Christians against ID, Part 3

[See Part 1 here; Part 2 here.]

By coincidence, I came across a couple passages in the Summa which seem relevant to this topic, though not directly addressing it:

“For we must take into consideration the difference between a particular agent, that presupposes something and produces something else, and the universal agent, who produces the whole. The particular agent produces the form, and presupposes the matter; and hence it is necessary that it introduce the form in due proportion into a suitable matter. And so it is reasonable to say that it introduces the form into such matter, and not into another, on account of the different kinds of matter. But it does not seem reasonable to say so of God Who produces form and matter together, whereas it is considered reasonable to say of Him that He produces matter fitting to the form and to the end.”

 ST I, Q. 46, A. 1.

He talks about a particular agent and the universal agent. As I understand it, the universal agent is God, who creates everything: He creates the whole context in which everything happens. The particular agent (a watchmaker?) makes something by thinking of a form, and then looking around for suitable preexisting matter into which to introduce the form.

He says that God is not like this. Rather, God produces both form and matter, and makes the matter “fitting to the form and to the end” – i.e., he creates matter which is suitable to the formal and final causes that he has in mind.

This points up the manner in which God is not like a watchmaker, who thinks up a complex mechanism and makes it out of preexisting stuff, but makes the stuff to suit the thing he has thought up. Thus, God thought us up and then set about creating a universe in which we might come into existence.

But does the ID theorist necessarily disagree with this? Would he not agree that God created the natural processes through which matter evolved, specifically because he wanted exactly that type of matter into which to introduce the forms that he had in mind?

In which case, the process would go like this: God creates the singularity which exploded at the Big Bang, and fine-tunes it such that the matter we’re made of evolves just the way he wants it. But once that process is finished, once he has the matter in hand, he then takes the preexisting matter and forms it into the organisms we see around us, including ourselves (since it is believed that this cannot happen via “natural processes”). So God is both the watchmaker and the creator of the matter of which the watch is made.

The problem, it seems to me, is this idea of breaking up God’s creative process into two separate processes, one of which works through natural causes, and the other of which does not. For me it just seems far more intuitively correct, that God would create us through one continuous process. Continue reading

Christians against ID, Part 2

[See Part I here.]

This topic came to my mind recently because I’m taking an Astronomy course at my local community college. In this course I learned that shortly after the Big Bang (that is, relatively shortly), there were only three elements: Hydrogen, helium and a small amount of lithium. These elements eventually started condensing and forming into galaxies and stars. It was through the life cycles of stars that the heavier elements developed, such as the ones we and our planet are made of. Our sun is not a first-generation star but was formed from the materials left over from prior generations of stars.

This got me thinking: The very matter that we and our planet are made of is a product of evolution of a sort, the evolution of matter from lighter elements to heavier ones through natural processes over billions of years. ID itself doesn’t dispute this.

But isn’t the evolution of the matter we’re made of, part of the process of making us?

It struck me that if God started the process that way, why wouldn’t he finish it that way? I think he would have used one continuous process, rather than starting with one process and finishing with another. I definitely think he could create us with one continuous process using natural means. Why not? Would it be too hard for him to figure out how to set up the universe, to fine-tune it, so to speak, in just such a way that you and I would eventually result? Too hard for an omnipotent God of infinite intelligence, who constantly holds every atom in existence simultaneously?

William Lane Craig (The Great) argues for the fine-tuning of the universe as evidence for God’s existence:

“For example, a change in the strength of the atomic weak force by only one part in 10^100 would have prevented a life-permitting universe. The cosmological constant which drives the inflation of the universe and is responsible for the recently discovered acceleration of the universe’s expansion is inexplicably fine-tuned to around one part in 10^120. Roger Penrose of Oxford University has calculated that the odds of the Big Bang’s low entropy condition existing by chance are on the order of one out of 10^10(123). Penrose comments, ‘I cannot even recall seeing anything else in physics whose accuracy is known to approach, even remotely, a figure like one part in 10^10(123).’ And it’s not just each constant or quantity that must be exquisitely finely-tuned; their ratios to one another must be also finely-tuned. So improbability is multiplied by improbability by improbability until our minds are reeling in incomprehensible numbers.”

So the universe is fine-tuned for life. Again ID proponents don’t deny this. In fact, they love it since it points to a Designer. So … why not take the fine-tuning argument to its logical conclusion? Could not the cosmos be so fine-tuned that, not only is life possible, but that it positively must have arisen? And in the forms God intended?

Again, why not?