Would you mind forwarding this? I'm NOT an expert in evolution and am
somewhat out-of-date, but I did spend over a decade with study of
evolution vs. creation as a major avocation.
On your blog, he says "I am willing to acknowledge that Darwinian
evolution really might be the correct account of our origins. But
based on what I've seen, it's just plain inferior to ID."
That's quite interesting, since *there is no scientific theory of ID* that has
ever been published anywhere, while there is a wealth of scientific theory behind evolution.
In response to his questions:
> 1. Do you know of any one book which details in systematic fashion
>the evidence for Darwinian macroevolution? I'm looking for something
>accessible to the non-expert which answers the question "why should I
>believe that Darwinian evolution offers the correct account of the
>origin and diversity of life on earth?" (I'd also be interested in any
>single-volume critique of ID that you can recommend.)
Try any college textbook on evolutionary biology. Or, if you want a contrast
between creationist claims and evolutionary claims, try Eugenie Scott's
Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction, or Doug Futuyma's (now somewhat out
of date) Science on Trial. For philosophers' contributions, try Philip Kitcher's
_Abusing Science_ and Robert Pennock's _Tower of Babel_. The latter is particularly
directed at ID, and is by a Christian philosopher (Pennock's a Quaker).
> 2. Are the ID folks correct in their claim that the plausibility of
>Darwinism derives largely from a prior commitment (in the scientific
>community) to methodological naturalism? If so, how is that commitment justified?
All science uses methodological naturalism. Auto mechanics use methodological
naturalism. It's used because it works. Appeal to the supernatural occurs when
no other explanation is available. Biology is not looking for supernatural
causes, and it doesn't seem to need them. Ditto for chemistry, physics, geology.
If ID is right that we should adopt a framework of theistic science (Plantinga's
term), then why shouldn't we adopt that in all other sciences as well? How
about in legal theory and criminal forensics?
> 3. I've seen a number of scientists criticize ID on the grounds that
>it is neither testable nor useful for making predictions. These are
>both understandable criticisms, except that I don't see how
>evolutionary theory is likely to do better than ID in either
>regard. It seems like both theories should be understood as inferences
>to the best explanation. Is that wrong? Or are there other "epistemtic
>virtues" possessed by Darwinism but not by ID?
Evolution has the huge advantage of being an actually existing scientific
theory. ID has the huge disadvantage of not being formulated in any scientifically
> 4. In your view, does the initial presence of genetic information
>pose a special challenge to Darwninism (as advocates of ID have
It's a harder problem, but it's still capable of scientific test as well as
computer modeling (e.g., Thomas Ray's Tierra program).
> 5. Same as #4, but with 'irreducible complexity' in place of 'the initial
presence of genetic information'.
"Irreducible complexity" is not a problem at all. Behe's very examples have
already been addressed... e.g.,
on blood clotting, see the Davidson 2003 source cited here:
> 6. Is there one specific feature of ID which you would cite as the
>fundamental flaw with the theory? (Obviously, I'm assuming that
>neither of you is a proponent thereof.)
What *is* the scientific theory of ID? Or *a* scientific theory of ID?
> 7. I've sometimes heard the following sort of argument, which is
>related to question #2 above. "Critics of ID reject it because ID
>appeals to the work of a (probably nonphysical) agent as the efficient
>cause of natural phenomena, and those critics believe that this makes
>ID nonscientific by definition. But it is at least possible that the
>correct account of the origin of life involves the work of such an
>agent. And since science is, if anything, the domain of inquiry which
>seeks true explanations of natural phenomena, ID should count as a
>scientific theory. If we claim that ID is unscientific solely because
What's the theory? If simply saying "God did it" counts as a
legitimate scientific theory, then doesn't that work in all other
sciences as well? Doesn't that work just as well as a defense in a
criminal trial? Is that what you're advocating is a way of increasing
our knowledge of the natural world?
>it appeals to the work of an intelligent agent, and we grant that an
>intelligent agent could be the cause of life, then we are forced to
>hold that science as such may be in principle incapable of discovering
>the truth about the natural world. No scientist wants to claim that,
>however, so it should be agreed that ID is a scientific theory
>(whether it's actually a good theory or not). Q.E.D." In your view,
>does this sort of argument hold any water?
Not as an argument for the scientific value of ID. I think there's no
doubt that science (or humans) may be in principle incapable of discovering
certain truths about the natural world (though I disagree with your phrasing
above--I think humans have discovered a great many truths about the natural
world already). But that doesn't make ID science, and it certainly doesn't
make science a waste of time. It does mean that some truths may be beyond the
reach of science--I think that's relatively uncontroversial, even among
What's a mistake is to say that X is inherently out of reach of
science, therefore no one should try to apply scientific methods--yet
that seems to be the real message behind ID.
I've not read any of these yet, but these are critiques of ID more
recent than Pennock's book (which addresses Behe, Johnson, and some of
Dembski's work): Niall Shanks, God, the Devil, and Darwin
Mark Perakh, Unintelligent Design Matt Young and Taner Edis, ed., Why Intelligent Design Fails If you think Dembski has any credibility at all, I recommend reading
the critiques of his work by Elliott Sober, Branden Fitelson, and
Christopher Stevens (http://philosophy.wisc.edu/sober/dembski.pdf), by
David Wolpert (http://www.talkreason.org/articles/jello.cfm), by
and by Wesley Elsberry and Jeffrey Shallit
Elsberry has a page full of detailed critiques of Dembski here:
Jim Lippard http://www.discord.org/
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