Dr Behe: Scenario of "God's Pool Shot"

Science
Design

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #82

10 posts were split to a new topic: Is Evolution a Great White Whale?


(George) #83

@pnelson ( cc @swamidass ):

Doesnt this objection in the above quote go away if God arranges for the cosmic ray blast?


(Edward Robinson) #84

George, you have the uncanny ability to make simple things unnecessarily difficult.

The pool shot analogy deliberately calls to mind the necessaritarian nature of a pure Laplacean physics. Ideally, a ball struck with force X and imparted a backspin (or top spin) Y, when striking another ball at angle Z, will force the other ball to move, inexorably, along a certain path, with a certain speed, and a certain derived spin. (Of course we always abstract from the imperfection of matter in such analogies, assuming perfect shape and material consistency of the balls, a perfectly co-operative cloth, a perfectly shaped cue tip, etc., even though we know that life isn’t so perfect – but that’s permissible because the point of an analogy is to get a rough idea across.) The mechanistic image of pool balls bouncing around a table and dropping in exactly the intended pockets is meant to suggest the general notion of an initial force applied to an initial setup would yield perfectly predictable results. The whole point of using the metaphor is to give an evolutionary scenario in which God is involved at the beginning, but need be involved afterwards, provided all natural laws remain the same.

Does Behe himself personally think that God was so detached from evolution as this? I would guess, probably not. But the image he chose does suggest that detachment, and I think deliberately so. I think he is trying to give a logically possible way of thinking about God’s involvement in evolution that would involve no “miracles” or “interventions”.

Of course, Paul Nelson points out that what might be logically possible is not physically possible when you consider the reality of actual pool balls; but we can understand Behe’s image, even if we later decide that evolution couldn’t possibly work that way.

What you are doing is tampering with Behe’s image to turn a remote, pool-shot God into a God more to your liking. But in doing so, you change that image to a different one from the one Behe gave.

All the stuff about Free Will that you stick in shows how far you are willing to alter Behe’s image to suit yourself. Pool balls don’t have free will, so free will doesn’t come into the image, and trying to fit it in does violence to the image.

To make this as simple as possible: If one wanted to suggest a model of evolution where God was intimately involved at various stages, and not just at the beginning, one wouldn’t use a pool shot analogy.

Just to be clear, I’m not championing the pool shot analogy, nor, I suspect, is that analogy Behe’s own private conception of how God is involved in evolution (as opposed to a logical possibility Behe puts out for discussion, for those who hunger for a purely “naturalistic” model of evolution in which God still controls the outcomes). All that I’m saying is that you are distorting the analogy, changing it and retooling it to suit your own theological preferences regarding how God ought to have acted in evolution. And that’s fine – if you say outright that you are modifying Behe’s model to make a better one. But that’s not what you’ve been saying. You’ve been offering your modified model as an interpretation of what Behe meant by the pool shot model. And he didn’t mean that at all.

What I’m complaining about is not your philosophy, or your theology, or your notion of evolution. I’m complaining about your bad exegesis of Behe’s statement.


(George) #85

@eddie,

That’s all well and good, as long as Behe isnt actually a Christian. But i think he probably is, dont you?

And if he is, for the Pool Shot Scenario to scematically include human Free Will, and God speaking to his worshippers (as in prayer or as described in the Bible), we need to tweak the Pool Shot’s visual symbolism (100 smaller balls with brownian movement apparatus).

Even if we didnt tweak it, the effort to design is itself a miraculous operation and thus, according to my long held views in opposituon to many or most ID folks, not subject to scientific examination.

You write:

First, Ive certainly said that my tweaked version was my own belief would require.

Second, so you go ‘on record’ that Behe has no intention of modeling any miraculous activity in his Pool Shot model. And you feel so strongly about your position you want to ridicule my suggestion.

Third, nobody ever said you lacked an opinion, Eddie. And nobody ever said that about me.

Frankly, I can honestly say it never crossed my mind that a Pro-Design Christian would make a model that intentionally excluded miraculous activity.

So “complain away”, sir.


(Edward Robinson) #86

There is no need for it to include those things, since human free will does not exist until humans exist, and God speaking to his worshippers does not happen until human beings exist, and Behe is talking about the process that leads from the Big Bang UP TO human beings, not how God relates to human beings after they are created. You are caught up in the same anachronistic confusion that Darrel Falk was perpetually in, when he kept going on about the need of “Wesleyan freedom” for God’s creatures. Sea slugs don’t have free will, and there is no need to construct an evolutionary model to give them free will. And mushrooms don’t pray or worship, so there is no need to construct an evolutionary model that allows them to do so. You’re trying to make the Pool Shot analogy into a complete Christian theology of God’s relationship to his creatures, and that’s not what the analogy is for. It has a single, very limited, very narrow purpose: to show that intelligent design is in principle compatible with a wholly naturalistic (no miracle) evolutionary process. You’re trying to make it do work it wasn’t meant to do, and that is why you keep distorting Behe’s meaning. If you would just let Behe make the limited point he wants to make, and stop trying to bring his thought into harmony with yours, you would not be having the problem you are having.

it’s perfectly understandable that a pro-design Christian, for pedagogical purposes, would acknowledge that a wholly naturalistic process of evolution, that required no miracles, interventions, special divine action, etc. (pick your own term) might have been set up God. That implies no endorsement of the idea by the pro-design Christian. Professors in philosophy, history, and all kinds of subjects set forth alternative hypotheses for many things, without implying that they personally agree with all those hypotheses. You are making difficulties out of something that is easy to understand.


(George) #87

@Eddie

I’m pleased with the final outcome.

With your help we have established a 2-fold mode for our kind of Front-loading (the term ‘our’ referring to you and me):

Pre-human Front-Loading (no miracles required); and

Post-human Front-Loading
(would include miraculous operations).

That suits me fine.


(Edward Robinson) #88

There is no need to talk about “front-loading” at all once humans are on the scene, so I don’t see the value of your second category. Unless you are going to argue that God “front-loaded” the history of the Macedonian, Persian, Roman etc. empires, which I doubt you would argue. But even if that is the sort of thing you have in mind, it isn’t at all what Behe was talking about in the interview, so it’s another subject altogether.


(Edward Robinson) #89

I hate to disagree with one of my ID heroes, Paul Nelson, but here goes. He writes:

Not only is this possible; it has actually been done. The shot was made by Henry McCoy, playing against Clint Barton, at the Stark estate in New York City in 1980. The event was recorded. Here is the video:


Is Evolution a Great White Whale?
(S. Joshua Swamidass) #90

This is a comic, not a video. I’m confused.


(Edward Robinson) #91

It was drawn by an artist who watched the video.

:smile:


#92

Well, Beast does have Super-human senses, so it might not count.


(Edward Robinson) #93

Ah, but he didn’t use his superhuman senses! He used his Texas Instruments hand-held programmable calculator (circa 1980). plus his scientific genius – so it counts!

I wonder if Texas Instruments paid Marvel for the “product placement”?


(George) #94

@Eddie

I cant imagine NOT including them!

Why do you think i spent so much time on a model that WORKS despite Free Will?!


(George) #95

@Eddie

You have quite the magic show? Can you guess Behe’s weight too?

Im starting to think the one fellow you DONT understand is Behe. His virws seem to be closer to the views of @swamidass than to your views.


(Edward Robinson) #96

So your view is that God decreed the entire course of human history, including those parts of it that depend on decisions made by human free will? I didn’t know that you were such a Calvinist. :smile:


(George) #97

@Eddie, you write:

“So your view is that God decreed the entire course of human history,
including those parts of it that depend on decisions made by human
free will? I didn’t know that you were such a Calvinist.”

Eddie, I used to be even MORE of a Calvinist. But ironically,
philosopher extraordinaire - - Daniel C. Dennett - - unintentionally
convinced me that there had to be Free Will!

But comfortable nature of my personal “seat” is aided by the Unitarian
Universalist analogy of the Chess Master Scenario (the Chess Master
defeats all contenders without violating anyone’s Freedom), and my
personal (very personal) inclination towards “meaning in the Universe”
(< Eddie, there’s no point in disputing my PERSONAL positions; they
are not accessible by pure logic).

My challenge was to integrate the chaotic aspect of Free Will into
something like God’s Pool Shot scenario; as soon as I read Behe’s
description of it, I knew I had the combination I needed.


(Edward Robinson) #98

I like the Chess Master analogy, personally – but it’s quite different from what Behe, Denton, etc. mean when they talk about flawless pool shots, programmed evolution, front-loading, etc.

In the Chess Master analogy, agents make their own decisions and thus influence the detailed course of events, but God makes sure the final outcomes are what he wants. I think that the story of Jonah provides a good example of that. Jonah didn’t go to Nineveh on the first camel caravan, as God commanded, so God, after letting him express his “free will protest” by procrastinating and evading, caused him to be carried to Nineveh against his will. But in a rigidly front-loaded version of the Jonah story, parallel to the mechanical determinism of the pool shot, God would have set things up from eternity (including the sort of obedient soul Jonah would have) so that Jonah would have agreed to go to Nineveh the moment he was asked, and the strategy of the big fish would never have been necessary. Based on a past remark of yours showing dislike of the passage about the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart, I don’t think you want to go there – to a God who controls the free will of men, as opposed to respecting and responding to their free will choices. So you can’t use the pool shot analogy where human decisions are involved. Behe wisely restricts the pool shot analogy to the realm of organic evolution, and doesn’t apply it to human affairs.


(S. Joshua Swamidass) #99

5 posts were split to a new topic: God as a Chess Master in Creation


(George) #100

@Eddie

You wrote: “I like the Chess Master analogy, personally – but it’s
quite different from what Behe, Denton, etc. mean when they talk about
flawless pool shots, programmed evolution, front-loading, etc.”

Building a personal edifice combining variegated elements makes the
edifice more resilient … if you know what you are doing. I haven’t
had a doubt in the 3 years since I reasoned that we do have Free Will.

You also write: “But in a rigidly front-loaded version of the Jonah
story, parallel to the mechanical determinism of the pool shot, God
would have set things up from eternity (including the sort of obedient
soul Jonah would have) so that Jonah would have agreed to go to
Nineveh the moment he was asked, and the strategy of the big fish
would never have been necessary.”

Eddie, I don’t think I’ve ever read something so presumptuous in my
life. You are trying to tell me what God is thinking and planning?
Wow. A 45 year old rabbi would rip your analysis to shreds.
Take a nap.


(George) #101

@Eddie

You wrote: “Based on a past remark of yours showing dislike of the
passage about the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart, I don’t think you want
to go there – to a God who controls the free will of men, as opposed
to respecting and responding to their free will choices. So you can’t
use the pool shot analogy where human decisions are involved. Behe
wisely restricts the pool shot analogy to the realm of organic
evolution, and doesn’t apply it to human affairs.”

Eddie:

  1. I believe I was pretty clear that I do not think God “controls the
    free will of men”. The Chess Master Analogy does not support that
    idea. And the story of what Moses says about Pharaoh is not a story
    that I believe is true (or valid).

  2. Frankly, I think the “hardening of Pharaoh’s heart” is one of those
    old school positions that you and “your people” are forced to work
    around… and that it emerged from a culture where there was no
    systematic theology to keep them from coming up with stuff like that.

  3. And finally, you tell me once again that you are positive you know
    what Behe is thinking… and yet when I heard his discussion on the
    Pool Shot, it worked perfectly for me. Maybe there is even a third
    interpretation that neither one of us has anticipated… I guess we’ll
    just wait and see!

  4. If you re-read my post on MY version of the pool shot, I wrote it
    specifically to emphasize how the Pool Shot can be used where
    human decisions are involved. The only critique I accepted from you
    on the model was that it may not have any connection to what was going
    on in Behe’s mind. But the dynamics of the Brooks Pool Shot model
    work just fine.