Re: [asa] Four myths about I.D.; four myths about T.E.

From: Randy Isaac <>
Date: Thu Jul 03 2008 - 10:20:47 EDT

  I appreciate what you are attempting to do here. It is very important that
we all understand each other's views and reflect them accurately in our
  Permit me a few observations.

1. Science stopper. I've always felt this was a weak argument and difficult
to nail down due to the many ways it can be interpreted and evaded. It also
tends to be more of an issue of what motivates a scientist to pursue a
particular directions. The real issue is whether ID provides useful insights
which help scientific endeavor move toward a more complete and more accurate
understanding of nature or whether it leads scientists on a tangent which is
either wrong or irrelevant. To avoid the essence of the science stopper
criticism, ID needs to show examples where it provided correct, essential
and necessary insight upon which further investigation depends.

2. Creationism in disguise. There is indeed a distinct difference as you
point out. But the effort to discredit common ancestry is typically anchored
on a "it can also be explained by a common designer" basis (per Luskin and
Gage in "Intelligent Design 101" for example) which is essentially arguing
special creation or creation with the appearance of common ancestry in order
to refute Francis Collins. In this respect there is a distinct similarity.

3. God of the "gaps". I've gone back and forth on this one. Indeed, ID
advocates claim that they are not subject to this criticism and that such
criticism reflects a misunderstanding of ID. Their view is that filling the
gaps would not reverse their conclusions and that ID is based on a positive
identification of design, not a negative one. Several advocates have pointed
out that even if common ancestry or evolution were shown to be correct, the
ID position would still stand. However, I've urged them to write about and
pursue this avenue. I'd like to see an example of an ID argument for design
that begins with a phenomenon where there is no "gap." Or let's see an
article that expounds the ideas of ID assuming evolution is correct, if
indeed the inadequacy of evolution is not essential to ID. So far, I haven't
seen any. Furthermore, I think it is important to note that if there is no
"gap" then the phenomenon does not pass the first stage of the explanatory
filter and therefore will not make it to the "positive" part of the ID
argument. Until this happens, I think the "God of the gaps" criticism is
still valid.

4. About a year ago, I posted on this list my attempt at a concise and
accurate formulation of the ID position, namely that ID asserts that "there
are patterns in nature that are best explained by the action of a
supernatural agent." I have been chastised by the ID folks for using the
word "supernatural" rather than "intelligent." In fact, Luskin says in
"Intelligent Design 101" that such an attribution of "supernatural" to ID is
motivated by a desire to inappropriately paint ID as religious rather than
scientific and thereby presumably keep it out of the classroom. But I wonder
if the term "supernatural" isn't actually more accurate and appropriate for
ID. Consider the alternative. If the "intelligent agent" is either natural
or supernatural (and by this I mean natural as in "constrained by and
limited to operation through the four forces of nature--the weak, strong,
E&M, and gravitational" whereas supernatural is "not constrained by and
limited to...."), consider the implications of a natural rather than
supernatural intelligent agent. This would then be an assertion that at
least as long ago as 3.5 billion years, there was a physical sentient being
capable of nanotechnological manipulation of biochemical processes that
initiated life and then, at least periodically, produced various irreducibly
complex structures. It seems to me that the supernatural character of such
an intelligent agent is rather obvious.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Loren Haarsma" <>
To: "_American Sci Affil" <>
Sent: Monday, June 30, 2008 7:15 PM
Subject: [asa] Four myths about I.D.; four myths about T.E.

> Certain criticisms of Intelligent Design and Theistic Evolution are
> frequently recycled. These criticisms arise from common
> over-simplifications and misunderstandings of I.D. and T.E. I've written
> the following in hopes it will promote more nuanced and accurate
> discussions of these views.
> Four Common Myths about Intelligent Design
> --Myth #1: Intelligent Design just isn't science.
> --Myth #2: Intelligent Design is a science stopper.
> --Myth #3: Intelligent Design is just creationism in disguise.
> --Myth #4: Intelligent Design has a theology of "god-of-the-gaps"
> and "episodic deism."
> Four Common Myths about Theistic Evolution
> --Myth #1: Theistic evolutionists don't confront atheism.
> --Myth #2: Theistic evolution is essentially deism; it doesn't have
> God acting as a creator in any meaningful sense.
> --Myth #3: Theistic Evolutionists embrace "methodological
> naturalism" in science because they don't believe in
> miracles (or are embarrassed about miracles).
> --Myth #4: Theistic Evolutionists support evolution because they are
> worried about their jobs or their scientific
> respectability.
> This is a lengthy document, so rather than send it to all by email,
> here is a link:
> Feel free to repost parts of it to this list if you want to discuss
> specific parts.
> Loren Haarsma
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Received on Thu Jul 3 10:21:33 2008

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