> Again, the tie-in. I am not interested in proving design, such that I
> a deductively impeccable argument. I am merely making an inference
> to the best explanation, in light of the evidence derived from human
>experience. And as far as the origin of life goes, intelligent design
>looks like the best explanation to me.
>Well, it would be, if it really *was* an explanation.
Oh, I think the claim "intelligent design is responsible for
the existence of X" is an explanation.
>I've pointed out in a previous post that it leads either to an infinite
>regress or to an assertion that is just as problematic as any claim of
Yes, you've "pointed out" what you think you see. My problem
with your approach is that you are tying to understand history
with philosophy. I think that's a bad way of going about the
study of history. If you come up with a priori expectations
about the world, then history is simply a matter of fitting (forcing)
the data into those expectations. Something I wrote to Howard
a few months back if worth reposting:
"But I do want to clarify two things about my position. I do not
view "biotic evolution" as most people do. For most, biotic evolution
is akin to some type of homogenous process, such that an understanding
of one aspect permeates throughout the whole with equal relevancy.
For me, biotic evolution is simply a label for life's history. That is,
what is really at issue is *history*, not a process. What gets called
"biotic evolution" is simply the sum of biotic events that have
occurred since the beginning. Now, when you begin to view this
issue as an issue of natural history (and not a process), the role
of contingency begins to predominate and the ability to extrapolate
in general terms is severely weakened. In other words, simple
-everything is the result of mutation and natural selection
-everything was "created after its own kind" by God
look like the old Marxist attempts to reduce history to the
simple formula of economics.
We know from human history that simple formulas don't
work and if one is truly a naturalist, human history is simply
one subset of natural history. To understand history, one
should tie each claim to the evidence at hand. And I think that
natural history may involve a whole range of causal factors,
including chance events, processes of self-organization, mutation
and natural selection, and yes, intelligent intervention. Yet
after all is said and done, like you say before, it boils down
to a judgment call.
Secondly, since we are dealing with history, it makes no
sense to frame the issue in terms of what is possible and
what is not possible. To explain history in terms of what
was possible and not possible is sure to lead one astray.
George Washington was the first president of the United
States. Was this because it was impossible for anyone else
to be? It is possible that Pat Buchannan will be elected
president in 2000. Does this mean in 2002, this election
will be history? Since the frame of "possible vs. impossible"
is so bad when trying to understand human history, I fail
to see why it becomes so good when trying to understand
natural history. What this all means is that whether the
universe was designed in such a way to make biotic
evolution possible is not relevant. It's a question of
what happened and the non-necessary causal factors
behind what happened."
We clearly approach history differently. You interpret
evolution as some type of process that is akin to a
physical law. I interpret it as a series of contingent
events. You demand facts that *require* a non-naturalistic
cause, while I think the issue of what is possible and
impossible is a bad guide to history (which is why I
look for facts that are best explained with or without
Furthermore, as I have spoken about before, I find
the whole issue of an "infinite regress" to be an
emotive "tempest in a teapot." I don't view it as any
thing other than a sophisticated tantrum that demands
we be able to explain and know all of reality. For example,
I can validly use A to explain B even if I don't have an
explanation for A. I can explain the sequence of letters
I am responding to as the consequence of the intelligent
intervention of a mind, even though we can't explain
how it is that mind puts together a sequence of letters.
In the end, I have yet to see you "point out" anything
which proves that ID is not an explanation.
>Evolution is reductive. It makes problems *smaller.*
My focus is on abiogenesis, which is different from
evolution. And the problems have expanded immensely
with the proposal of abiogenesis. For example, it
now looks like we need to propose at least three
different scifi worlds to explain the origin of life
as we know it: the pre-RNA world, the RNA world,
and communal world of Woese/Doolittle (due to
the recent appreciation that the molecular evidence
can not detect a universal last common ancestor).
How many more worlds will this reductive approach
spawn? In fact, it would seem the skies the limit given
the manner in which an infinite number of universes
is also being taken seriously by scientists.
>Design theory makes them *bigger,*
>by relocating them into an undetectable non-natural realm where pretty much
>anything goes (on a completely ad hoc basis).
This complaint easily translates into the realm of abiogenesis, where
imaginary worlds full of imaginary creatures are imagined to
have the properties to undergo the imaginary changes needed
to spawn life-as-we-know-it. No undetectable, ad hoc claims
>Even from the Design Theorist's point of view, evolution makes
>problems smaller. Now, instead of having to explain *everything*
>about the development of life on Earth, we only have to explain the
>origin and macroevolution (those occasional pieces of evolution that
>are claimed, sans proof, to be outside the capacity of sustained
>microevolution channeled and restricted by selection). The
>Designer thus becomes yet another "God of the Gaps" (with a vested interest
>in maintaining the gaps, because any naturalistic theory that was
>*obviously* adequate (even to the Design theorists) would eliminate
>*everything* of their theory).
First of all, the god-of-the-gaps claim is not what ID is about
as far as the origin of life is concerned. It is not merely the
fact that abiogenesis is plagued with numerous and deep gaps
that exist if one proposes abiogenesis happened. There is
positive evidence that ID applies, where we find features
of life that are both intrinsic to life and that which most
commonly (always?) stem from intelligent intervention.
Secondly, the god-of-the-gaps claim is not an argument
against ID. That is, if life is indeed the result of a mind's
intervention, we would expect there to be a gap. Thus, a
true example of intelligent intervention can always be
interpreted as "god-of-the-gaps." Well, if we interpret
god-of-the-gaps to be an argument against ID, then we
simply blind ourselves when it comes to questions of
whether or not ID exists.
Thrirdly, I have no vested interest in maintaining a gap.
As I have talked about before, I can easily adopt the
theological views of Howard and Glenn. The problem
is that since I am unwilling to flippantly dismiss ID,
I need more than imaginary and vague musings to fill
those gaps. I'll need good evidence that abiogenesis
happened and good reasons why what I view as positive
evidence of ID is really an illusion. Attempts to short
circuit this with philosophical hand waving won't work
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