From: John Burgeson (email@example.com)
Date: Thu Mar 13 2003 - 17:49:31 EST
Howard wrote (back in December, 2002) in part:
"Here's one suggestion for a possible starting point if you choose to break
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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