Wow, an interesting conference; here’s a summary of my thoughts.
- I found several things that I could agree with from a theological/philosophical point such that I now understand why @swamidass would write that he agrees with Behe. Before, I thought Josh was just being nice, but now I see it is more than just being nice.
In particular, I think that when Christians look at complex biological systems, they should see design. Not design in the form of God “poofing” this system into being, but design in the same way that the physical constants of our universe allow stars, planets, and the right elements for life to be abundant. God in his foreknowledge and divine plan predestined that these natural laws would give rise to life as we know it today (e.g. 1 Kings 22:36) . This is a theological/philosophical perspective, not a scientific one, and I now see how this concept borders on the question of how do humans have free will (vs. God controlling our actions).
- These ID speakers (e.g. Behe and others) are very well meaning and are trying to be intellectually honest so they should be treated with respect as much as possible
At a few points during the conference, there were jokes made about how much people on the internet reviled intelligent design and they wore it as a badge of honor. This builds the us vs. them mentality that makes intelligent more insular and closed off.
Also, they took everyone of my submitted questions and didn’t filter anything. John West the moderator even followed up when the answer didn’t seem to directly answer questions that challenged them to get to a more complete response. I felt respected because they asked my tough questions (although I might have been unsatisfied by the answers) and it led to greater understanding.
- I don’t think these ID conferences are necessarily winning over people who are unsure of their beliefs because there wasn’t much of a clear positive case for what it means that something is “designed.”
Most of the conference was spent poking holes in evolution and responding to critics. There wasn’t much of a positive argument for design or what exactly that means. The speaker shows a picture of a complex molecular machine and shows how the parts work together and then says,“Obviously this was designed.” But how was that design built? Did the designer poof it into existence? Was part of it “poofed” and then part of it evolved? Did the designer pick mutations one at a time in a way that would be indistinguishable from evolution and natural selection? None of these things was addressed directly and I think one was left to infer what God had to do.
I spoke with a few other people who came because they were curious but were not “in the choir” already. While they would agree with the idea molecular machines look designed, they weren’t impressed by the arguments being put forward or thought that degraded was merely semantics. The neutral audience is receptive to the (obvious?) weaknesses in intelligent, but I think there is something about complex molecular machines that inspires awe in people much like a majestic mountain range or beautiful sunset and intelligent design captures some of that because it is more than science, it is philosophy.
- Intelligent design is philosophy and theology, not science. They also tend to misrepresent or don’t understand the point of evolution experiments.
This conference was about “faith and science” so there were obvious theological overtones and discussions that wouldn’t happen at a more secular ID conference. However, I heard several things that I agreed with at a certain level (theological) but disagreed with what they were saying at a scientific level. I also found it funny how Behe talked about Lenski’s evolution experiment and included a brief discussion of the citrate mutant. He didn’t fully explain why the cit mutant was important, but since he didn’t explain its significance, it didn’t make sense why he even brought it up in his presentation unless you already knew about it. The way it was presented, the citrate mutant didn’t seem like something that supported evolution in the first place so it didn’t need to be refuted.
These are just my initial thoughts that I thought I would spit out before I forget about it. Some of these thoughts may need to be refined.