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

From: Schwarzwald <>
Date: Thu Jun 18 2009 - 18:48:07 EDT

Heya Iain,

I'm not an educated scientist by any stretch of the words. I'm not even a
philosopher. At most I'm just very interested in this subject.

That aside, I'd have to strongly disagree again. I think appearances are
impressive, and I chalk that up mostly to typically neat computer animation.
But I think the force of the presentation comes from the principles being
demonstrated, rather than some passing resemblance to a larger object.
Doubly so when human creations are no longer restricted to those typically
"large" objects.

Keep in mind the other side of this particular coin. First, just how many
times (and in how uncontested and authoritative a venue) have we been told
that nature's operations and creations are mindless, purposeless, blind,
unguided, unforeseen, etc? Second, just how far has our own technology
advanced - primitive as it would be in comparison to such a "Designer"? So
I'd ask the opposite question: How honest is it to present nature and
biological artifacts in such a way, in light of our being able to recognize
engineering and programming principles at work in nature (even if
'disputed', the dispute is enough to shatter those given descriptions), and
in light of our own technological advances (which makes "design" on such
levels not only possible in principle, but in increasing degrees
demonstrated in practice)?

I have some criticisms of how the ID camp conducts themselves. But
aggressively pushing the view of nature and natural objects as designed or
part of a design - evolution included - is philosophical area I could not
agree with them more strongly about.

On Thu, Jun 18, 2009 at 8:22 AM, Iain Strachan <>wrote:

> Hi, Schwarzwald
> On Thu, Jun 18, 2009 at 6:36 AM, Schwarzwald <>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 18:48:35 2009

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