Re: [asa] on science and meta-science

From: Merv Bitikofer <>
Date: Tue Nov 10 2009 - 21:47:35 EST

You're right to note that we don't even know it was a human, at least
not without our prior experiences that humans have done these types of
things before (all too often). I guess the only thing I'll add, or
affirm, actually, is that we don't need to know who the particular human
is to think it was a murder, but we still need to know something about
this class of things called 'human beings' before we can begin to
discuss murder. That's the main distinction I still see here.


Cameron Wybrow wrote:
> 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 motive.
> 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?
> Cameron.
> ----- 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

To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Tue Nov 10 21:48:23 2009

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Tue Nov 10 2009 - 21:48:24 EST