Re: Dembski and Nelson at MIT and Tufts

Moorad Alexanian (
Fri, 02 Apr 1999 10:16:54 -0500

Dear Howard,

I know there is a need to define terms so that we know what we are talking
about. How do we do that? Do we use the practice of the mathematician? Or,
better, that of the symbolic logician? I suggest the following. If we can
call ourselves "intelligent" beings, then it is clear that the more
intelligent amongst us are the one that create the theories to explain
nature. More and more the theories are becoming mathematically intractable
for the ordinary citizen---even to some of us who are scientists. It is
clear that we are learning things that require an unusual amount of
intelligence to discover and describe. I claim that that proves that the
universe was intelligently designed. My argument is sort of measuring a
length. The mathematician would talk about the nature of the infinity of the
sets of points between two marks, etc. However, we do use rulers to measure
distances that are themselves made of an infinity of points between
markings on the ruler. Therefore, we measure something without truly knowing
what it is---we really do not know what space is and, for that matter, even
what time is but we do know how to measure them. The same is true with
intelligence and intelligently designed. We do not really know what each is
but we know that they are logically connected and prove each other's
existence. Note that data collecting in physics is done entirely by
mechanical devices; however, to measure intelligence we need the human
"detector." The notion of intelligence lies outside science notwithstanding
the artificial intelligence folks. Note that man is also the only "detector"
in nature of God and the spiritual realm. Science has nothing to do with
those terms either.

Take care,


-----Original Message-----
From: Howard J. Van Till <>
To: ASA Listserve <>; Evolution Listserve
Date: Friday, April 02, 1999 9:37 AM
Subject: Dembski and Nelson at MIT and Tufts

Members of both the ASA and Evolution listserves were recently informed of
upcoming presentations by Bill Dembski and Paul Nelson at MIT and Tufts. I
will not be able to attend either of them.

I presume that these speakers will argue either: 1) that there is empirical
evidence in support of the thesis that certain species or biotic subsystems
have been "intelligently designed;" or 2) that a thesis of this sort
should at least be given respectful consideration by the scientific

However, before either of these arguments can be evaluated, the key term,
"intelligent design," must be defined with clarity and candor. The
operative definition is *not* self-evident.

If anyone on this list chooses to attend either of the presentations
announced, I would be interested to know what the speaker offers in answer
to the following question:

Precisely what does it mean "to be (or have been) intelligently designed"?

I presume that this term refers to some category of action performed by
some type of agent. So, perhaps the answer to the question could be put in
the followiing form:

To be (or have been) 'intelligently designed' is to be (or have been)
____________________________________ [decribe the category of action here]
by __________________________________________________ [identify type of
agent here].

Once the operative definition of "intelligent design" is publicly stated
with clarity and candor, the merits of the theses stated above can be
fruitfully evaluated by all interested parties.

In the interest of clarity,

Howard Van Till