Re: Dembski's detecting

Date: Tue Jan 04 2000 - 02:06:38 EST

  • Next message: Wesley R. Elsberry: "Dembski's detecting"

    MB> For example, Bill Dembski does not seek out a vital force, he
    MB>seeks out empirical detectors of a mind's ability to implement
    MB>a plan.


    >What I have read of Dembski does not indicate this.

    It doesn't? I'm afraid you've lifted my quote out of
    its context to raise another issue. I was not talking
    about the validity of TDI. Here's the entire quote:

    " The modern ID movement is heeding Kant's warning
    and does think of teleology as a plan of organization
    and not a vital life force. The software is just as
    important as the hardware and the boundary conditions
    are just as important as the differential equations.
    These are valid insights and are being carried forward
    by those in the ID movement. For example, Bill
    Dembski does not seek out a vital force, he seeks
    out empirical detectors of a mind's ability to
    implement a plan."

    I simply used Dembski as an 'example' of a
    modern teleologist who focuses on the detection
    of an implemented plan rather than the life
    force of vitalism. Whether Dembski succeeds
    was not the point.

    Now, as for the separate issue of the validity of
    TDI, Wesley writes:

    >Dembski's TDI proposes that we can detect the "design"
    >which an intelligent agent has left behind,

    I agree, as long as we approach the topic in
    a provisional fashion. I hope Wesley is not another
    design critic who believes a design inference
    should be a certain proof of design.

    >but Dembski's Design Inference tells us precisely zip
    >about the intelligent agent.

    This is not relevant, as a design inference is an
    inference about how things came to be and not
    about the identity/essence of the intelligent agent.
    Intelligent intervention can and does indeed shape
    the world. It's detection is not dependent on any other
    assumption other that the agent being intelligent and capable of
    intervention (like humans). Dembski attempts to
    look for fingerprints of such intervention - dynamics
    that 'capture' and 'freeze' mind's intervention.

    >IMO, DI does not even get us as far as knowing that an
    >intelligent agent existed, much less acted.

    This may be important for people who need to "know,"
    but if you don't have a need for certainty, it is not.

    >Dembski has recently been struggling with the issue of what
    >evolutionary computation can do, and has introduced the
    >concepts of "actual CSI" and the "appearance of CSI" into the

    I simply view CSI as positive evidence of intelligent
    design thus there is no need for me to respond to anything
    else Wesley writes. I will mention, however, that we
    should distinguish between abiogenesis/the origin
    of life from non-life and evolution/the origin of
    one life form from another. When this distinction is
    made, all of Wesley's evolutionary computations become
    irrelevant since the issue (for me) is how life itself, endowed
    with CSI, arose ultimately from non-biotic processes. To
    exclude intelligent design is to credit the dumb universe, which
    shows little or no evidence of generating CSI, for the
    most impressive and extensive example of CSI ever
    known - life. If we proceed to evolution, and grant that
    natural selection can generate CSI from previously
    existing CSI, then the design inference simply becomes
    more fuzzy, not inherently wrong.


    >I mentioned proximate causation above, and that also is
    >interesting in connection with Dembski. Even if we were to
    >grant the claim that the Design Inference can identify
    >intelligent agency,

    Sure it can.

    >the Design Inference is incapable of
    >distinguishing between CSI proximately caused by an
    >intelligent agent and CSI that was ultimately caused by an
    >intelligent agent removed one or more steps from the event
    >being analyzed.


    >Even if Dembski is right about what his
    >Design Inference does, Dembski has done no more than provide
    >another argument for Deism.

    So? The design inference is not supposed to be an argument
    for Christian montheism, Buddhist pantheism, or Greek
    polytheism. It is simply about detecting the intervention
    of an intelligent mind. If Dembski can get us only as far as
    deism, then anyone who wants more will have to invoke
    more than TDI.


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