Science, not theology, should decide the merits of Intelligent Design

Over at Biologos, an evangelical theologian named Robin Parry has written a hit piece titled, God is More Than an Intelligent Designer. Now, I have no problem with someone criticizing Intelligent Design. But I do have a problem when someone criticizes it without getting out of his armchair and taking a look at the evidence for and against it. My own position is that Intelligent Design theory should be evaluated on strictly scientific grounds. Parry, unfortunately, criticizes it for all the wrong reasons, which can be summed up in a single, dismissive phrase: “Your God is too small.”

Is Parry right? Let’s have a look at his arguments.

God of the gaps?

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”. (Emphasis mine – VJT.)

Well, of course. That’s the whole idea. Science stands or falls on the evidence. ID claims to be a scientific theory, so it has to be falsifiable.

Parry appears to be making an incorrect assumption, however: he seems to think that Intelligent Design requires the “designer” to intervene in, or tinker with, the physical world, overlooking the possibility that God might have “front-loaded” the cosmos, setting up its initial conditions so that life (including complex organisms) would emerge naturally. (Front-loading the laws of Nature wouldn’t work.) Parry should be aware that several leading figures in the Intelligent Design camp – including Professor Michael Behe – have argued that no tinkering by the designer is necessary. Indeed, in his book, The Edge of Evolution (pp. 229-232), Behe describes in some detail how the design of life could have been accomplished without any interference. [To be sure, philosopher and ID advocate Stephen Meyer disagrees: he argues that if chemistry can’t explain the origin of DNA, neither could the initial conditions of the universe; but this is a fallacious argument, because it compares apples and oranges: the laws of chemistry aren’t specific enough to account for DNA, but that doesn’t mean the initial conditions of the cosmos couldn’t possess the requisite specificity.] What this means is that in order to falsify the claim that irreducible complexity points to a designer, it isn’t enough to show that irreducibly complex structures could have arisen naturally. One also needs to make a plausible scientific case that no “bias” in the fundamental parameters or initial conditions of our cosmos would have been required, in order to generate these structures. (If biological complexity could only be explained by appealing to cosmic fine-tuning, that would be merely pushing the question of design one step further back.)

I might add that ID theorists have never claimed that phenomena which cannot be explained in terms of unguided natural processes are (a) evidence for the existence of God (as opposed to an unknown Designer), let alone (b) the only possible evidence for God. So the “God of the gaps” accusation is simply a baseless canard.

The designer: just another being?

The problem here is that the “designer” — which almost every ID advocate thinks is the biblical God — 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.

Most ID advocates do indeed identify the “designer” with the biblical God, for philosophical and theological reasons – but not for scientific reasons. And no, the “designer” is not pictured as “acting as a cause in the world in the same manner as other causes act in the world,” for the simple reason that Intelligent Design theory is silent regarding the designer’s modus operandi. No-one knows how the designer acts. Nor does any ID advocate claim that the designer is but one being among others. Indeed, it is difficult to see how an ID proponent who upholds the fine-tuning argument for cosmological design (as many writers over at Biologos also do) could regard the designer of the cosmos as “one being among others.” At the very least, such a designer would have to be something lying beyond the cosmos – in other words, transcendent. The “one being among others” objection looks plausible only if we confine our attention to biological design.

God doesn’t act like that

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 be-ing to the whole of created reality and who enables all of the powers of causation within creation. So God was the explanation for the whole, but was not to be found in the gaps.

There is nothing to prevent God from being both the One who imparts being to created reality and Someone Who intervenes in history. Indeed, Judaism, Christianity and Islam all insist that He is precisely that, for they ascribe various miracles to the Creator. Christians, for instance, believe in the virginal conception of Jesus. I fail to see how a theologian could gladly accept the virginal conception but balk at the idea of God bringing about a few divinely guided mutations in the lineage leading to human beings.

God and science don’t mix

The explanations of the empirical sciences function at the level of secondary causation within the created order, and pay no attention to metaphysical questions of primary causation. As such, God does not feature in scientific explanations. This is unproblematic so long as scientists don’t imagine that reality can be encompassed within the realm of what science can explain — that road ends up collapsing in on itself. Treating some things in the world (but not others) as the result of God rather than of inner-creational causes is to mix up these different levels of explanation. Setting divine and creational causes up in opposition as some kind of zero sum game is unhelpful.

To deal with the last point first: it is a myth to claim that Intelligent Design sets divine and creational causes up in opposition to one another. Rather, what it does is set guided and unguided causal processes in opposition to one another. Now, it is certainly possible for a theologian like Parry to maintain that all law-governed natural processes – including the processes leading to the formation of carbon (which is required by all living things) in the early history of the cosmos – are ultimately guided by the Creator. He is entirely correct, of course; but that kind of statement would cut no ice with a scientist. However, if one could show that the formation of carbon was itself a highly fine-tuned process, then he might conclude, as the late Sir Fred Hoyle did: “A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super intellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature.” Hoyle was hostile to religion, but he was courageous enough to follow the evidence where it led.

Parry asserts that God does not feature in scientific explanations. That would have been news to Sir Isaac Newton, whose Intelligent Design arguments I’ve documented in detail here. And in case someone wishes to object that Newton lived 300 years ago, when the rules of science were different, then how about the late nineteenth-century physicist James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879), who put forward a scientific argument for the existence of a Creator and who insisted that science didn’t rule out talk of a Creator; it merely ruled out discussion of his modus operandi? Heck, there have been at least 31 great scientists who made scientific arguments for the supernatural.

But if nineteenth-century scientists don’t impress you, then how about some prominent twenty-first century scientists who reject methodological naturalism? Here’s atheist cosmologist Sean Carroll:

Let’s imagine that there really were some sort of miraculous component to existence, some influence that directly affected the world we observe without being subject to rigid laws of behavior. How would science deal with that?

The right way to answer this question is to ask how actual scientists would deal with that, rather than decide ahead of time what is and is not “science” and then apply this definition to some new phenomenon…

There is a perfectly good question of whether science could ever conclude that the best explanation was one that involved fundamentally lawless behavior. The data in favor of such a conclusion would have to be extremely compelling, for the reasons previously stated, but I don’t see why it couldn’t happen. Science is very pragmatic, as the origin of quantum mechanics vividly demonstrates. Over the course of a couple decades, physicists (as a community) were willing to give up on extremely cherished ideas of the clockwork predictability inherent in the Newtonian universe, and agree on the probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics. That’s what fit the data. Similarly, if the best explanation scientists could come up with for some set of observations necessarily involved a lawless supernatural component, that’s what they would do.

And here’s New Atheist and evolutionary biologist Professor Jerry Coyne, author of Why Evolution Is True:

I’ve previously described the kind of evidence that I’d provisionally accept for a divine being, including messages written in our DNA or in a pattern of stars, the reappearance of Jesus on earth in a way that is well documented and convincing to scientists, along with the ability of this returned Jesus to do things like heal amputees. Alternatively, maybe only the prayers of Catholics get answered, and the prayers of Muslims, Jews, and other Christians, don’t.

And here’s P. Z. Myers, a biologist and critic of Intelligent Design, who regards the very concept of God as nonsensical, but who thinks that scientists could still discover and investigate causes that fall outside the natural order:

My position is that we cannot find evidence for a god, that the God Hypothesis is invalid and unacceptable, because “god” is an incoherent concept that has not been defined…

By the way, I do agree with Coyne on one thing: I also reject Shermer’s a priori commitment to methodological naturalism. If a source outside the bounds of what modern science considers the limits of natural phenomena is having an observable effect, we should take its existence into account.

Parry’s insistence that science has no place for God-talk strikes me as a trifle dogmatic, to say the least, when leading contemporary scientists who are also vocal atheists disagree.

Who designed the designer?

Let us continue with Parry’s piece:

Furthermore, the most that ID could ever demonstrate is that certain things in the world (but not the the world as a whole) were designed by a very intelligent (though not omni-intelligent) and powerful (though not all-powerful) being (or groups of beings). But such a being is more like an archangel than God. And of such a being we may still ask, “Who designed it?” for it would certainly not be the kind of thing that could explain its own existence. This intelligent designer would be as infinitely removed from God as a flea.

I’m sure Parry has heard of the fine-tuning argument. For advocates of Intelligent Design, this argument constitutes evidence for the design of the cosmos, while arguments relating to biological complexity point to life’s having been designed. So I don’t know why Parry thinks Intelligent Design can only show that “certain things in the world (but not the the world as a whole) were designed.” (And in case Parry wishes to object that our universe might turn out to be just a small part of some larger multiverse which was not designed, I should inform him that fine-tuning advocates have anticipated that objection: Robin Collins argues that a multiverse that could generate a universe like ours would itself have to be designed. Physicist Paul Davies also has a killer argument against the multiverse as an explanation for everything.)

I have a question for Parry. Assuming that the fine-tuning argument does point to the universe’s having been designed, would he agree that the designer of the universe would have to be omni-intelligent and all-powerful? If not, why not? (I’m asking because theologians and philosophers don’t agree on the definitions of these terms, and I’d like to know what Parry’s definitions are.)

What of Parry’s final point, that one could always ask who designed the designer, since “it would certainly not be the kind of thing that could explain its own existence”? For my part, I wonder what basis Parry has for his assurance that the designer of the cosmos “would certainly not be the kind of thing that could explain its own existence.” Why not? At the very least, one could argue that a transcendent designer of the cosmos might be self-explanatory. I’m not sure how Parry thinks an archangel could design a cosmos.

But as I have mentioned before, Intelligent Design theory doesn’t deal with the identity of the Designer. It is perfectly consistent to hold that scientific arguments can never establish that the designer is a self-explanatory Being, but that philosophical arguments can be marshaled to show that the designer of the cosmos is either a self-explanatory Being or a being kept in existence by a self-explanatory Being.

Dragons?

I am not for one moment suggesting that those who believe in God should not look at complex systems within creation and marvel at how they manifest God’s goodness and power — after all, such complex systems live and move and have their being in God, manifesting the Divine Logos — but that is a very different issue from seeking to find them as evidence of direct divine intervention. There be dragons!

I’ve dealt with the claim that Intelligent Design requires divine intervention above. Lastly, the problem with Parry’s “There be dragons!” dig at the ID movement (a reference to the medieval practice of putting illustrations of dragons, sea monsters and other mythological creatures on uncharted areas of maps) is that most of the arguments for Intelligent Design were unknown to people in the Middle Ages, who believed in the spontaneous generation of life, and even fairly complex animals such as rats, mice and crocodiles from non-living matter. It was not until the invention of the microscope that we see Intelligent Design-style arguments appearing in the writings of scientists such as Robert Boyle. As for the universe, people in the Middle Ages were quite familiar with the Aristotelian view that it had always existed. No-one knew about the Big Bang or the fine-tuning argument. In other words, the “dragons” in the Intelligent Design account of the world are not old ones, but very new ones. The dragons may of course be slain, as new explanations for life and the cosmos are put forward – but my plea is this: let science, and not theology, do the slaying.

160 thoughts on “Science, not theology, should decide the merits of Intelligent Design

  1. VJ Torley:

    Just a quick question. What if astronauts on Mars found something like Arthur C. Clarke’s monolith? Would you infer design?

    Yes, but I would not be quick to call it science. Recall the issue with Kepler and the moon craters, and then more recently this image from mars.

    The question is how big a gap is sufficient to infer design. It becomes moot if we actually see the designer in action, but until that happens, I don’t call it science, I only call ID for certain claims “not formally science, but rather believable on some level of faith without sight”.

    Now, fwiw, the reason I don’t call ID science is also a matter of defending ID. I’ve defended ID for years. Critics of ID love debating whether ID is science and thus when we make an assertion that “ID is science” we play right into their hands and we go into tangents that take us away from discussion the complexity of biology and the difficulty of evolving certain features without intelligent guidance.

    So when you hear me talk about ID, I don’t say “ID is science”, I say instead, “this feature of biology requires a statistical miracle, it is not the product of ordinary processes”. Critics of ID would love nothing more than to debate “ID is science” than debate the details of things like Chromatin evolution, Spliceosomes, Topoisomerases, nervous systems, anatomy, etc.

    Robin Parry did a good job of defining the debate in terms of “ID is not science” instead of dealing with “the existence of chromatin is not consistent with evolution by ordinary unguided processes”.

    And one thing I learned that didn’t surprise me. I asked Allan Miller if he saw God create something would he still believe in evolution. Allan, IIRC, said “yes”.

    Though Allan cringes at my characterization of what he said, I inferred from his response, there would be practically no gap big enough to persuade him something in biology was the product of ID short of God’s voice saying from the heavens “Allan Miller, I created all life.” and then giving some fireworks demonstrations to drive home the point. So no definition of ID or science will satisfy everyone that “ID is science.” I just don’t bother with that debate.

    Stephen Meyer can be said to share some of my indifference to the topic:

    Perhaps, however, one just really does not want to call intelligent design a scientific theory. Perhaps one prefers the designation “quasi-scientific historical speculation with strong metaphysical overtones.” Fine. Call it what you will, provided the same appellation is applied to other forms of inquiry that have the same methodological and logical character and limitations. In particular, make sure both design and descent are called “quasi-scientific historical speculation with strong metaphysical overtones.”

    Stephen Meyer
    http://www.arn.org/docs/meyer/sm_methodological.htm

    Btw, in the USA we celebrate Thanksgiving Day in the USA. It’s almost as big a celebration as Christmas. Thanksgiving is almost here in the USA. Happy Thanksgiving to you VJ! God bless.

  2. phoodoo: So you claim.

    But I don’t have to. I can observe life on Earth. I can perform my own experiments. Or I can read up on what others have observed and set up as experiments. Science is testable.

  3. vjtorley: Just a quick question. What if astronauts on Mars found something like Arthur C. Clarke’s monolith? Would you infer design?

    It appears to be a rational shape of the sort that intellect is known to make. It also is not like life, laws of physics, or carbon nucleosynthesis, so not like phenomena that are not known to be designed, or in the case of life, quite unlike designed phenomena.

    Of course, I suppose the point is whether or not design can be scientifically inferred from the monolith. Yes, but it’s barely science to just say that it’s due to design, because that’s such a non-answer. Still, one has to start somewhere, hence one should consider the tentative answer that the monolith is, oh, manufactured, is a matter of science, based on analogy with what known designers make. So unlike ID, however, because ID isn’t concerned about what known designers make, rather it uses specious measures of “complex functionality” to claim that things are designed, when no designer is known to make, say, roundworm parasites. Furthermore, it’s the rational simplicity of the monolith that indicates design in this case, which is why Dembski tried to claim that simple rationality is complexity in the case of simple human designs, thereby indicating the unscientific nature of ID.

    Glen Davidson

  4. stcordova: Perhaps, however, one just really does not want to call intelligent design a scientific theory. Perhaps one prefers the designation “quasi-scientific historical speculation with strong metaphysical overtones.” Fine. Call it what you will, provided the same appellation is applied to other forms of inquiry that have the same methodological and logical character and limitations. In particular, make sure both design and descent are called “quasi-scientific historical speculation with strong metaphysical overtones.”

    But you are missing his point. What he is saying is that if we are going to call ALL of the other things in science that rely on observation and inference science, then so is ID. So far we haven’t stopped calling all the other fields of science, science, so ID is also science.

  5. Things that look like things made by people are usually judged to be made by entities like people.

    A monolith could be a natural crystal if it appeared in an environment conducive to producing such crystals.

    We have expectations based on the observation that some things have cells and reproduce. We do not have any a priori way of judging.

  6. Darwin matters because evolution matters. Evolution matters because science matters. Science matters because it is the preeminent story of our age, an epic saga about who we are, where we came from, and where we are going.

    – Michael Shermer

    A modern creation myth. Storytelling.

  7. dazz: and since creation myths are intuitively obvious, you believe in common descent.

    What are you talking about. The bible describes common descent and nested hierarchies. So science is just now catching up?

  8. phoodoo: Ok, Keep reading about GPS satellites though. Hopefully one of your students doesn’t call you on that one day.

    And cue keiths and comments about flouncing.

  9. stcordova:
    J-Mac,

    J-mac,

    Those are man-made designs.I said ID is science for man-made designs because we have seen such designers.We have direct observation. We also have repeatability, therefore ID is science for man-made designs.

    ID applies also to God-made designs.But there is no repeatability, unless scientists see God in the act of creation, therefore it is not science for God-made designs.

    However, it does not make ID false for God-made designs, it’s just not classified as science.ID for God-made designs is accepted with some level of faith, not sight.Science is by sight, but “blessed are they who believe but have not seen.”

    I’m not entirely sure you have answered my specific question…while I still agree with you somewhat…

    Would you like me to clarify it?

  10. dazz: I would say science is about explaining stuff, in as much detail as possible. The more detail, the smaller the set of observations compatible with the explanation.
    That’s what makes proper science falsifiable.

    Science as you see it? Or I should say as you would like it to be? Grow up !

  11. J-Mac: Science as you see it? Or I should say as you would like it to be? Grow up !

    I’m almost afraid to ask… what’s wrong with that?

  12. dazz: I’m almost afraid to ask… what’s wrong with that?

    Do you think that your mild boo/boo with the zebra evolving into giraffe was forgotten? What science did you rely on then, when you made a cabron of yourself?
    You simply assumed that evolution must be right and your view of science must be right… You didn’t learn anything?
    I guess not… pity…

  13. J-Mac: Do you think that your mild boo/boo with the zebra evolving into giraffe was forgotten? What science did you rely on then, when you made a cabron of yourself?
    You simply assumed that evolution must be right and your view of science must be right… You didn’t learn anything?
    I guess not… pity…

    what does my blunder on the (recent) relatedness of zebras and okapis have to do with what science is about? try to make sense for a change.

    By the way, cabrón does not mean what you think it means and I wouldn’t suggest calling that to any Spanish guy, LOL

  14. dazz: By the way, cabrón does not mean what you think it means and I wouldn’t suggest calling that to any Spanish guy, LOL

    He just insulted you by calling you a cabron’. Didn’t you get that?

    derp

  15. dazz: what does my blunder on the (recent)relatedness of zebras and okapis have to do with what science is about? try to make sense for a change.

    By the way, cabrón does not mean what you think it means and I wouldn’t suggest calling that to any Spanish guy, LOL

    You made a fool of yourself then and you are not doing a much better job now…
    It’s painful to read…

  16. petrushka,

    So when do you cross the line, when you find something that so obviously looks designed, to just accepting that it MUST have been designed, even when you know nothing of its origins? There is a point, isn’t there?

  17. J-Mac: You made a fool of yourself then and you are not doing a much better job now…
    It’s painful to read…

    I had an explanation. Turns out it was wrong. Big deal. At least I learned something.
    You and your ilk don’t even try. You simply take delight in your own abysmal ignorance

  18. phoodoo: So when do you cross the line, when you find something that so obviously looks designed, to just accepting that it MUST have been designed, even when you know nothing of its origins? There is a point, isn’t there?

    Don’t be naive! Obviously designed is filtered though a bias filter…no evidence will covert the filter…

  19. dazz: I had an explanation. Turns out it was wrong. Big deal. At least I learned something.
    You and your ilk don’t even try. You simply take delight in your own abysmalignorance

    This proves you will not change your view no matter what…Why should I continue talking to you?

  20. J-Mac: This proves you will not change your view no matter what…Why should I continue talking to you?

    Change my mind about what? Evolution, I presume? Well, back to my original point, I will if someone comes through with a better explanation

  21. J-Mac:
    dazz,

    There is no better explanation unless it falls in line with your biased beliefs…
    What are you doing here than?

    My belief is that a good scientific explanation should aim for as much detail as possible. The more detail, the smaller the set of observations compatible with the explanation.

    That’s what makes proper science falsifiable.

    Thoughts?

  22. dazz: My belief is that a good scientific explanation should aim for as much detail as possible. The more detail, the smaller the set of observations compatible with the explanation.

    That’s what makes proper science falsifiable.

    Thoughts?

    Really? Would you like me to challenge that scientific and falsifiable evidence of yours?

    You will have 5 strikes and you will go down on each one of them… The outcome will be the same… Why would you like me to challenge the blind faith of yours? It will not change your mind…Entonces, por que?

  23. Can you read for comprehension? All I’m saying is that it seems to me, that good explanations should be as detailed as possible

  24. dazz:
    Can you read for comprehension? All I’m saying is that it seems to me, that good explanations should be as detailed as possible

    What are you angry about? That you are attracted to male ass? Do you blame God for this???

  25. dazz: Can you read for comprehension? All I’m saying is that it seems to me, that good explanations should be as detailed as possible.

    Sure. So how do evolutionary explanations stack up?

  26. dazz: You tell us, common descent believer

    It’s ok dazz. You’re the poster child for evolution by blind belief.

    The evidence, the lack of evidence, does not compute. Because you know,. somehow , that God was not involved.

    The scientific measure for divine guidance points to divine guidance.

    Sorry to burst your adolescent dreaming.

  27. Joe Felsenstein:
    TomMueller,

    That’s as may be, but empirically, if you survey guys with black hats and fringes, most of them will regurgitate talking points from the U.S. creationist movement.Your essay may make a better case in terms of the teachings of their own tradition, but Gould is wrong: there is not just an “occasional orthodox rabbi” who does that.Most of them do.You may be the better theologian but your views are not prevailing among them, any more than the corresponding views are convincing reactionary mullahs in Islam.

    Reactionary mullahs?! I thought reactionary went out with the commie soviets? just a good humoured joke although true!
    Why are creationists in these groups RIGHT WING.
    There is no connection in the foundations with politics. YES there is in North america a CURVE . this does indicate conclusions on origins, like in politics, is very much based on identity and not mere reflection and a roll of the dice.
    This fact is also suggestive of another point for another time.
    i’m glad if jewish teachers, i understand you say you listen to them, are getting info from organized YEC creationism. thats the only way because jews and mUslims would never, to this point, have the scholarship.
    its a normal exchange of patents and ideas in civilization.

  28. Mung: Dream on. You have it backwards.

    Have what backwards? I could (perhaps should) have said reality is testable. I’ve no objection if people wish to pursue a religious life: good for them if they find comfort in it. The problem arises with religious dogma, religious claims that are counterfactual; the classic one being a 6,000 year old Earth. It’s a daft and false idea and has nothing to do with the teachings of Jesus. It could easily be dispensed with without compromising core beliefs. The Dalai Lama had the good sense to say if tenets of Buddhism conflict with reality they should be dispensed with.

  29. phoodoo,

    This will be my last reply to you on this thread.

    I think I know what you mean, and I also find it kind of laughable. I also find it laughable that you believe God intended some mutations and not others, and didn’t really intend 46 chromosomes, but at the same time, he didn’t really mind it either

    Laughter is not an argument. Why do you think it’s absurd to say that God intends some outcomes, and foresees but merely tolerates others? And why do you think each and every detail of the human body had to have been not only foreseen but also intended by God?

    Furthermore, you seem to believe in the bible, but like, some of it?

    This thread isn’t about the Bible, and to tell you the truth, my own views regarding the Bible are rather fluid at the moment. I believe God created our bodies through the process of evolution. The human soul is another matter. How much of Genesis is historical, I don’t claim to know.

    And like when did he start giving out souls, was it the very first Heidelberg man?

    I’ve already answered that question in my last thread. I could be wrong, but I think it was probably Homo sapiens. I’m not sure whether it was the first Homo sapiens (approx. 300,00 years ago) or a more recent group (100,000 years ago, when modern human behavior appears), but at the moment, the evidence appears to favor the latter. Given that some interbreeding between Homo sapiens and Neandertals took place, we shouldn’t be surprised to find some possible signs of culture among them, too. My two cents.

  30. Hi Sal,

    I think I understand your views on science much better now, and I respect your position.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you too. Take care.

  31. J-mac,

    Perhaps to back up a little bit, someone might make the assertion “the question of Jesus Resurrection is science”. There is probably no greater question for humanity whether that event was real or not. If Jesus rose from the dead, it’s rather a moot issue whether we consider the question science or not. The important issue is whether it is true or not, not whether it is science or not.

    I view the question of “is ID science” in a similar vein. I don’t think it’s that important a question. It is more important to consider whether life is a miracle, and if so there must be a Miracle Maker (God).

    Astronaut Charles Duke prayed for a blind girl in the name of Jesus. She was cured of her blindness almost instantly.

    Was that miracle science or not? I think that is a rather unimportant question to the girl who was healed because she can say like someone else did in the gospel, such questions don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, but “I was blind, but now I see.”

    God bless you, and Happy Thanksgiving.

  32. Alan Fox,

    Citation please!

    No problem. I find Duke’s account credible because I believe I’ve seen prayers answered in the name of Jesus, despite the fact James Randi has issued a long standing challenge which I also consider noteworthy:
    http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/james-randis-million-dollar-challenge-intelligent-designers-elusiveness/

    But regarding Duke:
    http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/common-design-vs-common-descent/comment-page-72/#comment-199887

    It’s in his book MoonWalker.

    Duke visited Campus Crusade for Christ many years ago and gave his testimony. I read the account in his book which he autographed for me:

    https://www.amazon.com/Moonwalker-Astronaut-Enough-Satisfy-Success/dp/0840791062

    Moonwalker : The True Story of an Astronaut Who Found that the Moon Wasn’t High Enough to Satisfy His Desire for Success

    I’ve read almost all the astronaut books (see my reviews) and this is a good one. I had very little information on Apollo 16 so Charlie Duke filled in a lot of the info for me. Charlie did a good job about Apollo 16 and the moonwalk John Young ( the commander) and Charlie Duke ( the lunar module pilot) did getting Orion to and from the moon. I would of liked more info about the experiments Ken Mattingly(the CCM module Casper pilot did). Not much info given what Ken did in moon orbit while John and Charlie were on the moon.

    There are some nice black and white pictures. Charlie did a good job detailing some of the other Apollo flights and gave much praise for the 400,000 people who contributed their effort to the success of the Apollo program. I gave the first 90% of the book a solid 4 stars. The book reads very well. There are no boring parts and the book is a page burner. I read it in a little over 1 day. The reader wants to read more.

    I knew that Charlie Duke got much more religious AFTER his moonwalk. That was another reason I bought the book…to see what caused him to accept Jesus Christ more into his life. We see Charlie was a workaholic and studied very hard at Annapolis before going into the Air Force and MIT later to get his masters degree. We see his marriage to Dotty his wife and their two young sons affections suffered as Charlie gave them not as much time as he should. His efforts went into JOB 1, flying and becoming a test pilot and later an instructor at Edwards Air Force base and later an astronaut and much training as a backup for Apollo13 and then as the lunar module pilot for Apollo16.

    We see the lack of attention Charlie gave Dotty. Dotty had thoughts of suicide even though see tried lots of work as a substitute teacher, volunteer work and more to try to have something important in life. Nothing worked for her as she got deeper into depression. Later see gave herself to Jesus Christ 100% and became a born again Christian. God tells Dotty to accept Charlie 100% as he is. Later Charlie while driving and stopping his car accepts Jesus Christ 100% and is told by God to love Dotty. Their marriage is saved by the grace of God. Later we see the laying of hands on some sick people and Charlie and Dotty praying for God’s help.

    To me the last few chapters were moving. Charlie shows he was a good church goer but that was not enough. He had to accept Jesus Christ 100% and Jesus would provide for him and Dotty. We see some of the later business deals that were successful with God’s help. It got me to think I was like Charlie Duke going to church but not giving myself 100% to Jesus Christ. By reading this book I learned the value of accepting Jesus Christ 100% into my life and trying to improve my own marriage with the love and help of Jesus Christ. I will definitely read the bible more and ask Jesus for help and try harder to accept him more into my life. Thanks for the boost Charlie and Dotty from this book. With the later chapters on Dotty’s and Charlies 100% acceptance of Jesus Christ raise this book to 5 stars. I appreciated Charlie showing the chapters and verses in the Bible to support what he was saying.

    and from the book itself:

    From the wiki page:

    Duke became a committed Christian after his Apollo 16 flight, and is active in prison ministry.[7]

    I don’t know if this belongs in a wiki page, but for the benefit of you and the readers:

    I have seen miracles of healing, miracles of deliverance as demons fled a the name of Jesus, and wonderful manifestattions of the love and power of God, just like in the Bible.

    One such instance was at a military prayer breakfast in San Antonio. Over the years I have spoken for a number of prayer breakfasts– conventions, states, cities, and military. During this particular meeting hel at Fort Sam Houston there was opportunity for ministry following the program. a number of people came up for prayer; ne was a young girl and her father.

    The father explained, “My daughter’s eyesight is failing. She has this disease and is declared legally blind. All she can make out are shadows and shades of light. The doctors say that within a month she will be totally blind.”

    General Ralph Haines, who had organized the breakfast, and I laid hands on this young girl and asked God to heal her eyes and restore her sight. After the prayer, they thanked us and left. Nothing seemed to have happened — no miracle–so we continued to pray for others who were waiting in line.

    A few minutes later, this same girl came running through the back door of the NCO Club, joyously happy! She was screaming at the top of her lungs, “I can see…I can see…I can see! ” Everyone stopped what they were doing while she came running over to us to explain what had happened.
    ….
    Several years later I saw her father, and he confirmed that her sight was still perfect. Praise God.

    MoonWalker
    by Charles Duke
    page 271-272

    So does this account qualify as science? As far as the girl was concerned, it’s a rather trivial question, because she can say, “I was blind, but now I see.”

  33. Glen,

    If God created life though an instantaneous miracle, that is a greater miracle than restoring an amputee. I think the evidence supports that rather than a gradual transformation through common descent with variation and selection.

    If life is a miracle, there must be a Miracle Maker.

  34. stcordova:
    Glen,

    If God created life though an instantaneous miracle, that is a greater miracle than restoring an amputee.I think the evidence supports that rather than a gradual transformation through common descent with variation and selection.

    If life is a miracle, there must be a Miracle Maker.

    And life miraculously shares early homologies but not homologies of characters appearing since divergence, miraculously leaving the patterns of evolution that didn’t occur.

    It’s just miracle after miracle.

    Glen Davidson

  35. stcordova: One such instance was at a military prayer breakfast in San Antonio. Over the years I have spoken for a number of prayer breakfasts– conventions, states, cities, and military. During this particular meeting hel at Fort Sam Houston there was opportunity for ministry following the program. a number of people came up for prayer; ne was a young girl and her father.

    The father explained, “My daughter’s eyesight is failing. She has this disease and is declared legally blind. All she can make out are shadows and shades of light. The doctors say that within a month she will be totally blind.”

    General Ralph Haines, who had organized the breakfast, and I laid hands on this young girl and asked God to heal her eyes and restore her sight. After the prayer, they thanked us and left. Nothing seemed to have happened — no miracle–so we continued to pray for others who were waiting in line.

    A few minutes later, this same girl came running through the back door of the NCO Club, joyously happy! She was screaming at the top of her lungs, “I can see…I can see…I can see! ” Everyone stopped what they were doing while she came running over to us to explain what had happened.
    ….
    Several years later I saw her father, and he confirmed that her sight was still perfect. Praise God.

    MoonWalker
    by Charles Duke
    page 271-272

    Any corroboration? I’d have thought a claim like this of miraculous recovery from blindness following Charles Duke’s laying on of hands would have hit the headlines. It might also thus have come under enough scrutiny to draw, well, any conclusion at all from the story.

  36. Alan Fox,

    I don’t disagree with skepticism, but on what ground would Duke want to not tell the truth? It’s not like he didn’t already have fame and fortune.

    But this relates to the evolution creation debate. We can at least consider whether life is a miracle without having to rely on human testimony. I interpret the data to indicate a miracle, other obviously don’t, but that what it looks like to me.

    In any case, have a Happy Thanksgiving, my longtime friend. God bless you.

  37. Alan Fox: Any corroboration? I’d have thought a claim like this of miraculous recovery from blindness following Charles Duke’s laying on of hands would have hit the headlines.

    And, to that, Sal replied:

    I don’t disagree with skepticism, but on what ground would Duke want to not tell the truth? It’s not like he didn’t already have fame and fortune.

    I’ll take that as Sal’s admitting that there was no corroboration.

    And thus I conclude that there probably was no miracle.

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