Re: [asa] ID question?

From: Bill Powers <>
Date: Wed Oct 14 2009 - 19:14:16 EDT

OK. I've got to say something about this.

Bernie, you apparently believe something like:

Intentional/Design theories fail because they have not been able to
demonstrate that unguided evolution could not have done it.

This is a rather strange way to do science, and only the kind of game that
a bully would employ. Is there any kind of evidence that it could be said
"unguided evolution" could not do that?

What a more civilized approach would be is that evolutionary mechanisms
were clearly defined so that what is likely and what is not might be
become clear. This would entail, for example, temporal stochastic
equations. Is the abrupt arisal of species a problem for unguided
(whatever one means by that) evolution or not? It doesn't seem to me that
evolutionary biology is prepared to even address the question

How can there be honest theory comparison when the theory is so vague?

ID can also be required to be more explicit. It needs to describe in
detail a story, which is nothing more than evolution offers. The story
would describe, for example, what are the minimal capabilities and steps
required for a Guide to act.

Comparing an explicit evolutionary mechanism and a guided one could be
fruitful. For one, the guided story is one that could be possibly
employed by human agents. The process of putting it together permits
dialog between the two. One supporting a guided mechanism might argue
that such and such step was entirely unlikely given available resources.
In ths same the unguided advocate might argue that such and such a step
might be accomplished without guidance, and here's how.

In developing explicit guided mechanisms and paths, perhaps new
definitions and understanding of what is guided and what is not will
arise. For now it is vague.

As far as I can tell there is no good evidence available to distinguish
guided from unguided evolution. I don't see why "pseudogenes" are any
better off in this regard. They appear to adopt a position that you
oppose: an argument form ingnorance. Just because we know of no "reason"
that a "pseudogene" would exist does not imply that some "reason" might be
later found. So all that can be said is that no "reason" is known YET.
Sound familiar? What is more, unless you know God or all putative
designers better than I do, I don't see how you (or anyone) can say that
"pseudogenes" were not intentional.

The argument begins to look like Antony Flew's Invisible Gardener. One
might ask what is the difference between and invisible Gardener and no
Gardener at all, or what is the difference between an invisible designer
(guided evolution) and no designer at all (unguided evolution). But I
take from Flew's argument something different from what he intended. All
his argument suggests to me is that given the evidence provided I have no
reason to prefer a Gardener or none at all.

Frankly, I think, if one must proceed along these lines, that the evidence
better supports a guided universe. The only argument offered in Flew's
case to prefer no Gardener at all is Occam's Razor. But I take this to be
an epistemological criterion, and see no reason for it to bind ontology.
Indeed, if it did, it would argue for a Gardener.


On Wed, 14 Oct 2009, Dehler, Bernie wrote:

> William Paley used the 'watchmaker analogy' to demonstrate the idea of intelligent design. We can just tell, by looking at nature, that things are obviously designed by God by fiat, such as man, because of their complexity.
> Darwin creates a stir with an alternate hypothesis of man's creation via biological evolution instead. It is a competing hypothesis. Evolution has now won, for explaining the biological creation of man, because of DNA evidence like pseudogenes.
> So my question: Isn't Behe's 'moustrap' irreducible complexity the same EXACT situation? It is basically saying since we don't know how it could have evolved, therefore it was intelligently designed (by God or aliens). The only difference is that Behe goes into great detail trying to explain how it can't be done by known "Darwinistic evolutionist" mechanisms, but Paley could have (and maybe did?) done the same thing (explaining why/how known science of his day could not explain evolution for humans).
> I would like to know what is so different about Behe, compared to Paley. Paley has a 'complexity' argument with the watch, and Behe introduces irreducible complexity, but both are proposing ID because known science can't explain it... yet.
> It is interesting to me that Paley's argument for the biological creation of man is not discarded because it is wrong with the idea of complexity, but because the evolutionary process has evidence "beyond a reasonable doubt." So complexity may still be a valid way to detect ID, yet in this case, it turned out wrong as science accumulated more facts. It could be the same with irreducible complexity. A valid way to detect ID, yet disproven in the future when more facts become available.
> But what is the evidence to prove irreducible complexity? It seems like the only evidence is "evolution can't do it or explain it... yet."
> ...Bernie

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Received on Wed Oct 14 19:15:00 2009

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