RE: [asa] on science and meta-science

From: Austerberry, Charles F. <>
Date: Wed Nov 11 2009 - 20:11:41 EST

Bill Powers wrote: "You "find" it convincing that houses and cell phones
are the product of "intelligence." Why is that?"

Good question! Given the problems houses and cell phones can cause us,
it's not clear!

But seriously, perhaps a more relevant example would be determining
whether a stone is a human-crafted simple tool or was naturally
weathered into its current shape, because these less obvious cases show
that discerning products of design involves comparing two probabilities
(in the obvious cases of houses or cell phones, the differences between
the two probabilities are so extreme, we forget that's what we are
actually doing.)

For example, given our knowledge of geology, what is the probability
that an arrowhead-shaped stone could form naturally? Given our knowledge
of human cultures and technologies, what is the probability that such a
stone was designed and shaped by human hands to be an actual arrowhead?
Both calculations are needed; neither probability is certain enough to
be sufficient by itself.

What happens if the designer is totally unspecified and thus could be
supernatural? There is now absolutely no way to compare two
probabilities, because there is no way to calculate one of the two
needed probabilities. I just don't see, therefore, how ID works as a
statistical inference.


Charles (Chuck) F. Austerberry, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Biology
Hixson-Lied Room 438
Creighton University
2500 California Plaza
Omaha, NE 68178
Phone: 402-280-2154
Fax: 402-280-5595
Nebraska Religious Coalition for Science Education

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Received on Wed Nov 11 20:12:17 2009

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