|Wesley R. Elsberry
Joined: May 2002
Michael Finley wrote (on PT):
There are three lines of argument, it seems to me, for ID.
(1) Argue that the predictions of common descent and common design are coextensive.
(2) Argue that the “predictions” of common descent are not predictions, but are merely consistent with common descent.
(3) Use an inductive elimination (i.e., a destructive dilemma with an inductive disjunction) to argue against the viability of the mechanism(s) of common descent.
(1) is out because nobody has figured out how to make predictions from "common design".
(2) is out because it is a distinction without a difference. F'rinstance, the genetic codes of living organisms on earth are largely shared, giving the "canonical genetic code" that the vast majority of organisms use. In the cases where organisms use an alternative code, the differences also show a pattern of descent with modification. But that is not the way things had to be. There are many possible alternative genetic codes. Not only are there enough alternative possibilities to give every species that has ever existed its own code, but every single individual that has ever lived could have been given its own unique genetic code. If we observed such a state of affairs, we would not be trying to explain it via common descent. It is clear that empirical evidence could disallow common descent. Whether one chooses to use "prediction" or "consistency with the available evidence" is pure semantics. There are possible states of the evidence that common descent would not be able to accommodate. Douglas Theobald's FAQ goes over many of them.
(3) is intellectually dubious. It is, precisely as stated by Lenny Flank on PT, the "god of the gaps" argument.
It seems to me that Lenny did concisely point out the fundamental errors in Michael's argument. The fact that Lenny is abrupt to the point of rudeness does not set aside the observation that he is also correct.
"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker