Re: Dembski and Nelson at MIT and Tufts

Moorad Alexanian (
Sat, 03 Apr 1999 12:16:41 -0500

Dear Kevin,

You misrepresent my use of the term "intelligence." I use the term to denote
the ability to reason. It is clear that most people can reason but most
people cannot be at the forefront of science and develop the theories and
device the experiments necessary to elicit questions from Nature.

I do not recall using the term "artifact." Scientific theories are by
nature mathematical and so it deals with concepts that include fields that
are more elusive than what is normally called an artifact. For instance, it
is clear to me that there can never be a mathematical theory that will
explain life. It could be that we can "create" life in the lab, but the
elements that we use in the lab cannot be described mathematically by a
full-fledged theory. Fundamental theories deal with "dead" things and not

Take care,


-----Original Message-----
From: Kevin O'Brien <>
To: Moorad Alexanian <>; Howard J. Van Till
<>; ASA Listserve <>; Evolution
Listserve <>
Date: Friday, April 02, 1999 2:03 PM
Subject: Re: Dembski and Nelson at MIT and Tufts

>>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?
>>better, that of the symbolic logician? I suggest the following. If we
>>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
>>sets of points between two marks, etc. However, we do use rulers to
>>distances that are themselves made of an infinity of points between
>>markings on the ruler. Therefore, we measure something without truly
>>what it is---we really do not know what space is and, for that matter,
>>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
>>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
>>the artificial intelligence folks. Note that man is also the only
>>in nature of God and the spiritual realm. Science has nothing to do with
>>those terms either.
>I believe that you have made two category errors in your logic. The first
>assumes that because certain aspects of the universe seem to be
>understandable only to certain "highly intelligent" people, that means that
>the universe could only have been created by a higher intelligence still.
>This does not necessarily follow. First of all, I would dispute that you
>need to be "highly intelligent" to understand certain concepts. It has
>my experience that virtually anyone with unimpared mental faculties can
>understand virtually anything, if they want to understand it badly enough.
>The stumbling blocks are a lack of education, a lack of source material to
>study, ignorance of the existence of the concept, a lack of confidence, a
>lack of interest or stubborn refusal. Once these are overcome, I believe
>anyone can learn anything, intelligence notwithstanding.
>Secondly, your first category error assumes that the universe is an
>that must be intelligently designed. This is your second category error:
>it assumes that because the universe resembles an artifact that it must be
>an artifact. What I would like to see is evidence of this. Begin by
>defining artifact; give a couple of examples; then demonstrate how a cell
>in fact an artifact. Pay particular attention to the need to demonstrate
>that an artifact must be intelligently designed, that it cannot arise by
>naturalistic forces.
>Kevin L. O'Brien