In Defense of Mark Frank — truth, believability, undecidability, and E-prime
|August 26, 2013||Posted by scordova under News, Philosophy|
[Sometimes debate at UD can be heated, and I commend Mark Frank for his temperance with his critics. If I shut down every unfriendly comment made by either side in the discussions I host, I think there wouldn’t be any discussion!]
There is sometimes a fine line between what is believable and what is true. Further there are true statements that might be formally or practically undecidable.
I find the existence of God believable. I also believe that in the existence in an Intelligent Designer of life, and that the Intelligent Designer is God. Even though many ID proponents have publicly said they believe the Intelligent Designer is God (myself included) the inference to God is insufficient from the definition of ID:
Intelligent Design is the study of patterns in nature that are best explained as the result of intelligence.
Others associated with the ID community (Denton, Berlinski, Yockey, Jastrow, Holye, Trevors, Shutzenberger) have classified their views as agnostic or atheistic. 😯 Yockey, who was so fierce in his criticism of naturalistic origins of life, that one would almost think Yockey a creationist, considers the OOL problem an undecidable problem and whose solution is outside of science. The irony is that some of the best “ID” literature is written by agnostics and atheists.
I believe ID is true. I believe the Intelligent Designer is real. I believe the Intelligent Designer is God. I also think that these assertions are either formally or practically undecidable. Hence for me, ID is about making the ID case believable, not a formally proving that ID is true.
All this to say, I accept that Mark Frank finds the arguments at UD not believable or persuasive. I believe him because some of the best “ID” literature came from those who probably reject ID.
I think when Mark offers criticism of the formal inferences of ID, I find myself in agreement in as much as we cannot prove whether the Intelligent Designer is real. Bill Dembski writes:
Thus, a scientist may view design and its appeal to a designer as simply a fruitful device for understanding the world, not attaching any significance to questions such as whether a theory of design is in some ultimate sense true or whether the designer actually exists.
No Free Lunch
That said, neither do I think Darwinian evolution nor naturalistic mechanism in principle can construct complex designs like the computers and information processing systems we find in life. Such designs cannot, as a matter of principle, arise from chemical laws and random chance. Attempts to circumvent this difficulty have been offered such as Darwinian evolution, but Darwin’s theory utilizes heavy amounts of equivocation and non-sequiturs which evolutionary biologists adhere to even today. If I were not a creationist, I probably would be in Berlinki’s, Trevors’, or Yockey’s camp since naturalistic theory seems completely unbelievable to me. It is a respectable position to say, “we don’t know” (RDFish/Aiguy’s position).
Mark, if you’re reading this, I can’t stop some of the comments directed at you. I appreciate you enduring it, but the nature of these debates can be nasty. I’d say part of this is because some IDists can’t conceive of how anyone can reasonably disagree with them. I don’t try to figure why someone will reject ID, I simply accept it.
If I had to offer one thought it is this, we humans have a very small sample size of reality. From this small sample we extrapolate conclusions that reach from here to the end of the universe and all time and reality. That can lead to all sorts of wrong conclusions, but what else can we do?
The fact that we don’t see the Designer in the present day, does not mean he doesn’t exist. We play the hand that has dealt us the best we can (by “hand we’ve been dealt” I mean the data we have at present). I respect that you’re playing the hand differently than I. I respect that because there is enormous uncertainty. But in my opinion, a creationist or ID proponent has far less to lose by being wrong than an evolutionist.
Thanks for your participation at UD.
1. from wiki E-prime
E-Prime (short for English-Prime, sometimes denoted É or E′) is a prescriptive version of the English language that excludes all forms of the verb to be. E-Prime does not allow the conjugations of to be—be, am, is, are, was, were, been, being— the archaic forms of to be (e.g. art, wast, wert), or the contractions of to be—’s, ‘m, ‘re (e.g. I’m, he’s, she’s, they’re).
Some scholars advocate using E-Prime as a device to clarify thinking and strengthen writing. For example, the sentence “the film was good” could not be expressed under the rules of E-Prime, and the speaker might instead say “I liked the film” or “the film made me laugh”. The E-Prime versions communicate the speaker’s experience rather than judgment, making it harder for the writer or reader to confuse opinion with fact.
2. HT: Elizabeth Liddle for E-prime
3. This thread was spawned by discussions in :
If fossils are actually young, would you find ID more believable