Re: Mere Creation conference
Thu, 21 Nov 1996 16:16:19 -0500

I wrote this before Russ wrote his rebuttal to previous objections to his
original post. The material below addresses his orgianal post and does not
change as a result of his rebuttal.

Russ Maatman wrote:

[The] _general_ evolutionary theory is wrong if one exception is
found. More specifically, if _one_ system has been shown to have been
intelligently designed, the general theory fails. From then on, systems
must be examined one by one. What has happened is that some systems have
indeed been shown to be intelligently designed. Quite a few of these were
discussed at the [Biola] meeting, but one needs only to cite those discussed
Mike Behe, also covered in his recent book, _Darwin's Black Box_. Note that
if only one of all the systems discussed at the meeting is not overthrown,
the general theory is dead."

This assessment is probably wrong. As James B. Conant, former chemist,
historian of science, and mentor of Thos. Kuhn, said, "We can put it down as
one of the principles learned from the history of science that a theory is
only overthrown by a better theory, never merely by contradictory
facts....Only the combination of a new concept with facts contradictory to
the old ideas finally brings about a scientific revolution." This is one of
the points made by Ted Davis in his recent post. It can also be added that
philosophical and theological objections are insufficient to overthrow a
scientific theory.

Russ said that "the new paradigm is generally favored only by the younger
workers; older ones are too much committed and too set in their ways." That
is only a small part of the story. What is needed is a better theory. A
better theory is one that accounts for all the data that the defective theory
covers plus it explains additional evidence that the old one ignores or fails
to elucidate.

This raises the question, is ID a theory? Or is it, as I believe, a set of
observations (irreducible design) supported by an explanatory principle that
is theological and/or philosophical (theistic) in nature. The best way to
make ID a theory that has the power to stop the carping of the scientific
critics is to insert a naturalistic process between irreducible design on the
one hand and an intelligent designer on the other. The best process for this
purpose lies close at hand--the process of development. Development is the
indisputable process that produces Mike's irreducible complexity found in
individual organisms. Development creates design not only in the individual
but in the phyletic lineage. Development needs to be expanded theoretically
into a phyletic process that accounts for the rise and subsequent
differentiation of major groups of complex animals since the Cambrian. The
phyletic germ line of these animals does not evolve, as Mayr would have it;
rather it is predesigned with the major phyletic morphological and
anatomical characteristics imbedded in it, that unfold over geologic time as
revealed in the fossil record. It is the instrument of choice, let us say,
whereby God brings about design in the organic world. In this way it
connects design and the Designer.