Friday, August 28, 2009

Thoughts on Intelligent Design - part two

Before anything else, I should point out that my focus on Intelligent Design concerns supernatural explanations. If one is arguing that a wholly natural, but more intelligent being put us here (aliens), then that is a fun, but separate discussion.

For the next section, let’s leave behind natural explanations as an explanation for first life (though I don’t think it’s philosophically sound to do so), and think about what happens when we entertain the supernatural possibility......

We are assuming that we are able to understand all natural contents and processes in the universe, we somehow have certain knowledge of this, and there is still no explanation for first life. Even in this case, when considering supernatural explanations, who’s to say which one we should favor? Yahweh created the universe. Allah created the Universe. Baal, El, Zeus, etc. How about - the universe was created 3 seconds ago and all our memories along with it? When we leave behind regularity, predictability, and causality, the hallmarks of naturalism, then there are no rules.

Perhaps one could say, “I see the supernatural as necessary, but the most minimal application of it is wise.” Of course a naturalist would agree. If a minimal use of the supernatural is favorable, then zero would be optimal. But once the supernatural is invoked, how do we measure it quantitatively? Our notion of minimal is based on natural relationships. For all we know, a supernatural being could just as easily create a new universe (or millions of them) as cure someone of a head cold. Any speculations would be to try to hold something supernatural accountable to natural restrictions.

Perhaps one could say “God has given us the revelation of the Bible, therefore this is evidence for how He supernaturally created the first life”. A couple of points:

There are several “revelations” of God. How do we know which supernatural “evidence” to follow? The Koran, the Bible, Buddhist philosophy, the Babylonian Enuma Elish.....

Even if we know what evidence to follow, how do we know what it points to without reliable, natural causality? God could just as easily have created the Bible yesterday and implanted memories of it in us, instead of inspiring certain people through history to actually write it. This may seem far-fetched, but these are the implications of the “supernatural”. Evidence is based on natural relationships, natural processes, knowing that if an action happens then a reaction happens, etc. The supernatural circumvents all this and can break any law. Who’s to say which laws are being broken or if our perception of what we think is happening is what is actually happening?

It would seem that faith and trust in God is not the end product of investigation into supernatural Intelligent Design, but is rather the beginning of it. One has to trust that there is a God who gives us evidence that our senses rightly interpret and that we can trust - an honest, evidence-granting God. Cue us all to think of the Bible verse “The beginning of all knowledge is God”. But couldn’t a person just as reasonably not believe and enjoy knowledge? I think there is only one reason for us to believe in God - if we want to.

Perhaps approaching the unknown with a sense of trust is all one needs. These are things we don’t know, so why not choose a positive attitude of trust in whatever it is that IS? And while speculation is enjoyable, dogmatically plugging in a specific myth to “fill the gap” is logically problematic and shows a distrust in the unknown. If there is an infinite God, then proving his existence through finite evidence is dubious, since an infinite God can do anything and has no need of leaving finite evidence.

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