Intelligent Design - Signs
Fri Sep 27 15:18:29 EDT 2002
An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no
sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. Matthew 12:39 KJV
Complexity and Specification
Last time we saw that for the entropy of
a system to be low (and the information to be high), there must be many
possible states, and only a few of those states must be chosen. This week,
we will look at pre-modern logic for gauging the significance of an event.
Once again, specificity and extraordinariness are important
ingredients for a sign to carry information. However, new factors come into
play for signs. To be effective in communication, a sign must have a
meaning attached and be unique.
For words to communicate between persons, they must have a meaning
assigned to them that is known to both parties. For a sign to be useful, there
must be a meaning attached. When God is a party, once you have determined a
meaning, then God knows the meaning you have attached (perhaps
better than you do).
While recognizing Intelligent Design is not that hard, knowing who
did the design is harder. If you see some writing in the sand on the
beach, you don't know who wrote it - only that they were intelligent.
A sign that is unique to a person provides assurance that the
sign was not forged by an imposter.
It may seem that a miraculous
sign would be unique to God, but Satan also has some power in that
regard: "And [he] deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those
miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast." [Rev 13:14]
Arthur C. Clark's proverb is also relevant here: "Any sufficiently
advanced technology is indistinquishable from magic."
Here are the canonical ingredients of an effective sign:
- Specify the sign beforehand, the more precisely, the better.
- The sign must be extraordinary, i.e. unlikely to happen
- There must be a specific meaning attributed to the sign:
a logical statement of the form if sign, then descision or knowledge.
- The sign must be unique to the giver to give assurance of
the identity of the giver.
Dembski looks at a number of examples of signs, to see whether they
meet these criteria, and whether these criteria in fact match up
with effective signs in the Bible. For this class, we will review Dembski's
examples, and look at some addition ones. For each sign,
ask yourself if it is specified, extraordinary, meaningful, and unique.
- Homer Simpsons prayer.
- Bible Codes.
- Ten Plagues
- The Pharisees and the Sign of Jonah
- Hanson's Sign
- A poem in a Chinese newspaper had a
- The False Prophet of the Anti-Christ
- Gideon's Fleece
- Philistines and the Ark
- The Resurrection
- Zacharias in the Temple
Modernity, Pre-Modernity and Post-Modernity
A weakness of modern science is the desire to reduce all causes to
efficient causes. Pre-moderns recognized that intelligent agents
act in the world along side natural causes. Moderns try to reduce
intelligence to natural causes. Post-moderns doubt the existence
of any causes at all.
Some people have a rather irrational view of faith. In Miracle on
34th Street, faith is defined as "believing what you know
ain't true". Miguel de Unamuno defined faith as wishing something
were true, and acting as though it was. Christian faith is believing
what you know is true based on solid evidence, and not wavering
in that belief. "For he that wavers is like a wave of the sea, driven
with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think he shall receive
anything of the Lord." [James 1:6,7]