Re: Critique of ID & No Free Lunch

From: Josh Bembenek (jbembe@hotmail.com)
Date: Fri Oct 18 2002 - 11:49:14 EDT

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    Howard-

    I saw your post when you originally put it up a while ago, however I have
    been busy preparing for a WIPS (work in progress seminar) completed this
    wednesday among other things. I also have a tendency to respond to things
    that I can touch on without much thought and put off things that require
    deeper investigation and time committment, hence my lack of response to
    Terry and Tim on other issues. (I still have intentions though....) I
    assume you were resubmitting the post to ASA to jostle my response so here
    goes (with enthusiasm.)

    Previous Discussion
    {{{{--How much of the E. coli bacterium do you believe was actualized
    without the form-conferring intervention of God?

    Using the term "form-conferring intervention" as the label for a divine act
    that interrupts, overpowers or supercedes creaturely action, my answer is,
    "all of it."

    --Is the fully-gifted creation devoid of God's design and form-conferring
    action?

    If "design" means "intentional conceptualization," then the fully-gifted
    creation is permeated with design. If, however, "designed" means "actualized
    by means of form-conferring intervention" (see preceding comment) then the
    fully-gifted creation was not designed (in the ID sense.)}}}}

    --How do you distinguish these concepts? For me, intentional
    conceptualization requires God to act in some fashion, whether or not we can
    decipher His ways is a different question altogether. To me there is the
    question of design, and then the question of design implementation,
    addressed in further detail below.

    Much confusion could have been avoided if the ID movement had chosen its
    terminology differently. In the confusing jargon of ID, to be "intelligently
    designed" is to be "formed in a way that requires, in addition to some
    natural processes, occasional acts of form-conferring intervention by an
    unidentified and unembodied choice-making agent."

    --From my understanding of ID, while your interpretation is correct, it is
    also somewhat semantic. IMO, ID is attempting first to establish the
    criteria for the positive identification of Design within natural structures
    such that an inference must be made to their derivation by an intelligent
    designer. Now this argument comes partially in the form of identifying
    structures that are incapable of being generated through RM & NS, but it
    does not specifically require that each new IC structure be generated by a
    specific intervening act of God (even though ID theorists mostly argue
    that). IMO ID is perfectly compatible with a theory which states that
    initial conditions held all capacity to derive life given by God. In both
    scenarios, RM & NS are not the source of creative activity, God is. Just
    how much RM & NS can accomplish may be under question, but it seems that
    your position holds that initial conditions were set up correctly to give RM
    & NS the help they needed to originate God's creative works. To use an
    analogy, your theory resembles RM & NS as a vehicle that moves down God's
    road of initial conditions, whereas in the other opinion, RM & NS is a term
    that really describes what God was doing while he constructed everything and
    it has no internal power/usage. In both situations, God is our creator.
    This follows back to our discussion...

    {{{{ > 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.

    I think a case can be made that the act of choosing the character of the
    creation to which God gives being is distinctly different from any act of
    form-conferring intervention. The first does not entail an overpowering or
    superceding of the action of a creation that already had some particular
    character. The second, what you call "intervention downstream," entails the
    coercive interruption of the flow of natural actions in a creation whose
    character was already in place.}}}}

    --But is there a useful distinction here? Isn't everyone claiming nature
    was designed by God? Wouldn't it be prudent to first establish that fact
    through explanatory filters or something, and then establish how much help
    the vehicle of RM & NS need to make it down the road? Does it only need a
    road or a driver carefully monitoring each turn? These questions become
    much more useful after characterizing design in the first place, correct?
    Let's say that your scenario is correct, that RM & NS can accomplish the
    origin of IC and biological structures. This implies that once all the
    accurate and relevant calculations are in place, Dembski's filter will give
    a thumbs-up for the origin of life and IC as possible by RM & NS. However,
    when Dembski's filter is applied to development of the universe from initial
    conditions, at some point, in your opinion at the point of the initial
    conditions, Dembski's filter will reveal a deficit in the formational
    economy of the universe based upon physical laws alone that will infer to
    the act of a creator. In either case, without Dembski's filter as a tool,
    we have no rigorous methodology of testing design within the universe and
    are left saying, to me it looks such and such and to you it looks so and so.

    Once again, problems arise because of the confusion in the meaning of the
    word "design." I would say that the potentiality for a bacterial flagellum
    and all of the creaturely resources and capabilities needed for its
    actualization in time were both conceptualized by God and included in the
    character of the creation from the outset.

    --Do you think the case I made for the utility of an explanatory filter
    sufficiently addresses this exact point? It seems to me that there exists
    more of a disagreement on the exact timing of when the filter will reveal
    God's design in the universe instead of whether it will reveal such a thing.
       IC is an amazing thing and it required an act no short of God's creative
    activity to originate it. It seems the judgement we are making is then how
    far can the mechanisms of evolution take us. The current formulation of ID
    could possibly validate your position just as easily as it could invalidate
    it despite the force of rhetoric and argument proponents of ID currently
    take.

    Two Quotes to relate another point:

    One of my long- claims of standing requests is the ID advocates follow the
    same practice and avoid the repetition of overblown having generated an
    airtight "proof" that there are extant "natural" objects that had to be
    formed by the non-natural action called "intelligent design"
    (form-conferring intervention by an unidentified and unembodied
    choice-making agent)...

    ...And...

    ...Point out bias where it is evident and demand that such bias be removed
    form the classroom. What my 4) excludes is the simple replacement of one
    bias with another. Committing the same error as the adversary does not
    constitute a correction.

    --My feeling is that the only way to gain enough credibility for their
    viewpoint to even allow it to get close to entering the classroom is to
    advertise it in such a fashion. Most scientists have no intention
    whatsoever to just let some "quacks" walk into the classroom and question
    their golden theory that they've built up such a case for on a whim. I mean
    who does this nobody Behe guy think he is?? There is a worldview war going
    on here, but most evolutionists would never admit it, or even be aware of it
    (IMO). Therefore I see no problem with presenting as bulletproof a critique
    and case against pure darwinism as possible to open the bias in the
    classroom without having to taint their case with talk of worldviews and
    religion. This way there can be no clever silencing attempt under freedom
    of religion or something like that (I'm no lawyer.) I agree that replacing
    one bias for another is bad, but I think to even get a hearing they have to
    be as biased and convicted in the formulation of their argument as possible.
       You may accept and welcome such openness but legislatures and media won't.
       When there is enough evidence to resolve this issue once and for all, we
    won't have to debate anymore, we'll simply refer to "that old evolution/ID
    cult idea" probably the same way we treat Lamarckian theory. At this time,
    however, ID has a serious uphill battle to be taken seriously and it
    requires a degree of confidence that may be unwarranted and not fully
    supported by factual data. This is not a new phenomena especially if you
    read literature like "The Blind Watchmaker."

    But if worldview concerns form the core of the movement, why not challenge
    other worldviews openly and with candor? Would that not build respect?

    -Perhaps it would build respect among those aware and intentional about
    worldview issues, but most scientists and legislatures of science education
    do not seem to be worried too much about this issue. They hide under the
    umbrella of preventing anyone from forcing one or any religion in the
    classroom to accomplish their goal of muting all other worldviews but an
    agnostic or atheistic one, IMO.

    I saw people like Phil Johnson loading the term "naturalism" with all of the
    connotations of maximal naturalism (without acknowledging there were
    substantially different kinds of naturalism) and then referring to people
    like myself as "theistic naturalists." That rhetorical strategy was
    offensive.

    --This is to be faulted, however I find most unaware of worldview issues and
    thus distinguishing among close worldview issues even more difficult. In
    the quest for simplicity and clarity of argument perhaps they have trapped
    the discussion as God verses atheistic science, and cast ideas along your
    off as irrelevant. Still, their agenda is somewhat of a decent starting
    point even if not completely fair? This is, after all, a debate, with the
    goal of gaining credibility for classroom acceptance. Debates have a
    particular way of construing every facet of reality to conform distinctly to
    one and only one position, yours. If all science classrooms took the form
    of open dialogue with experts from several viewpoints, I think everyone
    could relax a bit. Unfortunately this is not the situation.

    Thank you also for your patience and engagement in this discussion, it has
    been very useful for my thinking on these issues.

    Josh Bembenek

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