Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A quick note: Interesting discussion elsewhere...

Evolutionary Evangelism?

I wish to call your attention to a comment thread on a recent post over at An Evangelical Dialogue on Evolution. Last night, Mike Gene (author of The Design Matrix) posted late a new comment on Ted Davis’s guest post there, and the comments which ensued. For context, you may wish to read my earlier comment on Hugh Ross (the 7th comment), and Ted’s response (the 10th comment) later in the thread. I think Mike’s comment is worthy of further discussion. If you agree, join the conversation there, or comment here.


Steve Douglas said...

I'd like to know if Mike Gene's book is about pointing out statistical improbabilities as evidence for God's sovereign control over seemingly random processes. That's been the impression I've gotten from what I've seen. The discussion following may well miss Gene's argumentation altogether, but if so, let it stand as a critique of such arguments made by others.

The argument from statistical improbability is interesting apologetically, but not scientifically. What ID opponents such as myself have a problem with is seeking to critique science by arguing that it cannot recover aspects of the natural mechanisms of creation and argue that by default, God must be responsible. I am not against the idea of using the existence and outcome of nature and its mechanisms to suggest the plausibility of God. I do think it's a non-starter to say that it's a "reason to believe" beyond its being one less reason to dismiss belief out of hand due to an increased humility about human epistemology.

But another problem is that "randomness" in nature is illusory; cause and effect is an inexorably fundamental factor of reality, and pointing to randomness as an objective entity prematurely presupposes that there are no natural causes, when in fact it may just be that the natural causes are unrecoverable given the limitations of our current understanding. The argument from silence for design is as invalid as any other argument from silence.

I also resent that some Christians won't accept science until it simultaneously "proves" Christianity. That's like not believing Washington was the first president until it can be shown that this event demonstrates germ theory.

Cliff Martin said...


I haven't read enough of the book to know how Mike deals with the issues you raise. I do know that he distances himself from I.D. (You can go on Dembski's website and read all the I.D. people trashing Mike, so if having the right enemies is a good sign, Mike qualifies!)

I agree with what you are saying. For me, the idea of small case intelligent design is not about probability, but apparent teleology, and the outcome as a whole.

As for Christian's rejecting science, I don't think that is true of Gene, certainly not of Marshall. I think that all Mike is saying is that, if evolution is true (and it is), then we should expect to find in it more Romans 1:20 truth.

JJS P.Eng. said...

steve douglas said:

"I'd like to know if Mike Gene's book is about pointing out statistical improbabilities as evidence for God's sovereign control over seemingly random processes.

Having recently completed reading The Design Matrix, I can assure you that the above is nowhere near Mike's argument. I encourage you to read the book. I found it a breath of fresh air with regards to the evolution/ID debate. Time and space prevent me from giving a proper review here, but (chear plug alert!!) I will be making several posts on interesting themes within The Design Matrix (and Darwin's Black Box which I read previously).

Mike's comment was separate from the theme of The Design Matrix.

Stephen Douglas said...

Thanks for the clarification! I'm genuinely curious about this book now.