Re: Bill Buckingham testifies in Dover...

From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. <>
Date: Tue Nov 01 2005 - 23:09:18 EST

On Tue, 01 Nov 2005 14:23:50 -0500 "Ted Davis" <>
> David responded to one of my points as follows; my response to him is
> added
> below.
> ted
> >>> "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 explanatory 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 significant 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
> this.
> Ted
The philosopher in me says it's all designed. However, the hand of God is
hidden in the working of "natural law." Further, the claim is
philosophical and theological, not scientific. Indeed, barring something
like the discovery of a gene in one species (or perhaps genus) that has
no counterpart or similarity to the genes in other creatures, could not
have been transferred from a microbe or virus, I see no possible
scientific "proof" of the Designer. The current blarney from the ID crowd
is totally dependent on what we don't yet know, not on anything we do.

You say that there are still gaps in a theory that depends on NS. Let me
put in a little history. Newton thought that his theory needed bolstering
by divine intervention to keep the solar system from smashing up. Laplace
showed that the solar system was more stable, not needing divine
intervention. Then we thought that Newton's approach was exactly
right--until we were able to make measurements exact enough to discover
that we weren't moving through the ether (though Faraday anticipated that
discovery) and that the orbit of Mercury was not quite right. The genius
of Einstein fit these problems into a theory that has been amazingly
accurate, although there are some very recent questions about details.
More recently complexity theory applied to the planetary orbits indicates
long-term instability.

Newton's theory was sufficiently simple that it could be encapsulated
into formulas. But Darwin's theory involves more complicated matters. He
thought in terms of the transmission of acquired characteristics, a
Lamarkian view. Only later were Mendel's discoveries recovered, applied
to our understanding of evolution, and then modified. I just read
(/Science/, 14 Oct., p. 247) that 10-30% of cells are aneuploid. Heredity
is messier than what I learned, even without the wrong number of human
chromosomes and the inclusion of jumping genes. Only a few creatures have
had their genomes sequenced, and proteomes are just beginning to be
analyzed. I think it's rather amazing that the discoveries are as
connected as they are.

You ask whether we can't leave room for ID in science. I've suggested
what it will take. This can't be posited on the basis of not knowing how
the bombardier beetle got its bang, or how flagella evolved. "I don't
know" is worthless as scientific proof for anything. Further, my first
assertion cannot be proved philosophically either. I claim evidence for
my faith, but not proof.
Received on Tue Nov 1 23:16:17 2005

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