Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Robin Collins on ID

A redated post. 

This is a paper by Robin Collins, who seems sympathetic to the overall goals of ID but does not consider it to be a scientific theory per se.

45 comments:

Bilbo said...

From Robbins paper: "Similarly, since extraterrestrials are embodied beings occupying the same universe as ourselves, we can make plausible hypotheses about their internal psychology based on analogies with ourselves. For example, like ourselves, it makes sense that they would build shelters, and construct devices for growing food; and it makes sense that, like ourselves, they would transmit mathematically encoded radio signals in an attempt to let other intelligent beings know that they exist. Thus, if we found such signals or shelters, we could explain their existence by appealing to the internal psychology of extraterrestrials, and even develop models of how they might think."

But when investigating the properties of living things, we can make sense of the internal psychology of our hypothetical designer as we become more and more aware of how the various parts of living things are constructed and work. For example, we understand that one of the purposes of DNA is to store information for how to make various proteins that perform various activities in the cell.

What counts against design is that often we find things in living organisms that don't seem to have a purpose, e.g., junk DNA. And at that point ID theorists have two options: First, they can admit that junk DNA doesn't have purpose, and posit that it is there because of non-intelligent causes, such as the inevitable results of random mutation, much the way that copying errors occur in human activities. Or second, they can maintain that junk DNA actually isn't junk, but that we just haven't discovered its purpose, yet (and very often purposes have been found for some of the DNA that was thought to be junk, though I think it's still in the minority).

Either option still leaves ID theorists plenty of features in living organisms that look very well designed and very purposeful. I suppose that one could maintain that just because it looks purposeful and well designed to us doesn't mean that it would look purposeful and well designed to our hypothetical designer. This might hold some water if the features we are talking about are very simple in detail. But the more complex and integrated they are, and the more they are integrated with other complex and integrated features in the organisms, the more implausible I think this reply becomes.

One answer that can be given to ID proponents is that there are good non-ID explanation for the features in question. And that's fine. Only we need detailed explanations, not just hand-waving, just-so stories that evolutionists give for most features in living things.

A second answer that can be given is that evolutionists don't have the non-ID explanations, yet, but someday they will. And that's find, also. But the whole point of accepting Darwinian evolution was that it would be able to offer non-design explanations for things that look designed. If, after 150 years of Darwinian attempts, such explanations are still not forthcoming, one would think it might be high time to go back to the pre-Darwinian theory -- living things were designed.

Dan Gillson said...

Whether or not one considers ID to be "scientific" or "metascientific", it still lacks the explanatory robustness of metaphysical naturalism. In the long run, I'm not sure what kind of "help" Collins' proposals would have for ID.

Crude said...

Whether or not one considers ID to be "scientific" or "metascientific", it still lacks the explanatory robustness of metaphysical naturalism.

That's a real, real odd comparison for a number of reasons.

First, metaphysical naturalism is, if it is anything, a metaphysical project. ID is, by its own advocates' reckoning, a tiny sliver of science. Even if it were taken to be not science so much as a particular non-scientific inference, it's still one small sliver.

Second, 'naturalism' itself is pretty damn hard to give a coherent definition for. But more than that...

Third, and kudos to Collins for getting into this: it's not superficially obvious that ID is incompatible with 'naturalism' anyway. The design inference freaks people out, but nothing about ID requires the 'supernatural'.

That's the biggest weakness of Collins' paper: when he says that ID 'allows for alternatives and proposals not considered under metaphysical naturalism', the exclusion is actually pretty arbitrary. It mostly cashes out to 'naturalists dislike design inferences and reflexively call them non-naturalistic, but there's not much behind the rhetoric'.

Dan Gillson said...

1. I didn't think the reference metaphysical naturalism would be problematic since I borrowed it from Collins' paper.

2. 'Naturalism' is hard to define because its definitions tend to fissiparate. I myself would be a sort of naturalist, but not in the same way that Jeffery Lowder nor Jerry Coyne consider themselves to be.

3. It seems like an odd claim--to me, anyways--to say that there's nothing about ID that requires the supernatural. ID may not require one to presuppose an ontological dualism, or a clear distinction between the transcendental and mundane, but it seems to require that a being of considerable power guides life towards some purpose, a being which could be considered "supernatural."

Crude said...

Dan,

Before I go on, let me say I've enjoyed talking with you so far. If I come off as anal, pardon me, spending a lot of time yelling at people about philosophy has made me focus on what I think are important details, even if they seem minor.

1. I didn't think the reference metaphysical naturalism would be problematic since I borrowed it from Collins' paper.

Sure, but even Collins' paper highlights the problem. When I read through it he seemed to talk less about metaphysical naturalism and more about naturalists, namely what they'd dislike personally without giving much justification.

'Naturalism' is hard to define because its definitions tend to fissiparate.

I give. What's "fissiparate"? Dissipate doesn't seem like what you're going for, and google helps nowhere.

It seems like an odd claim--to me, anyways--to say that there's nothing about ID that requires the supernatural. ID may not require one to presuppose an ontological dualism, or a clear distinction between the transcendental and mundane, but it seems to require that a being of considerable power guides life towards some purpose, a being which could be considered "supernatural."

Well, even you are putting supernatural in quotes reflexively. But what makes it supernatural? To give my favorite example: is Nick Bostrom's simulation hypothesis a supernatural hypothesis? How about John Gribbin's hypothesis that our universe was created by intelligent beings? You agreed earlier that naturalism is hard to define. I think that alone indicates that 'supernatural' is also going to be hard to define.

Granted, depending on the particular ID example, you may infer that whatever agent is responsible for it is powerful. But powerful doesn't mean supernatural. Or does it?

Dan Gillson said...

Firstly, fissiparate is the verbal form of fissiparation, or fissipation. (Related forms are fission, fissiparous, and fissiparism.) Basically, it means to create through fission.

Secondly, given that 'nature' and 'supernature' are moving targets, whether or not Bostrom's hypothesis or Gribbon's argument is natural or supernatural depends upon how one defines those concepts. Either or the other could be, neither could be, or both could be. And no, I don't think that it's necessary for 'powerful beings' to be 'supernatural beings'. There are many instances in the history of world religions that don't make such an identification.

Thirdly, thanks for the compliment. I've found you to be an interesting and enjoyable interlocutor as well.

Crude said...

Firstly, fissiparate is the verbal form of fissiparation, or fissipation. (Related forms are fission, fissiparous, and fissiparism.) Basically, it means to create through fission.

Thanks. I had trouble figuring out how this could apply to the many views of naturalism, but I'm sure I can imagine a way.

Secondly, given that 'nature' and 'supernature' are moving targets, whether or not Bostrom's hypothesis or Gribbon's argument is natural or supernatural depends upon how one defines those concepts.

I'm not sure the targets ever stop moving, except for rhetorical purposes. Either way, I think superficially it's easy to make the argument that in principle, ID need not invoke anything supernatural. What's funny to me is I get the impression that, if Dembski and Behe and the rest had started out by insisting that God could be inferred by their methods, the natural response would have been to argue that even if ID worked, it wouldn't necessarily be God that was inferred - it could be an alien, a matrix style simulator, a demiurge, etc.

Instead, they started out biting that bullet immediately, and what we usually have is the insistence that - despite their direct claims to the contrary - ID must in fact infer God and the supernatural. At least that's the overwhelming impression I get, and I find it funny.

Thirdly, thanks for the compliment. I've found you to be an interesting and enjoyable interlocutor as well.

My pleasure, and glad to hear it.

im-skeptical said...

"what we usually have is the insistence that - despite their direct claims to the contrary - ID must in fact infer God and the supernatural."

Nothing funny about it. The claim that it could be aliens in nothing but secular-sounding cover for a theistic belief. Fact is, every single person who advocates ID believes in God, and every one of them believes that God is the designer. Do you deny that?

Syllabus said...

"Nothing funny about it. The claim that it could be aliens in nothing but secular-sounding cover for a theistic belief. Fact is, every single person who advocates ID believes in God, and every one of them believes that God is the designer. Do you deny that?"

Yes. Google David Berlinski. Heck, Francis Crick thought that life was seeded here by extraterrestrials, and he was a committed metaphysical naturalist.

Crude said...

The claim that it could be aliens in nothing but secular-sounding cover for a theistic belief.

No, it's recognizing the true and actual limits of ID's inferences, assuming those inferences work to begin with. If an intelligent agent is the best explanation for such and such phenomena, the possibilities are far wider than God. Even Dawkins recognizes this.

Fact is, every single person who advocates ID believes in God, and every one of them believes that God is the designer.

David Berlinski has already been named. Francis Crick was around beofre the ID movement really took off, but he made a very similar inference about the Origin of Life and concluded directed panspermia. John Gribbin infers to a designer universe, but not God. That list could be expanded.

Yes, ID proponents typically believe in God. And of the major ID proponents, each will flatly out and out tell you that they conclude God by non-ID means. All ID gets is an inference to intelligence at best, and Behe himself stresses that intelligence is found in some pretty unflattering places. (I recall he uses malaria as an example.)

Syllabus said...

" Behe himself stresses that intelligence is found in some pretty unflattering places. (I recall he uses malaria as an example."

I really find it odd when people lump Behe in together with the rest of the ID bunch. From what I recall of Darwin's Black Box, he's only advocating ID WRT the first cell. After that, he's a full-on evolutionary theist. The rest of the ID and Discovery Institute folks - Richards, Myers, Dembski, et al. - go way beyond that to actual multiple acts of special creation. So Behe is to the rest of the ID folks what the ID folks are to the YECs, more or less.

im-skeptical said...

OK, I probably shouldn't have used a superlative expression. But the main point is still valid, I think.

Crude said...

Syllabus,

I really find it odd when people lump Behe in together with the rest of the ID bunch. From what I recall of Darwin's Black Box, he's only advocating ID WRT the first cell. After that, he's a full-on evolutionary theist.

I don't think that understanding is correct. Behe does stand apart from a lot of the ID guys in that he A) started out accepting evolution wholeheartedly anyway (Catholic after all), B) he still accepts common descent, and C) he's far more hands off in his speculations. I -think- he even has suggested the first cell didn't need to be specially created - he's open to front-loading talk.

However, Behe absolutely goes beyond the first cell in his ID inferences - in fact it's not even his stock example of irreducible complexity (which is mostly His Thing in particular). The bacterial flagellum is one example he's gone to in the past.

That said, Behe seems to get the most shit despite him being the most mild-mannered ID guy, and what he's saying is actually remarkably bland aside from the ID inference (which itself is bland, except to people who see creationists behind every bush).

Syllabus said...

@Crude:

You may be right. I haven't read anything by Behe outside of DBB (which was a coon's age ago, anyway) so I'm not super familiar with his work. I should probably re-read it.

In any case, I agree that he does get a lot of flak for the whole "irreducible simplicity" thing. I think much of it may have come from the way that others have used it, but that may be incorrect.

The whole thing is kind of moot to me, though, being an evolutionary theist and all. The "how" is far less important than the "who/what" and the "why", IMO.

im-skeptical said...

When I read this paper, I was struck by the term 'metascientific hypothesis'. He speaks of a "shift in the methodology and goals of science". In other words, he is re-defining science. This is not surprising, because 'ID science' has never followed established scientific method. If you start out with the answer in hand, and then set out to find evidence to support that answer, that's not science.

Crude said...

This is not surprising, because 'ID science' has never followed established scientific method. If you start out with the answer in hand, and then set out to find evidence to support that answer, that's not science.

Alright, im-skeptical. Here's a great opportunity for you: explain how ID proponents have done this. Quote them, show where this takes place.

Heads up: I've been following ID since before Dover. I don't think ID is science. But I'm willing to bet you can't substantiate your claim here.

im-skeptical said...

Crude,

I think quoting them won't help. The truth is their scientific investigation begins from the idea that there is a designer, and proceeds from there. They aren't interested in developing hypotheses that take ALL the available evidence into account. Their method is to fit the evidence to the hypothesis, not the other way around. This is precisely why the vast majority of the scientific community doesn't accept ID as real science.

Syllabus said...

"...the truth is their scientific investigation begins from the idea that there is a designer, and proceeds from there. They aren't interested in developing hypotheses that take ALL the available evidence into account. Their method is to fit the evidence to the hypothesis, not the other way around. This is precisely why the vast majority of the scientific community doesn't accept ID as real science."

Then it should be easy to point out where they have committed themselves to this position, right?

Crude said...

im-skeptical,

I think quoting them won't help.

Insofar as I don't think you can provide quotes that will help your case, I agree.

Meanwhile, I can provide a quote directly from Dembski explicitly admitting that the range of designer possibilities that ID can infer to includes advanced civilizations, aliens, matrix-style simulations, demiurges, etc.

im-skeptical said...

There is plenty of material to support my contention. It's not as though I'm just tossing out some crazy idea that nobody believes. Start here: http://www.ucsusa.org/scientific_integrity/what_you_can_do/why-intelligent-design-is-not.html

Not only can you find, an answer to the flagellum problem of Behe, but the very idea of irreducible complexity illustrates how ID scientists ignore real evidence that would point in a different direction. In fact, for real scientists, the evidence DOES point in a different direction.

Crude said...

There is plenty of material to support my contention. It's not as though I'm just tossing out some crazy idea that nobody believes.

Yes, it's a crazy idea that a lot of misinformed people believe.

I didn't ask you to show your idea is popular in some quarters. I asked you to support the claim that ID "never follows the scientific method" and that they assume the truth of their conclusion, then go trying to find evidence to support it.

So far, your response is to give me an activist site that mostly repeats, but does not substantiate, your claim - and undercuts one popular atheist talking point.

im-skeptical said...

Crude,

If you want me to find a quote from Dembski saying something like, "Don't tell the real scientists, but we're just faking it" I can't do that. I can say that their approach to science is unscientific.

Crude said...

im-skeptical,

If you want me to find a quote from Dembski saying something like, "Don't tell the real scientists, but we're just faking it" I can't do that.

ID, as offered by Behe, Dembski and company, is a set of arguments and observations about inferring intelligence, and noting the limits of Darwinian evolutionary processes, certainly as we understand them now. You said pretty confidently that they decide what's true in advance, find evidence to support that, ignore evidence, are not real scientists, etc. (Behe's a microbiologist who's done peer reviewed work in the past few years. That alone makes him more of a scientist than Myers or Dawkins at this point.)

I asked you to substantiate: you can't. In fact, the funny thing is, what you probably have to do right now is the very thing you accused ID proponents of: trying to find evidence that supports the conclusion you want to reach, rather than investigating what Behe or Dembski say and arguing based on their words. And you won't even be able to manage that with the particular claims you made, because you were simply wrong.

It would be easier to support those charges against Dawkins (who EO Wilson flat out said isn't a scientist, and who actually does stand accused of ignoring evidence he doesn't like.)

Crude said...

By the way, if you just want to say you get the impression that ID does such and such, just say that: that's your impression. I'll say your impression is mistaken, and you may or may not care to get into it.

But when I see pretty bold claims about ID that don't match up with what I've read or known, yeah, that's usually when I'm going to start asking to see more. It's a hobby at this point, because way too many critics absolutely screw up and don't even present ID (particularly Behe's specific claims) accurately to begin with.

Dan Gillson said...

I can't help but feel that Dembski's other candidates for intelligent designers are disingenuous. Other explananses for the existence of life, such as "an advanced race!" or "a matrix style simulation!", don't have the same historical or philosophical precedent as theism; it just seems like smoke 'n mirrors to me.

Cale B.T. said...

Syllabus: "From what I recall of Darwin's Black Box, he's only advocating ID WRT the first cell. After that, he's a full-on evolutionary theist. The rest of the ID and Discovery Institute folks - Richards, Myers, Dembski, et al. - go way beyond that to actual multiple acts of special creation. So Behe is to the rest of the ID folks what the ID folks are to the YECs, more or less."

In "The Edge of Evolution" Behe holds that various other aspects of biology, not just irreducibly complex molecular machines, could imply intelligent design. However, despite what Michael Ruse would have us believe, he doesn't seem to postulate miracle/primary causation.

Michael Denton and Richard Sternberg are two other ID proponents/critics of mainstream ideas who hold to common descent, BTW.

Crude said...

The funny thing is, I'm far more sympathetic to classical theism, and thus can understand the usual Thomist criticisms of ID. But I've long thought that not just theistic personalism generally, but ID specifically is in far better shape than people realize - beyond the irreducible complexity and related arguments. Granted, that's partly a hunch - I see ID claims, even the real simple ones, routinely misrepresented so much that I assume there's a reason for that.

Crude said...

Dan,

I can't help but feel that Dembski's other candidates for intelligent designers are disingenuous.

Let me ask this: how can it be disingenuous, when they truly do follow as possibilities given his arguments/inferences? Something just doesn't seem right with that kind of reply.

Other explananses for the existence of life, such as "an advanced race!" or "a matrix style simulation!", don't have the same historical or philosophical precedent as theism; it just seems like smoke 'n mirrors to me.

First, assuming that was the case - what's wrong with a novel idea or argument?

Second, the very idea of a simulation is pretty damn recent, so of course that possibility will be semi-novel. Otherworldly intelligent beings... that's complicated. Does Zeus qualify? Or Thor? If they don't, then we're back to having a reason for those things to be novel. If they do, then there's some serious historical precedent in play. (This would circle on back to the naturalist discussions. I've seen definitions of naturalism which would make a truly existing Thor or Zeus trivially natural.)

Zach said...

Crude: do you really not understand how it could be disingenuous to bring up such possibilities? It isn't the novelty, obviously. You are, as always, being uncharitable, quibbling, pushing the conversation backwards instead of forward.

Pushing the conversation backwards. That's what you do. The Lion of Internet Hack Puffery. Maybe you can write a book about how amazing you are on blogs, and show how stupid the "Gnu atheists" are therein. lol

BenYachov said...

>Nothing funny about it. The claim that it could be aliens in nothing but secular-sounding cover for a theistic belief. Fact is, every single person who advocates ID believes in God, and every one of them believes that God is the designer. Do you deny that?

I would deny that based on the evidence.

http://bradleymonton.wordpress.com/

Unless Morton, an Atheist, became a believer and somebody didn't tell me? Also Berlinski is a self described Agnostic who can't make himself pray.

Mind you I say this as a Thomist who totally rejects ID on philosophical grounds.

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/05/id-versus-t-roundup.html

I believe in treating the ID people seriously and fairly even if I am a strong Atheist in regards to the possible existence of their stupid neo-Paley type "god".

The "god" of ID is not the God of Abraham & Aquinas(i.e. the True God).

Syllabus said...

"In "The Edge of Evolution" Behe holds that various other aspects of biology, not just irreducibly complex molecular machines, could imply intelligent design. However, despite what Michael Ruse would have us believe, he doesn't seem to postulate miracle/primary causation."


Yeah, like I said, all that I've read of Behe's is Darwin's Black Box, so what I know of his views is probably a bit out of date. I don't really keep up with the whole ID thing as much as, say, Crude, so I'm markedly less informed about it.

"Michael Denton and Richard Sternberg are two other ID proponents/critics of mainstream ideas who hold to common descent, BTW."

I've heard of Denton, but not much. Maybe I'll look them up.

Anthony Fleming said...

I miss BDK.

BenYachov said...

Yeh where is Eric? Wait he is busy being a new dad!

Good on him.

im-skeptical said...

Ben,

I looked at Bradley Monton's claims. Apparently, he is an "atheist" who believes in God (or at least sees good evidence for the existence of God, and doesn't rule out his existence). I already said I shouldn't have use the superlative term, "every one of them". There are a few exceptional cases. The scientific community as a whole soundly rejects the scientific validity of ID. There is no disputing that, except among people who reject the scientific community.

Crude said...

Hi Zach. Still emotionally devastated, I see. You and Loftus have a lot in common. ;)

But, I'll be civil and explain things to you in greater detail without barbs. Mostly to give you an opportunity to go ballistic and make a fool of yourself instead of responding calmly. Funny how I can call my shot like that, and it will still work.

The point is that I find it odd to say Dembski/Behe/etc are being disingenuous, precisely because the ID inferences themselves truly are that open-ended. When Behe/Dembski says 'ID infers the bacterial flagellum had a designer, but this designer does not need to be God - it could be aliens, or... (etc)', they're stating the live possibilities as far as ID/science is concerned, if in fact their inference works. That's why I find it odd to say the claim is disingenuous - it's not as if those aren't live possibilities given both the argument(s) themselves and their context.

So calling the argument disingenuous doesn't seem to work. The possibilities, given ID's inferences, truly are as wide as they say.

Now, maybe the claim is that Behe/Dembski are disingenuous? They say they're open to speculations about the designer, but they really believe it's God? The problem there would be, Dembski and Behe say outright they think the designer is God - they simply acknowledge that their belief is unhooked from ID. To give a comparison, Elliot Sober gives some great arguments where he claims that evolution is silent on the question of God's intervention. Sober's an atheist. So is he being disingenuous? That doesn't seem right: he just recognizes that evolution doesn't get him to atheism, even though evolution is trivially compatible with atheism.

Let's go with a third way Dembski/etc can be disingenuous: they can be be offering ID arguments, claiming it's because of an interest in science, while in reality what they're really interested in is a perceived positive apologetics impact. Now this charge could have traction! The problem is, the charge leaves the validity and possibilities of the ID arguments untouched. The spread of possible designers is still validly the range Behe/Dembski recognize, and the argument is unaffected. Rather like how someone can think the ultimate apologetic impact of evolutionary theory is atheistic and promote teaching it for those reasons, but the theory itself remains unaffected. (A different example recently would be Bill Nye. I thought Nye's explanation of the necessity of evolution was absolutely insane, the product of either dishonesty or stupidity. But the validity of evolutionary theory wasn't harmed a whit by what he did.)

So there you have it: my reasoning on this issue, and why I'm finding the disingenuous charge confusing.

Crude said...

im-skeptical,

Monton mostly functions as a weird kind of spoiler in these discussions - whenever I see him, he's usually 'the atheist attacking what he sees as bad atheist arguments and advancing no arguments for atheism'.

Another example would be Thomas Nagel. Nagel's a bigger name, and he puts some stock in ID, though man he takes hell for it.

The scientific community as a whole soundly rejects the scientific validity of ID. There is no disputing that, except among people who reject the scientific community.

Yep, scientists as a group dislike ID. So what? I say this as someone who rejects the idea that ID is science: they have to give an argument, and their position has to be consistent. If you reply, "Well, I will always endorse what the consensus of scientists as I understand it is", more power to you I suppose. A lot of us couldn't care less, if they don't bring the arguments with them.

Crude said...

Syllabus,

Let me just throw in that Denton's a real interesting read, particularly in his second book. The funny thing is, my understanding is that Denton is the guy who intellectually started a lot of ID, but you don't hear his name so much because (AFAIK) he's not a Christian himself. Closer to some kind of Platonist/deist. ID's got some stranger minds at work - Frank Tipler's another, whose idea of God is some kind of full-blown transhumanist simulationist Omega Point.

Not that you want to dig into these guys' writings, but I figured I'd mention a couple stand-out names.

Zach said...

Crude: If you were confused by something so obvious, then I would just feel bad for you. But you are not really confused, you are just being a contrarian as usual.

Crude said...

But you are not really confused, you are just being a contrarian as usual.

No, I'm not! ;)

I explained my position, Zach. By all means, expose the fault in my logic - if I've tripped up, I'll say I was wrong and that will be the end of it.

I truly think I've covered all the bases there, and the 'disingenuous' charge really seems odd to me on the grounds that it does. As I said from the beginning, if Behe and Dembski said their argument infers God, most of their critics would probably be rushing to point out that the inference works for a far larger class of beings. (If I recall right, and I may not - Hume had a similar response to design arguments in HIS day.)

im-skeptical said...

Crude,

My first comment was about Collins' paper. He concurs that ID is not a scientific hypothesis, but calls it a metascientific hypothesis. He evidently arrived at that conclusion because of the difficulties in claiming that ID is science.

I already pointed to one site that makes the case. Here is another one: http://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/philosop/creation.htm

"their position has to be consistent"

Well, I don't know if that's true, or if there is any requirement for it to be true, but clearly Collins' position is not consistent with other ID proponents.

Crude said...

im-skeptical,

I already pointed to one site that makes the case.

You pointed to an activist site that made claims - it didn't make a case.

This site is better, except for the fact that it utterly distorts the ID case.

Before I even comment on it, I have to ask something.

Did you read this site yourself? Or did you google around looking for evidence, find this, and now you're giving it to me because I asked you for evidence and this seems to fit the bill?

Well, I don't know if that's true, or if there is any requirement for it to be true, but clearly Collins' position is not consistent with other ID proponents.

When I say consistent, I'm talking about internal consistency: "They have to use standards that don't treat ID as a special case."

To give an off the cuff example, if the argument is "science is incapable of determining what is or isn't designed, therefore ID is invalid", you can't later turn around and say "X evolved, and things that evolved are not designed, ergo science has determined X is not designed". Or something like, "Science only deals with things it can observe, you can't merely infer its existence. The designer is unobservable, therefore ID is unscientific." then later "Sure, other universes can never be observed in principle, but we can infer their existence, therefore multiverse speculations are science."

im-skeptical said...

Crude,

I didn't regard the Union of Concerned Scientists site to be an "activist" site. It's scientists speaking for science, and they present evidence to back their case. Did you read it? Since that's not as convincing to you as some right-wing propaganda site, I thought something with a somewhat more philosophical perspective would help.

Your hypothetical argument about whether the designer can be observed misses the point altogether. Science is about evidence. Science does not have the luxury of picking and choosing which bits of evidence it uses to support a hypothesis. ID does exactly that. For example, there are just too many cases of things in biology that don't make sense if they were intentionally designed. ID either ignores them or makes some flippant excuse to account for them. Science tries to explain them in the context of the whole body of information and facts available. The explanation that works the best is the theory adopted by the scientific community.

I'd still like to hear your opinion about Collins.

Crude said...

im-skeptical,

I didn't regard the Union of Concerned Scientists site to be an "activist" site. It's scientists speaking for science, and they present evidence to back their case.

They didn't present evidence in the link you provided. It was mostly a direct rehash of claims, not a defense - "We're scientists, we say ID is not science. You can find more information elsewhere." That's not much.

Now, you presented me with another site, and I had a pretty simple question for you: did you read the site yourself? Or did you just look for any site you could find that seemed to back your point, and gave it to me?

I'd like an answer to that question.

Your hypothetical argument about whether the designer can be observed misses the point altogether.

...No, it didn't. Especially since the point of it was it was an example made up to explain what I meant about consistency. You don't seem to understand that.

Science does not have the luxury of picking and choosing which bits of evidence it uses to support a hypothesis.

First off, "Science" doesn't do research - scientists do. And 'picking and choosing which bits of evidence it uses' is actually a pretty common problem among scientists, which is to be expected since they're like any other human beings.

For example, there are just too many cases of things in biology that don't make sense if they were intentionally designed.

Considering that ID does not contend that all things in biology result in a valid design inference, this claim is meaningless.

ID either ignores them or makes some flippant excuse to account for them.

Again, ID doesn't maintain that all objects in the natural world indicate design by their method. And you had better hope your argument here is not "some things ID can't explain, therefore ID is wrong", because if so, you've just killed evolutionary theory on the spot.

The explanation that works the best is the theory adopted by the scientific community.

No, see, what you are describing here is the ideal, the hope. Not necessarily the reality, particularly not necessarily the reality at the moment. Hence Max Planck quote: "A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it."

Now, if your response is, "I don't know, I just would rather put my faith in the scientific community, so whatever they think is the right explanation, that works for me, even if I don't understand it or I'm not educated about it." Great, go ahead and do that. You may want to consider a moniker change at that point.

I'd still like to hear your opinion about Collins.

You didn't ask me for my opinion previously. What would you like my opinion on?

Dan Gillson said...

I think that Dembski is smart enough to realize that there is one good candidate for intelligent design, and it ain't the aliens. And I think he's smart enough to realize that ID is a program in search of some credibility. I feel like he floats out suggestions for a designer other than God to bolster the credibility of ID, not because he believes that they are possible.

To be clear, I'm using the language of subjectivity here precisely because I don't think that I can read minds.

Crude said...

Dan,

And I think he's smart enough to realize that ID is a program in search of some credibility. I feel like he floats out suggestions for a designer other than God to bolster the credibility of ID, not because he believes that they are possible.

Well, Dembski flat out says he thinks the designer is God, period. He doesn't hide that. He does say that he thinks ID, as it stands, can't say more than what he says it does - and I think that's clearly the case. Nothing about ID in and of itself requires the designer be God, much less Dembski's specific Christian God. So if you're saying you think Dembski doesn't believe the Designer is something other than God, I'd agree entirely. I just don't think this has any effect on the arguments themselves.

I think that Dembski is smart enough to realize that there is one good candidate for intelligent design, and it ain't the aliens.

See, here I disagree. Or at least, I think this gets real tricky. I think - once you start including philosophical and other arguments - one could make the inference to 'God' after ID makes the inference to 'Designer(s)'. But again, that gets into a whole lot more than ID anyway.

I also don't think the alternative (let's call it 'natural designer' instead of just 'aliens', because it goes beyond even aliens) is all that easy to dismiss. The funny thing is, I can rally a small army of atheist thinkers to support that case, from Dawkins to Carrier to otherwise. I will grant that this possibility, since Crick, doesn't get much airtime. I also think it's an elephant in the room that's eventually going to have to be discussed among atheists particularly. (The transhumanists/singularitarians, I maintain, should be ID proponents. That would be interesting.)