RE: [asa] on science and meta-science

From: wjp <>
Date: Thu Nov 12 2009 - 00:18:06 EST


I'm certain that when I first thought some ten or more years ago that ID was
a kind of statistical inference I had more to say than I do now, having
forgotten much of understanding of statistical inference in the interim.

However, if we consider and exhaustive set of inferences H & ~H, then
P(H|E) + P(~H|E) = 1

So that if P(H|E) < 1/2, we would reject H in favor of ~H.

This is essentially the way that Dembski's explanatory filter works.

He simply regards, "intelligence" to be anything that is not explicable in
terms of law and chance. If we would allow this (and it is a lot to allow),
then we don't need to know anything at all about the designer.

The problem, of course, of trying to specify designers is that there an
infinite number of them. We need a criterion that all would satisfy.
This is what ID attempts to do. Most IDers do not try to specify
the designer as a Christian God. Dembski explicitly says so.

So there are two approaches:

1) try to define intelligence negatively, or
2) try to define it positively.

The negative description results in the explanatory filter and the
statistical rejection of what "intelligence" is not.

The positive description is Dembski's specified complexity, or
Behe's irreducible complexity. If an entity is "irreducibly
complex," it requires "intelligence" to account for its existence.
Or is Behe saying that if it is "irreducibly complex," it could not
have been constructed by law and chance?

What ID does is force the non-ID constituency to examine seriously
the mechanistic resources available. It seems to me that much of the
modern anti-neo-darwinian voice is doing just that, although none of
them are or will be IDers.


On Wed, 11 Nov 2009 19:11:41 -0600, "Austerberry, Charles F." <> wrote:
> 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.
> Cheers!
> 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
> e-mail:
> Nebraska Religious Coalition for Science Education
> To unsubscribe, send a message to with
> "unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.

To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Thu Nov 12 00:18:50 2009

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Thu Nov 12 2009 - 00:18:50 EST