get this straight: “real” theology requires not just that God be incomprehensible but that He/She/It only interact with the universe in incomprehensible ways, as opposed say to doing comprehensible things like setting up irreducibly complex biological mechanisms. It seems that Pauli died too soon. We need something beyond his scheme of right, wrong and not even wrong.

So let me get this straight: “real” theology requires not just that God be incomprehensible but that He/She/It only interact with the universe in incomprehensible ways, as opposed say to doing comprehensible things like setting up irreducibly complex biological mechanisms.

So let ME get this straight —— ID is, after all, all about God and what God does/doesn’t do, and all those IDers in Dover right now are just gonna be lying to us, under oath, when they claim otherwise.

Right?

The Leonard Pitts piece was also ran by the Dallas Morning News, Seattle Times, Charlotte Observer, Centre Daily Times, Miami Herald, and Buffalo News.

He is going to get a lot of nasty hate mail.

comprehensible things like setting up irreducibly complex biological mechanisms

Uh… the mechanisms may be “comprehensible.”

It’s the “setting up” part where I think you may want to examine your premise.

“So let ME get this straight ——— ID is, after all, all about God and what God does/doesn’t do, and all those IDers in Dover right now are just gonna be lying to us, under oath, when they claim otherwise.”

Er, yes. I didn’t mean to imply otherwise.

‘It’s the “setting up” part where I think you may want to examine your premise.’

In case it wasn’t obvious, my point was that the sort of “real” theology being advocated is even worse nonsense than ID. I’m not suggesting that setting up irreducibly complex mechanisms is all that comprehensible all things considered, I’m raising a despairing eyebrow at the apparent suggestion that the problem with it is that it’s still too comprehensible.

Mark Barton wrote: “…’real’ theology requires not just that God be incomprehensible but that He/She/It only interact with the universe in incomprehensible ways,…”

It’s either that or have your religious ideas shot down by science.

Our planet does appear to be a graveyard of dead religions and their dead gods, the Norse Oden, the Egyptian Aten, the Sumerian Gods and Goddesses, the ancient Aztec religion that cut the hearts of people, Mithraism, there are ancient temples on the Hawaiian Islands to strange gods, Native American tribes had their myths, African cultures had their own religion …

In some ways the ancient religions didn’t die, they evolved. There’s a bit of Aten and Shamash, two sun gods, in the old testament.

Is it just random memetic drift, or do religions adapt to culture and the science of their time?

Mark Barton wrote: “…as opposed say to doing comprehensible things like setting up irreducibly complex biological mechanisms.”

That’s an almost valid concept. However, irreducibly complex systems aren’t enough, you have to prove the system couldn’t evolve by the many paths available to evolution. To do that we first have to figure out all the paths available to evolution.

“So let ME get this straight ——— ID is, after all, all about God and what God does/doesn’t do, and all those IDers in Dover right now are just gonna be lying to us, under oath, when they claim otherwise.”

Er, yes. I didn’t mean to imply otherwise.

Just making sure. :>

Our planet does appear to be a graveyard of dead religions and their dead gods

That’s mostly because it is also the graveyard of dead people and dead civilizations.

As with species, the vast majority of human civilizations that have ever existed, don’t anymore. Therefore the vast majority of human cultural inventions, such as various religions and mythologies and stories and art and all that sort of thing, that have ever existed, don’t anymore.

‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank wrote: “That’s mostly because it is also the graveyard of dead people and dead civilizations.”

And dead cats too. But the people and the cats look the same, the religions and the civilizations don’t.

Our friend Jack here seems to be taking a balanced view, but it is interesting that his site, Kansas Citizens for Science, is largely controlled by outspoken atheists.

Do I see a little bit of tailoring the message to suit the forum.

What is his real agenda?

Do I see a little bit of tailoring the message to suit the forum.

What is his real agenda?

Why, it should be obvious to you; you don’t need innuendo to suggest it. Jack Krebs is a fire-breathing atheist, he hates your god, he’s out to erase Christianity from the face of the earth, and he thinks all people of faith are brainwashed automatons who would be better off dead. What ELSE do you suppose his agenda might be?

Emanuel writes,

Our friend Jack here seems to be taking a balanced view, but it is interesting that his site, Kansas Citizens for Science, is largely controlled by outspoken atheists.

Actually, Emanuel is entirely wrong about the KCFS site. Emanuel is obsessed with finding atheists - he was in fact banned from the KCFS forum for excessive trolling on this issue. If he wants to discuss the issues raised in this thread, then he is welcome here, but he is not welcome to bring his baseless vendetta about KCFS to the Panda’s Thumb.

Ooh, ooh, Emanuel, find me, find me! What’s next?

Let me ask a question, the term “irreducibly complex”, is this a term recognized by the real scientific community or is this a term created by ID to try to mold reasoning to fit there destination?

What is it’s origin, no pun intended.

Steverino wrote: “… term “irreducibly complex”, is this a term recognized by the real scientific community …”

The term might originate with Michael Behe, an ID promoter, but the idea goes way back to William Paley’s arguments before Darwing. Before Behe they used to use the example of the The bombardier beetle.

Try this to get started on researching it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irredu[…]#Forerunners

Our friend Jack here seems to be taking a balanced view, but it is interesting that his site, Kansas Citizens for Science, is largely controlled by outspoken atheists.

But ID’s not about religion. No sirree, bob.

(sigh) As I’ve always said, IDers are by far their own worst enemy. Just let them talk long enough, adn they shoot themselves in the head every time.

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This page contains a single entry by Jack Krebs published on October 3, 2005 12:39 PM.

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