Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Michael Behe versus Mark Shea on Intelligent Design

Behe explains, patiently and politely, exactly where Mark Shea - and many, many others - go wrong in their ID criticisms.

One of the reasons I maintain a tremendous amount of sympathy for ID arguments is because they are mangled and misrepresented by critics to an absurd degree - easily on par with any misrepresentation of the Five Ways or cosmological arguments in general.

What I find amazing, though, is that someone like Mark Shea will go absurdly public with damning criticisms of the Intelligent Design argument, without even bothering to check whether they're representing the argument in anything close to an accurate way. Now, I can understand if you were firing from the hip in a blog comments section. But an article with your name on it, that people can use to evaluate whether or not you're even reasonably reliable when it comes to representing an argument?

Either way, if you're at all curious about the fundamental claims and rationale behind ID reasoning, the above article is worth a read. It's clear, direct and pleasant. Behe is a good writer when it comes to these topics.


BenYachov said...

As Thomists we don't really give much of a fig for ID or it's supergay Theistic Personalist Paley "god".

Npr for there even gayer mechanistic nominalist philosophical mishigoss.

But since we love truth for it's own sake to misrepresent the ID position is major uncool. Not too mention unnecessary since it can be hit elsewhere more effectively.

Crude said...

As Thomists we don't really give much of a fig for ID or it's supergay Theistic Personalist Paley "god".

ID doesn't posit a God/god. That's part of the problem, really.

Cale B.T. said...


You contend that these types of arguments, taken alone, would lead us to an incorrect understanding of God and that the attempts at mathematical representation don’t give us the insight into true nature of things that, say, the act/potency distinction does.

Fine, but what if ID happens to be true? What if that’s the way the cosmos is set up?

With those qualifications above acknowledged, are you open to intelligent design?

BenYachov said...

You both make fair points.

So I will rephrase by noting ID is a science that proposes life on this planet is an artifact or may have an unknown intelligent artificer alter it at some point in time as an alternative explanation for purely natural evolution or abogenesis for it's current design.

BenYachov said...

>With those qualifications above acknowledged, are you open to intelligent design?

I am not against life being an artifact but I don't need to believe it to save my faith in God from supposed "godless" evolution.

NoshPartitas said...

Heh, well, if there's anything less credible than ID (and there are many things), it's abiogenesis and other such theories. In fact, I would say we have good reason to believe abiogenesis impossible in principle, as life uniquely exhibits immanent causation, whereas non-living entities do not.

And this is coming from someone of the same temper as Crude with respect to ID.

Gyan said...

The propositions
"life on this planet is an artifact"
"life evolved through purely natural evolution"

Aren't they equivalent when the said artificer is God?

The Deuce said...

On Mark's blog, I politely explained what the actual point of contention that Thomists have with ID is, namely that by (usually) granting the Modernists' (ultimately incoherent) mechanistic premises about the nature of matter, IDists end up trying to advance a relatively weak inferential argument for a designer at the expense of a tightly deductive argument that establishes the existence of God, his Divine Attributes, and his upholding all of Creation at every moment. I pointed out that to the extent the disagreement has anything to do with objections to "God of the gaps," it's that inferential reasoning in general is "gap" based, and a deductive argument is always better than an inferential one if you can get it. I also pointed out that Thomism is just as incompatible with the Darwinian account (or elimination) of biological function as ID is.

Naturally, some chucklehead came along to say that, while everything I said about Thomism, ID, and Darwinism is admittedly true, the *really* important thing is that I *not clear the record* in an "inappropriate" venue such as post about that exact topic in a Catholic theology blog, because saying "Darwin" in an insufficiently adulatory manner embarrasses him in front of the Cool Kids, who would *totally dig* Christianity if ID weren't there making them think that it's less than 100% compatible with their beliefs about Darwinism (which it isn't, but again, I'm not supposed to mention that fact cause it's bad politics).

The Deuce said...

Btw, it irks me to no end when I see Christians say or imply that "God of the gaps" arguments are illegitimate as such. *ALL* inductive arguments are "gap" arguments, including ones that aren't about God, or designers, or intelligence at all. Thomists have a problem with the inductive reasoning of ID specifically, because some of the premises behind its inductive argument come at the expense of a deeper deductive argument that proves a lot more, but even Thomists engage in inductive theological reasoning in other cases.

The Resurrection, for instance, is something we all believe based on "God of the gaps" reasoning. We judge that the historical record we have, and written and oral testimony, cannot reasonably be explained by a natural event (even under the fuller Thomist conception of "natural"), and so is best explained by God's action. Ditto for all other miracles, inside and outside the Bible. No matter how powerful the evidence is, we still rule out purely "natural" causes via inductive reasoning. We certainly can't prove any particular miracles by deduction, even if Thomism's presentation of nature increases their plausibility relative to a mechanistic universe.

Crude said...

The problem is, at this point, 'God of the gaps' is just a universally negative phrase. It's more serviceable to come up with a completely different phrase to describe the valid arguments, and use 'God of the Gaps' to explain the problematic/'joke' arguments that no one of note ever made anyway.

And to hell with these Christians who are so afraid of being associated with *gasp* people who intellectuals mock and deride. If their faith is so fragile that they'd rather sacrifice it than be grouped with YECs even by accident, or even maliciously, they were never going to last.

ebougis said...

"Abductive" is a useful word here.

-- Codgitator

BenYachov said...

>Aren't they equivalent when the said artificer is God?

Only in a transcendent sense. God causes the reality of created nature. God via Divine Providence causes natural events to happen naturally they ways he wills them to happen.

It's a great mystery.

BenYachov said...

Oderberg makes a good philosophical case against abiogenesis being possible in principle.

Still traditionally before Pasture disproved it Thomists accepted Spontaneous Generation which was seen as a mere natural process.

So the idea primitive life could be naturally generated from non-living matter was no big deal to them.

Thus there is no metaphysical difference between SG and abiogenesis just a mechanistic difference. Abiogenesis if true takes a long time where as SG was thought to be near instantaneous.

I'm agnostic on the matter. I don't care if God via Providence created life threw natural forces or miraculously threw supernatural intervention.

I am just grateful to be here.

Of course the human soul was created supernaturally.

NoshPartitas said...

Hi Ben,

I agree that God creating life through abiogenesis is a distinct possibility. However, for the thoroughgoing naturalist who has only mechanism as an explanatory tool, it would seemingly be impossible in principle (or so Oderberg argues).

We both know God is "living" and would in that case be the source of any immanent teleology we observe in living things. For obvious reasons, this is exactly what a naturalist doesn't want to concede!