Re: Critique of ID & No Free Lunch

From: John Burgeson (
Date: Wed Sep 04 2002 - 12:30:49 EDT

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    JB> ... second question. Suppose that the ID movement changed
    >its position and recognized the difference between methodological
    >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?

    HVT>>I presume ID would still hold on to the (wholly unwarranted) claim that
    could demonstrate the inadequacy of the "chance hypothesis" (a term that,
    strangely enough, means "all hypotheses, postulates and theories concerning
    the natural causation of events") to account for the actualization of
    particular biotic structures like the bacterial flagellum.>>

    I had not thought of that argument. I agree that it is, and would be, still
    simply a variation of a GOTG. But put it aside for the moment, for that is
    not where I was going.

    The fact is that, as far as we can understand, naturalistic evolution is
    capable, in principle at least, of accounting for every known feature of the
    natural world, with the possible exception of human consciousness, which one
    might argue is not part of the natural world. Assume, however, that the ID
    movement continues, accepting methodological naturalism as an assumption for
    its scientific claims.

    It would seem to me that their claim could still be that an IA, whose
    nature, origin, and mode of operation is unspecified, is a possible
    alternative to naturalistic evolution as far as the e-coli rotor is
    concerned. IOW, there is no a priori reason to rule out an action by an IA
    for this feature. All they would need to do to their programme is to begin
    avoiding words like "unembodied" and "non-natural" and simply ignore
    questions as to the nature of the IA. To change "possible" into "plausible"
    would be their primary goal.

    Now consider a scenario -- say -- ten years from now. SETI is suddenly
    "successful." That is, the SETI researchers present credible evidence of one
    or more extra terrestrial intelligences. And suddenly the ID folks "have"
    their IA identified. The "possible," which in 2002 looked so far fetched, is
    now not so far fetched, and "plausible" looks as if it may be within reach
    as an alternative to naturalistic evolution.

    The theological perils of this happening concern me, of course.

    Note that I am speaking here ONLY of OOLOE, the Origin of Life on Earth. The
    question of "where did the extra terrestrial intelligences come?" from is
    wholly another issue.

    I follow the adventures of the SETI project on a casual basis. Every year
    their search capabilities appear to increase by a factor of ten. I would
    not bet much on the position that they will NEVER report positive findings;
    I think it is almost certain that they will. Whether or not those findings
    are a false positive is a secondary issue.

    When they do, I will predict that the ID movement will, in some respect,
    claim their findings as additional evidence.

    Predictions are cheap, and this one is no exception.

    Prediction #2. When Seti reports positive results, the New Age movement is
    going to look like orthodoxy.

    Life is certainly interesting.


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