From: John Burgeson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Wed Sep 04 2002 - 12:30:49 EDT
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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