Sunday, May 21, 2017

Drunkard's Search: The Many Problems With Perry Marshall's Conception of Intelligent Design

Annotated for clarity, another comment that is lost in moderator limbo:
I recently attended a play (“Disinherit the Wind”) by Matt Chait in L.A. (who is definitely NOT a creationist in any generally accepted sense) after which a group largely composed of ID people applauded a monistic take on ID—not because they think its monism is correct but because it showed a serious grasp of both ID and the academic freedom that is desired for it.

There are many problems I have with the way ID is characterized on this site [Evolution 2.0].
  (1) It is generally difficult (if not impossible) to have a clear discussion about the claims made concerning ID without first having a clear discussion of what constitutes “miraculous” and “supernatural” (and whatever other related terms) in a scientific or meta-scientific sense. I agree with what Paul Brown wrote on [the] Meyer debate thread. You’ve defined god-of-the gaps so broadly that any abductive inference to X becomes an X-of-the-gaps if it’s possible for some new finding to make Y seem much likely than X. “Science” becomes by definition naturalism-of-the-gaps, with the gaps defined as anything not yet explained naturalistically (whatever “naturalistic” means). What Thomas Nagel writes here is a decent consideration of the “inference to best explanation”:
The Drunkard's Search
  (2) There are some implicit assumptions about the relationship of science to paychecks that seem both unrealistic and philosophically flawed (i.e. both descriptively and prescriptively deficient).
  (3) It is not clear to me that even a young earth creationist would disagree with macroevolution in the sense that I see it construed here. In the range of being a theistic evolutionist (in the Behe sense) to being a baraminologist, I [think] there are people who are very interested in understanding what sorts of speciation are actually possible. It would be especially interesting to see you debate Cornelius Hunter, who draws very different conclusions from the same sorts of “overnight evolution” findings that you admirably draw attention to. 
(4)   You don’t seem to appreciate—your disclaimer notwithstanding—why the appeal to smart cells comes across as question-begging to ID theorists. You seem to be attributing to cells not only some sort of mind but one which discovers and operates on deep insights into the relationship between its underlying architecture and the environment that it needs to survive in. “I can explain how origin of the species is possible naturally: A cell forms through chemical interactions and its progeny evolve to be so smart that its intelligence can cause a kind of thoughtful tinkering with its DNA. Then the evolution of body plans can occur and the eventual existence of a hairless ape that can figure out the Incompleteness Theorem is somehow entailed in the process.” All that explanation seems to accomplish is dividing the explanandum (proliferation of diverse complex organisms) into at least 2 explananda. If a software team recombined some existing software components and copied them into existing plane hardware that was already integrated as a plane, it would be an interesting technical challenge to produce a new working system that way, but it certainly wouldn’t show how easy it is for an airplane to form without reference to intentional “intervention” along its development. In fact, if the machine was doing most of its own reprogramming, it would *beg the question* of how it was possible for such a machine to have formed by itself or by the environment. All of this evokes the principle of the drunkard’s search—except maybe that instead of replying “this is where the light is” then answer may be “this is where the (public) funding is.”

"It's not where I dropped my key, but it's where the light is!"

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