Re: Quality of "ID science" (was Identity of the ID designer)

From: John Burgeson (
Date: Thu Mar 13 2003 - 17:49:31 EST

  • Next message: John Burgeson: "ID science"

    Howard wrote (back in December, 2002) in part:

    "Here's one suggestion for a possible starting point if you choose to break
    the silence.

    Dembski's entire system of arguing for the need for the formational action
    labeled "intelligent design" (non-natural, non-miraculous, form-conferring
    action by an unidentified, unembodied, choice-making agent) depends, first
    and foremost, on successfully demonstrating that some particular biotic
    system or structure, call it "X", could not possibly have been formed by the
    joint effect of all actual (whether known or unknown) natural processes. He
    wishes to have this demonstration seen as a purely scientific enterprise.

    In his estimation the demonstration of this need is scientifically
    accomplished by proving that X has the quality labeled "specified
    complexity." The "complexity" portion of that requirement is satisfied, he
    says, when it can be demonstrated that the probability for the formation of
    some X (the bacterial flagellum, for instance) by the joint effect of all
    actual (both known and unknown) natural processes has a numerical value less
    than 10 exp (-150). Call this probability P(X|N), where N represents the
    joint effect of all actual natural processes.

    Question: Is it possible, on the basis of what is now known about the
    formational capabilities of the universe, to perform the computation of the
    actual numerical value of P(X|N) for the E. coli bacterial flagellum?"

    First -- I think it is not possible. I see some similarity between it and
    Vernon Jenkin's hypothesis, but, of course, much more sophisticated.

    Second -- with the publishing here of Johnson's recent crude, insulting and
    uncivil comments on Keith, I find I am less interested than before in
    pursuing this topic. I know -- a turd in the living room does not mean the
    kitchen is unsanitary. It may just mean a small child is loose. But Johnson
    is old enough to understand what he is saying.

    Third -- Have you read Del Ratzsch's recent book (name escapes me but it
    came out in 2000 and was about the possibility of teleogy in science). I
    skimmed it last week and may take it out here at Iliff for the spring
    quarter. Actually -- has anyone here read it and have an opinion on it?

    From my brief skim (1 or 2 hours) it seemed to make more sense than the
    single defense of teleogy I saw 4 years ago from AL Plantinga. I think that
    defense was in an issue of ARN -- possibly in 1998.


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