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

From: Nucacids <nucacids@wowway.com>
Date: Thu Jul 03 2008 - 12:05:13 EDT

Hi Randy,

And I appreciate your efforts here, so let me add to the discussion.

"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."

I fully agree here. The terms "ID," "science," and "stopper" can all be
interpreted in many ways, thus this criticism is essentially useless without
precise definitions of these three terms.

"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."

I agree here. However, we are back to defining "ID." After all, if we
substitute teleological or enginnering concepts for "ID," then there are
many 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."

In this case, it matters how you use the appeal to common design. After
all, here is how one engineering company describes its own work:

"We use a modular approach wherever possible so that we can re-use
technology that we develop in a very wide variety of systems."

Modularity and re-use are something we would expect from design. And it
certainly makes no sense to expect a designer to refrain from re-use. So it
gets more tricky here. If one uses a common design argument to explain why
humans and chimps are so similar, then this looks more like creationism
because a) it entails a denial of human evolution (the non-negotiable among
creationists) and b) is not tied to an engineering-type analysis of
molecular systems entailing modularity and components.

"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."

Well, I hate to come off as plugging my own book, but the fact is that I do
precisely this in The Design Matrix. If you ever get the chance to run
across it, check out chapters 6 and 7. Ironically, the main complaint from
the critics is that I do not have a gap, thus my approach is deemed
superfluous. In my experience, most critics seem to a) assume a
god-of-the-gaps approach is needed (otherwise, ID is not needed) while b)
complaining when a god-of-the-gaps approach is sought out.

"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.""

One problem with your definition is that we have extensive experience with
intelligent agents, both objective and subjective - ourselves. This allows
us to extrapolate from the basis of this experience when it comes to the
notion of design. Our only experience with a supernatural agent would be
God and that gets into the full spiritual and existential essence of the
experience. Extrapolation from that experience is therefore spiritual and
existential, rather than the problem-solving experience we have from being
intelligent designers.

"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."

If we are talking about beings that simply seeded the planet 3.5 billion
years ago with designed cells, such that the design would then subsequently
influence and shape evolution, I see no reason to think such agents must be
supernatural. After all, if we ourselves accomplish this over the next 1000
years, will that make us supernatural?

Again, it is important to tease out the concept of design from the ID
movement and its spokespeople. They are not the same thing.

-Mike Gene

----- Original Message -----
From: "Randy Isaac" <randyisaac@comcast.net>
To: <asa@calvin.edu>
Sent: Thursday, July 03, 2008 10:20 AM
Subject: Re: [asa] Four myths about I.D.; four myths about T.E.

> Loren,
> 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 discussion.
> 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.
>
> Randy
>
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Loren Haarsma" <lhaarsma@calvin.edu>
> To: "_American Sci Affil" <asa@calvin.edu>
> 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:
>> http://www.calvin.edu/~lhaarsma/IDandTE_FourMyths.doc
>> Feel free to repost parts of it to this list if you want to discuss
>> specific parts.
>>
>>
>> Loren Haarsma
>>
>> To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@calvin.edu with
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>>
>
>
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Received on Thu Jul 3 12:06:04 2008

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