Re: Critique of ID & No Free Lunch

From: Josh Bembenek (
Date: Sat Sep 14 2002 - 16:12:40 EDT

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    "It does now seem clear that he wishes to allow for the possibility (with
    high probability also?) that the flagellum is not the only component of the
    E. coli bacterium that needed to be actualized with the aid of
    form-conferring intervention by an unnamed and unembodied intelligent
    (choice-making) agent called the "Intelligent Designer."

    --How much of the E. coli bacterium do you believe was actualized without
    the form-conferring intervention of God? I have a hard time imagining the
    difference between that statement and the fully-gifted creation. Is the
    fully-gifted creation devoid of God's design and form-conferring action? Is
    it only the intervening that you have quarrel with? How is God's
    intervention in the initial conditions different than his intervention
    downstream? I would appreciate your elaboration on this point.

    "Here, then, is the situation that Dembski apparently would have us
    visualize: The Intelligent Designer of the universe designed (in the modern
    sense of mindfully conceptualized)÷"

    --Do you not agree with this specific component of the concept?

    "÷intestinal bacteria in such a way that only some components of this biotic
    system could be actualized by natural means. In order to actualize other
    components, however (including the flagellum), the Intelligent Designer had
    to perform additional form-conferring actions (but not the kind that would
    qualify as a miracle) to make flagella appear as propulsion systems of these
    intestinal bacteria."

    --But it seems to me that you would also add that the flagella did not
    arrive without design from God, just that somehow it was "installed" in the
    creation at initial Time. Why does the ID argument necessitate anything
    other than Design (Vs. timing of design implementation?) If freedom were
    allowed for timing of design implementation would you be more satisfied?

    By this means we discover that there really is an Intelligent Designer and
    that all forms of naturalism (including naturalistic theism) are to be

    --It seems to me that the basic difference with naturalistic theism is the
    question of design implementation. Or is the fully-gifted creation not

    3. The only kind of scientific account that is acknowledged by ID advocates
    as having the potential for changing their mind on any of their claims is a
    completely detailed and "causally specific" blow-by-molecular-blow account
    of exactly how (and probably when) some particular biotic system came to be
    assembled by purely natural means. Appeals to circumstantial evidence or
    plausibility arguments are likely to be denigrated as nothing more than
    "just so stories." By setting the standard for refutation so unreasonably
    high, they can always declare their position still logically possible.

    --When we get close to such an account, let's see how they respond (I don't
    take hemoglobin as an adequate example.) Until then the question remains
    open, and to quote an extremely insightful passage from your essay in "Three

    "žDoes the universe contain the Žright stuffŪ for making full evolutionary
    development possible, or are certain key capabilities lacking? The first
    thing to remind ourselves of is that it is humanly impossible to prove, in
    the strict logical sense, either a yes or no answer... We will have to
    settle for an informed judgement. (p.193)"

    Until then it would appear that their informed judgement simply differs from

    "The ordinary pattern of scientific judgment that must be performed in the
    absence of full knowledge regarding every relevant detail is replaced by an
    unrealistic demand for what is effectively omniscience."

    Ordinarily really depends upon who you ask, and a majority poll does not
    equate with truth. Again, it would appear that their informed judgement
    simply differs from yours.

    "I'm sure you could provide many examples from your own scientific work in
    which such argumentation would be considered substantive and clever, even if
    it represented less than omniscience."

    And both of us can point to very clever arguments that are shown to be
    clearly wrong/ misguided by future data.

    "I am happy to have them make their cases with due respect for the
    difference between proof and tentative conclusion. I am, however, nauseously
    weary of their frequent claims to have irrefutable and final proof that
    something could not possibly have been assembled without the aid of
    form-conferring intervention by an unnamed and unembodied choice-making
    agent (without that agent being divine or in the business of performing
    miracles). The religious motivation of most ID advocates is well known. In
    that context, gross overstatements of certainty and proof serve only to
    amplify the judgment by anti-religious critics that the rhetoric of
    religious folk is mostly balderdash. If ID claims were presented with the
    same modesty that ID advocates demand of normal science, I would relax a

    --Point taken. I get the impression from Behe more than the rest that this
    is a proposed hypothesis that requires testing and stands as possible
    awaiting further data. Wells and Dembski may be more guilty of this,
    however I think it fair for them to ask scientific claims about evolution to
    be more open. In this vein they have attempted to provide a cohesive theory
    that can be grasped at a fundamental level for everyone to consider. As
    reasonable as it is to expect natural explanations for all unexplained
    phenomena, we can expect that some things may never be explained by science.
       It may even be reasonable to anticipate data that can only be explained by
    design. I guess since I am open to this possibility, I don't feel nauseated
    or weary when they present their arguments in the most forceful and
    compelling way (despite some lack of force or reason not to be compelled.)

    My principal concern is to require 1)that they be more candid in stating
    their theological and philosophical presuppositions

    --Which opens them even more to attacks by lay media and the like to label
    them as religious fanatics dismissed on those grounds alone. I see no real
    problem with their lack of association with their beliefs in trying to
    advance the concept of ID.

    3) that they get out of the habit of giving key terms (intelligent design,
    chance hypothesis, Darwinism, Darwinian mechanism,complexity, specification,
    ....) unorthodox definitions that tend to confuse the discussion (read
    carefully the first half of my E. coli paper)

    --When I read their material I do not get the same confusion you present.
    It is clear that in most cases they are dealing with maximal naturalism in
    their work, and most would not confuse this issue because many are not
    familiar with your system of beliefs (as I understand it.) It is my feeling
    that their vocabulary is more commonly understood, but then I entered this
    whole debate after reading The Black Box, and The Blind Watchmaker. Black
    and white seemed very appropriate for naturalism at the time.

    4) That they display the same modesty for their own claims that they demand
    of normal science.

    --Since our educational system does not display this type of modesty and one
    of their goals is to combat the system, I would not demand this. I am a
    product of the immodest teaching in academia and I would testify that it
    directly hampered my spiritual life as a result. I find no conflict with
    their attempts to correct the immodest way students are taught at
    universities, etc. Assuming that many suffer spiritual loss by the bias of
    academic education, how would you go about changing that and implementing a
    system that honours our creator in the classroom instead of scoffing at Him?

    Josh Bembenek

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