Re: Critique of ID & No Free Lunch

From: John Burgeson (
Date: Mon Sep 02 2002 - 16:10:23 EDT

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    Comments on Howard's excellent article on the AAAS website:

    1. In the abstract, Howard, you write "... required the aid of a non-natural
    action ... ." You also write "...action of an unembodied intelligent agent."

    Are the words "non-natural" and "unembodied" part of the overall ID thesis?
    I mean their scientific one, not their theological speculations.

    I note that Isaac Newton first introduced the concept of "intelligent agent"
    in the PRINCIPIA, but I do not recall him speculating on whether or not his
    IA was natural or non-natural, nor embodied or unembodied.

    Back in the late 1980s I was arguing along the ID lines with some IBM
    colleagues, having been much influenced at that time by the book MYSTERY OF
    LIFE'S ORIGIN by Thaxton and others. And so, when ID burst on the scene, I
    was at first quite impressed. But their inability to distinguish between
    methodological naturalism and philosophical naturalism (rather -- their
    refusal to do so) and their subsequent need to appeal to the supernatural in
    their work has, in my eyes, made their arguments of little use.

    2. That leads me to a second question. Suppose that the ID movement changed
    its position and recognized the difference between methodological naturalism
    and philosophical naturalism. Suppose also that it confined its
    argumentation to methodological naturalism -- science as we know it. Would
    there be anything remaining of the venture, as a scientific venture? Would
    the resulting arguments be of any additional force?

    I presume that if this happened, they would still argue for an intelligent
    agent (as I was doing in the late 1980s) but their SCIENCE would no longer
    use "unembodied" or "non-natural" as descriptors of this IA. In so doing,
    they would be following Newton's example, of course.

    By the time I'd argued the above for a year or two with my IBM colleagues, I
    was all too aware of the theological perils of the argument. But I still
    thought it an argument worth pursuing.


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