Re: [asa] ID question?

From: Schwarzwald <>
Date: Wed Oct 14 2009 - 20:22:24 EDT

Heya Bill,

I'm much in agreement with this across the board. I'd point out that for any
evolutionary event - from a single particular mutation to a speciation event
to a trend, etc - it being "guided" or "unguided" is utterly opaque to
science. Flew's gardener is an apt comparison, since it's a pretty famous
example of estimating whether or not a gardener is responsible for a given
garden - but it requires an assumption of what both a tended-to and
unattended garden would look like.

So I'd actually go a step further here, and it plays to a theme I bring up
often: Because we don't know what a guided evolutionary history/development
would necessarily look like, we do not know what an *unguided* evolutionary
development would look like. We don't even know if such things exist - at
best we have models (but models aren't reality) and axiomatic claims (but
we're looking for evidence, not axioms). Oddly, the only sorts of
evolutionary events and developments we can be certain of ARE the guided
ones - because we ourselves use evolutionary principles in engineering,
biology and programming, etc. Which puts an interesting spin on Occam's
razor - if guided evolution can in principle explain everything we see, and
guided evolution is the only type of evolution we're sure exists, why posit
unguided to begin with? (Note that this view doesn't require any claims of
'evolution can't accomplish X', because evolution is, frankly, just one more

In fact, I think the unguided view was weak to begin with (It only really
makes a good case against a narrow, YEC-ish view of the world), but it's
been weakening with every technological advance made by humans. It's
shockingly easy - dare I say, natural - to regard nature, particularly the
biological realm, as technology. Nowadays, I tend to think that evolution
itself is remarkably good evidence for a guided, intentional nature and God
in a broad sense (and compatible with, even indicative of, the God of

On Wed, Oct 14, 2009 at 7:14 PM, Bill Powers <> wrote:

> 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 intelligently.
> 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.
> bill
> 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 20:23:00 2009

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