Mystery Solved

One thing that genuinely perplexes me is why Michael Ruse advocates an argument about God and evolution that is vastly inferior to the one I raised. It is vastly inferior in the sense that is mistakenly treats God as a being who is held hostage to time and does not take the omniscience of God too seriously. And I am perplexed because Ruse, as a philosopher, knows that God, if He exists, is both omniscient and outside of time. So how it is that he could come so close, yet miss the target so badly?

Over at the Hump of the Camel, Jon Garvey responds to my posting about evolution and God and he raises some interesting points. And I think one such point solves my little mystery and explains the weak nature of Ruse’s argument.

Jon writes:

But I’m not sure how useful Mike’s general notion of a virtual multiverse is, except as a polemic response to Ruse. After all, we’re picturing God imagining every possible Universe operating on law and chance, and finally selecting the one to instantiate. But the truth is that none of these virtual Universes was “going to happen”: they are all possible versions of what God himself might choose to do. Without him, nothing will do anything. Predicting what you mean to do is simply to do it.
Here’s an analogy. I want to shoot an arrow at a target I have in view. I imagine every possible scenario. I exclude very quickly those in which I face backwards, or use ivy for the bow-string or run away. I warm more to those in which I carefully line up the arrow with the target, make allowance for gravity and wind, draw back the string just so, release my fingers in that specific manner and so on. In my imperfect human experience I will be trying to imitate and refine the physical and mental conditions of my best previous shots. God in his perfection does it all in his mind. In other words, there is very little conceptual difference between God’s selecting from an infinite number of imagined universes and my selecting from an infinite number of possible bow-shots. It’s called “design”. Indeed, that’s what “design” is – reducing possibilities to the few, or one, that will produce a desired result. It’s eliminating uncertainty by choice.

Whoa. I missed this and there it is, right in front of my nose. “God’s selecting from an infinite number of imagined universes” is “called “design.” It’s the ultimate design argument. At the very least, it is obviously teleological. Ruse’s argument, in contrast, drips with non-teleology. God creates all the various multiverses and than has to wait around for the right one to just happen. Given that Ruse is an atheist/agnostic, he a) couldn’t see the teleological version or b) preferred to raise a non-teleological version of the same argument.

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2 Responses to Mystery Solved

  1. Gregory says:

    How do you prefer to be called here – Michael or Mike or Mike Gene or…?

    “It’s the ultimate design argument. At the very least, it is obviously teleological.” – OP

    William Dembski writes: “The design argument is also called the teleological argument.” (his italics) He also, however, speaks of ‘design arguments,’ which leaves room for the distinction you make with the term ‘the ultimate design argument’ and which I call the theological or religious design argument.

    Dembski also speaks of “the distinction between the design argument[s] and intelligent design,” the former being mainly about cosmology, while the latter is mainly about biology.

    Is that what you mean also in distinguishing ‘ultimate design’ from other kinds of design?

    Jon Garvey does not mean ‘intelligent design,’ at least not of the IDM-ID variety, when he speaks of ‘design/Design.’ But, like you, he posits an alternative (to IDM-ID) meaning of ‘design,’ in the quoted post, that which is based on choice. Here he comes closer to your theologically-inspired “Because of Us” approach than what IDM-ID has allowed into its scientific theorizing.

    You ask: “So how it is that he could come so close, yet miss the target so badly?” “Given that Ruse is an atheist/agnostic, he a) couldn’t see the teleological version or b) preferred to raise a non-teleological version of the same argument.”

    I’d add c) didn’t realise there were tools to ‘think teleologically’ as a philosopher of science, using concepts that are ‘inherently teleological’ unlike ‘evolution’.

  2. Michael says:

    Hi Gregory,

    How do you prefer to be called here – Michael or Mike or Mike Gene or…?

    Either one is fine with me.

    Is that what you mean also in distinguishing ‘ultimate design’ from other kinds of design?

    I simply mean that we can take the full force of the Gnu’s strongest non-teleological argument that is derived from science and discover that it easily succumbs to a non-contrived teleological re-interpretation. It turns out Dennett’s universal acid is vinegar.

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