Intelligence is a Natural Cause

Continuing the discussion from Welcome Greg to the Forum:

Isn’t Intelligence just another natural cause?

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“Natural” meaning … ?

Part of creation? Not supernatural?

It just becomes difficult to gainuseful meaning from the word “intelligence,” it seems to me.

For example, the use of “natural human intelligence” to develop chemical agents would make all processed food and anthropogenic climate change entirely natural, by definition.

On the one hand, that enables naturalistic materialists to assert that human are no more than physical animals by citing the definition.

On the other, any human atrocity or perversion can be deemed “natural” simply because it’s all the product of natural human intelligence. Our colloquial use of “unnatural” assumes the existence of a perversion of human nature, though we seldom consider that.

Then, if we extend the possibility of more limited intelligence into the non-human world, the category becomes meaningless anyway, because it’s simply another manifestion of material causation - after all, the same move would have been made in human activities.

If, to avoid this, we distinguish human intelligence from such “natural” intelligence, we have few grounds to do so, but appear to make it hard to decide how we would recognise purposeful, “intelligent” actions.

Then we have to grapple with what “supernatural” intelligence might be. Divine ex nihilo creation might pass the test, but do we count angels as “natural” or “supernatural” if we wish to discuss them? They are, after all, created beings who are, according to our faith, involved in the world.

And what about God’s concurrence or providential involvement in some “natural” process - which given our inclusion of human intelligence under “natural” would include, say, the writing of Scripture.

We customarily treat our own special qualities of intelligence, free-will, moral compass and so on as reflections of our being created in God’s image - that is, they mirror the supernatural, though they are quite clearly created it. I don’t think the natural-supernatural divide, as currently conceived, follows the “fault lines” of reality.


Oh brother…

Sometimes fiddling with a word creates more confusion than insight.

“Natural” as opposed to “Miraculous”!

And this is the stone wall of ID! If one supposes Irreducible Complexity is a real thing, detectable by Science… then it must be non-miraculous!.. or, in other words, it cannot be beyond the natural world’s ability to create.

We could also ask:

“Intelligence” meaning …?


This is the more important question. What is intelligence?


That’s what it says on the fig leaf the Discovery Institute is hiding behind.


Divine intelligence and human intelligence are different things, right?

I guess it depends on who you ask. The Greek and Roman pantheons seemed very human-like with the same faults, desires, and idiosyncrasies as human. These gods even fell in love with mortals and had children with them. Eastern traditions focus more on Enlightenment where there is a massive change in how one views the world, and this would probably impinge on what we could call intelligence.

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Yes, one actually exists. :sunglasses:

That actually needs careful work - too easy to (a) equate the two (I would/wouldn’t do this so God would/wouldn’t) (b) deny any relationship (How can mere animals understand the Almighty?). Whereas we are dealing, as with everything in relationship to God, with analogical relationships, and particularly that we are created in the image and likeness of God, and specifically of his Son, who became man.

The job of deifinition, therefore, has a few levels, and relationships between them:

  • What is human intelligence?
  • What in non-human “natural” intelligence, and how does it relate to human intelligence?
  • What is divine intelligence, and how does it relate to those two others?

As an adjunct, the concept of AI would be a comparison point for some of these - do any of the above three have particular connections to IA, or is that a completely unconnected analogy?

These are all real questions, not a reason to throw up ones hands and plead “mystery”, because they all exist (Patrick’s knee-jerks notwithstanding).