Darwinian Inference, Intelligent Design Inference

From: Steve Petermann (steve@spetermann.org)
Date: Tue Sep 23 2003 - 12:15:23 EDT

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    Some forms of variation in evolution are observable like the evolution of
    antibiotic bacteria or the insecticide resistance of fruit flies for
    instance. From my reading, it appears that some if not most IDers accept
    this type of selection on variation. The key issue seems to be the
    evolution of complex forms.

    When it comes to the evolution of complex forms it seems that both
    Darwinians and ID'ers must resort to inference. For complex systems it is
    not possible to follow every step of the evolutionary process to verify
    causation. It then becomes a matter of Darwinian inference or design
    inference. This means that neither group will be able to absolutely "prove"
    their mechanism in all cases. However, in order to provide a reasonable
    resolution to the question, perhaps an example from the law can be of help.
    In the law "proof" can be secured by appealing to the preponderance of
    evidence on an issue. But here's the tricky part. Since ID assumes an
    external agent and causation not directly observable, it can only offer a
    negative preponderance of evidence, i.e. demonstrate satisfactorily(to the
    "jury") that many, if not most, complex systems are very inexplicable in
    Darwinian terms. Darwinians, however, can provide a positive preponderance
    of evidence if they can accurately describe the unintelligent evolution of
    some complex systems. However, these Darwinian explanations would need to
    be very detailed(not "just so" explanations) to avoid the retort of
    inference. This could be akin to reverse engineering the development of a
    machine(anyone see the _Connections_ series on PBS?) If this would work, it
    seems that the battle will be fought in microbiology where the systems are
    both simple enough and complex enough to address the question. Does anyone
    know of some complex systems where Darwinians have formulated a detailed
    evolutionary path?

    Steve Petermann

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