Room for Discussing Design in Evolution?

@Patrick the evidence for this has to do with Scripture, which we trust because of Jesus, and I’ve pointed you to the evidence for this. There is no conflict with science for @Michael_Callen to explain how he understands science within the context of his religious belief. None. This also does not mean his position is without evidence. It just takes resources outside of science to make that connection.

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Honestly @Michael_Callen I think you are getting it quite well. Just start asking people to follow the rules and explain how you are following them. You may not need to be as tentative. Sometimes people need a firm pushback too, especially when they are trying to question your legitimate autonomy. You have a right to state your personal beliefs about anything, as long as you are not falsely claiming it is a conclusion of science. As long as you let science speak on its own terms, you can push back.

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You all are so intelligent and articulate. Thanks for your patience…

I read about this in another post. I agree, this specific aspect does not contain any theological statements. As you say, they have corrected their model and have stated all along that they would likely need to do so as more discoveries were made. I do hope that you and Fuz Rana are able to meet and discuss.

You are so right here… this is really problematic. And, to add to it, there is a tendency to state what about evolution will NOT work and why, instead of how we think that an intelligence IS working and why. I think that neither of these problems cannot be overcome, though. If it is proposed that an intelligent being is contributing, it would have to be measured the same way any other scientific evidence is evaluated.

I read about bees the other day that were reported to be over 200 million years old. There were no fossilized bees, but the walls of the nests were flask shaped and smooth, and the only other species today who makes such kinds of nests today are bees. So, it is a scientific opinion that the nest belongs to bees. (There could have been subsequent updates to the story, I don’t know. But the process of evaluation and determination stands.)

Similarly to the bees, the determination would have to be made that any nod to an intelligence intervening would have to be compelling enough as well. I’m certain that there would be enough detractors.

So this, once again, seems like the crux of the issue. I’m okay with @Patrick questioning my claim that these are the three ways that things could have come about (plus potentially his fourth way…) I have only been asking if one has the right to bring evidence to back up such a claim or not. If this is okay, then so be it! I think that the consensus is that we cannot pose such a claim in a scientific discussion because it is excluded as a scientific possibility.

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Science does not have a monopoly on evidence and logic. Of course you can bring up evidence.

For example, on abiogensis we do not how the first cell arose. Perhaps we will some day, or perhaps not. Though the evidence doesn’t tell us one way or another, it is certainly very difficult to imagine. This is all suggestive evidence to a person who already believes God exists. Certainly not definitive, but definitely suggestive.

Likewise on the de novo creation of Adam, we’ve shown there is no genetic evidence for or against it. This is includes several experiments that demonstrates the silence of genetics, its limits. We presented evidence to show what science does and does not rule out. However the actual postulate of the de novo Adam is not scientific and could only be arrived at by incorporating scriptural evidence too, which is ignored by science and the foundation of theology.

So you can certainly offer evidence. Just do not expect science to do more than it can.


19 posts were split to a new topic: Is Patrick a Neanderthal?

Good. Science shouldn’t impact one’s faith as science is neutral on such matters. I think it is important that young people have the opportunity to learn science correctly without having to worry about it impacting their faith. There are plenty of other things that will test young people’s faith. Science education shouldn’t be one of them.


This is a good point @Michael_Callen… And the issue is further made worse by terribly inaccurate and often irresponsible communication to the public.
For example arguments such as “bad design” in life disproving a creator. I don’t see scientists flagging such arguments as pseudo scientific or against the rules…

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Um. I do. I’m regularly telling people that the “bad design” arguments are not good arguments against creation. Instead of decrying the current situation, why not play to win? Just learn the rules and start using them to your advantage. When atheists use science to make theological claims, push back on them. It really is not that complex.

It is the point that I’ve made several times. Science is silent on theological questions. So just make that clear, and most of the problems go away. Look, even @patrick and I agree on this. Just learn the rules and ask everyone to play fair. Even if they flout the rules, you are right, and are going to look good in the end. You can really win if you play to win. You don’t have to be a victim.


Its definitely a good strategy… However, lay people are not the people to do it. Bad design arguments should be in the same class as intelligent design arguments based on what i understand. Yet the pushback from the Scientific establishment on the latter is obvious and unmissable, I honestly cant say the same about the former. This leads to a perception of bias. Whats the point of rules if they are not applied uniformly?
You cant be expecting lay people to correct scientists on whether they are following rules or not! There is a limitation to how much that can be done.
It has to come from inside the establishment. If this happens more often, then trust for science as truly neutral will automatically grow.

As a lay person, I do point out that Scientists who make such claims are not doing so based on any scientific evidence. I also am forced to point out that, such claims are made because of an inherent theological/philosophical bias among the scientists who make said claims.

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Once again this gets back to history. No one is holding education board hearings to insert bad design arguments into school curriculums. If they did, the pushback might grow.

It is not that hard. Most people do not know the rules. You do. You are learning how to use them. That is a winning strategy. Teach more people.

I agree with this, and is the reasons why even most atheist scientists agree. Most atheists agree that science is greater than atheism. Just like Christians sometimes need outside help to keep from overstating their position, also atheists need the same. Just learn how to be a respectful and legitimate check, and you will win.

Just get good at doing that, and affirming common ground, and you will win every time. It is fun to win, right?


I think the other issue is that ID arguments often have “questionable” science behind them, that is often disputed by mainstream science. For example, I see mathematical errors in the information arguments.

The bad design arguments are bad theology, but they are not always bad science. Honestly though, they can have bad science in them too. Though this is a question for another day.


I’m wondering if you ever see good arguments from the ID side. This apart from math errors and questionable arguments. Are there times where you read something and say to yourself, “That’s a good point… we don’t have a good answer for that one.”

I’ve read you saying that evolution does not provide all of the answers (at least to your satisfaction.) I would imagine that, being a scientist, you must speculate as to where those answers lie from a scientific perspective. Would you elaborate on how you respond when you encounter a perceived inability for evolution to provide a solution for a certain dilemma?

Yes I have seen good arguments, but then they usually go wrong. Usually in two ways:

  1. Extending the good argument with bad arguments, very frequently poorly applied mathematical analysis that I just cannot unsee.

  2. Adding an argument that “this is science too!” to a compelling case outside of science.

Remember I ultimately agree that God created everything. I’m just opposed to bad arguments for creation. If there was more discipline in making a rock solid but limited case, outside of science, ID could have done well. Too often it seems like a throw everything to see what sticks strategy. That makes it difficult to even agree when they have something right. Though I do try.

Well, evolution does not tell us if racism is wrong. It cannot see or name injustice. Everyone knows this. Science does not give us resources to end injustice. The only way to think that science gives us all the answers is to blind ourselves to the most important things.

None of us want you to agree with bad arguments, else this would be a miserable place. I struggle with understanding how ID could make a case outside of science. What value would this have if they were to do so? In other words, what is the difference between theology and what you propose, understanding that we already have theology.

I think, then, that I may have misunderstood you when you wrote on this topic. Do you think that evolution has the explanatory power (ability) to explain all of the diversity of life that we observe? When you said that it cannot explain everything, I was thinking that you were referring to yet unresolved issues within science. Here, by mentioning racism, you (in my opinion) have stepped outside of hard science and are dealing in philosophy.

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Exactly. If evidence comes forward that completely falsifies evolution then we are back to square one, which is “we don’t know”. Where science is concerned, the default position is not “God does it”. Some would argue that the default position in science is “nature does it”, but that is too simple of a picture IMHO. What science defines as natural is mehcanisms that operate in our universe and produce measurable changes in our universe. In this case, humans are natural. If God resides within the universe and causes change in our universe then God is natural as defined in science, at least in my estimation.

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I think it’s necessary to differentiate between two apparently similar statements: “Science studies only physical phenomena,” and “Science is the study of physical phenomena.”

By its self-imposed limitations, science does not study the whole of physical reality, but only patterns of regularity within it, made into abstractions in order to predict other similar events.

Quite apart from the strength or weakness of design arguments, design is about contingency: to design a trombone and to design a constitution are very different things, though executed by, potentially, the same human mind. It is therefore quite possible - if not inevitable - for divine design to be opaque to scientific examination.

If it can be mathematicized, it is no longer design that is being considered, but something else (such as what there is in common between the design of a trombone and the design of a constitution once one ignores the artifacts themselves).

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Thanks. This is very helpful. I feel that your position on this issue allows for a degree of conversation that would be appreciated by folks on all sides. I appreciate that.

As a point of clarification, my personal belief is that God resides outside of the universe, necessarily, because the universe is finite. However, he is able to operate within the universe.

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C S Lewis had some interesting things to say on the origins, and descent into vagueness, of the word “nature”, which I summarised in the second part of this post..

On the “location” of God, the Bible itself has some subtle thoughts. When Solomon dedicates the Temple, the glory of God descends upon it visibly. yet Solomon’s commissioning prayer is careful to say that he has built a place for God’s “Name” to dwell, for you can’t build a house for God, as even the highest heavens can’t contain him.

The implication was that, though heaven was conceived as God’s dwelling place even more than the temple (with its strict holiness regulations) was, he was always known to be infinite and unmeasurable. It’s not so much that he is outside the universe, but that “place” has no meaning for God - a characteristic only shared, apparently, by quantum particles.

There is therefore no reason why God should not act within nature - nor even why “nature” might not be a description of what God does regularly. But making something happen doesn’t make you a part of it, or we’d all be part of the Internet.


Thank you @jongarvey… I think I read this seven times and still have some questions.

How do “design” and “randomness” fit into this definition? I suppose that one is to discern patterns of regularity vs. randomness (irregularity?) and apply each accordingly.

I don’t understand this. Are you able to explain?


I think that we agree, though your explanation is much better than mine. Clearly this is a theological discussion. I believe that God spoke the universe (matter, space, time, physical properties) into creation many billion years ago. I believe that one day it will “roll up, like a scroll” (collapse, possibly.) As such, I believe that God is “outside” in that he transcends this universe.

If we are in an aquarium and we are the fish, he’s able to interact with us, but he is not a fish and doesn’t have to reside in the aquarium, but that he chooses to interact with us on a regular basis.