From: <>
Date: Sat Jun 16 2007 - 18:14:54 EDT

> I am baffled but I cannot see what is wrong with Keith's argument
> and why IDers wont listen. Can you say why please Phil


> Michael

The discussion is in the archive.  Many people (not just Keith) have said things like this:

> It is central to any coherent understanding of design that the
> purposes and capacities of the designer be known.
> We must have some conception
> of the capabilities (and limitations) of potential causal agents
> before they can be invoked.
> 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.

> A fingerprint left at the scene of a crime of course identifies the criminal
> only if you have an independent sample of someone's fingerprint with
> which it can be matched. The ID argument assumes that we have some
> a priori knowledge of the "fingerprint" of the Designer.

I agree with Keith and George and all the others that there is, indeed, a fundamental difference between:
(a) what the IDM is claiming as evidence for ID in biology,


(b) the examples they give (SETI, etc.) for why we can identify ID.  

I agree with that we need to identify and point out the key difference in order to get the IDists to see their error.  However, the IDists have not been convinced by the argument so far.  I believe that this is because Keith and George and others have put their finger on the WRONG difference between (a) and (b).  I have to agree with the IDists that we DON'T need prior knowledge of a designer's abilities or purposes in order to infer design.  I gave a trivial example (DNA messages) to illustrate my point.  I believe this is (in small part) why the IDists remain unconvinced.

The fundamental difference between (a) and (b) lies elsewhere, IMO, and I have stated it in one of the earlier posts.  I believe it is because design must be fundamentally gratuitous to our existence in order for us to be able to recognize it as design.  Things that are gratuitious to our existence include:

messages from ET's
messages encoded in DNA
the Bible
the redemptive work of Christ

Things that are necessary for our existence include a vibrant biosphere, which necessitates adaptations such as bacterial flagella.  We couldn't be here unless these things were here, too.  Hence, no matter how improbable such adaptations might be, we can never conclude that they are "design".  They might simply be the result of infinite chances coupled with the selection effect of our being here to observe them.

Hence, I don't believe you can ever infer design from anything that is necessary for our existence.  The way to get infinite chances, these days, is to appeal to the idea of infinite universes.  That is a very popular idea among physicists these days, coupled with ideas from QM, string theory, and or inflation.  In essence, if there are infinite universes, then whatever is spewing out these universes plays the role of God but without the intelligence.  The non-theists have in fact posited the existence of a subset of God.  Thus, "intelligence" is the one thing that cannot be proven from anything in the chain of origins, including from bacterial flagella or other favorite ID items.

OTOH, when you accept the prior knowledge of the designer (from the life of Christ, etc.), then you can infer intelligence in the originator of the universe.  So I agree that Keith and George's arguments are intertwined with the truth, but I don't believe they are correct and unassailable in their current form.

My original posts on this are here:


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Received on Sat Jun 16 18:16:49 2007

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