I haven’t blogged in a while, and this one will be brief. I noticed that Robin Parry offered a blog over at BioLogos today. This is kind of funny, given that Robin was my editor for Shadow of Oz (the awkwardness of having a theistic evolutionist edit a book critiquing theistic evolution!). Anyway, I just can’t help but think we should be well beyond the simplistic casting of the argument that guys like Parry seem to be offering. He either doesn’t understand the argument, or is intentionally misrepresenting it.
His understanding of the ID enterprise is:
“The problem with Intelligent Design (ID) is its tendency to look for God (or simply a ‘designer’) in the gaps of scientific explanations. So-called irreducible complexity, for instance, is seen as evidence of this ‘designer’ because science cannot (in principle, we are told) explain it in terms of natural processes. But if future science did actually explain any alleged instances of irreducible complexity, then such instances would cease to be evidence of the ‘designer.’”
But this tired argument has been knocked down over and over again. For example, I directly addressed it in my second book,
“As an older man, [my] grandfather worked at a gas station, taking out the trash, cleaning toilets, and sweeping the parking lot. His friends became worried that he had fallen on hard times, and finally one of them approached him about it. ‘Why are you working as a janitor at a gas station?’ asked the friend, to whom [my] grandfather replied, ‘Because I own the place.’ [The argument that ID renders God one cause among many] is common (particularly among theistic evolutionists), but lacks any merit whatsoever. There is no logical reason why the activity of God in His creation would in any way limit His power as the ultimate Creator. In fact, this is precisely what the Christian faith holds in its claim that the Son of God became a human being (and a servant, at that).”
Within Christianity, we might ask what the theistic evolutionist (like Parry) would have to say about any instance where God did intervene in creation (pick any Old Testament or New Testament miracle or supernatural happening). These should be impossible on Parry’s view, because God then becomes evident as one cause among many.
“The problem here is that the ‘designer’… is pictured as one being among others (albeit a more intelligent and powerful one) acting as a cause in the world in the same manner as other causes act in the world. The reason that this is a problem, at least for Christians, is that classical theology does not picture God in this manner—as one cause or being among and alongside others. Rather, divine Being is of a fundamentally different kind from creaturely being, and divine causation acts at a different level altogether. God is the one who imparts being to the whole of created reality and who enables all of the powers of causation within creation.”
I’m not aware of any ID theorist or Christian who rejects the idea that God is immanent throughout His creation and exists as a fundamentally different kind of cause. But, what Christian could possibly deny that the God of the Bible does reveal Himself by directly intervening in the creation as a detectable cause? You would have to toss the Bible away entirely. I take it Parry doesn’t apply such restrictions in God’s action to Christ Jesus, who is both part of the eternal trinity and acted as a cause among causes on earth. To put it bluntly, Parry’s argument is incoherent. Unfortunately, it’s not his argument. He’s simply re-iterating what many theistic evolutionists have already said, and it didn’t work as an argument for them either. It fails entirely.
Instead, what is really at play here is the incoherence of the theistic evolution view. As JP Moreland recently put it, theistic evolution either ascribes to a form of deism (God kick-starts the process and no longer intervenes), or to a situation where “God was involved in the process of evolution, as long as there can be no way to tell He was involved.”
The Bible teaches a God who was (and is) detectably involved in His creation.