Re: [asa] Behe on Darwin, design and teleology

From: Randy Isaac <>
Date: Fri May 22 2009 - 06:26:49 EDT

  I think it has been recognized widely, though with exceptions, on this list that whereas a large, maybe even a majority, of outspoken ID advocates are anti-evolutionists, some of the key leaders like Behe have no issue with evolution but aim at the dysteleological aspects. I think we grasp that distinction for the most part. The issue that I see being debated is how those design elements are detected. Behe and company claim that the lack of a detailed causal mechanism in evolutionary development coupled with what they see as characteristics of "an intelligent agent" constitute evidence of design in an abstract sense, meaning there must be a designer.
  The response from the scientific community is simply that design, in that abstract sense where there is no known agent or known detailed design mechanism, is not detectable by science. Furthermore, the mainstream (as opposed to the vociferous anti-theistic elements) evolutionists do not see the lack of a detailed causal mechanism as fundamental but aspects which can increasingly be understood. Furthermore, they argue there is no characteristic that requires "intelligence" in the sense implied.

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Cameron Wybrow
  To: asa
  Sent: Thursday, May 21, 2009 11:32 PM
  Subject: [asa] Behe on Darwin, design and teleology

  Dear ASA list members:

  Michael Behe maintains a blog post on which has much good material on it. Lately he has posted an unpublished letter of his, which has a striking paragraph about some of the issues we have been discussing. Behe is so good at writing with clarity, accuracy and brevity all at once, that I thought I should post it. He says what I have been trying to say, but it's better to hear it from an ID theorist than from a mere interpreter such as myself:

  'Although some news reporters, lawyers, and parents are confused on the topic, "intelligent design" is not the opposite of "evolution." As some biologists before Darwin theorized, organisms might have descended with modification and be related by common descent, but the process might have been guided by some form of intelligence or teleological driving force in nature. Darwin's chief contribution was not the simple idea of common descent, but the hypothesis that evolution is driven completely by ateleological mechanisms, prominently including random variation and natural selection. Intelligent design has no proper argument with the bare idea of common descent; rather, it disputes the sufficiency of ateleological mechanisms to explain all facets of biology. Those who fail to grasp such distinctions are like people who can't distinguish between the ideas of Darwin and, say, Lamarck.'

  Behe's blog posts can be found at:


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Received on Fri May 22 06:27:18 2009

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