Monday, March 07, 2005

El Arch ID on ID

It is encouraging how ID proponents are trying to grasp with the comments of ID critics although in many cases they seem to still be missing the point.

Let's take a walk through the arguments. For instance eliminative approach combined with false positives. While Dembski initially argued that false positives would render the explanatory filter useless, he seems to have shifted his argument to 'science is also fallible'. But he and others who wish to use his argument miss the point. Science is NOT in the position of arguing from a position of ignorance and reaching conclusion beyond 'we don't know'.
ID proponents seem to believe that showing problems with evolutionary theory, is somehow relevant to the concept of ID. In other words, the gaps in our knowledge do not lead them to infer the more correct conclusion of 'we don't know' but in fact they jump to a conclusion based on an appeal to ignorance namely "intelligently designed".

Are ID critics arguing that evidence against evolution are evidence for ID? I am not sure but just because ID critics make errors in logic, does not mean that ID thus can hide behind errors in the logic of critics to argue "well they say so". Either ID addresses the criticisms or their objections have little relevance.
Some ID critics are known to make the strawman argument that we have to catch the designer in action with a videotape and yet criminology and archaeology do not have such requirements. Of course the real problem is that the designer which many ID proponents have in mind, may not be conducive to positive evidence.
ID critics are also known to object that 'what if ID is true'. Somehow, they seem to believe that this would make a difference to science. If the intelligent designers have taken steps which make their detection unfeasible or impossible then despite the truth, we may never be able to resolve this issue. Some Truths are just not necessarily open to scientific investigations and one should not blame ID critics for ID's failure to present workable or scientifically relevant methods or for that matter ID proponents should not blame ID critics when ID's designers remain undetectable.

Some may consider it to be folly to demand that ID proponents provide the necessary evidence which would make ID scientifically relevant, but if ID proponents cannot formulate a non begging the question approach to detecting design which does not suffer from being 'useless' due to its eliminative nature AND false positives then the ID critics' observation that ID is scientifically vacuous and a 'gap theory' remain valid.

Recapping, let me once again stress the common confusion found among ID proponents when arguing that science is 'fallible' and science also has 'false positives'. Such false positives however are well understood in science but ID has claimed that its design inference is without false positives. If ID proponents are willing to take the position that this is a fallacious claim then we can take the next step and discuss the effects of false positives on an eliminative argument. Although Gedanken has already done a great job at showing how this renders the EF unreliable, that the EF cannot even compete with 'we don't know', that the EF does not present any explanations or positive scientific contributions and finally, that to use Dembski's own words, false positives would render the EF useless.

Now I understand that a minority of ID proponents may argue that the concept of teleology may help generate useful hypotheses. In fact, science has shown already not to shy away from teleological language, especially in biology, so ID once again seems to be missing the (scientific) boat here.

An easy response by ID proponents seems to hold ID critics responsible for ID's failure or hide behind the logical errors of ID critics. Neither approach is going to hide the obvious fact that ID so far has remained scientifically vacuous.

Some may even suggest that they understand my motives when arguing "That PvM continues to employ the same old talking points to discourage people from raising gaps suggests he is not comfortable with the idea that some of his fellow critics may open their minds to ID, or even worse, perceive evidence for ID (i.e., Flew). " seems particularly ironic.

As far as Flew is concerned, ID proponents may try to familiarize themselves with what Flew has said.

For instance, he initially argued

My one and only piece of relevant evidence [for an Aristotelian God] is the apparent impossibility of providing a naturalistic theory of the origin from DNA of the first reproducing species ... [In fact] the only reason which I have for beginning to think of believing in a First Cause god is the impossibility of providing a naturalistic account of the origin of the first reproducing organisms.

more recently he realized that

Antony Flew has retracted one of his recent assertions. In a letter to me dated 29 December 2004, Flew concedes:

I now realize that I have made a fool of myself by believing that there were no presentable theories of the development of inanimate matter up to the first living creature capable of reproduction.

He blames his error on being "misled" by Richard Dawkins because Dawkins "has never been reported as referring to any promising work on the production of a theory of the development of living matter," even though this is false (e.g., Richard Dawkins and L. D. Hurst, "Evolutionary Chemistry: Life in a Test Tube," Nature 357: pp. 198-199, 21 May 1992) and hardly relevant: it was Flew's responsibility to check the state of the field (there are several books by actual protobiologists published in just the last five years), rather than wait for the chance possibility that one particular evolutionist would write on the subject. Now that he has done what he was supposed to do in the first place, he has retracted his false statement about the current state of protobiological science.

Flew also makes another admission: "I have been mistaught by Gerald Schroeder." He says "it was precisely because he appeared to be so well qualified as a physicist (which I am not) that I was never inclined to question what he said about physics."

Seems that ignorance once again cause someone to accept ID :-) and perhaps quickly reject it as foolishness.

So much for ID proponents appealing to Flew... So much for ID proponents speculating about motivations...
if they only spent a fraction of their time and effort on ID, perhaps, eventually, ID may become of some relevance to science. At least, I believe, one should not destroy the dreams they seem to have.

ps could ID proponents at least attempt to quantify 'large' when referring to "a large number of ID critics agree that evidence against evolution (‘gaps’) is evidence for ID."

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