RE: [asa] Are TE and ID Really That Far Apart?

From: Dehler, Bernie <>
Date: Sun Apr 27 2008 - 15:09:59 EDT

And what if this "learning robot" made other robots even more advanced.
In a way, you'd be creating a basic (robotic) self-replicating organism
and watching it evolve itself. We are starting to get the capability to
evolve ourselves with things such as gene therapy... and learning how to
"write" new DNA code (per Craig Venter's work).



From: [] On
Behalf Of David Opderbeck
Sent: Sunday, April 27, 2008 10:14 AM
To: George Cooper
Subject: Re: [asa] Are TE and ID Really That Far Apart?


George C. said: If I invite a robot that can go out and build to the
highest standard a house with complete independence, am I the lesser for
it because I didn't show up with nails in mouth? This doesn't mean I'm
not watching from a distance, nor does it mean I might not visit on


I respond: I think there's a problem with your hypo in that the robot
can't really build with "complete independence" if you've programmed
into it the capability to build a house, which would have to include
lots of "front loaded" knowledge about house building, the "standards"
you mention, and so on.


If you in fact design into the robot all those capabilities, and the
design necessarily includes some "imperfections," then I don't think you
get "off the hook" for those imperfections just because the robot does
the physical work. And it's easy to see how even a house built to "the
highest standards" will have possible imperfections. Even the
best-constructed house, for example, has to use building materials such
as wood which can catch fire, degrade over time, include surfaces on
which people can bang their heads, etc. The physical universe,
practical cost and time constraints, and so on, mean the "best" design
cannot be perfectly safe.


Instead, let's assume you create a very basic robot with the capacity to
learn, but you set no parameters as to what it will learn or how it will
employ its knowledge. Let's say the robot then independently decides to
build a house, learns the necessary skills, and finishes the
construction. Perhaps then you can argue that you're "off the hook" for
any dangers in the house design, though even here you're arguably
culpable for releasing the free-thinking robot into the world in the
first place. But I think this pushes the analogy too far into the
territory of open theism. I'm not sure the person who releases a
completely autonomous creating robot is really analogous to the
sovereign creator God of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures.


So, open theism-type models seem to help with some theodicy problems,
but they do so (it seems to me) at the expense of an adequate conception
of God.

On Fri, Apr 25, 2008 at 2:50 PM, George Cooper
<> wrote:

Hi Dave,


[Dave: But then you have a God who isn't sovereign over His creation,
which trades a theodicy problem for an even bigger one.]

If I invite a robot that can go out and build to the highest standard a
house with complete independence, am I the lesser for it because I
didn't show up with nails in mouth? This doesn't mean I'm not watching
from a distance, nor does it mean I might not visit on occasion.


[Dick: I'll stick with natural causation without divine interference,
thank you. That way I can swat them without feeling I'm squashing a
divinely "designed" creature.]

That's a dandy! :)


George C



                Dick Fischer, author, lecturer

                Historical Genesis from Adam to Abraham




                -----Original Message-----
[] On Behalf Of Nucacids
                Sent: Friday, April 25, 2008 12:13 AM
                Subject: Re: [asa] Are TE and ID Really That Far Apart?



                TE and ID are far apart when ID is proposed as a
substitute for evolution.

                However, both ID and evolution can co-exist, where
evolution has, in some

                way, been shaped by design.




                ----- Original Message -----

                From: "Rich Blinne" <>

                To: "David Opderbeck" <>

                Cc: "asa" <>

                Sent: Thursday, April 24, 2008 10:18 PM

                Subject: [asa] Are TE and ID Really That Far Apart?




> On Apr 23, 2008, at 5:52 PM, David Opderbeck wrote:


>> I really enjoy Stephen Barr's work and he's a very
interesting guy.

>> Query though: is cosmological design really not a
form of "ID"? It

>> seems to me that many people who find cosmological
design arguments

>> potentially helpful are put off of biological design
arguments because

>> of the overstatement, politicization, etc. of the "ID
movement" --

>> myself included. So making a distinction between
cosmological and

>> biological ID is almost more of a necessary
difference in politics,

>> style, and emphasis.




> Absolutely correct, David. I'll strengthen your point.
Both are design

> arguments. They have the same form and have the same
substance. In

> addition to that both have roughly the same concept of
evolution. Dembski

> saying TE could be OK at the Messiah 2005 debate. Behe
holds to common

> descent and natural selection. The one difference on
so- called random

> mutation could be lessened if ID understood what is
meant by us by random

> and by focusing on the non-randomness of the
evolutionary process. By

> this I mean that evolution is random in the same
sense that our children

> are male or female randomly or to use the Biblical
example the random bow

> shot that killed Ahab. I'll spare the rest of the
rehash of concursus

> divinitatis. BTW, I liked your discussion on analogia
entis but that just

> proves that I am Reformed and George is Lutheran. :-)


> It seems to me that ID's problem is its own little
form of scientism.

> Perhaps they cannot seem to identify the designer
because of the issues

> that you as a lawyer have brought out previously. The
other reason that I

> have heard specifically stated is they think it makes
them sound more

> reasonable when it does the exact opposite. I have
absolutely no problem

> that my kind of ID is not scientific and that my
intent is to provide

> evidence for the Christian God. Again, as you have
noted earlier science

> isn't more objective than other kinds of truth. It
just uses a process

> that deals with our inherent subjectivity by having
the checks and

> balances of peer review and testing hypotheses
physically. Thanks for the

> heads up today on their journal which hasn't
published anything in years.

> If the scientific elite truly were suppressing the
truth or demarcating

> it into oblivion then this journal provides a way to
get their vaunted

> research program out. But, there is no research
program even though

> Philip Johnson promised not to move on to getting ID
into the schools

> until they had real science to be taught. I believe
-- correct me if I

> am wrong -- that it should be able to be taught in a
philosophy class or

> the like in a survey style -- much like comparative
religions. Now, they

> seem to think that this is inferior or more likely
they perceive that

> *we* think it is inferior. At least for me, this is
not true. Just

> because I believe that ID is not science does not
imply I believe ID is

> not true (although some of the arguments are really,
really bogus.)

> Furthermore, ID is better classified as philosophy
anyway. What

> biological ID went through does serve as a cautionary
tale for us when we

> use a cosmological ID argument which in my opinion is
the strongest arrow

> in their quiver. Nevertheless, as George has noted the
"many worlds"

> hypothesis for quantum physics and multiverses in
general still are out

> there as legitimate possibilities. Any of these
arguments should be more

> confirmatory rather than as a freestanding "proof".


> I really don't understand why we cannot talk about
philosophy and

> theology. As your legal analysis has shown I see very
little chance ID,

> or "teaching the controversy", or whatever the
strategy du jour is ever

> getting in the schools. Given that, why not show our
colors? But, this

> cannot happen as shown when both of us got booted from
Uncommon Descent.

> Or, that theology was off the table at Messiah '05.


> I do have an idea for their research program. Show how
the evolutionary

> process is not random, not how it cannot happen. We
can give them help

> here. This could be like the '95 Behe/Miller debate in
reverse where Behe

> showed that Miller's textbook claimed purposeless
evolution and Miller

> knowing that evolution is not random in the popular
sense fixed the

> error. It came back to bite him in the Dover trial
where the old version

> was being used and Miller pointed to the new version.
If the heart of the

> problem ID has is a random, purposeless, evolution,
then we are here to

> help show how current, mainstream, evolutionary
theory shows otherwise.

> It would require them to risk getting "expelled" by
their YEC allies,

> though.


> Rich Blinne

> Member ASA


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        David W. Opderbeck
        Associate Professor of Law
        Seton Hall University Law School
        Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology

David W. Opderbeck
Associate Professor of Law
Seton Hall University Law School
Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology 
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Received on Sun Apr 27 15:11:08 2008

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