Re: Looking for the gifts (where?)

Tim Ikeda (
Fri, 15 Oct 1999 23:42:05 -0400

Hello again,
This exchange is getting long so I'll try to focus on what I
think are key areas. I think the following section captures
much of this:

[...big, big snip...]
>>> And as I see it, mind expresses itself through understanding and
>>> free will. In fact, the process of design itself is the application
>>> of understanding through free will. To truly design something,
>>> I must freely choose the components that will be incorporated into
>>> the thing I am designing. If I have no free choice, I am not truly
>>> *designing*. In fact, I think free will is demonstrated when a
>>> physical happening emerges (brain activity) that cannot be attributed
>>> to law or chance.

>>If the human brain is material or can be said to arise out of
>>material causes, then we can say that natural mechanisms can
>>generate CSI.


> I think all of this misses the point. The point is that CSI *is*
> positive evidence of mind's intervention.

Dembski is pretty specific where we wants to go with CSI. He is
trying to develop a means of demonstrating that CSI cannot arise
via natural mechanisms. My rebuttal to such a postion is that if
our minds function naturally, then either we never generate CSI or
that CSI can be generated via natural mechanisms. Either way, it
appears tha CSI is not the reliable indicator of design that
Dembski has claimed. If we never generate CSI, then the examples
cited by Dembski weren't truely CSI and thus his criterion is faulty.
If CSI can be generated by natural mechanisms, then we should be very,
very careful about invoking "intelligent intervention" as the explanation
for some types of CSI -- Particularly those examples where we have a
possible alternate explanation and where there is no other evidence
that anything with a mind was around at the time the example arose.
CSI *can be but isn't necessarily* evidence of mind's direct
intervention. But read below...

> It is a very common way that mind leaves it traces behind (as shown,
> for example, by the archives of this listing). That some other dynamic
> "might" generate CSI does not remove CSI from the category of evidence
> of mind's intervention. After all, below you cite similarities as
> positive evidence of evolution, yet a common designer "might" likewise
> have generated these similarities.

Explain to me exactly what pattern a common (or uncommon) designer couldn't
produce. Then compare that to the pattern that an IPU (Invisible Pink
Unicorn) might generate. I'd like to see how to differentiate models.
Divine design explanations have the potential advantage in that they are
not limited by need to explain mechanisms, but they are also hindered by
their incredible flexibility, which makes differentiation difficult.
Hence the need for auxilliary or amending hypotheses to make a
nebulous idea more concrete and applicable (more below...)

> Positive evidence for X does not mean that X is the one and only
> way to explain the data deemed positive evidence.

Of course not. You are certainly free to explore the possibility
of other explanations such as special intervention. And when you're
done, report back on how you were able justify the auxilliary hypotheses
about a designer which you must invoke to get a testable or at least,
a positively descriptive model of an intelligent designer (see the
Sober reference, please).

In my last letter, I suggested some formulations or auxilliary
assumptions about a designer that might positively identify its
interaction. I didn't provide those particular models of possible
designer methods to defend them; they were included to demonstrate
that positive models *could be* formulated. I agree that those
examples could seem ridiculous or unusual (or not palatable to
Christian beliefs), but nonetheless they do provide positive models
and produce distinguishable differences from natural explanations.
But again, I'm not about to defend such models; I'm asking
"design theorists" to present theirs.

It's not sufficient for a good model to merely match the output of
another, or to rely on negative evidence; it must hope to provide
a differentiatible example or one that positively explains why one
possible result is favored over another that a competing theory
cannot provide. Sure, a designer can make something very complex
biologically. However, there is a competing explanation which suggests
that there can be "non-intelligent" routes to biological complexity.
So how do I choose between possible explanations?

*** *** *** *** ***
Now in regard to globin's origin; I don't think this will be a
productive subject to investigate in this area. The reason is that
globin's origin is ancient and apparently shared between all the
kingdoms. Thus it is likely that the last common ancestor of all
life already contained it and looking back to see what was there
*before* this common ancestor will be very difficult if not
impossible to do. It is better, I think, to look instead at more
recently acquired components. That's because we're more likely to
detect the presence or absence of evolvable intermediates; assuming
related organisms which lack the feature can be identified. So if
one is going to test whether a gift suddenly appeared in a lineage,
it would be better to choose a more recently acquired "gift" in a
system where noise has not had a chance to degrade the signal.

Tim Ikeda (despam address before use)