Re: Darwinian Inference, Intelligent Design Inference

From: Don Winterstein (
Date: Wed Sep 24 2003 - 02:57:57 EDT

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    Steve wrote in part:

    "Does anyone
    know of some complex systems where Darwinians have formulated a detailed
    evolutionary path?"

    There have been lots of formulations, but they are without exception nothing more than plausibility arguments. Unless you can observe a complex system as it evolves and measure it every step of the way, you can only make guesses. The required detailed observations have never been made, and for obvious practical reasons it seems unlikely they ever will be.

    speaking as one who knows little about the fine points of evolution but who would be pleased to hear cogent arguments as to why the above might not be correct.

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Steve Petermann
      To: ASA
      Sent: Tuesday, September 23, 2003 9:15 AM
      Subject: Darwinian Inference, Intelligent Design Inference

      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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