>In response to Bob, Tim wrote:
>> I conclude that there is no a priori reason provided to suppose
>> that design events must have stopped or, at least, that we shouldn't
>> consider the possibility that a designer could remain active.
>In the context of this exchange, I presume that the term "design events"
>really means "events in which a non-natural Agent, acting in the manner of
>an artisan, crafts/assembles some particular new organism or biotic
>subsystem," and that the term "designer" really means "extra-natural,
Yes, that is what I meant.
>If I have correctly understood these terms, then I agree with Tim.
>Any proposal that the form-conferring actions of this extra-natural
>Agent must be confined to the past (perhaps at an exponentially
>declining rate) seems purely an ad hoc imposition on that Agent's
>freedom. That does not necessarily make it a false proposition, but
>it must at least be recognized as an ad hoc proposal whose applicability
>is not at all self-evident.
Lost somewhere earlier in the thread was an explanation where
this point fits in.
It's not meant to be directly applicable to a scientific problem.
I'm discussing how that assumption relates to the stated goals of
the design movement's theistic "wedgers" and how it affects
current "design research".
One of the stated goals of the wedge was to open up scientific
discussion to include broader possibilities. Another's was to
include the possibility of the detection of intelligence in life's
However, by injecting religious preconceptions about the nature
of this yet undetected and yet undetermined designer into
their discovery process, theistic wedgers are prematurely
limiting their scope of research. That is something which they've
accused methodological naturalists of doing. Furthermore, because
they've tended to focus on events that have occurred in the distant
past, for which detectable "signals" have decayed over time, they
are potentially making their work unnecessarily difficult and more
easily subject to dismissal. How many scientific research projects
have succeeded by starting with the most complicated and noise-prone
systems first? If one really wants to know if IC systems could
have evolved, one should start by looking at the most recently
emerged, simple, and best characterized system one can find.
[Aside: It's not surprising to me that when this is done,the IC
systems don't look "unnaturally" created by an extranatural
So by adopting the ad hoc hypothesis of an "infrequent creator
who worked millions of years ago and then stopped", theistic
wedgers are not keeping to their stated goals. They are not
broadening the range of possibilities and because of the focus
on ancient events, are increasing the difficulty of detecting
clear signals of extranatural assembly.
Contrast this to other design movements such as Hoyle's
panspermia. Hoyle's people accept intervention, propose
a testable mechanism of intervention and are open to finding
additional, auxiliary evidence of a designer that is still
As Elliot Sober noted, it's hard enough to justify the auxiliary
hypotheses necessary to develop a robust and positive theory
of intelligent design. I'd say: "So why hobble yourself with
an unnecessary hypothesis?"
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Fri Apr 27 2001 - 21:50:13 EDT