[Buddha-l] life force vis a vis Xianity & Hinduism

Stanley J. Ziobro II ziobro at wfu.edu
Mon Aug 22 07:55:29 MDT 2005

On Sun, 21 Aug 2005, Richard Nance wrote:

> On 8/21/05, Peter D. Junger <junger at samsara.law.cwru.edu> wrote:
> > SJZiobro at cs.com writes:
> > : This is a clever contribution.  My question: Why as one theory among others i
> > : n a post-Modern society are arguments for intelligent design deemed unaccepta
> > : ble?
> There are two main objections I've encountered to intelligent design:
> 1. It's bad science (if it's science at all).  The point is not that
> intelligent design is a bad theory, but that it's a bad *scientific*
> theory, hence has no place *in science classrooms*. (This objection
> can be reasonably be mounted against Buddhist doctrine as well --
> thankfully, however, no one is unreasonable enough to advocate that we
> make room for the teaching of Buddhist doctrine in science classes.)
> Theories that are acceptable in one realm of discourse may be less so
> in another; intelligent design may be unacceptable as science, but
> perfectly acceptable as theology. The theologians I've spoken to,
> however, have raised the second objection, namely


Thank you, as usual, for a well-reasoned response.  I notice that these
arguments you've encountered are also what I've either heard or read.
Clearly the theory of intelligent design does not function as a protocal
for any measuring of an emperical reality, which forms the basis for
manipulating chemical reactions or interactions, for determining
mechanical calibrations or electronic frequencies, oscillations, etc, or
even for verifying scientific theories.  But this seems beside the point
inasmuch as the argument for an Intelligent Designer would likely claim
that it is not the Designer that is being measured, hence It cannot be
proved or disproved on the basis of the measureability of emperical things or
data.  But, the facticity of these phenomena and their inter-relations,
the discernment of emergent probabilities of statistical norms that
form the basis of scientific theories, and the knowledge that results from
verifying the phenomena and their inter-relations would not be possible
without the design of some Intelligent cause that is Itself not one thing
among others.  This, at least, is what I understand to be the pith of what
the advocates of Intelligent Design seek to articulate.  Regarding your
observation that different realms of discourse entail different orders of
theory, it is a point well taken.  I would add, though, that 1) a lower
realm of discourse and theory does not contradict a higher realm thereof,
and 2) a higher realm of discourse and theory includes in a higher
synthesis the more limited range of the lower.

> 2. It's bad theology. An intelligent designer need not imply a loving
> God who creates and sustains humanity, and who gave his only begotten
> son to redeem the sins of a fallen world.  If one is looking to make
> room for the latter conception of God (as I assume many advocates of
> intelligent design are), the notion of intelligent design won't get
> one very far at all.

I would disagree with these theologians that the theory of intelligent
design entails bad theology.  If one considers the realm of discourse
proper to theology to consist of reflection upon a divine revelation along
the lines you outline here, then arguments for intelligent design fall
under the rubric of a philosophy.  In this view one is not dealing with
theology, and so the verity and viability of the argument can be debated
solely on philosophical grounds.  But, it also is the case that,
historically, in the realm of theological discourse, philosophical
reflection has been accorded ancillary status, and as such has been
conceived as a lower level theology which is simply more limited in range,
not anything bad.  There is another conception of theology some
high-powered theologians appear to advocate, but that can await further

> > Why should a theory that posits a
> > accidental origination as a viable explanation to the complexity of the univer
> > se be a better one than a theory that posits an intelligence that in some way
> > guides in accord with this complexity all things in their complex interactio
> > ns?
> On its face, the former is more ontologically parsimonious, for one thing.

Fair enough, I guess, if parsomony is conceived as a more reliable mark of

> By the way: I'm not sure whether "accidental origination" is meant to
> describe Buddhism or Darwinism. If the former, you could say more -- I
> don't quite see how "accidental" can serve as a gloss for "dependent."

The only way I can conceive of "accidental" serving as a gloss for
"dependent" is via the rubric of contigency.  But this is an interesting
point you raise.  Intelligent design does not, as I understand the matter,
argue for strict necessity, by which I mean, it does not argue that things
had to exist at all.  But things do exist.  Simply adverting to the
existence of things does not argue why they exist; simply stating that
things appear to be inter-related still does not say why they are inter-
related.  So, the what is answered by, among other realms of discourse,
science; the why still remains an open question.  In my view one of the
weaknesses of the Darwinian notions of existence lies in its inability to
account for the "why".


Stan Ziobro

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