Snoke's response

From: Randy Isaac <>
Date: Thu Aug 11 2005 - 21:45:52 EDT

Randy's response to Dave's response:

I appreciate your thoughtful response because I believe it helps us pinpoint
the essence of the debate about ID and highlights where we should be having
the debate rather than much of the swirling controversy around us. The key
issue is the detectability of design. Whether and how design by a
non-natural being can be detected is the central debate, followed by the
implications of such detection or the lack thereof.

As you and Behe and many others have articulated, the detection of design is
based on a type of homology. We can recognize intricate designs by nature
and we can recognize designs by humans and by extrapolation can
"scientifically" determine whether some object was a design from nature or
from humans. True, there's quite a gray zone. A simple example is the
discovery of a pointed stone or piece of metal. It's not always easy to
know if it was shaped by human design or resulted from a non-human process.
But careful scientific methodology can often give us a good indication.
Where I believe we are left with non-scientific speculation is when we
address features or objects which have no known comparable human design nor
a known natural process. We can no longer argue by analogy or similarity
that this object has been designed since we have no adequate reference
design close enough for comparison. We have no comparable object that we
know to be designed by some unknown "intelligent designer" and it doesn't
seem to be an acceptable extrapolation to make such a claim. In a sense,
you might say that all of creation is an example of the result of a
non-natural intelligent designer but then we may simply be arguing from our
presuppositions and close to circular reasoning.

You made an interesting reference to information as a way of distinguishing
your experimental results of luminescent rings from evolutionary development
issues. You said "there is nothing
in the data that seems personal" in the case of the rings, implying there
was in biomolecular studies. You also gave the examples of "if instead of a
simple ring, the
luminescence formed letters that spelled out my one would believe
that it was not rigged." By implication you consider biomolecules to deal
with data that seems personal. I would certainly caution against use of
analogies such as alphabetical shapes. There is a fundamental difference
between information that humans or other organisms intentionally transmit
through some physical embodiment and the inherent information in a DNA or
RNA sequence. In the first case, the information and its meaning have no
intrinsic relationship with the physical embodiment. The information can be
represented by one of many different physical systems and is independent of
that system, even though it must have a physical embodiment to exist. The
DNA information is quite different in nature. It is intrinsically related
to the nature of the physical system which embodies it and cannot be
transmitted through another physical system, as far as we know now. This
just means that we must be very very very careful about blithely applying
our understanding of information, be it Shannon's theorem or any other
theory, to DNA information. I guess I would net this out to say that I
don't see any evidence of "personal data" in the biomolecules--and that such
a claim would necessarily be outside the realm of science.

Another comment you made was that "The
explanation of ID, theory B, is the design of God. It is not just
that we have things we don't understand in the evolutionary theory,
it is that things look so darned designed." Now we are moving appropriately
beyond the point you made in your paper that ID doesn't need to have an
alternative theory in order to "be scientific" in its critique of evolution.
You argued, by analogy to your own work, that it's ok for the ID theory to
still be in its infancy and it will be worked out. Furthermore, you said
you felt that progress could be made in working out the ID theory because
"We reason: I
believe God did it, and God is like this, so I expect to see such and
such because that is how God does things." Here I have more difficulty.
No, I don't have a problem with this being a "science-stopper". That may
well be another issue but not a fundamental one. In essence, I believe
there is no credible, scientifically defensible way to articulate what to
expect to see because that is how God does things. In hindsight, we might
say that something is consistent with what we know about God, but to have
the confidence that we know how He works is going a bit too far. If we were
to pursue that path, then why would your idea of "how God does things" be
any more valid than my idea? Say I happen to have the idea that "how God
does things" is entirely by mathematically describable methods and so I
expect sooner or later to be able to discover those algorithms. Can I prove
that my idea is better (or worse) than your idea of how God does things? I
believe this is a dangerous path theologically and certainly not scientific.

ID may well be at the level of a "grand paradigm" but I fear that it may
well be a fundamentally flawed paradigm and may be detracting us from the
real message of creation. At least I think our dialog is starting to focus
on the right issues.

Received on Thu Aug 11 21:49:11 2005

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