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  Topic: Optimality arguments & theological themata, Is an absolute scale necessary?< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  
Wesley R. Elsberry



Posts: 4937
Joined: May 2002

(Permalink) Posted: May 17 2002,19:19   

In this ARN forum topic, the issue of arguing concerning optimality was raised.  The person bringing this up cited Dembski, but several of his ideas seem to stem from Paul Nelson's presentation back at the 1997 NTSE conference.

Basically, ID advocates object to optimality arguments by biologists when these venture into the realm of contrasting natural mechanisms with supposed supernatural mechanisms.  Paul Nelson made the observation that such argumentation presupposes certain "theological themata".  Nelson also asserted that in order to argue that some state observed in nature was sub-optimal, one would have to reliably know what the absolute optimal state was, and calculate an optimality deficit figure.

I responded to Nelson's assertion that knowledge of absolute optimality was a necessary part of a sub-optimality argument some time ago on the talk.origins newsgroup.  The response can be seen here, but the essential message is that a valid sub-optimality argument can be warranted on a strictly relative basis, with no need for absolute optimality to be known.

I also responded to William Dembski's essay on optimality argumentation, pointing out several problems in his argumentation.  Dembski's essay is here, and my response is here.

Edited by Wesley R. Elsberry on May 17 2002,19:31

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

    
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