Casey Admits the Designer Is the First Cause

We always enjoy it when the Discoveroids try to impress us with their deep thoughts. They’ve done it again and posted the results at their creationist blog. To our great delight it’s written by Casey Luskin, our favorite creationist, who is also one of the Discovery Institute’s deepest thinkers.

Before we look at Casey’s post, keep in mind that the Discoveroids already emerged out of their closet, pranced around wearing ecclesiastical garb, and confessed that their “scientific” designer — blessed be he! — is transcendent. That means their designer exists beyond time and space, in that inaccessible and incomprehensible realm known only to the gods.

How much farther can they go before they officially abandon all pretense of being anything other than another pack of creationist — i.e., religiously motivated science-deniers? They never had too many people fooled in the first place, but if there were anyone left who thought that maybe — just maybe — they were thinking scientifically, that’s all over now.

Casey’s new article is Can We Escape the Need for a Transcendent First Cause? R.C. Sproul Argues “Not a Chance”! Ah, not only transcendent, but also the First Cause. That’s also known as the cosmological argument, a subject that can fill a small library all by itself.

If the “necessity” of a First Cause were a genuinely persuasive argument, we’d all be persuaded and theology would be more like math than what it is. The First Cause is an attractive argument for many, and it’s certainly an enduring one, but it’s pure apologetics. Nevertheless, it’s now being given central prominence by the Discoveroids, which means that their scientific charade is over.

Casey’s article is not what one would expect from an allegedly scientific think tank. It’s a gushingly favorable review of a book by two non-scientists, whom he describes as seminary professor and Christian author R.C. Sproul, and Keith Mathison, professor of systematic theology at Reformation Bible College. Their book is Not a Chance: God, Science, and the Revolt against Reason (Amazon listing). Casey says, with bold font added by us:

[T]he parts that will interest our readers the most explore the evidence that the universe arose due to purposeful intelligent design, and a First Cause, rather than unguided chance processes.

See what we mean? Their magical intelligent designer is now being identified as the First Cause. Casey then tells us:

Delving into physics and metaphysics, Sproul and Mathison argue that chance is not an explanation of anything. In fact, they argue, when we appeal to “chance,” that actually means we are ignorant of the true causes at work.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! No, not at all. For example, when we speak of mutations operating “by chance,” what we mean is that although we know what mutations are and how they occur according to the laws of chemistry, the variables are so numerous that we can’t predict what mutations will occur or when they will occur. But we understand their occurrence. Hang on, dear reader. It gets better:

As they write, “chance has no power to do anything” and “the chances of chance doing anything are nil.” Because chance can do nothing, and because it violates the law of non-contradiction to claim you “created yourself,” they conclude that it’s logically impossible that the universe simply popped into existence.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! No sane person thinks that “chance” is a force that does things, and certainly no one claims that “chance” created the universe. If Sproul and Mathison are arguing against such a wild idea, their entire book is a battle with a strawman. But Casey is impressed. We’ll skip several of his quotes from the book, after which he says:

So how did the universe come to be? In a passage that is very helpful for framing the issue, they note that there are only four options for explaining the origin of the cosmos:

Option 1: The cosmos is an illusion; it doesn’t exist.
Option 2: The cosmos is self-existent (and eternal).
Option 3: The cosmos is self-created.
Option 4: The cosmos is created by something else that is self-existent.

Casey and the theologians wisely reject Option 1. They also reject Option 3 because “it is formally false. It is contradictory and logically impossible.” That leaves Options 2 and 4 because, “if something exists then whatever exists is either ultimately self-existent or created by something that is self-existent.” For the meaning of “self-existent” we must refer to one of Casey’s quotes from the theologians, who (Casey claims) wrote:

A self-existent being, by its very nature, must be eternal. It has no antecedent cause, or else it would not be self-existent.

Ah, it must be self-existent because [*cough, cough*] otherwise it wouldn’t be self-existent. All clear? Right! Let’s move along. Casey then asks the Big Question:

So which is it: Is the cosmos self-existent, or was it created by something else that is self-existent?

We haven’t had this much intellectual excitement since … we can’t remember when. Casey then quotes Sproul and Mathison some more, after which he declares:

Thus, no matter how you answer this question, or what you call your answer, you can’t get away from the need for a first cause that sounds a lot like God.

But Casey, what if you’ve been calling your answer the “intelligent designer”? Haven’t you just given your whole game away? Yes, you have. Hey, he quotes the theologians again and then flat-out admits it:

This being has all of the attributes we normally ascribe to God. As Sproul and Mathison write, “From a scientific, metaphysical, or philosophical perspective it doesn’t matter what you call it. What matters is the concept or the reality, not the name or the word used to indicate it.” (p. 179) But if the being has all of the attributes we ascribe to God, who can protest if you use the name “God”?

Are we surprised? Not at the divine nature of the Discoveroids’ designer, but we are surprised at the open admission thereof, which contradicts all the Discoveroids’ earlier (litigation motivated) denials. Casey ends his essay with another quote from Sproul and Mathison, which begins:

Why is there something rather than nothing? “In the beginning God created the heavens and earth” (Gen. 1:1). This is the answer revealed by the Creator himself.

Casey, say hello to Ken Ham. Hambo, say hello to Casey and his buddies. You guys have a lot to discuss.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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40 responses to “Casey Admits the Designer Is the First Cause

  1. Let us grant Casey a first cause, why should the first cause be one? Why can’t we have a first cause for stars, for oceans, for stones and another for trees?

  2. Gerbil has finally admitted that the Intelligent designer is the Great Gerbil in the sky. Anyone with a little running wheel and a handful of grain has known this for a long time, but it looks like the little squeaker himself has given up trying to pretend that what he does comes anywhere close to science.

    Maybe Casey is hoping that Hambo’s pretend ark will have a little gerbil wheel just for him! By the way, is a gerbil part of the rat kind? Mouse kind? Hamster kind, most likely.

  3. There are a plethotopia of arguments for Casey’s (all of them) ideas, statements, ologies, apologies, n such. Logic can’t be applied or appealed to by them though. Silly ain’t it? Scary?

  4. Charles Deetz ;)

    So much here to comment on. I’ll just point out the logical jump that bugs me the most. From “The cosmos is created by something else that is self-existent” to “This being has all of the attributes we normally ascribe to God. ”

    I’m amazed that the authors and Casey get paychecks to come up with this stuff.

  5. It sounds as though Sproul and Mathison really, really, really to read a few books on cosmology before they start writing about it. Their “four options” list seems almost childish.

  6. So the ‘Tute has given up all pretense of being any kind of actual scientific enterprise, has it? How will this affect the continued employment of trained seals Douglas Axe and Ann Gauger? Will Gauger have to return her fake lab to Shutterstock? Will “BIO-complexity” have to close? Man, they just don’t make cargo cults like they used to!

  7. Of course Sproul and Mathison’s “four options” seem childish. All theology is childish. Poor old Jerry Coyne has given a good college try to identify “sophisticated theology” as he was once scolded by theologian John Haught for not doing. Alas, Coyne has been unable to find these so-called sophisticated arguments.

    I took a few moments to look up Sproul and found out he’s a Calvinist theologian, old school, and he’s been spouting this line about “four options” for years and years and years. This is nothing new.

    Furthermore, Sproul knows jack [edited out] about science. His descriptions of physics and cosmology are comical. He’s a totally linear thinker and I’m sure the idea of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle totally freaks him out, mainly because it alone destroys all of his arguments.

  8. Charles Deetz ;)

    The book has been out for two months and has one Amazon review just posted today (not by a gerbil). At least no one is smoking what these guys are selling, not even their wives or any of the listeners to their radio show (except the gerbil).

  9. Can’t call the ‘tuters closet creationists after this.

    Mr. Sproul about the power of chance and probability two words: quantum mechanics.

  10. What modern protagonists of the cosmological argument forget is that Aquinas never saw it as a proof of the existence of a god. Although he had some indefensible ideas (preformationism; deformed animals as products of their mothers being swived by a man) he was much cleverer than his modern followers. His first three arguments for the existence of a god, basically the same, all end with the conclusion that whatever brought the universe into existence is what he would call God. In that view he was thus at least a deist, if not a pantheist. In his actual religious beliefs he insisted that faith, not proof, was central.

  11. “In fact, they argue, when we appeal to “chance,” that actually means we are ignorant of the true causes at work.”

    Well, what are the chances that Washington National Jordan Zimmerman would toss a no hitter on the last day of the regular season? What are the chances that his team would only score one run? What are the chances that he would do it against a guy that throw a no hitter on the last day of last year’s regular season? Vanishingly small!

    Truly, the box scores declare the glory of the National League East!
    (h/t Li’l Davie Rives)

  12. So now the Holy Trinity of creationism is revealed to the world:

    AIG – – – – – ICR
    \ /
    \ /

  13. (sorry, the diagram didn’t come out as nice as I wanted)

  14. Let me see if I’ve got this correct. An hypothetical “first cause” (blessed be he/she/it) created the universe but left no trace of his/her/its methods or existance and has had no noticible effect on the universe ever since. Oh, and somehow this mystical first cause just happens to correspond to the mythical sky fairy invented by bronze age mystics. And somehow we should all ignore science for that mumbo-jumbo?

  15. In fact, they argue, when we appeal to “chance,” that actually means we are ignorant of the true causes at work.

    So, what do they claim to know of the true causes at work?

    What methods and materials? What purpose? How did things turn out the way they are, rather than any of the infinity of possibilities?

    The naming of an agency which is apt to do anything – how does that differ from an appeal to chance?

  16. Richard Bond: props for using Chaucerian methods to sneak past the profanity filter!

  17. The whole truth

    Luskin said:

    “…that sounds a lot like God.”

    Which so-called “God”?

    The IDiots often talk about and promote “God” in a generic way, as though they’re not promoting a specific “God” (and associated fairy tales), but their stupid attempt to fool smart people is busted wide open every time they quote something from the bible. They’re pushing the biblical characters yhwh-jesus-holy-ghost as THE designer-creator “God” and they might as well admit it openly and honestly. The only people they’re fooling are the people who are as stupid and dishonest as they are.

  18. Luskin said:
    “…that sounds a lot like God.”
    Which so-called “God”?

    Well, that’s the whole point about “intelligent design” creationism, isn’t it?

    We all know, because it’s very well documented, that ID was concocted to get around the 1987 Supreme Court ruling prohibiting the teaching of creationism (scientific creationism, etc); the “thinking” being that nobody would notice the change in words!

    Creationism and scientific creationism are a mostly American phenomena promoted by a very narrow sect (interpretation) of Christianity that has spilled into social conservatism.

    Of course it’s Luskin’s Christian god because Luskin isn’t Hindu, otherwise it would be Shiva or Vishnu or Devi, or Thor or Zeus or Ra given other places and other times.

    So, the actual religion doesn’t matter. Nor, IMHO, does the anti-science.

    Remember the Wedge Strategy. Use a public relations campaign to defeat materialism by driving a wedge in society to insert supernatural explanations that the public would accept and build a Christian worldview. This is nothing new; it’s been in the open for 20 years!

    All of the DI fellows have been talking about this openly for the past 20 years. It’s only when they’re pinned down in public that they dry to disavow what their fellows have said “privately” and promote the public image that ID is all science, all the time.

    You wait. The Gerb will print a clarification and that’s what he’ll say; that he was expressing his “personal” opinion. As if his tiny little gerbil brain could come up with an opinion of its own.

  19. Doctor Stochastic

    Casey is still batting zero. He also seems unfamiliar with any of the features of quantum mechanics. Fundamentally, randomness (or chance) does not mean “ignorance of causes.” When ignorant of causes, we use the laws of chance to produce guesses.

  20. After all of the hints they have dropped over the years, this was actually anti-climactic.

  21. I {heart} Casey Luskin!

  22. While it might be interesting to introduce Luskin as an expert witness in any future court case – that is, he will testify that Intelligent Design is religion – otherwise, why should anyone care about IDing the ID?
    This is just another one of the red herrings which will distract attention from the core problem with creationism in any of its forms for well over a century – they have nothing to offer. Once you take away anything that they have to say about evolution, naturalism, and the “H” word – they do not attempt to offer explanation, an account of what happened so that things turn out the way they do.
    I am worried that they might take it as a virtue that they have rejected 2500 years of hard-won fight against obscurantism. The “paradigm shift” – “what me worry?” Alfred E. Newman being their hero.

  23. @TomS:

    I’m afraid to read the comments to see how many took the bait, but Casey admitting that the designer is the first cause has not been worth more than a yawn since the Wedge document was leaked 15 years ago. What would be news is if he admitted – as Behe did at Dover – that the designer might no longer exist. Or if he challenged Behe on that.

    In fact when these gerbils even speak of “the” designer, the first thing I would look for is a an unequivocal statement that they mean “the” designer that they claim to have caught red handed. If not, it’s almost certainly another subtle bait-and-switch. Every Discoveroid has plainly said that he/she hopes that they caught God in particular, They have never tried to hide that. If they honestly think they caught some designer, then they’re sincere in their uncertainty that it is God. But I don’t think for a minute that they honestly think they caught any designer.

  24. “So which is it: Is the cosmos self-existent, or was it created by something else that is self-existent?”

    Ah, now there’s the question–except that Luskin simply assumes the answer without explaining why the universe itself can’t be “self-existent.”
    As they write, “chance has no power to do anything” and “the chances of chance doing anything are nil.” Because chance can do nothing, and because it violates the law of non-contradiction to claim you “created yourself,” they conclude that it’s logically impossible that the universe simply popped into existenceThis is gibberish. “Chance” is not assumed to be a conscious actor; it’s simply how things work when no directing force is in operation. Beyond that, this passage is perilously close to being outright word salad.

    If creationists want to talk about the “law of non-contradiction,” they should be prepared to answer one question: if everything that exists must have been caused to exist, what caused God (or the “Designer,” the “First Cause” or whatever)? And if God is presumed to be exempt, why can’t nonbelievers simply presume the universe is?

    But of course, they won’t answer, except to make noises about how even raising the question proves you’re some kind of Commie.

  25. @FrankJ
    I knew we’d be hearing from you.
    It is tiresome, having to remind our friends and allies, that the problem is not that people believe in God. It isn’t even that they don’t like evolution.
    The problem is that people are attacking the possibility that one can discover the way the world works, and that, more than being interesting, is important. To deny that is to go back, not to the Middle Ages, to before the time of the Presocratic philosophers, to worship of capricious gods. What we are seeing is that the evidence and reasoning for evolution is so overwhelming that the only way to deny it is to do as the creationists do, to deny reason itself – if it takes contradicting oneself, then so be it; and so on to all of the canons of reasonable discourse.

  26. Great find, SC. And I hope someone got a screen capture before he changes or deletes it.

  27. “This is the answer revealed by the Creator himself.”
    So what will it be? Option 2: god is self-existent (and eternal) or option 4: “god is created by something else that is self-existent.”?
    Don’t bother to answer – it ends up in defining god into existence.

    DocBill beats me: “the idea of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle totally freaks him out, mainly because it alone destroys all of his arguments.”
    Indeed, the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 1945 beg to disagree with

    “the chances of chance doing anything are nil.”
    Of course Sproul and co are invited to provide a causal version of Quantum Mechanics and all its spin-offs.

  28. @Eric Lipps
    Absolutely. And Sproul & Mathison are a bit naive to blithely dismiss their option #2, too: that the universe doesn’t exist, it’s just an illusion. That’s really two options, not one, and neither is a million miles from a perfectly reputable cosmological speculation.

  29. OK, you guys want to play their game.
    A) It is not clear that all of the options explain why the universe exists. In particular option (4) needs some work. (Just saying that such-and-such
    is an explanation is not enough. I would want to stop there, but you insist on playing their game.) So do the others, to be sure. It is not evident that they are even talking about the same question. Fallacy of equivocation.
    B) It is not clear that the question is meaningful. For example, one must at least consider these. (At least worth consideration as option (1).)
    Option 0. It is a fallacy of composition to assume that because every component needs a explanation that the whole needs an explanation.
    Corollary: If it is not a fallacy to assume that, then option 4 also needs an explanation.
    Option 0′. There is nothing which is opposed to the existence of the universe. An explanation is needed to distinguish between alternatives. Where there is no alternative, no explanation is possible (let alone needed).
    Option 0″. The question is not about why such-and-such is, but as to why such-and-such is the case. Not why (Ex)(Ey)x=y, but why there is a proposition p such that p.
    C) It has not been shown that options (1)-(4) (or (0)-(4)) are exhaustive. I would note in particular that it seems to be assumed that there is a linearity (in particular, a total ordering) of explanations (of causes, of time). If so, why is there that linearity?

  30. This is a formatting experiment to see if we can make DavidK’s idea of the Holy Trinity of Creationism work:


    Now just ignore the dots.

  31. Two more hyphens between AiG and ICR would have been better, but it works.

  32. thanks retiredsciguy. the trinity looks like what i’d intended.

  33. Now just ignore the dots.

    It was Dembski who said that “ID was not a mechanistic theory. It wasn’t his job to connect the dots and match your pathetic level of detail.”

  34. @docbill: Perhaps I should have written, “Now just ignore the dolts,” and we’d have:


  35. Thus proving the adage, “Less is more”.

  36. DavidK: “It was Dembski who said that “ID was not a mechanistic theory. It wasn’t his job to connect the dots and match your pathetic level of detail.”

    For all the free advertising that my fellow “Darwinists” give the king of chutzpah on that one, it would be nice if they once in a while gaveequal time to the other side.

    As for the (un)holy trinity, it’s really a “quadrinity.” RtB (Hugh Ross & Co) is almost always forgotten lately, but their OEC pseudoscience was the thorn in the side of YEC pseudoscience that necessitated the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy that evolved into ID. Most IDers quietly admit at least as much as RtB, including admitting, or at least playing dumb about, common descent. But their goal is to cover up the fatal disagreements when AiG, ICR and RtB try to “connect dots.”

  37. Mike McCants

    The original book by Sproul was published in 1994. This new edition has the 10 original chapters by Sproul and one new chapter and an Appendix by Mathison attempting to deal with objections that have been raised in the last 20 years.

    Page 19:

    “If chance exists in any size, shape, or form, God cannot exist.”

    Google “spontaneous nuclear fission”. That takes care of that.

  38. @Mike McCants
    makes an astute observation, to which I want to add something more, about this statement:
    “If chance exists in any size, shape, or form, God cannot exist.

    To which I contrast:
    when we appeal to “chance,” that actually means we are ignorant of the true causes at work.
    “As you do not know what is the way of the wind, Or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child, So you do not know the works of God who makes everything.” Ecclesiastes 1:5

    “Intelligent Design” is a profession of ignorance of who, what, when, where, why and how; and thus according to that characterization of chance, is a profession of chance in the extreme, not merely of “any size” etc.

    ” I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.” Ecclesiastes 9:11

  39. I just came across this:
    Le hasard, c’est peut-être le pseudonyme de Dieu quand il ne veut pas signer.
    Chance is the pseudonym of God when he did not want to sign.
    Théophile Gautier, La croix de Berny (Paris: Librairie Nouvelle, 1855), p. 28. (See the article “chance”.)

    No, I am not in the habit of reading 19th century French literature. I found the quotation in “The Improbability Principle”, David J. Hand, 2014, page 21.

  40. @TomS:

    Interesting quote, and an apparent early observation that chance, regularity and design are not mutually exclusive. As you know, Dembski’s filter first pretends that they are, then tacitly admits otherwise, when he switches from an “impossibility” to an “improbability” defense. The author would have probably criticized Dembski’s filter, but appreciated Ken Miller’s speculation of quantum indeterminacy as a possible “intervention” of God using a pseudonym.