Re: [asa] ID/Miracles/Design (Behe vs. Behe)

From: Preston Garrison <>
Date: Sat Apr 25 2009 - 01:06:29 EDT


Welcome to the fray. This is my first leap here since you came on
board. I try to fill two roles on this group, occassionally - court
jester and gadfly (asker of questions). Socrates got hemlock for the
latter, so, when I see that coming, I switch to the former role. I
also quote Dante on occassion, but that mostly just raises the
question "if a medieval Florentine poet falls in the woods and no one
hears it, has anything happened at all?" You may file this one under
the first category above.

>Your objection regarding the term "Darwinian" is a verbal
>technicality, Dave; my point remains the same if you change it to
>"neo-Darwinian means", or if you add in any number of newer
>"mechanisms" which are currently mooted around (drift, etc.), and
>call it "neo-neo-Darwinian means". All of them are chance
>mechanisms, ultimately, when all the fancy language is stripped
>away. The task of neo-neo-Darwinism, then, is to prove that chance
>can produce integrated complex systems. Behe's argument is that it
>can't. He may be right, or he may be wrong, but there is no point
>in obfuscating the issue. The choice is, and always has been (since
>the days of the ancient Greeks) "by design or by chance".

Can someone tell me precisely what "chance" is? Not from a
metaphysical perspective, but from a scientific perspective? What
does chance look like at the level of observation and experiment?
What exactly do the physicists and other mathematical savants mean by

I suspect that functionally, "chance" is simply the fact that we
observe that certain measurable variables fit certain statistical
distributions when we do the measurement repeatedly on a series of
events that meet certain criteria by which we consider them to belong
to a certain class of event - to be the same kind of event. But a
mutation (a point mutation, a transposon insertion, a rearrangement,
a segment duplication, whatever you want) occurring in a particular
cell in a particular environment from a genetic standpoint is often a
unique event. It just isn't possible to determine by scientific means
if it was directed or not, and hence whether it occurred by "chance."

If it turns out to be the event that made modern humans much smarter
than Neandertals, we might want to believe it was directed by God,
and I would, but I don't see any way to make that more than a
statement of faith.

>The problem with TE (at least in most of its formulations) is that
>it is simply unclear about the extent of the complexity-building
>powers it allows to chance. To read TE writers, the cause of
>mutations etc. is sort of chance, and sort of God's action, and sort
>of neither, and sort of both -- that's what TE sounds like, to an
>outsider seeking theoretical clarity. It sounds vague.

It's vague because there's no way to get at it scientifically. One
can speculate in different ways, but how do you get at any definitive
way? You can figure out what makes sense to you, and then you can get
in people's faces if you want and make assertions, but then they can
do the same to you taking a different view. So how do you settle the
thing in a definitive way? I don't see how it's possible to settle it.

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Received on Sat Apr 25 01:07:16 2009

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