Re: What's *Really* Different Between Design and Evolution

Date: Sat Jan 29 2000 - 10:27:39 EST

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    I really liked this essay. I suppose it is because it so nicely reflects
    the way I approach this issue. However, you might want to consider
    that you are playing with fire. You wrote:

    "Of course, there is a certain weakness in this proposal. Design theorists
    are very careful *not* to have a theory. That is, they are very careful
    *not* to specify a design theory that their alleged designer uses, *not* to
    specify *what* he is supposedly designing things for, and so on. Thus, we
    cannot *deduce* from design theory that the designer will *not* design
    organisms in such a way that they will appear to have *just* the type of
    apparent design errors that would be predicted by evolution. Because the
    designer is a perfectly arbitrary construct, designer theory makes no *real*
    predictions at all as to empirical facts."

    But what if this situation changes? For some time now, I have been
    making mental and literal notes. I am increasingly convinced that
    I can indeed deliver on such a specified theory. Furthermore, I can
    deliver on this:

    "Put another way: If you find something that looks like it was designed by an
    intelligent designer, and yet it has fairly obvious and intractable "design
    errors," you are almost certainly looking at something that *evolved*, not
    something that was designed by a very knowledgeable designer. On the other
    hand, if you find something that looks like it was designed and which, while
    being *just* as complex (if not more complex) than the evolved object, is
    nevertheless apparently *free* of any design errors of any sort (e.g., the
    vas deferens goes directly to the prostate), then you very likely *are*
    looking at something that was in fact designed. Look for foresight in the
    "design" of things. If you don't see it, even after a close look, then it
    was either evolved or designed by a designer who did not really know what he
    was doing. If you *do* see foresight, freedom from "design errors," through
    and through, then you probably *are* looking at design."

    Furthermore, I can deliver on this:

    "We should expect that on those very rare occasions when we found
    something that appeared to be a design error, closer examination would
    show that it makes perfect *design* sense after all."

    And, yes, I can take it much further than all of this.

    Perhaps I will one day share some of these thoughts with this list.
    But right now, I'm concerned about the sincerity of your
    post. I'm not saying you are being intentionally insincere, only
    that you might feel so emboldened by the notion that a
    design theorist could not meet these tests that you thus
    propose them as an offer to listen to what they have to say.

    Since I have been thinking along these lines for some time,
    let me simply say that addressing the issues contained
    within your post clearly shows that design can be a fruitful
    guide to research. After all, closer examination of an
    apparent design error is doing science. It also means
    design theory has the potential to uncover evidence that
    supports design (evidence of "foresight," as you describe).
    If you want ID to meet the challenge of your thoughts,
    doesn't this mean we should let it into science?

    So here's the concern. Say I deliver on all of this. What's
    to keep you from slipping back into the safety of your
    a priori justification for the exclusion of ID, something
    you call the Principle of Naturalistic Sufficiency?

    You seem to want to have it both ways. But you'll need
    to decide. Is this origin question about philosophy and
    the simplest metaphysical explanation? If so, then
    you just wasted all kinds of time with this article of
    yours, as design theorists who find

    >If you *do* see foresight, freedom from "design errors,"
    >through and through, then you probably *are* looking
    >at design

    are also going to find that the goal-posts will be moved
    into the realm of naturalistic sufficiency upon such discovery.

    Is the origin question about evidence? If so, then we
    should drop all these attempts to find a starting position
    that imposes a filter on the world so that no interpretation
    of intelligent design is allowed.

    You're playing a dangerous game, Chris. And I'm up to
    it. But before we play, are you willing to burn that
    bridge back to naturalistic sufficiency?


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