Re: NTSE #11

Bill Hamilton (
Fri, 7 Mar 1997 14:37:30 -0500

I wrote

>After reading Paul Nelson's NTSE paper, in which he quoted
>extensively from Gould's and others' arguments about how a wise designer
>would not have used the same limb structure for such a wide variety of
>creatures, my reaction was that if God had desired to optimize the
>adaptability a single mechanism, he succeeded. The point is that Gould and
>others who use the argument from imperfection have no way of knowing what
>the designer had in mind."
Pim van Meurs wrote:

>True, which is why appeal to a supernatural force has little scientific
>Because any flaw can be explained as "we do not understand what the
>had in mind". Perhaps he/she was sadistic or just playfull in having eyes
>of the flaunder move all over the body or route the urinary tract through
>the prostate gland of men ?
>If anything else Gould's arguments and your response show perfectly the
>enormous chasm between scientific approach and religious faith.
Hmm, I think it shows that the "God would/would not have done x" kind of
argument is not very useful, whether it comes from an agnostic or a
I don't mind Gould looking curiousities in design that may seem to be
imperfections, and I don't deny that they may imply common descent. I just
reject claiming that an intelligent designer wouldn't have done that way.
I have heard similar arguments from creationists -- responding to a TE'sd
argument with "God wouldn't have done it that way". Neither argument is
very sueful from a scientific point of view, and both arguments make
theological assumptions the arguer is in no position to make.

Bill Hamilton
William E. Hamilton, Jr, Ph.D. | Staff Research Engineer
Chassis and Vehicle Systems | General Motors R&D Center | Warren, MI
810 986 1474 (voice) | 810 986 3003 (FAX) | (home email)