Stephen Meyer - 17th Nov
  • Why is the above language not regarded as hatred by the moderators of this site?

    About "God of the gaps": 

    It would be dangerous to infer supernatural causation for something that we know little about. We do not know much about possible supernatural causation; it is not well understood; it is not easy to predict or characterise, and for that reason it is difficult to bring science to it, and for that same reason science should remain *agnostic* with respect to the existence of the supernatural (note that this is different from assuming, even operationally, that the supernatural does not exist). Do we agree?

    However, we do know a great deal about intelligence, at least tacitly, and about the kinds of things that intelligent agents like to do, the things that are characteristic of intelligence. Intelligence is a real cause in the universe. If science is *agnostic* with respect to the supernatural, it cannot reject ID just because of a further inference that the intelligence involved is likely supernatural. Therefore Intelligent Design is *not* a gap in explanation, but a real candidate explanation. To say that ipods are Intelligently Designed is not a "God of the gaps" explanation, and it is the correct explanation.

    Therefore, claiming "lightning is caused by direct divine intervention" is in a different category from claiming "complex specified information is caused by intelligent agents" or "Irreducibly Complex systems are caused by intelligent agents", because we have experience of the latter two, but not of the former (how could we?).

    On the other side, there is still no known path or way for natural selection to gradually construct a flagellum, or any of the other Irreduciblly Complex systems. At least, I have not heard of them, and not for lack of trying. If you have one, please email me @yahoo.co.uk as well as replying here in case I miss this post. 

    And at the origin of life, the absence of physical explanations / pathways is even more stark. The more we learn, the more we experiment, the starker it becomes. For example, it wasnt that long ago that people were saying that RNA can replicate itself? Well no, the experiment actually showed that RNA can attach itself (or its partners can cobble each other together) together from two already-lengthy halves. The sequence can evolve (so long as there is a steady supply of appropriate halves - this has me giggling) but the functionality does not. And all that assumes RNA, which does not exist pre-biotically, and is a far cry from any kind of metabolism. 

    I think Meyer makes his case rather well actually.
  • SimonSimon April 2012
    Robust academic discourse is indeed quite unforgiving, as are academics when repeatedly confronted by charlatans who never stop banging their drums long enough to actually study the subjects they are shouting about. ID had two pivotal moments: the first was in 2001 when "Intelligent Design Creationism and It's Critics" (ed Robert Pennock) was published and the theory found wanting. The second was in the 2005 Dover trial. After these two revealing episodes ID cannot claim any sort of sound scientific footing, hence all further work (including Meyer's) comes under the category of tiresome rhetoric.

    Of course no one is claiming that the current scientific paradigm is complete or even without errors (indeed abiogenesis is an area where many questions still exist), and likewise it is probably impossible to describe EXACTLY the steps taken in the evolution of complex biochemical machines, however the current "normal science" is still highly fruitful and exciting. Such normal science is perfectly compatible with Christianity which also has no need for the "God of the gapisms" as represented by ID. Meanwhile supernatural causation is indeed an entirely different subject.