gaps from Re: Bill Buckingham testifies in Dover...

From: Dr. David Campbell <>
Date: Thu Nov 03 2005 - 19:14:28 EST

> > 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?"

I agree with ID advocates in the assertion that ruling out design a
priori is an unwarrented philosophical premise that is potentially a
science stopper. However, to propose something in scientific journals
generally requires supporting scientific evidence, rather than just an
idea about how things are going. Not that the idea should not be
proposed, just that scientific journals might not be the right place to
try. As ID advocates point out, there are accepted attempts at
developing criteria to identify human design in archaeology. However,
I have not encountered any ID-based criteria for design that look to me
like criteria to identify design. Rather, they look like criteria to
describe complex biochemical systems. They don't do a good job of
identifying human-designed things nor of rejecting complex structures
that everyone would concede as not requiring ID-type intervention
(e.g., a fairly complex mineral structure).

Theologically, trying to identify how God would or would not have done
something in a scientifically detectable way is highly problematic.

Another problem is the mixed message of ID advocates. There's a
difference between the claim that the concept of ID can potentially be
subject to scientific examination and should not be a priori ruled out
and the claim that ID has been proven and it's just the vast left wing
atheistic conspiracy that prevents people from realizing this and
converting en masse.

> > 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?
> > 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

Not likely, given the involvement of humans in the process.

A panther is like a leopard. Except it hasn't been peppered. -Ogden

Dr. David Campbell
425 Scientific Collections Building
Department of Biological Sciences
Biodiversity and Systematics
University of Alabama, Box 870345
Tuscaloosa AL 35487-0345  USA
Received on Thu Nov 3 19:17:22 2005

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