Copy of: NTSE Note #5

John W. Burgeson (
Sun, 2 Mar 1997 09:43:14 -0500

---------- Forwarded Message ----------

From: John W. Burgeson, 73531,1501
TO: EVOLUTION Reflector,
DATE: 2/25/97 10:41 AM

RE: Copy of: NTSE Note #5

Additional notes on some of the proceedings...

Dembski on CSI (Complex Specified Information).

The word "specify" means "specify in advance."

Question: does the archer have skill?

1. Archer shoots arrow at barn & hits it. Could be anywhere. No. No CSI.
2. Archer shoots arrow at barn, then draws target around it. No. Looks like
CSI but is not.
3. Archer draws target on barn, then shoots arrow to center. Yes. Is CSI.

Concept -- cannot allow, in scientific explanations, unconstrained "luck."

Another example -- two identical student papers. COULD have "just
happened." Not the best explanation though. Not really seriously

CSI, Bill says, cannot come either by chance, or by natural law. There is
no "free lunch," as Darwinism asserts.

His monograph, THE DESIGN INFERENCE, is in review (for the past 10 months).


Al Plantigna's speech on 2/22/97 had to do with the topic of methodological
naturalism. At this time, no written/electronic copy available; I have
asked him if one could be made available and he did not say "no." (or
"yes," either).

The MN demarcation principle of science proscribes "creation science,"
whether of the YEC kind or any other. How does it come to be accepted in
the scientific community? If it is "broken," is the work somehow "outside
science?" Who makes the rules?

Two arguments for the MN principle -- see McMullin's paper in the Xtian
Scholar's Review.

Comments on Michael Ruse's speech:

He is very friendly with Phil Johnson & apparently the two like & respect
one another, while each has quite different positions on the conference
issues. A welcome environment for discussion, which makes some of the
discussions on both Compuserve and the Evolution reflector look rather
childish. IMO.

Ruse "does not agree with anyone."

Defines naturalism=unbroken laws; excludes miracles.

Defines scientism=science can solve everything. Julian Huxley a good
example of one who held that position. Ruse considers the position absurd.
Science CANNOT do everything.

Does materialism = naturalism? Lewontin (see recent NY Review article)
thinks so. Ruse does not.

Ruse is quite unconvinced by Daniel Dennett's arguments on dualism.

Says that Philosophical Naturalism is simply an attempt to make philosophy
more science-like -- that it is descriptive, rather than prescriptive.

Evolution is a scientific theory with a metaphysical component. As are all
scientific theories.

E. O. Wilson and Julian Huxley have made more of "evolution" than science
has. He does not agree with this.

Evolution theory HAS functioned as a secular religion. Book referred to,
MONADS to ?.

Four categories for religion/science:

1. Conflict
2. Accommodation
3. Dialog
4. Separation (Fred Grinnell, another speaker, referred to here)

Talked some (not much) about Phil Johnson and how he differed from his

Ruse will not accept the label "metaphysical naturalist."

Schafersman had said one cannot be both a methodological maturalist and a
Xtian theist together; that a theist ought not, on moral grounds, remove
himself from doing science, since he could not believe in its foundational
assumption. Ruse spoke to this, but my notes are unclear on this point.

Ruse: "I am not a Xtian. My grounds are connected to the problem of evil."

Three categories of Xtian theist, according to Ruse:

1. Fundementalist
2. Miracles breal natural laws
3. Miracles don't break natural laws.

Ruse talked about Al Plantigna. "He tries to prove too much." Philosophical
questions are NEVER solved.

On Dawkins -- less pleased with him than Xtian theists. The Paley eye was
disproved by Darwin, but this does not disprove God.

Dawkins says the world is "pitiless." Ruse says "you have not showed this."

On Daniel Dennett: The book is way too long and tedious. "Too much
authority." When Dennett says that "Darwinism implies materialism," he
gives this as an assertion, without proof. Quotes himself at length;
preaches, not philosophizes.

Ruse: Must accept reason -- does reason ever fall silent? Implication (IMO)
that it does. Often,

On William Provine: "America's primary atheist." A Phil Johnson redux.

Skip over comments on E. O. Wilson -- can't be sure how my notes read.

Ruse quotes with favor J. S. Haldane's "The world is not only queerer than
we imagine, it is queerer that we ever CAN imagine." "A little humility is
a good thing," sezze.

Ruse: I am not an atheist; I am a skeptic.

Unidentified person: "Darwinism is not metaphysically neutral."

Discussion of the philosopher Quine

Great talk!
Comments by Schafersman (may be as part of his talk or done elsewhere): "I
disagree with Al Plantigna -- Duhemian science is science; Augustinian
science is not science (see notes on Plantigna's talk for definitions).
Agreed that Dawkins seriously overstates, as does Daniel Dennett.

Enough for this morning. Take the above with a salt grain. They are my
notes, and I am fallible.