Re: [asa] on science and meta-science

From: Cameron Wybrow <>
Date: Tue Nov 10 2009 - 00:42:19 EST

You make a good point, Merv. There is a certain amount of implicit
knowledge about human beings and their motivations operating in the murder
inference. But what I meant was that we don't have to know anything about
the particular individual who committed the murder in order to know that
there has been a murder, or, at least, a deliberate killing (I suppose it
might have been a form of euthanasia, for a friend dying of cancer or the
like). Indeed, even if we never find out anything more about the killer
other than what can be inferred from the crime scene, and even if the
investigation draws a blank regarding both the killer's identity and the
killer's motive, we can still infer that there has been a deliberate
killing. We don't need to know who did it. We don't need to know the

But, by the way, how do we know that it was a human being who did it? I
don't know enough about chimpanzees and orangutans to know their manual
capabilities, but could a chimp or orangutan be trained to kill someone with
a dagger in the same way? And what about aliens? Supposing an intelligent
alien from Alpha Centauri existed, and had a physical structure something
like ours. Couldn't such an alien have done it? For that matter, while I'm
not a big believer in so-called paranormal phenomena, many intelligent
students of such phenomena have claimed that "poltergeist" activity is real
(whether it is actually the activity of a ghost or some other psychic agency
is another matter). Poltergeists are supposed to be able to violently hurl
crockery around, and so on. Could a poltergeist have hurled the knife into
the tramp's back? For that matter, assuming that demons exist, could it
have been a demon that the man had some dealings with, then had a falling
out with? How about God himself? God is said to have directly slain people
in the Old Testament -- Er, for instance. How can we be sure that the
killer wasn't something other than a human being? The answer is: we
can't -- but it doesn't matter, if all we are concerned with is the validity
of the design inference. The inference remains sound.

Do you not find the inference -- that the drifter in the alleyway was
deliberately killed by an intelligent agent -- sound? Even in the absence
of all knowledge of the identity and motivations of the killer?


----- Original Message -----
From: "Merv Bitikofer" <>
To: "Cameron Wybrow" <>; "asa" <>
Sent: Monday, November 09, 2009 9:19 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] on science and meta-science

> <extracting Cameron's point #4 --along with confession that I didn't
> make it all the way to point #15 except as a skim read>
> Cameron Wybrow wrote:
>> Keith:
>> Fourth, I did not say that we could study God through scientific
>> methods. This is *another* statement which continues to be made on this
>> list because people do not read carefully either what I say or what ID
>> writers say. What I have said, and what is obvious to most people, is
>> that if a dagger is stuck in someone's back in precisely the appropriate
>> place, we infer that the person has been murdered by *someone*. One
>> doesn't need to know anything at all about the "someone" -- whether the
>> murderer was male or female, black or Caucasian, young or old -- to
>> discern that a murder was committed. ID does not claim to "study" God
>> any more than the person who infers that the drifter in the alleyway has
>> been murdered claims to be "studying" the murderer. If you have read any
>> serious ID literature, and are not relying entirely upon the notions of
>> ID held by church people who speak at education hearings, you should know
>> this.
> Yes ---one DOES need to know something --a considerable amount, actually,
> about the culprit before they could infer any such thing as murder. We
> *assume* that the suspect is a human being with experiences, motivations,
> tendencies towards violence, ability to use a knife as a weapon, etc. and
> from these assumptions springs our murder investigation. In short, we
> have to know that they are human and we can compare their actions with
> those of many other human criminals whom we have heard of or studied.
> Without that basis of comparison and the assumption that this, like all
> those other solved murders fits into the same pattern, --without those
> assumptions and comparative experiences, we are at a TOTAL loss about why
> the knife is in the victims back. So then, what we need is a set of
> experiences with gods and the kinds of motivations that drive them, a
> modus operandi for how they typically get things done, and so forth. Then
> we could compare our God with what is typical for gods and we could begin
> have an idea about what God's scientific fingerprints should look like.
> This is deliberately silly, of course, but I trust you see the point.
> --Merv

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Received on Tue Nov 10 00:43:08 2009

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