Re: [asa] Rejoinder 1 from Timaeus: to David Opderbeck and Ted Davis

From: Randy Isaac <>
Date: Tue Sep 23 2008 - 12:15:09 EDT

Thank you, Timaeus, for a most constructive attitude and desire to
communicate effectively. I think we can all benefit greatly.

I too would like to focus on the paragraph on which Ted and David commented
but with a somewhat different question. You wrote:

"I want to make it clear from the outset that ID is not opposed to evolution
as such. It is in fact, in pure form, neutral on the question whether
species are created by the direct action of an intelligent maker, or through
a process of evolution. The science of ID, insofar as it can be accepted as
science, can establish only the fact of design, not the causal history by
which design was instantiated in nature. Thus ID has no reason for being
dogmatically opposed to evolution as the "historical" means by which design
found its way into living things."

The ensuing discussion puzzles me from two aspects. First, the insistence
that the "real" ID people accept CD seems to be only a subset of your
assertion above. Common descent may mean different things to different
people. For some, that process of "descent" could involve a miraculous event
of divine intervention at each reproductive event. For others, the processes
of variation and selection are adequate explanations. Your paragraph above
is not clear on this point--I read it initially as ID having no reason to be
opposed to evolution where evolution is defined as just such an "adequate"
explanation. But your later conversation indicates that you may have
intended "evolution" to mean only some form of CD.

Secondly, I have heard your sentiment expressed on numerous occasions but I
have yet to read or hear an in-depth articulation of what ID really is in
the context of the acceptance of evolution. At first glance, despite this
assertion by you and others, evolution does seem to be precluded by the ID
premises (and vice versa). Why? Wouldn't it be true that acceptance of
evolution would eliminate the arguments of irreducible complexity and that
the biochemical processes would not survive Dembski's explanatory filter? In
other words, when we claim that Behe is not opposed to evolution, what are
we really saying? It seems that we are merely saying that he accepts common
descent but not evolutionary development of biochemical components. I sense
there's a good deal of confusion in this whole discussion. If "ID is not
opposed to evolution as such" then what does that ID look like? What are its
claims in the full context of evolution? What is the evidence?

If your assertion is indeed correct, then wouldn't it be fair to view TE/EC
as the asymptotic limit of ID as the details of evolution are worked out and

One more comment/question if I may. In that paragraph you state "The science
of ID, insofar as it can be accepted as science, can establish only the fact
of design" I can certainly agree that the methods of ID are quite useful in
ascertaining the fact of design when it comes to human activity (or other
sentient beings that we know in this universe). I have yet to see a cogent
argument that design can be established scientifically in the abstract, with
no knowledge or independent indication of the designer. Isn't science
limited, at best, to saying "we don't know" or even "it looks designed" and
cannot go beyond that level?


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Received on Tue Sep 23 12:15:46 2008

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