From: Keith Miller <>
Date: Mon Jun 04 2007 - 23:15:28 EDT

> So why not start with what the ID folks point to: SETI, identifying
> hominid/human fabricated tools, forensics that lead to a conviction
> vs. those that don't, etc.? Are any of these "scientific"? Why or why
> not? How, in principle, do they differ from the ID enterprise in
> molecular biology? What about Sagan's fanciful example in Contact--
> wasn't it something like the digits of pi communicating some message?

The critical comparison is between natural agents and supernatural

It is central to any coherent understanding of design that the
purposes and capacities of the designer be known. However, ID
advocates argue that design can be recognized in the absence of any
knowledge of the designer. They further argue that human and divine
designers are effectively equivalent from a scientific perspective.
Our ability to detect design by humans is used as a demonstration
that supernatural design can be similarly recognized scientifically.

However, this claim is clearly false. We must have some conception
of the capabilities (and limitations) of potential causal agents
before they can be invoked. We do in fact know much about human
designers as a class of potential agents, even if we do not know the
specific individuals. We recognize human artifacts because we
understand human capacities and purposes. Similarly, we recognize
the products of other natural volitional agents such as non-human
animals. We can search for the signals of ETs, but only to the
extent that we assume some specific capabilities and purposes on
their part (usually modeled after our own). Divine agents on the
other hand have no constraints, and their purposes and capabilities
cannot be defined. We do not know a priori how a divine agent might
work in nature. An agent that can do anything, does not provide any
explanatory power to a scientific hypothesis. It is effectively
equivalent to current ignorance.


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Received on Mon Jun 4 23:21:20 2007

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