Sunday, February 1, 2009

On Intelligent Design

In the beginning, God created the world and everything in it, according to the Bible. In the beginning, the Word was with the Name, Christ with God.

Evidence points decisively towards the Big Bang as the beginning of the known Universe. That phenomenal sonic boom is in fact in my view the very sound of the Word whereof the Bible speaks, and there is no contradiction between scripture and science in this respect. What science observes and what scripture describes in narrative form, could be one and the same prehistoric event without any contradiction in terms.

The fact that science can observe and describe in its own terms the results of God's activity by no means disproves the presence of God; on the contrary, there are scientists who have arrived independently at the conclusion that there is so much evidence for intelligence in the way the Universe is put together, that there must be more to this natural world than what meets the three-dimensional perception of the human eye.

There is no shame in such a conclusion, yet there is no end to the scorn, mockery and derision that is routinely poured upon scientists who believe in intelligent design. When you read some of the writings of those who seek somehow to "disprove" the existence of God - an impossible task in any event, and a folly to boot, for it is no more possible to "disprove" the existence of God scientifically than it is to "prove" it! - they consist more of empty rhetoric than of actual scientific proof. Sarcasm is not a substitute for research, yet many of the currently fashionable authors on these topics get away with a lot of verbal pyrotechnics in lieu of rigorous proofs, and their books are selling quite well nonetheless.

Atheism must necessarily be regarded as a faith rather than a scientific position; among philosophical positions, only agnosticism - an honest "we don't know for sure" - would meet the criteria of rigorous scientific enquiry.

"The beginning" is not defined in the Bible as a specific time identifiable in relation to human history. I am definitely certain that this "beginning" was longer than six thousand years ago, and wish to make it clear that I am by no means a Biblical literalist with respect to my reading of Genesis. I do believe in intelligent design, for I cannot accept that this intricate, delicate and highly organized world with all the infinite perspectives and non-physical concepts, intuitions, feelings, emotions and ideas in the minds of all the creatures that inhabit it, would have come about by means of mere happenstance. The grotesque foolishness of such a debilitating outlook on our natural world is in my view so extreme as to be actually laughable. It is clear to me that this world has, and will always have, a Creator and that the Creator is active even today.


  1. Hallo, Annesu!

    You must excuse me if I write in Afrikaans. I always find it so artificial when Afrikaans speaking people speak English to one another. For the sake of people who don't understand Afrikaans I will through in an English sentence here and there.

    Jy skryf jy glo in intelligente ontwerp en suggereer dan dat 'n klomp dinge nie verklaar kan word sonder intelligente ontwerp nie. Twee aspekte hiervan maak my ongemaklik:

    1) Om die Bybelse geloof in 'n Skepper soos 'n wetenskaplike hipotese te benader - as 'n toetsbare verklaring van waarneembare verskynsels, dus - is myns insiens 'n fout. Die skeppingsgeloof is eerder 'n aanname waarvan gelowiges uitgaan.

    Belief in creation is a constitutive presupposition of the language game, and associated form of life, of believers - not a testable explanatory hypothesis as you suggest. Om na 'n godsdienstige oortuiging te gryp sodra iets nie verklaar kan word nie - die "God of the gaps" - hou nie rekening daarmee dat 'n goeie wetenskaplike hipotese empiries toetsbaar moet wees nie. Dit ondermyn ook wetenskaplike rasionaliteit omdat laasgenoemde juis leef van onverklaarbaarhede en die soeke na empiries toetsbare verklarings.

    Metaphysical convictions fall beyond the reach of natural science.

    2) Ek dink dit sal nie net logies nie, maar ook strategies, 'n fout wees om die kritiek op "posthumanisme" onlosmaaklik aan die skeppingsgeloof te koppel. Ook mense wat nie in God glo nie, kan goeie redes he om skrikkerig te wees vir die beweging waaroor jy dit het. Not only believers have reason to fear post humanism - to suggest that that's the case could underminde your criticism of the movement.
    Ons praat later weer.

  2. You are absolutely correct Gerrit: I personally know some non-believers who are as horrified as I am by the posthumanist movement and its goals and ideals.

    Some of my best friends are agnostics - atheists for all intents and purposes, for they hold to the notion that we cannot be totally sure that God does not exist, but for practical purposes they proceed as if he does not exist, in other words unlike myself, they do not engage in attempts at communication with God (what we know as "prayer") - but they do not want to become cyborgs or be "enhanced" to be "better than well" any more than I do!

    As for writing in Afrikaans: you are absolutely welcome to write in the language of your choice, but I am going to ask you to clarify a term you have used here, which I myself am not certain of: "Belief in creation is a constitutive presupposition of the language game" ... could you explain what that means, for I have no idea? And here I thought belief in creation was a simple thing: you look at the world and you say "no way did this thing create itself" ... ! :)

    If you prefer to explain in Afrikaans (which might be helpful to me!) you can translate your explanation again - or I will if you wish to let me try - for the reference of readers from the international audience who do not speak the language, for they may be as perplexed as I am, as to the meaning of that phrase.

    This is going to bother my brain all day: "constitutive presupposition of the language game." "Belief in creation is a constitutive presupposition of the language game." Hm. What could it possibly mean? ;)

  3. Wys jou net wat gebeur as 'n Afrikaanssprekende Engels skryf! Try reading the whole sentence: "Belief in creation is a constitutive presupposition of the language game, and associated form of life, of believers."

    Religious belief is a "language game" in the Wittgensteinian sense: not a game because it is trivial (it certainly is not), but a game because it works with certain "rules of the game". In order to play this game (the game of faith), you have to follow the rules, otherwise it becomes a different game altogether.

    One of the rules is that you assume the existence of God. Within the game of faith itself that assumption cannot be questioned, for questioning it means questioning whether the game should be played at all. In that sense the assumption (or "presupposition") of God's existence is "constitutive" of the language game of faith. It is something you presuppose because you find the game in question worth playing.

    In a similar way the game of empirical science is constituted by the presupposition that every observable event has a natural explanation. After all, there's no point in looking for an explanation for something unless you assume that there is one.

    One could question whether there is an explanation for everything, but not within the language game (and associated form of life) of empirical science. While playing that game, you have (logically) to assume that there is a natural explanation for every event, and that your job is to try and find it.

    Empirical science is a worthwhile game to play, but it is not the only game in town. The same applies to faith. And to love, poetry, rugby, mountain climing etc.

  4. en oor die "Big Bang" het die volgende gedagte oorspronklik by my suster Annelie opgekom : toevallig ? nee ! - toe val lig (God se lig ) ondeurgrondelik en genadiglik oor en deur die onderwerp van Sy hele skepping heen.

    en Annesu , jy is reg - die Skepper is vandag (en vir ewig - want tyd sal nooit einde kry nie!) steeds met Sy skepping besig, ten spyte van al die menslike 'diskrepansies'

  5. Hi Gerrit,

    Your English is exceedingly excellent. You would *definitely* pass the English language test for immigration to this place - for what that might be worth to you :) ... This just for the record.

    Speaking of the language game: I persist in using the lingua franca because time is limited and the need to reach an international audience with this subject matter, quite pressing to me. Here in Canada it is quite common for two people of the same non-English language group to converse with each other in English for the benefit of others who are not equipped with the language skills to follow a conversation in a heritage language.

    If for example two Chinese Canadians were to enter into a debate on television on a topic that concerns all Canadians, they certainly would not insist on speaking Mandarin to one another, much as it may seem strange for them to converse in a second language when both of them know that a first is readily at hand. They might in reality be more comfortable speaking to one another in the heritage language, but it is of no consequence when the intended audience consists of the entire country's people, only a fraction of whom are capable of comprehending Mandarin. No-one here would consider it strange to choose English under those circumstances, and I do believe these circumstances to be similar.

    So, while we both know that we can write beautiful and flawless Afrikaans, the point here is not about that, but about reaching people. The source of the problem is also not exactly in our country of origin; the problem is not a problem of the Afrikaans speaking people per se, given that none of us were transhumanists or posthumanists when last we looked (I hope! :) ... so, given that this is a global phenomenon, I myself prefer to make myself as clear as possible and not to create any obstacles to comprehension. (Having said that, I will probably now encounter Afrikaans speaking transhumanists who are outraged at my denial of their existence ... for the most part however, so far as I have been able to determine, the people in SA have never heard of the transhumanist or posthumanist movement and that is exactly why I want to tell them more about it; also, I want to distract some of them so they can stop quibbling about local issues that are obviously insignificant compared to this! :)

    This is just to let you know that I am working on a response to your response to my question. I was a tiny bit deliberate in asking it, because I wanted you to explain more about "the language game" of believers. You did so admirably, and a reponse will be forthcoming in a new posting.

    With kind regards as well as high regard (for your abilities as a thinker and author; so grateful for your participation here!)


  6. A,
    and if you can translate , as promised , in certain cases where some of your readers in their responses will react in their own dear language Afrikaans , and you think their comments may contribute positively to this debate , it would be much appreciated.

  7. I absolutely will do so wherever necessary/appropriate and to the best of my abilities, Izak, and will again ask those whose words I have translated, to make sure that I have done so correctly and conveyed their meaning accurately, for as I said before: we all are free to express ourselves as we see fit, and as we feel most comfortable. These are *huge* subjects and it is absolutely crucial that we do not be misunderstood - you remember the song, "O Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood?" I sing it quite often! :)

    Please bear with me Izak, I am working on answers to all the fantastic responses I have received; I'm actually curtailing my facebook activities in order to be able to do more work here because the response has been magnificent so far and I owe it to this audience to do my best and to be certain we are all "on the same page" in terms of our understanding of key terms and concepts. Thanks for your patience! Kind regards, A

  8. Gerrit, indien jy 'n teoloog is, behoort jy na my mening 'n besondere goeie teoloog uit te maak.

    Dit is vir my belangrik dat mense die kernverskille tussen 'n teologiese en 'n wetenskaplike epistemologie sal kan raaksien, erken en aanvaar.

    'n Teologiese epistemologie (alhoewel geldig in eie reg) is inderdaad 'n gans andere spel. Dit is vir sy bewysbaarheid van sy eie aannames afhanklik. Gevolglik is dit 'n logiese sirkel.

    Ons kan ten beste enige uitsprake rakende God, wat per pro die filosofie gemaak word, as geloofsuitsprake klassifiseer en op daardie terme met dit handel.

  9. Dit dan gesê, moet 'n mens gevolglik na transhumanisme vanuit 'n filosofiese perspektief kyk. Laat ek vir eers daarby volstaan om te sê dat ek (gekwalifiseerd) ten gunste van trans/posthumanisme is.


Chastity Bono and her band Ceremony - Could Have Been Love

When In Doubt, Google!

Custom Search