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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Reconciliation makes strange bedfellows

David H. (a design engineer) at Practically-Thinking suggests that a simple solution to the whole question of evolution and intelligent design (or creation, I guess) is to indulge in
... one simple realization: a belief in creation has to include the belief that the world was up and running at time of creation, with all the features that might indicate age and prior events. We know this has to be true for a created world, and can prove it. Take starlight, for example. If we believe the universe is only a few thousand years old, how did light from a star 1 million light years from earth get here last night? Obviously, if the universe was created, that light had to have been created en route. Here’s another: plants created in the first 6 days of the world needed to stand in soil. Soil, though, is made of the remains of earlier life. If God created these plants in a day, it follows that He created the dirt and all the history embedded in it. Surely an omnipotent God can do all this.

This is not a new idea. It was the position of a nineteenth-century figure, Philip Gosse, author of Omphalos , which advanced the view that the planet only appears to be old.

Bertrand Russell pointed out that the idea is not in principle illogical:

There is no logical impossibility in the hypothesis that the world sprang into being five minutes ago, exactly as it then was, with a population that "remembered" a wholly unreal past. There is no logically necessary connection between events at different times; therefore nothing that is happening now or will happen in the future can disprove the hypothesis that the world began five minutes ago. (Russell, The Analysis of Mind, 1921, page 159.)

Well, so much the worse for pure logic then.

David writes further,

As believers and/or as scientists, we can accept what we see and believe what we believe without conflict. Let's do it.


Better yet, let’s not do it.

Once we get started on any “the evidence is just another illusion” track, there is no obvious place to stop. As a matter of fact, we could all just be a bout of road rage that an advanced being is having in the left turn lane somewhere on Alpha Centauri.

By the way, such flights of fancy should in no way be confused with Pope Benedict XVI’s contention that we are each a “thought of God.” B16 would say that the reality we observe actually does exist, and we can derive true knowledge from studying it as a reality - but it exists within a larger reality. Thus, we are not (usually) deceived by the evidence of our senses, but we err if we think that only what we can observe or understand can exist.
If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

Are you looking for one of the following stories?

A summary of recent opinion columns on the ID controversy

A summary of recent polls of US public opinion on the ID controversy

A summary of the Catholic Church's entry into the controversy, essentially on the side of ID.

O'Leary's intro to non-Darwinian agnostic philosopher David Stove ?

An ID Timeline: The ID folk seem always to win when they lose.

O’Leary’s comments on Francis Beckwith, a Dembski associate, being denied tenure at Baylor.

Why origin of life is such a difficult problem.
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