Re: [asa] RE: (irreducible complexity and evolution) design and the nature of science (was: Re: [asa] Re: Gingerich on TE and ID)

From: Iain Strachan <igd.strachan@gmail.com>
Date: Thu Jun 18 2009 - 08:22:05 EDT

Hi, Schwarzwald

On Thu, Jun 18, 2009 at 6:36 AM, Schwarzwald <schwarzwald@gmail.com> wrote:

> Heya all,
>
> Just to pop in briefly here, I'd have to agree with Mike about the validity
> of comparing "life's machines" with "man-made machines". Pointing out that
> life's machines "look different" does nothing to persuade me personally, and
> as someone who really enjoys reading up on modern/future technology (along
> with esoteric past technology) it's hard to fathom why anyone would put
> stock in it. Especially in an age where A) "life's machines", from the
> bacterial level up to the bodily level, are many times looked to as a
> guide/inspiration for our own creations, B) whatever crude level our
> technology is comparatively at now, creating our own machines on those
> levels (and drastically, purposefully altering existing ones) is on the
> rise, and C) evolutionary principles have been and are used explicitly in
> human design.
>

I would agree with you; however, I think what was being objected to in the
Mark Perakh is that in the general presentation of the ID case, where
computer generated images of flagella are pushed at you, looking like man
made machines, is that there doesn't tend to be a disclaimer, saying "this
is only a schematic to illustrate how it works- the real thing looks nothing
like this". I'll bet for most people, the real force of the argument is
looking at one of those stunning images and thinking they look man-made.
You and I are educated scientists and we know it doesn't really look like
that (and can concede to Mike that the protein raw-construction material is
in fact much BETTER than steel or whatever we use). But for most people who
are not scientific, who see these images displayed on websites, TV
interviews and so forth, they would easily be misled into thinking that's
how it looks.

>
> In other words, there's a danger of a "skepticism of the gaps" being at
> work here - the unspoken suggestion that the things we see happening in
> nature could not be the result of a mind. I'm not a fan of this strategy, or
> the God of the gaps strategy - frankly, the latter seems like a safer bet by
> far.

I don't think either strategy is a good one. As soon as you invoke
something that can potentially explain anything, I think you're on dodgy
ground. If you postulate a vastly superior intelligence, possibly
intervening in the world, or maybe front-loading all the information, then
there's little more to do - you can't put a limit on what the vastly
superior intelligence can do.

But equally, the "skepticism of the gaps" approach puts no limit on what can
be explained. It is appealing to science that we haven't done yet.
Therefore it's a world-view (some would say "faith") issue, not a scientific
one.

Iain

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Received on Thu Jun 18 08:22:52 2009

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