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  Topic: Common Descent - Evidence No.1< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  
Wesley R. Elsberry



Posts: 4937
Joined: May 2002

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 30 2005,14:40   

I sense a huge waste of time coming on here. Is there any circumstance possible that a sufficiently powerful and capricious designer does *not* explain? If not, of what possible use is an extended examination of the evidence to anyone who believes that a sufficiently powerful and capricious "designer" (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) did it? The evidence will never have the slightest effect on such a belief.

The point of Douglas Theobald's essay isn't that the evidence excludes a sufficiently powerful and capricious designer who, apparently, made things look exactly like the result of common ancestry. It's that the expectations of macroevolution and common descent match the available evidence.

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I'd like to make an observation on "intelligent design" in general. ID claims are aimed at obtaining a concession that evolutionary processes are insufficient to account for observed biological phenomena. After that, ID advocates hope that people will simply fill in with an "intelligent designer" of their preference to cover the gap. ID arguments are all of the negative variety: because evolution can't do this, you must accept that an "intelligent designer" did.

So, how do ID advocates wend their way toward finding evolutionary insufficiency? Do they identify phenomena with good evidential records of their origin and find that no natural mechanisms are able to cover the situation? No, they do not. ID advocates identify the systems that have the least evidence that can bear upon just how they might have arisen and whack on those. If evolutionary biologists don't have the evidence to work with, they certainly can't generate "detailed, testable pathways" that ID advocates like Rob claim it is their burden to produce. This is such a weak and pathetic strategy that the term I use for Michael Behe's arguments now is "God of the crevices". You see, Behe's claim to fame is to have taken the old young-earth creationist bleat of "what good is half a wing?" and bring it into the modern era of molecular biology, reborn as, "what good is half a flagellum?" Biochemistry, Behe says, is the basement floor, and there is no further place to go. Thus, the gaps Behe goes on about have a bottom, and are crevices.

Back in 2001, I was in a panel with William Dembski, and pointed out that the only way for ID to progress was to take up those case where there was evidence at hand. Things like the impedance-matching system of the mammalian middle ear and the Krebs citric acid cycle. Michael Behe was sitting in the audience at the time. Have ID advocates taken up those sort of systems for analysis? Not on your life.

"Intelligent design" advocates use Behe's "irreducible complexity" and Dembski's "specified complexity" as arguments to convince people to disregard theories which have some evidential support, and force acceptance of conjectures with no evidential support. It's a good trick, that.

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Without some constraint upon the "designer" that supposedly is behind "common design", I don't see any sensible way to derive "predictions" from the concept. So I reject the notion that "similarities are a prediction of common design" until we've got some agreement on a set of constraints and purposes behind the "designer". Without that, all that can possibly come of it are "predictions" that are simply ad hoc inventions that have no contact with anything that we could call real.

Edited by Wesley R. Elsberry on Mar. 30 2005,14:45

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"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker

    
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