Eviscerating an Anti-ID Argument
A member of Telic Thoughts named Mark Frank commented about detecting design in this thread. Frank also mentioned having authored an article at the Talk Reason website. An article by Frank entitled, An account of how we detect design, is the focus of this blog entry.
A remark referencing the World Trade Center Twin Towers is quoted from the article.
"Suppose the twin towers had been hit not by planes but by two meteors, large enough to seriously damage the towers, and for the purposes of this fantasy suppose the meteors had no physical connection that we could discern -- they were from different sources and were following unrelated trajectories. Such meteor strikes are less frequent than commercial airplanes flying into buildings -- remember Schipol. So the probability of two such meteors striking the same location in the same day is even smaller than two planes striking the same location. Yet we would hesitate to ascribe the two meteors to design."
This is reasonable. Read the intervening part up to this remark which follows:
"In the second case of the meteors we are much less inclined to accept the design explanation -- even though the likelihood of it being accidental are even smaller -- because the idea of a designer who can control meteor strikes is so wildly implausible. We cannot conceive how they could do it."
First, control of a meteor is not as implausible as Frank would have you believe. It should be a possibility for a species like our own with access to a future technology. But what Frank has presented is a classic argument from personal incredulity. He cannot conceive of a designer having such a capacity and is eager to dismiss a design option based on that. Suppose instead of two meteors it had been four or eight. At what point does personal incredulity give way to empirical observations? There was a time in history when the idea that rocks fell out of the sky was ridiculed. It seemed so counter intuitive. Quantum physics, predictions of relativity and multiple universes seem counter intuitive to many as well. Let's look at this next quote:
"ID concentrates on just one thing: the improbability of the outcome given that the cause is chance." It does not address the likelihood of the rival causes existing (chance or design)."
This is clearly erroneous. As evidenced by ideas promoted at Telic Thoughts and elsewhere, it is our knowledge of the nature of existing systems that leads us to impute design. The above also would lead one to believe that Darwinian theories can be assessed based on selected chance events or deterministic causal factors. While an evolutionary process would allow an assessment based on this, an abiogenesis scenario would not. Darwinists simply do not have a theory of origins characterized by causal specificity. Unlike an evolutionary scenario, containing fully functional organisms and a natural selection paradigm as a key theoretical component, the origin of life has no natural mechanism known to generate cells. This is a critical point for, unlike the Twin Towers example, we have no identifiable cause empirically demonstrating an option that could be labeled counter design.
In addition we do have an identifiable property of cells that quacks like a designed duck- the symbolic encoding sequences of nucleotides found in DNA. Codons represent amino acids as well as the command sequences (initiate transcription, stop etc.) as a consequence of a genetic code that allows assigment of symbolism. The coding system parallels symbolic encoding systems known to be intelligently generated. The next comment merits a response as well.
"It goes even further than that. It explicitly forbids any exploration of design as a cause because it refuses to be drawn into who or what the designer is or how they implement their design."
Also untrue. IDists will go as far as evidence suggests to identify a designer. You simply do not need an exact identity to infer a designed event. What is inferred in the case of DNA is an intelligent cause because that is consistent with the nature of the information storage nucleic acid.
There is one more point needing mention. Anti-IDists have gone to considerable efforts to impose legal consequences for designer IDing that infers a deity. In the United States the separation clause is the weapon of choice. However, while on the one hand critics seek government enforcement of a no God option, with the other they call attention to an alleged reluctance to identify a deity. It's a good strategy if you can get away with it.
Labels: Anti-ID Strategies