Re: Functional proteins from a random library

From: Howard J. Van Till (
Date: Mon Apr 09 2001 - 16:18:27 EDT

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    I replied to Paul privately before I realized that his note was posted to
    the list. Here's an edited version of that reply;


    >>Humor is all that remains of this debate, Howard.
    It's just too tedious to go into issues (e.g., "extra-
    natural assembly") that you and I and Dembski
    and dozens of others have debated for over a
    decade now. As I recall, we first wrangled on
    design in 1988, when I was a graduate student.
    Your position hasn't changed a jot since then.<<

    You're correct. My position has not changed substantially. Neither has the
    ID movement's carefully-crafted strategy of hiding a _hand action_ concept
    (form-conferring intervention) behind the facade of a _mind action_ label.
    It's the marketing style word-games that get to me. I can respect people who
    lay their cards on the table so that everyone knows what game is being
    played, but ID's rhetorical strategy falls in a different category.

    >>All that I have left are semi-humorous replies.<<

    Whatever you say....

    > "Extra-natural Assembly" is no more cumbersome
    > than "Intelligent Design." (However, as you said
    > the last time I asked you this question, "'Intelligent
    > Design' just sounds better.")

    >>It does sound better. But here's a deal.

    You find me an example of intelligent design that does
    *not* involve the action of an agent, and I'll happily
    use your preferred label. Until then: give it a rest.<<

    Paul, you know full well that you're sidestepping the issue once again.
    You're far too bright to have missed the point for all these years. The
    issue is not _agent_ versus _no-agent_. The issue has from the beginning
    been about __what kind__ of action the agent performs -- (1) conceptualizing
    + giving being to a robustly equipped Creation, or (2) performing occasional
    form-imposing interventions that function to assemble atoms and molecules
    into structural systems that they were not equipped to assemble with heir
    own God-given capabilities.

    Your label "intelligent design" does sound better, of course, (hence its
    greater marketing value) but "form-imposing divine intervention" would, in
    my estimation, be 100 times more up-front and candid in saying exactly what
    is meant.

    The ID movement has every right to promote a molecular version of Paley's
    Watchmaker-Designer concept of form-imposing divine intervention. But it
    simply must recognize that the contemporary meaning of "design" (as a mental
    act of conceptualizing something for the accomplishment of a purpose) is
    substantially different from the meaning of "design" in Paley's day (drawn
    from the metaphor of the artisan who did BOTH the mental act of
    conceptualizing AND the hand action of forming and assembling parts). To use
    Paley's meaning of design today without noting that substantial difference
    is, I believe, sure to confuse or mislead people and make evaluation of ID
    theses practically impossible.


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