Thursday, July 19, 2007

Some Philosophical Reasoning

Well stated:

"So," the opponent of ID then answers, "ID is unfalsifiable. Behe is saying that the events that make up the evolutionary history of life could be interpreted as 'natural' - the inevitable outcome of the starting circumstances. If it is natural, how does that differ from a naturalistic explanation? Surely all you are doing is invoking some external agency, which is an unnecessary philosophical/theological step."

To which my answer would be: Riiiiiiiiiight. So I toss a coin and it comes up heads, That's luck. I do it again. Heads - luck again. I do it a hundred times, all heads. Luck. I shuffle a pack of cards and deal them - all the spades in order, then all the hearts in order, then all the diamonds in order, then all the clubs in order. Luck. I press keys at random on a computer, and come up with the complete works of Shakespeare. Luck.

What Behe is saying is, yes, you could possibly contrive a series of circumstances in which events happen in such a way that we end up where we are today. But to describe this as the outcome of "random" mutations, and the design of the universe as being "lucky" would be disingenuous. If things are that specific - tailored that carefully to produce life - then darwinism is certainly not the right picture, because this is not a "random" outcome - it is highly non-random, just as the circumstances that led to the moon being the size it is must have been highly specific, and the fine tuning of fundamental constants is also highly non-random. As has been pointed out before, once a sufficiently low level of probability is reached (Ford and Arthur turning into penguins?), we basically say, "Impossible." I don't believe that it is reasonable to say that something is so improbable that it is (to all accounts and purposes) impossible, but then shrug and say, "Well, it happened. We're here, aren't we?"

Let's put it another way. Suppose the world in which we find ourselves does turn out to be an incredibly low-probability outcome. In these circumstances, what would falsify the darwinian view of the world? If you can say that, no matter how improbable the outcome, it was just random mutations getting lucky, then under what circumstances can you say that darwinism isn't true? If there are none, then darwinism is every bit as unfalsifiable as it is claimed ID is by its opponents.

1 comment:

Paul (probably - maybe Liz) said...

Thanks for the link. It's always encouraging to know when someone thinks something I've written was worth the time it took to write....

Nice photos, too.

Paul