Re: [asa] Conversation with Timaeus, part one

From: Ted Davis <TDavis@messiah.edu>
Date: Thu Sep 25 2008 - 15:23:06 EDT

>>> PvM <pvm.pandas@gmail.com> 9/25/2008 1:59 PM >>> writes:

And yet in 'edge of evolution' Behe seems to be arguing exactly that there
are limits to evolution, in other words, it denies evolution as an
explanation for how life evolved.

In fact, the logic dictates that there remain two explanations, one which
requires an active intervention to overcome limits of evolution, such as
argued by most of the prominent ID proponents, and then there is the
'moving
the goalposts' variant, which seems to be gaining some traction, which
moves
all the 'design' to the initial conditions, which is also known as 'front
loading' while allowing that natural processes themselves were fully
sufficient to explain the evolution, once set in motion.

Logic dictates that until ID's definition of design is changed, ID
necessarily entails a denial of evolution as being sufficient. Even Behe
places the Edge of Evolution at the level of Genera and above. Although he
still seems to accept Common Descent he also seems to believe that
evolutionary theory is insufficient to explain CD about the species level.

***

Ted replies:

So, what? I'm not sure what you are driving at here, Pim. Perhaps it's
just my misunderstanding. If you could rephrase/restate your point, Pim, it
might help me to see it more clearly.

You seem to be saying that Behe rejects evolution, when manifestly he
doesn't. By placing limits on what known mechanisms can do, I fail to see
how that denies evolution. I would say, that Behe is just placing limits on
what NS can do. Behe fully accepts evolution, in the sense of CD, but he is
not convinced that NS is the whole story. That is not denying evolution, in
any ordinary sense of that expression. If, for example, a chemist were to
have said in 1900 that known chemical processes can't explain how the
elements came into existence, that would not be to deny that the elements
exist, or even that perhaps they were transmuted into one another. A
chemist in 2000, on the other hand, can not only accept transmutation but
offer a theory to explain it--namely, they were products of nuclear fusion
inside stars.

More than a few TEs are also agnostics about the (sometimes assumed, never
demonstrated) omnipotence of NS to explain all of life. Polkinghorne has
already been quoted to that effect in this thread, and I could add several
more quotations from his works to the same point. Collins limits NS, Ayala
denies that human culture (including religion, mathematics, and science) are
products of NS, and others put the brakes on in other places. Behe puts on
the brakes, too.

Does this make Collins, Ayala, and others ID advocates? I would say no,
since they don't believe that design is a necessary explanatory principle
*within science* (a key point here), whereas Behe wants to affirm that it is
needed *within science*. The advocates of "front loading" types of design
tend to see design as more of a metaphysical/philosophical inference, even
though it uses a great deal of scientific evidence to draw that inference.
Are you suggesting here that such folks are ID advocates, in the same sense
in which Dembski is? (If so, I believe you are mistaken, and we can take
that up separately).

Ted

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Received on Thu Sep 25 15:24:12 2008

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