|Wesley R. Elsberry
Joined: May 2002
Michael Finley wrote:
Let's return to the example of the artist. I stated that "It is a reasonable prediction that works [by a common artist] will share a basic structural similarity that differentiates them from works by other artists." Do you disagree? If so, on what basis does the expert attribute works to artists (cf. handwriting experts, philologists, etc.)?
On the argument to rarefied design inferences from ordinary design inferences: This ground has been covered. John Wilkins and I have been there and done that.
The Advantages of Theft Over Toil
Basically, I'm pointing out that the claimed analogy between known designers with whom we have experience and unknown designers operating in unknown ways is illegitimate. So, yeah, I dispute Michael's claim above as having any bearing upon my original objection. There is no basis given by Michael (or anyone else from Paley right on down to today) for a claim of "prediction" of what a designer behind aspects of life must have done.
Paul Nelson argued in 1997 that the argument from suboptimality as an impeachment of design was flawed because the argument depended upon theological themata: what was "disproved" by such arguments was not design per se but rather a particular theological theme concerning a putative designer. There were problems in Nelson's argument concerning whether a principled suboptimality argument was possible (I showed that one could easily construct a relative figure of merit that did not depend upon unobservable values), but the basic insight that to make claims about such a designer is to deal in theological themes seems good to me. And the issue cuts both ways. While arguments against theological themes don't eliminate design per se, neither do theological themes provide any basis for claims of "predictions" of design, either.
Michael's conjectures about design outcomes are, at basis, dabblings in theology. They don't tell us anything about what to expect in the empirical evidence.
Edited by Wesley R. Elsberry on April 03 2005,21:20
"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker