Re: Bill Buckingham testifies in Dover...

From: Ted Davis <>
Date: Tue Nov 01 2005 - 14:23:50 EST

David responded to one of my points as follows; my response to him is added


>>> "Dr. David Campbell" <> 11/01/05 1:52 PM >>>
>>Many scientists sneer at Behe's reference to "gaps," but Ruse
>>himself--the most influential witness at the Arkansas trial--makes
>>reference to them here. Of course he goes right on to say that
>>there is thus plenty of "unfinished business to keep researchers
>>working away," and that's appropriate. But it is also appropriate
>>to point out "large gaps" in our knowledge of mechanisms, precisely
>>what Mike Behe said in court.

It is, however, inappropriate to claim that those gaps are evidence of
failure of evolutionary explanations when researchers are in fact
working away and filling those gaps. Also remember that many of the
gaps are only just being discovered themselves with the vast increase
in molecular data over the past several years. It takes time to
analyze things and come up with explanations, especially as
evolutionary biology is not exactly a major focus of funding and
effort in comparison with, e.g., drug discovery.


Ted responds as follows.

I agree, David, that the scientist should always try to advance the
paradigm along the lines you point out. I suspect Mike Behe would not
object to this either. The historian that I am, however, thinks it is fair
for a scientist to say to his/her colleagues, "We've had a theory now for a
long time and we still have 'large gaps' in this area of the theory. Isn't
it legitimate for me now to propose that we've taken NS too far, farther
than its exlanatory efficacy actually warrants? Shouldn't I be free to
propose in scientific journals that the discarded idea of 'design' might
have been discarded too hastily? Might it not perhaps be possible to spell
out criteria that justify an inference to design?" Now the historian in me
also knows that this isn't likely to persuade many scientists, for many
reasons--including the reason that for a signficant percentage of modern
scientists the idea of an unevolved mind is *utterly and completely
unacceptable*, not only as a scientific hypothesis but also as a
metaphysical/philosophical/religious idea. Completely unacceptable. This a
priori does foreclose further conversation, does it not?

Theologically, however, I get very nervous about floating cultural
transformation on half a glass of water, as I said in one of my commentaries
on the trial.

Philosophically, I think the ultimate goal of science ought to be truth,
not simply understanding of mechanisms. What is actually true about nature
and how it has come to be? The problem of course is that this is a much
bigger question than science alone is equipped to answer. But to bring up
one of Galileo's points, if it's true it can't be heretical. If some parts
of nature *really are* designed, as Behe and some others believe they can
demonstrate, then it can't be heretical for them to say so. See above for
one of the reasons it is heretical.

If we could somehow divorce the cultural agenda from the ideas
themselves--which might be like asking whether we can take the leopard
without its spots--then perhaps, just perhaps, the ideas would not subject
their advocates to excommunication. I won't hold my breath waiting for

Received on Tue Nov 1 14:25:38 2005

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