What Giberson Wants from ID
|May 17, 2014||Posted by johnnyb under Philosophy, Intelligent Design, Science|
In a recent debate between Stephen Meyer and Karl Giberson, Giberson (a well-known theistic evolutionist) related what he thought was how ID could proceed in order for him to take it more seriously as a scientific endeavor. I thought it was a very thoughtful response, and posted it here for you.
The quote below was transcribed by myself in a limited amount of time, so I’m sure a lot of the details are wrong, but I think I was able to capture the essence of Giberson’s critique. The exchange occurs in the video from about 1:41:00 to about 1:48:00 if anyone finds corrections worth noting.
Here’s my rough transcribed version:
First I would like to see the emergence of something that would look like a theory. I’ve tried to think what a good theory of Intelligent Design might look like. The closest thing I can think of to what Intelligent Design might look, in order to fit in with current scientific theories, is something like is the second law of thermodynamics. The second law of thermodynamics is kind of an anti-designer. It says that information is constantly destroyed. And the second law of thermodynamics is very precise—it gives a mathematical equation, it has a number that says “this is the amount of information,” it has a term called entropy for the amount of disorder, it has a rate at which disorder is increased, and you can solve problems with it. Many many things that we would like to understand in nature are illuminated in a very satisfactory way. If there were to be a law something like that, that showed how information creation works, so that you could say, which you can’t right now, “here is a biological entity, and here is the amount of information that it has. And here are mechanisms by which that information can kind of flow in,” so that we could begin to see how this works and understand the process, rather than having to infer some missing designer that does things off the radar, and then we might have to imagine what might have happened after-the-fact. So if a theory emerged like that I would find that very appealing.
The other thing I would want to see is something that would change the way Intelligent Design purports to “explain” things. Usually in nature, when we want to explain things, at the end of it we have our curiosity kind of satisfied. The problem with design explanations is that they just move the question you are asking from one place to the next. It’s sort of like finding a pattern on the floor, and asking “where did that come from,” and you see a stamp that matches the pattern, and you say, “well it came from that samp over there.” Well, now your question is “where did this stamp come from?” If you look at an intricate, highly improbable sequence in the DNA, and you say “where did it come from,” and someone answers, “well, an external highly improbable source of information came in put that pattern on the DNA, and that’s where it came from.” Now my question is simply about that external source. I would want to see something that didn’t just move my question from one location to another. Something that would either answer my question, or leave me with a different question. But I think ID right now just takes my question and moves it to a different place.
Anyway, I thought I would open this up for discussion, as I think it is a very well reasoned and articulated description of how some of our more friendly critics feel about our work. I appreciate Giberson’s efforts at articulating what, specifically he views as the defects in ID theory.