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

From: Schwarzwald <schwarzwald@gmail.com>
Date: Sun Nov 15 2009 - 21:35:22 EST

Rich,

No, I'm not asking about strawmen here. You've spent a great part of this
discussion insisting that the problem with ID people is that they believe
evolution as a rule must be unguided and purposeless as a scientific theory.
Quoting you, "When ID tells scientists that evolution is random they laugh
because it is when you see non-randomness is when evolution via positive
selection is occurring."

Again, John West, ID proponent and member of the DI, on "random": "Barr
first claims that Joe Carter and I ďare trapped in a false dilemmaĒ because
we wrongly think that random processes cannot be directed by God. Barr
points out that even random events, properly defined, are part of Godís
sovereign plan. *Just because something is random from our point of view,
doesnít mean that it is outside of Godís providence. Barr may be surprised
to learn that I agree with him. Indeed, most, if not all, of the scholars
who believe that nature provides evidence of intelligent design would agree
with him.*" --- Well, Rich, is John correct about randomness here?

Now, John West on what the "problem is", again: "The problem with Barrís
argument is not with his understanding of the proper meaning of random, but
with his seeming blindness to the fact that* the vast majority of
evolutionary biologists do not share his view*. Barrís ultimate disagreement
here is not with me or Joe Carter, but with* the discipline of evolutionary
biology itself.*" --- Rich, do you see here that West's problem is not that
he thinks any evolution must be "unguided and without purpose", but
specifically that this is what evolution means to Dawkins, Simpson, and many
other biologists, and is taught by them? You apparently agree with as much,
since you claim that Dawkins specifically is guilty of this, and that there
is a "growing movement who are very much opposed to what Dawkins and company
have done." Though frankly, I have serious questions about the size of this
"movement" and what, if anything, they're doing in this regard (they've
certainly taken their time, since Dawkins has been at this crap for
decades.) Last I checked, the main movement banging this drum is, to be dead
honest, primarily the ID movement (for all their faults).

Rich, you are making the argument that "first commitment is not being
pro-intelligent design or even being anti-unguided -- read atheistic --
evolution. Rather, they agree with Dawkins claiming his extra-scientific
conclusions are the warp and woof of evolutionary theory because their first
commitment is anti-evolution." But here we have John West explicitly saying
that his problem is *NOT* with evolution, that he understands and agrees
that the "seemingly random" can still be guided, that the proper view of
"random" is the one Stephen Barr gives, etc. Instead he argues that the view
of evolution that Barr regards as incorrect and unscientific happens to be
the view most evolutionary biologists are committed to, and the view
presented in the mainstream.

Frankly, West seems to be echoing you here in large part: He explicitly
defends the compatibility of design with evolution. He points out the
problem of evolution being warped to include unscientific claims (that it is
"unguided" and "purposeless"), which again you acknowledge in the case of
"Dawkins and company". About the only thing you two seem to disagree with
here is just how much of the scientific mainstream accepts this warping -
and I think, between Darwin's own writings and the writings of many
well-known evolution boosters since his time (Mayr, Simpson, etc), the claim
that "unguided and purposeless" as being part of the orthodox theory is not
a popular association made by scientists is a very hard argument to defend.

On Sun, Nov 15, 2009 at 9:59 AM, Rich Blinne <rich.blinne@gmail.com> wrote:

>
> On Nov 14, 2009, at 10:47 PM, Schwarzwald wrote:
>
> Now, I realize West is making a claim here about the views of "most
>> evolutionary biologists", etc, that you may disagree with. Great, take issue
>> with that. But let me ask you this. If West (who I cite mostly because he's
>> part of the DI here, and this was a very public exchange) is right... then
>> isn't there a big problem here? Better yet, if West and company truly
>> believe this, then doesn't that make some of their criticisms (At least of
>> "Darwinism" in the sense West qualifies it) vastly more reasonable at least
>> given their perspective?
>>
>
> You're asking so what if the strawman is true? Come on. That's the whole
> point. This would not be an issue if the people being discussed were the
> vocal minority that go beyond the science but it's not. In the secular
> science community there is a growing movement who are very much opposed to
> what Dawkins and company have done. ID can join with them and say Dawkins
> and the other atheistic apologists go beyond the consensus concerning
> evolution. But their first commitment is not being pro-intelligent design or
> even being anti-unguided -- read atheistic -- evolution. Rather, they agree
> with Dawkins claiming his extra-scientific conclusions are the warp and woof
> of evolutionary theory because their first commitment is anti-evolution. In
> the process they viscously attack fellow Christians working in the sciences.
> It's bad enough that scientists have to hide that they are Christians in the
> workplace but we also have to hide we are scientists in churches.
> Fortunately and unfortunately it's easy to hide you're a Christian in the
> scientific workplace. All you have to do is to do a good job and your
> secular colleagues will never suspect.
>
> Rich Blinne
> Member ASA
>

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Received on Sun Nov 15 21:35:38 2009

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