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“Those who worry about ‘interference’ should relax. The purposeful design of life to any degree is easily compatible with the idea that, after its initiation, the universe unfolded exclusively by the intended playing out of the natural laws.” (Behe, Edge of Evolution 232)Last week I was hammered at an Intelligent Design-friendly Christian apologetics site for suggesting that information, language, and design complexity in nature point to intelligent agency, but they do not necessarily require that an agent actively intervened in natural processes at point(s) in time. I suggested that while natural processes as viewed by materialists and atheists could not account for life and species, natural processes created and sustained by an intelligent agent (especially an omnipotent creator, since I was arguing theologically at a Christian site) at least in principle could.
It was not a kick against direct agency, it was just leaving the door open to another possibility. (And it was securing a place for ID even if plausible law-based natural processes should be discovered that would adequately explain anomalies such as the origin of life or the Cambrian explosion.) I certainly didn't deny the possibility or even likelihood of direct agency.
But that didn't matter. I had offended the site's ID orthodoxy and the site went into attack-mode. I was accused of intellectual dishonesty. I was accused of disbelieving in miracles. It was demanded of me that I provide peer-reviewed science articles to back my claims (which was interesting because a sub-point I was making was the epistemological limits of science). Finally, I was flat-out accused of misrepresenting the claims of ID. One guy said I was flat-out wrong and he wasn't interested in anything further I had to say. So, there was a lot of heat. And the site administrator heartily endorsed this guy's comments.
I figure when the ref is in the other guy's corner, it's probably time to get out of the ring. So, I exited, stage right (to metaphor my mixes).
Because I had been pummelled, yet still thinking my point was well-reasoned, I started digging. What I found was gratifying: the leading proponents of ID agree with me.
The first hint of this came during my debate at the ID-friendly site. I ran across this in a blogpost at Uncommon Descent entitled "Does ID presuppose a mechanistic view of nature?"
Michael Behe, Michael Denton and Bill Dembski are all on record as saying that design is not in principle incompatible with a wholly naturalistic evolutionary process. Design theory does not require miracles. One can imagine, for example, a “front-loaded” evolutionary program which over time “outputs” the various species via wholly naturalistic means. But such a program would be intelligently designed, not driven by chance. Darwin, Dawkins, Dennett, etc. would still therefore be wrong. It is not “naturalistic means” per se that ID is against; it is naturalistic means conceived of in terms of blind natural laws combined with sheer chance. On this point, I would suggest that you read carefully Michael Denton’s work, *Nature’s Destiny*, which shows how one can logically combine naturalistic evolution, anti-Darwinism, and intelligent design.Next, I discovered an article by Bill Dembski which I hi-lited last week.
Intelligent design is not... an interventionist theory at all. Indeed, intelligent design is perfectly compatible with all the design in the world being front-loaded in the sense that all design was introduced at the beginning (say at the Big Bang) and then came to expression subsequently over the course of natural history much as a computer program's output becomes evident only when the program is run.Then, today, while listening to Michael Behe's The Edge of Evolution I came across the money-quote shown at the top of this post. Intelligent design theory is compatible with the view that all of life was created by natural laws. If you read it carefully Behe doesn't say he endorses this view, but that it is a live option; it's on the table.
What both Dembski and Behe say is that while the evidences of intelligent design do not (necessarily) require active intervention by an intelligent agent, they do require that we reject the materialistic, dumb-luck view of nature espoused by darwinism.
Which was the point I was making.
And that's the way the Ball bounces.
Update: This quote is relevant:
"A theory of design detection is quite different from a theory of design implementation."
ID is primarily a theory of design detection rather than design implementation.