Re: Critique of ID & No Free Lunch

From: Craig Rusbult (
Date: Mon Sep 16 2002 - 09:35:26 EDT

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         Loren describes three categories for theory status (for naturalistic
    non-design explanations) that I'll briefly summarize as:
    1) well understood and plausible,
    2) incompletely understood but plausible,
    3) implausible and likely to remain so.

         Then Loren criticizes two extremes,

    >To the extent that popular literature or school textbooks implies that
    >evolution falls into the first category, they need to be corrected.
    >The problem which Howard addressed was this:
    >The rhetoric of Dembski, Behe, et. al. often seems to imply that evolution
    >needs to be in the first category, or else the third category must be

         Yes, both of these oversimplifications should be avoided.

         In my web-pages about Open Science, I ask "Can design be proved?" and
    answer "no, but..." For example, here is part of the relevant section
    about "levels of current knowledge and estimates of future knowledge,"
    and what can be logically claimed:

        "Current theories for a natural origin of life seem highly implausible.
    Is it rational for scientists to consider the possibility that life might
    have been the result of design-directed action? Of course, certainty is
    impossible because we can never propose and test all possibilities for
    non-design. But we could develop a logically justified confidence that
    our search has been thorough yet futile, and no promising approaches
    remain unexplored.
         Future developments in science could make the status of non-design
    increase (if we discover how a feature could have been produced by
    non-design) or decrease (if new knowledge reinforces our doubts about
    non-design). To decide which "future science" is more probable, we must
    predict improvements in current theories and inventions of new theories.
    This requires creativity (to imagine what could be) plus criticality (to
    make realistic predictions about what is probable in reality, not just
    possible in our imaginations) so we can avoid the extremes of insisting
    that in this area of science "nothing new will ever happen" or "anything
    could happen."

         Instead of an us-versus-them atmosphere in which people take sides
    and argue "there's no doubt that we're correct," can't we admit that
    Behe (and Dembski,...) are asking scientifically interesting questions
    that are (and should be) stimulating theoretical and experimental work,
    both by those who think he is right and those who think he is wrong?

    for more info,
    (so far, there are no links to this page from the ASA Sci Ed homepages
    for the origins area, even though it's now residing on the ASA server;
    I'm still in the long process of searching, selecting, and organizing
    web-pages for the "origins questions" area)


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