November 2008

A key reason I got involved in the intelligent design debates is that I was unhappy with some of the standard criticisms of ID given in the literature. Of course there are lots of bad arguments for ID out there — there are bad arguments given for every position. But it’s unfair to focus on the bad arguments, when there are better arguments that are given — or even when there are better arguments that could be given (even though they currently aren’t being given by the ID proponents). 

Similarly, it’s unfair to saddle ID proponents with their history. Just because they espoused religious views in the past in conjunction with ID, or treated ID as a lot like creationism, that doesn’t follow that the doctrine of ID has to be understood religiously, or like creationism, now. It’s perfectly legitimate for one to make changes to the doctrine one is espousing, and it’s unfair for critics to simply focus on the past bad doctrines proponents used to espouse, when there are more plausible doctrines being espoused now. 

Here’s an update on the status of my book. Barring any last-minute changes of mind, the book will be called Seeking God in Science: An Atheist Defends Intelligent Design. The manuscript is about 70,000 words. Those who are familiar with my published articles know that I lean towards pithy writing, so having 70,000 words worth of things to to say is a major accomplishment for me. The manuscript is currently in the copy-editing stage. It’s coming out with Broadview Press, and if all goes well it will be out this coming summer. 

You can read a brief chapter-by-chapter summary here. That summary was written a while ago, and doesn’t completely capture the focus of each chapter of the book, but until I get around to writing another summary it will do.

The fifth and final (for now) podcast interview with me is available here.

Oops, when I said Part III was the final podcast, I was wrong — there’s a part IV!

The third and final (for now) podcast interview with me for ID the Future is now available.

I consider myself an atheist — while I’m not certain that there is no God, I think it’s pretty unlikely that there is. (Some intelligent design arguments make me less certain that there is no God than I would be had I not heard the arguments, so that’s why, even though I’m an atheist, I think intelligent design arguments are worth taking seriously.) 

But some people have questioned my claim that I’m an atheist. For example, in response to my claim that there are objective moral truths, someone weighed in with this:

When someone talks about not believing in God, but believing in some sort of objective reality like “morality existing in the universe,” it just makes me think that they are just rejecting the cartoon “God” of so many Christians, rather than the real God.  To me that objective morality or directionality of the universe IS God.  Get rid of the beard and the clouds…  Love.  Creativity.  Truth. Morality…  In my mind if you believe in an objective reality of these things, you do believe in some sort of “god”, perhaps just not a personal aspect of “it”.  

Well, I certainly don’t believe in a cartoon version of a Christian God. But I don’t believe in the Christian God either, as long as one construes the Christian God to be the God who became flesh in the form of Jesus Christ and died for our sins, or even just if one construes the Christian God to be the God that will provide at least some people with an afterlife in communion with him. 

So I don’t believe in the Christian God. Do I believe in some sort of God? Well, it depends on how people define God. I believe in love, and I believe in objective morality, and I believe in creativity — if one wants to simply define God as love, or morality, or creativity, then yes I believe in God. But normally when I think of God, I think of a being that created the physical universe, and I don’t think that love or morality or creativity created the universe. Also, normally when I think of God, I think of a being that is immensely powerful and knowledgeable, and I don’t think that love or morality or creativity is immensely powerful or knowledgeable. In fact, I don’t think it even makes sense to say that love or morality or creativity is knowledgeable — this is known in philosophical circles as a category mistake

But if it turns out that there are lots of theists who say that they believe in God simply because they believe in love or morality or creativity, then I guess I’d happy to join their side, and say that I believe in God too. I would worry, though, that I was misleading people when I said that, because there are at least some people out there (like me right now) who have a quite different conception of God than that, and that’s what leads some of us to say that we’re atheists.

Part II of my interview on the ID the Future podcast is now available here.

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