Re: [asa] Fw: November Newsletter from Reasonable Faith

From: Gregory Arago <>
Date: Fri Nov 13 2009 - 15:30:08 EST

Cameron, You have a better 'theory of ID' than perhaps anyone in the IDM! Why not repackage it, with a different name - getting rid of the contaminated term 'design' (i.e. find or make a new 'master category') - and publish your findings? I suggest 'Made by Mind' (MbM). Doesn't this get to the heart, body and soul of it? Get Mike Gene to join you, since he has the natural-physical scientific 'expertise' that you do not have and that you need in order to convince and to change vocabulary. Together you can move beyond the 'culture war' scenario! The challenge for TEs is to come to terms with 'anything' that is 'unevolved.' In other words, like I said here already a couple of years ago, to give examples of 'things that don't evolve'. Can they say anything important about this or do they relish in silence about it, fearful of a 20th century polarity (creationism)? Would it be necessarily 'anti-evolutionary' (a seemingly grotesque word!) for any 'scientist' to suggest such things? David Campbell was brave over a year ago on this list and said that 'cyclical change' is an example of non-evolutionary change. I agree with him on this and so did Kondratieff and so do others. One of Dembski's problems is that he *wants* to be a revolutionary! But he is a boring speaker in my experience, certainly not a charismatic one. Is his behaviour partly a reaction to the fact that his father was a biologist who accepted evolution in biology? Do you think, Cameron, that he will ever create an 'ID mathematics,' as he's promised? The problem for Ted is that he truly believes (as do most of us here) that 'God did it,' but he doesn't want to disturb the sovereignty of 'science' with an 'external' contamination of 'the evidence,' at least according to the ideology of MN. He is left with a difficult situation to balance, as are we all. 'The evidence' attests to the fact, which Ted doesn't dispute, nor does any other honest TE, that God did it! Cameron is pressing this, as an historian. Who cares if saying such a thing is 'beyond the limits of science'? Welcome to the multiversity! Gregory ________________________________ From: Cameron Wybrow <> To: Sent: Fri, November 13, 2009 10:36:17 PM Subject: Re: [asa] Fw: November Newsletter from Reasonable Faith Ted, for what it's worth, I'll say that this particular statement of Dembski goes beyond the minimalist definition of ID he employs elsewhere.  The normal ID line is that the scientific aspect of ID is that aspect which detects (or tries to detect) design, and that once the design is detected the scientific function of ID has been discharged.  After design has been detected, questions about who the designer is, what the designer's motives were, etc., come into play.  But here Dembski seems to be saying that ID requires the action of a particular kind of designer, i.e., an unevolved intelligence.  He thus conflates, under the definition of ID, the narrow definition that ID usually uses with some extra-scientific reasoning which is not supposed to be part of ID. The way ID is supposed to work is this:  You study something, say, the bacterium, and after a great deal of measurement, calculation, reflection, etc., you decide (let's say) that the bacterium is a designed entity.  Now the science part has ended.  Now, the scientist can ask:  "Who designed this?  Who executed the design?  Why was this thing created?  And so on. Under the first question, the scientist (with his philosopher's or theologian's or citizen's hat on, not his scientist's hat) might say, "Well, earth could have been seeded with bacteria created by alien biochemists from Antares."  Another might say:  "That just pushes the problem back; where did those aliens come from?"  And the first might say:  "That's not my problem. I'm only explaining the origin of the bacteria we have on the Earth."  And the second might retort:  "Yes, but there must have been a first race of aliens, and it couldn't have sprung from bacteria seeded by earlier
 aliens. So the first bacteria must have been designed by an intelligence that itself was unevolved."  And so the two scientists could have nice little philosophical conversation.  The first scientist might well end up admitting that it is an *implication* of ID that somewhere along the line there must have been an unevolved intelligence.  But that is an implication of ID, not part of the definition of ID or a working assumption that ID needs to function. If you see a pattern that is as striking as, say, the text of the King James Bible, you don't need to assume that God wrote it; for all you know, King James wrote it; or Thomas Cranmer.  What you do know is that it was designed.  Further discussion might show that King James didn't write it, because he wasn't smart enough, or that Thomas Cranmer didn't write it, because he was already dead, or whatever, but one thing you know for sure is that it wasn't written by ants who walked through spilled ink across some leaves of paper.  ID claims to eliminate chance in relation to certain biological systems in the way that we eliminate ants walking across paper as an explanation of the King James Bible.  Whether it can do this or not is another matter; I'm only discussing the definition. Thus, while Dembski's thinking may be ultimately correct, he shouldn't, in my opinion, have expressed the idea in the way that he did.  He shouldn't have expressed the conclusion about "unevolved intelligences" as part of the *definition* of ID.  The conclusion about "unevolved intelligences" doesn't follow from the biological data.  It follows from general reasoning, after the inference (from the biological data to a designer of life *on earth*) has been made. Similarly, I don't like the phrase "more than ordinary natural causes", because it is ambiguous.  If "intelligence" is not allowed as a "natural cause", then I would agree with it; but supposed that intelligence was built into nature from the beginning, by "front-loading"?  Then the unfolding of that intelligence would follow "ordinary natural causes".  How do we know that "ordinary natural causes" don't possess an immanent intelligence of that sort?  The statement is unclear, because it seems to suggest that "miracles" are necessary.  It doesn't quite say that, but it's ambiguous. So again, I wouldn't have put it that way. Of course, it's possible to argue that front-loading cannot work, and therefore that interventions of some kind must have occurred in order for design to be implemented.  It may be that Dembski believes that -- I don't claim to know what he believes.  Certainly some other famous ID people appear to believe that.  But the inference that unevolved intelligences or miracles or interventions or anything of the sort were needed, however legitimate, are not what are meant by "design inferences" in ID understood as a scientific activity.  The outer limit of science (for ID) is the indication of design, without reference to natural or unnatural causes, evolved or unevolved intelligences, front-loading or intervention.  A theory of design detection is not a theory of causation. I think that from time to time ID writers have conflated a theory of design with a theory of causation, and this confuses both their enemies and their friends.  On this list, I've tried to stick with ID as a theory of design rather than a theory of causation.  I've still not been able to make this clear to some.  But in any case, that's how I view ID.  And I think that's how Dembski usually seems to view ID, at least in his theoretical works, such as *No Free Lunch*. Cameron. ----- Original Message ----- From: "Ted Davis" <> To: <>; "Schwarzwald" <> Sent: Thursday, November 12, 2009 2:54 PM Subject: Re: [asa] Fw: November Newsletter from Reasonable Faith >>>> Schwarzwald <> 11/12/2009 2:37 PM >>> writes: > > I'd also disagree with this oft-repeated claim that ID's argument is "if > Darwinian evolution didn't do it then God did it!" I see this claimed again > and again, again and again I ask for proof of this claim coming from Behe, > or Dembski, or even the dreaded DI in general.. and again and again it's > never forthcoming. > > *** > > Ted announces that it's now forthcoming.... TRUMPETS, PLEASE!! > > I quote from the opening paragraph of the general introduction to "Debating Design," ed. Dembski and Ruse, written by the editors--and therefore (presumably reflecting Bill's views). > > "ID is the hypothesis that in order to explain life it is necessary to suppose the action of an unevolved intelligence.  One simply cannot explain organisms, those living and those long gone, by reference to normal natural causes or material mechanisms..." > > There follows an explicit statement that "it is not necessarily the case that a commitment to ID implies a commitment to a personal God or indeed to any God that would be acceptable to the world's major religions.  The claim is simply that there must be something more than ordinary natural causes or material mechanisms, and moreover, that something must be intelligent and capable of bringing about organisms." > > I say, Schwarzwald, that despite the disclaimer, the opening sentences *are* tantamount to the claim that evolution didn't do it and that therefore God did it.  Honestly and fairly, now, everyone: who in the known universe believes that an "unevolved intelligence" is not something an awfully lot like the "God" of monotheism.  I'll put it this way: if that "unevolved intelligence" ain't "God," then God needs to find out who that man behind the curtain really is. > > Ted > > > > 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. __________________________________________________________________ Connect with friends from any web browser - no download required. 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Received on Fri Nov 13 15:30:19 2009

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