Re: Definition of "Species"
From: Shuan Rose [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, February 20, 2002 12:55 PM
To: Howard J. Van Till
Subject: RE: Definition of "Species"
Would it be fair to say that IDers like Johnson and Dembski believe that God
created each species(however defined) seperately, and that species("kinds")
are not related to each other by common descent? This would make them
Progressive Creationists, I guess.It's hard to tell what they believe,
because they never propose their own model of what happened! Their motto
seems to be " I don't know what happened, but whatever it was, it certainly
From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]On
Behalf Of Howard J. Van Till
Sent: Wednesday, February 20, 2002 12:04 PM
To: gordon brown; bivalve
Subject: Re: Definition of "Species"
>From: gordon brown <email@example.com>
> Have the ID people changed the meaning of intelligent design so that no
> else can use it in a favorable sense?
Yes, in effect. In most ID literature, to be "intelligently designed"
means to be assembled (at least for the first time) by the form-conferring
action of some unembodied extranatural agent because the system of natural
formational processes is presumed inadequate to account for that assembly.
Behe: "The laws of nature can organize matterŠ. The most relevant laws
are those of biological reproduction, mutation and natural selection. If a
biological structure can be explained in terms of those natural laws, then
we cannot conclude that it was designed." Darwin¹s Black Box, p. 203.
The following is an excerpt taken from an edited version of my review of
Dembski's The Design Inference published in Zygon.
"What does Dembski here mean by 'design' and 'intelligent agency'? What
exactly does it mean to be designed? What does an intelligent agent do?
"The principal characteristic of intelligent agency," says Dembski, "is
directed contingency, or what we call choice. ...Intelligent agency always
entails discrimination, choosing certain things and ruling out others." (p.
62) As an example, Dembski asks the reader to consider two events in which
ink is applied to paper. In one case the ink is accidentally spilled onto
the paper from a bottle. In the other case a person writes a message on the
paper with a fountain pen. Upon encountering the two pieces of inked paper
and seeking causal explanations for the observed distribution of ink, it is
clear, notes Dembski, that only one case demands an appeal to the action of
an intelligent agent. The written message required a discriminating choice.
The blotch of spilled ink did not.
"Yes, but is a discriminating choice all that was required? Clearly not,
and this is crucial to our present concern. The intelligent agent also had
to effect that choice. She had to take pen in hand and write the chosen
message. In Dembski's example, and implicit in other literature of the
Intelligent Design movement as well, the 'design' action of an intelligent
agent is two-fold. First, the mind of the agent must thoughtfully
conceptualize something (what Dembski refers to as making a discriminating
choice). But then the intelligent agent (or Intelligent Designer) must
perform an additional act in order to effect what was first conceptualized
or chosen. The agent in the inked paper example had to place the pen in
contact with the paper and coerce it to move in a prescribed pattern.
Mind-action had to be followed by hand-action. Since the materials at
hand‹pen, ink, and paper‹did not possess the requisite capabilities to form
a written message, the agent had to act directly to force a particular event
to occur. To understand the essence of contemporary appeals to design,
especially 'Intelligent Design,' it is essential for us to see that the
action in question is two actions, not one. Although most proponents of ID
have chosen not to say so candidly, to be 'intelligently designed' is, by
implication, to be both conceptualized for a purpose, and assembled/formed
by the action of an extranatural agent."
> That would be similar to what the
> YEC's have done to the meaning of creationist. If God is sovereign,
> whatever happens is intelligently designed, no matter how directly or
> indirectly God is involved.
But, of course, that depends on what "intelligently designed" means. Back
to your original question.
Howard Van Till
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