Re: Of Martian Sculptures (was: Re: [asa] on science and meta-science)

From: David Campbell <>
Date: Thu Nov 12 2009 - 13:31:51 EST

> [Does anyone else find Paul hard to read, or am I just thick?]
Well, Peter did (2 Pet. 3:16), though Peter could be pretty thick.

The problem with the Martian statue example, or Jn 3:16 on the moon,
etc. is that they do reflect some knowledge of the designer in
question. To take real examples, we identify human design in
archaeological samples based on reasonable supposition about what
ancient humans would do, along with knowledge of what natural
processes can do. Multiple rocks of a particular kind chipped in the
same manner, making them into useful tools for hunting or processing
food, are plausibly artifacts. A somewhat pointy bit of gravel does
not constitute an arrowhead. One specific example of this in action
is that an early reason for being skeptical about Piltdown man was
that one associated artifact looked more like a cricket bat made from
a mammoth bone than like something plausibly useful to prehistoric
humans. (Gear for American football or rugby might be considered more
plausibly associated with cavemen.)

A statue is something that a designer like humans would plausibly
make. A much more plausible alien scenario would be encountering a
considerably travel-worn space probe, not of human manufacture. But
again, that is what aliens would most likely encounter as their first
(and maybe only) evidence of us, unless they can receive and decipher
our electromagnetic signals.

To look for evidence of a designer in the course of evolution or the
creation of the universe or the like, we must either have information
constraining how a designer would and would not do things, or else a
set of known designed and undesigned examples to compare our unknown

This is equally a problem for ID and for purportedly scientific
atheism. To prove that there are no fairies in the garden, Dawkins
actually does need to check with a fairyologist, not to defer to him
but to determine exactly what the fairyologist claims. If they are
supposed to be invisible, then not seeing any fails as a
counterargument. Of course, if they are supposed to be indetectable,
one may ask why bother positing them, but scientifically indetectable
and indetectable are not the same.

Dr. David Campbell
425 Scientific Collections
University of Alabama
"I think of my happy condition, surrounded by acres of clams"
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Received on Thu Nov 12 13:31:59 2009

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