Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Creationism, Intelligent Design, and Theistic Science

One common alternative to the theory of natural selection is the theory of intelligent design. The intelligent design theory, however, is deliberately limited, as it does not attempt a causal explanation. It tries to develop techniques to examine physical organisms and then to determine whether or not that examination provides evidence for the existence of an intelligence in the coming to be (or design) of those organisms. Strictly, it is neutral on whether the intelligence is God or whether it might be previously-existing extra-terrestrial beings who have (say) genetically-engineered the organism. Because intelligent design theory does not produce causal accounts, it is often criticized as lacking in predictive power. It does make general ‘structural’ predictions about the forms expected to occur within living organisms, but it will never, it seems, yield the detailed prior and conditional probabilities necessary to form Bayesian arguments of the kind that many scientists use to assess the likelihoods of the hypotheses they are considering.

Intelligent design theory has generated an extraordinary amount of animosity from mainstream (naturalistic) scientists. They often accuse it of being false. Then they simultaneously accuse it of being non-scientific because non-falsifiable!  

By comparison, the theistic science that I advocate on this blog is advocating a much stronger theory than intelligent design since it cannot be neutral about ‘the nature of the designer’. We start from the assumption that God exists, as being itself and life itself, and argue that causal explanations of evolution cannot be purely natural.

Another common alternative to natural selection is creationism, where different species are created individually and specifically by God according to the first chapter of Genesis that culminates in the creation of man (and woman). These acts of creation, with apparently whole new populations of plants or animals coming into existence, would have been rather spectacular to watch!  Are such special creations possible according to theistic science?  The answer, I have argued, is no.

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