From: Craig Rusbult (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Mon Sep 16 2002 - 09:35:26 EDT
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
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
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, http://www.asa3.org/ASA/education/origins/sci-cr.htm#7b
(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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