Intelligent Design - Natural Theology
Fri Oct 11 17:47:13 EDT 2002
- Natural theology is the study of what can be known about God from
Reason and Nature alone.
- Naturalism is the theory that the only causes
operating within Nature are Natural Causes.
- Modernism is Naturalism combined with other ancient errors.
- Natural Law refers to
Natural Causes in this context.
- The Natural Law that Judge Thomas
spoke of refers to the Moral Laws which can be known through Reason
and Nature apart from Revelation.
- British Natural Theology was the 19th movement that attempted
to refute Darwinism by an appeal to apparent design.
Philosophical and Scientific Naturalism
Naturalism is divided into two camps. Philosophical Naturalism,
or Positivism, refuses
to consider theories not based exclusively on natural causes. Scientific
Naturalism considers any theory that is testable by natural means.
In other words, it is willing to consider non-natural phenomena that
are repeatable and testable in the manner that science requires.
Similarly, there are two kinds of Agnostics. Those who don't know
whether there is a God, but are willing to find out. And those who
maintain that it is impossible in principle to know whether there is
Most naturalists were Positivists, but a few were not.
Dembski mentions Sober, who maintained that a theory of design might
eventually be testable.
Explaining Intelligent Causes
Some people try to separate science and theology. The idea is that
science looks only at natural causes, theology looks only at intelligent
causes. This has been called the "separation of facts and values".
But this is absurd. Apparently intelligent causes are all around us.
Nevertheless, it is common in our culture to explain obviously
intelligent causes as natural causes. For example, "Handguns kill."
Charles Hodge pointed out that there are three ways to account for
- Both intelligent and natural causes are at work in the world.
This is the view of Socrates (as described by Plato), Hodge, and Dembski.
Note that this view does not suppose or deny miracles. Nevertheless,
Darwinists often try to equate intelligent causes with miracles.
- Only natural causes are at work in the world. Apparently intelligent
causes are the result of Divine Providence. This is the view of
Augustine and Charles Babbage. Babbage invokes the metaphor of a
deterministic computer preprogammed with all the workings of Providence.
- Intelligent design is only an illusion. There is no intelligence,
design, or meaning - only the blind operation of natural causes.
This has been the predominant view of modernism for more than a century.
The Fall in Brief
British Natural Theology began in the first camp. Then, with Babbage
began a move to the second camp: from Design to Natural Law. But
with design concentrated in abstract laws, it was untestable. Finally,
there was a move to Agnosticism (since Atheism was still taboo) and
The Worst of Both Worlds
The successor to Hodge at Princeton was Warfield. His compromise was
to explain most intelligent causes as Providence, but allow for
occasional miracles. As Dembski puts it, "contrary to Natural Theology,
this "uses physical causes to do the work of intelligent causes; contrary to
positivism, it employs the taboo concept of miracle." For most of its
history, science was a uniquely Christian endeavour. From this point on,
science became Agnostic and even Atheistic.