Re: [asa] philological notes on randomness (was: Re: What my tiny little brain was thinking...)

From: Gregory Arago <>
Date: Sun Nov 15 2009 - 18:01:48 EST

Rich and Cameron, There is a rather ironic conversation going on here. First, you are both speaking outside of your expertises, with which I don't find any problem. This is what ASA is 'designed/made/created/built' for, i.e. engaging interdiscplinarily. I see a kind of friendly 'competition' for authority going on, though Rich is surely less theoretical (for better or worse) than is Cameron. Second, you are both appealing to a biblical text to discuss something that is supposed to be mainly about 'science.' Rich seems to overstate the realm of science, as he is an 'applied scientist' and Cameron seems to understate the realm of science, as a human-social scholar. But I find highly problematic that Rich uses the term 'random' admittedly as 'bait' in conversation(s) with others. What is this about?! Rich is plainly being deceptive, by engaging in 'bait' on one hand. Yet on the other hand it probably makes much sense of him to do so in terms of 'old' American 20th century conversations because terms like 'random,' 'chance' and 'purpose' seem to have gained a bad name in the perspectives of either Christians or anti-religious folks. Rich writes (in a blog that he recently cited on this list): "I put in the word random as bait because much of the misunderstanding between scientists and lay people is that we use the word differently. To most people random connotes purposeless and no direction. Within science random means in part not predictable by humans. Even with this more restricted definition, evolution is considered a non-random process even by Richard Dawkins. Now parts of it are random in the restricted sense but the environment puts non-random restrictions on the evolutionary process.   The question arises is evolution as Richard Dawkins claims, directionless and purposeless. A Biblical example is in order here. God’s prophet predicted that King Ahab would die. Ahab did everything in his power to live. Yet, an arrow shot “at random” killed him just as God predicted. If Richard Dawkins was on the battlefield he would have concluded that arrow had no purpose. We, however, know better. Yet, without Biblical revelation, even believing science cannot *detect* that purpose."   Rich, can I offer to 'teach' you something about communicating (and hope you won't be offended)? Please put a 'concept' in quotations if you refer to it as a 'concept' per se. In other words, you should write "I put in the word 'random'..." and "To most people 'random' connotes..." This helps to clarify what you are 'highlighting.'   Can you please humble yourself and accept a learning tip or this occassion? : ) And I will *not* take correction or rebuke on this because your text is simply unprofessional and sloppy the way it is written (and I know it is *only* a blog, but that is no excuse because you had author's control over what you submitted) and it should be improved for clarity. That is just one of the grammatical errors in your piece (e.g. semi-colon needed after 'arises' and also a question mark!). Being a P.E. doesn't excuse you from making errors where errors are made! Cameron, you are now in a tricky spot with Rich, who is an engineer. This because you have said recently that 'intelligent design' will spread as a 'concept duo' from engineering and computer science to other disciplines in the Academy. Yet Rich resists or rejects 'design' language! As for me, I find Rich to be in much more of a conundrum than are you because it is obvious that *all* engineers actually take part in 'designing.' Engineers *are* designers! But then again, his argument seems to be (as many others have already done) that 'human-made things' differ significantly from 'non-human-made things,' a distinction which Randy has quite fairly made also. And neither you, nor anyone in IDM-ID has yet made a satisfactory distinction between these *fundamentally* different types of 'design,' Dembski, Behe, Meyer, West included. You want to 'prove' the idea of 'design' or at least to make 'design' *possible* and to 'reinstate' it in the Academy. Yet you don't elaborate precisely *how* to distinguish 'human-made' from 'non-human-made' forms/contents of 'design.' Or, at least I have not yet read this from you here on this list. In other words, there does seem to be space for a connection to be made between the various meanings of 'design' that you seem to brush over or at least not to have yet made precisely clear. When does 'intelligent design' turn into an ideology of 'designism'? I don't think you yet have an answer to this Cameron! In both cases, the appeal to 'random' in a biblical text is a reversion to a 20th century conversation and not a suitable forward-'bridging' exercise, though I appreciate the willingness by both of you to engage with the biblical text(s). Maybe Benedixt XVI's first speech on a certain limited kind of 'evolution' being acceptable to Christians could be cited too? Cameron is quite obviously more studied (and nuanced) in the history of religion than Rich. But Rich, for his part, is much more qualified (and potentially direct) to speak about 'designing.' Thus, the mention of irony at the start. Due regards to you both, Gregory p.s. Rich, there are a few direct questions waiting for you in other threads that will be duly noted if dodged... __________________________________________________________________ Yahoo! Canada Toolbar: Search from anywhere on the web, and bookmark your favourite sites. Download it now

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Received on Sun Nov 15 18:02:06 2009

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