Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

The ID Answer Man?


[Sorry my original posting here was a bit gruff. Let me rephrase it as follows:]

I’m happy to respond to questions that are raised in the comments on this blog provided they are pertinent to the thread in which they appear and provided I have the time. On the other hand, questions out of the blue with no relevance to a thread will be deleted. If you want to pose such questions, first be sure you’ve actually read some of my work (I’ve got a whole Q&A book titled The Design Revolution). If, after reading my stuff, you still don’t find the answer, email me (some of my email address(es) can be found at www.designinference.com). I receive lots of emails, so I can’t guarantee that I’ll get back to you, but I’ll do what I can.

Hello Gregory, I appreciate the tone and content of your last post and hope I don't sound too argumentative here. I have to admit that while it was obvious that we were not in a fight it was not so obvious that you were attempting to engage in an honest and open discussion. I felt, however erroneously, that if you were interested in a frank exchange you would merely present your ideas and then openly discuss them. At which point I would have excused myself and let the bigger brains of the more qualified help you with them. Had you posed your questions (such as "does technology evolve?") honestly I felt that an honest answer, ("yes, technology changes over time") would have been clearly read and accepted. Your adherence to the specific wording of your question, and the insistence that the answer be yes/no, made me wary that the subtleties lay in the questions and not the answers. As an example, you could ask me if the sky is blue. If I presume in good faith that you are wondering if it is clear and not cloudy and answer "yes", you can have a field day with my claim that transparent gases and vapours are in possession of pigments. If I suspect you are being a little more technical and say that "no, it is transparent", then I can be accused of ignoring observational evidence and the laws of physics and optics. If I sense that you are hiding meanings beyond my reach in demanding yes/no to the question "is the sky blue?" I might answer "the transparent molecules in our atmosphere interact with the white light from the sun, diffusing and refracting it to give the appearance, to an Earthbound observer, that it is blue."(I openly admit that there are physics types and others here who can do this response much greater justice than I). Then, since I choose not to answer the carefully worded question, I can be labelled an "avoider". I would wear that label without concern, as humans, American and otherwise, tend to rely heavily upon labels (like evolutionary creationist) in order to predetermine the respect owed to those they've so labelled. I can't presume to speak for Dr. Dembski, but I think a scholar whose every word is open to dissection and scrutiny would not easily blunder into such potential sound-bite traps. In all candor, he might just find the question irrelevant. I am not familiar with his biography, so I'll have to defer to you as to whether or not he is also Captain Dembski (that, by the way, is an attempt at humour). Now I see I was mistaken and that you were, in fact, interested in an open dialogue. Now that you have somewhat defined your use of the term "evolution", a definition which flies in the face of the bait-and-switch crowd I often encounter who insist it means "change over time", and similarly falls well short of the many definitions in my dictionary, I will gladly answer your question. The question now would read, in my mind " Do you believe that abiotic technologies can evolve? ( where "evolve" implies biologically)" I will answer a firm and unequivocal, "no". This is a little tongue-in-cheek, obviously, but to me your question and implied use of the word "evolve" demand only this answer. Likewise, if you have some other kind of evolution in mind, and the question is " do you believe that man-made technology evolves naturally, step by step, from one form to the next, with each succeeding form reliant upon that immediately preceding it, with no guidance or impetus from any intelligent agent?" then I would also answer "no". If, however, you are referring rather to some other kind of technology, perhaps some kind of biological technologies with which I am ridiculously unfamiliar, I would again have to leave the question to those bigger brains. I detest when people insist that words be defined to the nth degree in an effort to obfuscate rather than answer, but the fact that you will only "hint" at what your question is meant to discern also hints at hidden presumptions. In either case, it seems my ability to contribute to this growing, but not evolving ;) , thread has exhausted itself, so I will bid you adieu, and maybe we can chat in a future discussion. Cordially, Charlie Charlie
Hi Charlie, Thanks. Glad you can see that we’re not fighting, but openly discussing things to do with (God’s) creation, evolution and the theory (or theories) now known as ID. That’s refreshing. I asked simple, innocent questions to Bill Dembski, but (apparently) because he doesn’t like my questions, he doesn’t answer them. He answers only those questions he feels comfortable to answer and this is partly why people accuse him of intellectual dis-integrity. Uncomfortable questions are not his forte. I personally don’t think he lacks integrity, but that he is rather unwilling to admit sometimes there are things he doesn’t know. He’s shifty, not an unusual thing for a post-modern. It might be (peculiarly) an American thing though; to take comments personally that are really not meant in a personal way. On the other hand, you, Charlie, could avoid the label of avoider, by saying here one of two things (or coming up with your own adaptation on the theme), 1. Yes, I do accept the idea of ‘technological evolution’ (and/or linguistic and social evolution), or 2. No, I do not accept the idea of ‘technological evolution’ (and/or linguistic and social evolution). This would satisfy me at least that something has been answered on ‘The ID Answer Man’ thread, if not by he who claims to be the ANSwerer himself to all things related to ID, if not about human origins, an area neither his specialty or mine. Side note, that your Superbowl post didn’t offend me and it happened before Benjii even entered the picture, so I see no need to apologize. It’s nice to have some humour in this conversation that sometimes tends to serious, extremist, hard-headed claims to what counts as socially important knowledge and what doesn’t count. America is itself a nation in self-contradiction and dis-union, though the President of that nation has more ‘power’ consolidated to make things happen than at other times in recent years. Perhaps he will help push through the courts to mandate teaching a ‘pseudo-science’ that is saying ‘design, we know it is,’ even for things that don’t sound common for the concept. But that’s neither here nor there for those who have committed themselves to a people movement that is trying to upset the balance of scientists and their worldish views, against those who promote naturalism, secularism, materialism and other dis-spiriting ideologies. I happen to believe the IDM is going about their task (if in itself honourable) with insufficient funds, but that doesn’t matter much to those who are convinced (in an authoritarian way) that they are 'right, correct and cannot be proven wrong.' They obviously don’t need outside help from someone like me. Their day will come, since there is a time for all things. And ID’s time, at least on the ‘science’ side if not on the social-political MOVEment side of things, is running out. Still, answering simple, innocent questions, i.e. ‘what things don’t evolve’ according to William Dembski, would be a start. Thanks Charlie for your interest and honesty and for playing your part. Gregory p.s. I’m not asking if you believe technology merely ‘changes-over-time.’ That I think we can agree upon. I’m asking you if you think technology (language and society) ‘evolves.’ p.s.s. threads don’t ‘evolve,’ if for one reason that they are not biological things; that may be a hint at what I’m asking you and second Captain Bill also. g arago
On that note of being cordial, Benjii, if you are here: I would like to apologize for my Superbowl post. I thought it was clever at the time, but as I re-read it whenever I get here it doesn't look funny at all, only like I tried to insult you. I wasn't trying to. I hope it didn't offend you. I should realize that my sense of humour doesn't hold up too well in writing. Charlie
g aragao: Don't worry, I know you aren't fighting me. We are obviously very cordial and respectful of one another. And I certainly don't hold your citizenship against you. I am neither a patriotic chauvinist nor even an American myself. I don't make assumptions about people regarding their country (or state) of residence. I can't speak for Dembski, but I for one find your questions to be very innocent and not in the least provocative regarding categorization of which things may or may not "change over time". I don't think I could list how many things I believe evolve. Likewise, the list for the things that are designed. This thread, for instance, seems to have been evolving quite nicely, but has sort of run itself aground now, as far as I'm concerned. Charlie
Charlie, Yes, the question 'So, you accept technological evolution too?' is an innocent question, which went unanswered. Is this what you meant? Otherwise, I missed which question you are refering to. I am glad you accept evolution as a 'real' word. And also design. Could you say how old the terminology 'detect design' is? This is a late 20th century formulation, right? Hair 'styling,' I am familiar with. But 'hair designing' is another thing altogether, and kinda awkward in my opinion. It's a process either way, whereas a 'design' is a product. 'Intelligent style' doesn't sound the same. 'Accept any design anywhere' - careful Charlie, this might become a moniker of the IDM! Nice work! Sorry that I do not speak the language or logic of Dembski either, though I do apparently understand it to a degree. I am not from Texas, New Jersey, Illinois or Kentucky. Neither am I from America, the home of ID theories as a repatriated form of Paleyism in an information age. I hope you won't hold this against me. The simple question I've asked to Dembski that he is apparently not willing to answer is simply which forms of evolution he does or does not accept. It seems he doesn't want to answer in fear that it might jeopardize the big tent that is currently IDM. If he accepts that technology, society and psychology all 'evolve,' but JUST NOT BIOLOGY or HUMAN EXISTENCE (i.e. ORIGINS) then his critics will have a field day (pun intended). It may be that he has learned 'escape and evasion' too well, which D. Lamoureux accused P. Johnson 'father of the IDM' of using, to inadequately answer the question about what things evolve and what don't. It appears that some questions 'the ID Answer Man' is not prepared to answer. Evolution is bigger than Darwin. It may also be that America is the most 'evolutionary' nation in the world, and in that case no one there (on that land) is prepared to cut off the hands that feed them to truly find a post-Darwinian sensibility or solution. Neither am I fighting with you, but trying to find cooperative ground, which ID hypothesizers are thus far unwilling to allow. Please move beyond the evolutionary biologists, it's a bigger topic than that. Arago p.s. at most W. Dembski is 'an ID Answer Man' and not 'the' ID Answer Man. Otherwise positivism and universalism have won the day linguistically. Or, it may be an innocent oversight, and communication may be the main issue in such 'revolutionary' thinking as Dembski's and the IDM's. g arago
I think it is a very innocent question as well. "evolution" is a real word, and applies to many things. "Design" too, is a real word. I wonder though, if evolutionary biologists are capable of detecting design in say, bridges, computers and haircuts, does that make them design theorists? If they accept any design anywhere must they defend their rejection of it in biology? Charlie
I'm not generally much of a fighter, and I haven't a clue how one would fight a process with an origin, if such is even possible. You must know of some instance where I have done so previously, so when you show me the example I'll more than likely be able to understand what you mean. Charlie
Using an origin to fight a process again, are you, Charlie? So, you accept technological evolution too? It's an evolutionary creationists party! “I am not a thing, a noun. // I seem to be a verb, // an evolutionary process — // an integral function of the universe.” – R. Buckminster Fuller (1972) My (repeated/unanswered) question to W. Dembski would easily be solved if he who claims 'design' without reference to 'designing' would on his blog distinguish just which forms of 'evolving' (i.e. technology does 'evolve,' but biologies do not 'evolve,' languages do not 'evolve' and neither does 'consciousness,' but societies and persons do 'evolve') he accepts and which he does not. It is actually quite simple and theoretically innocent to ask him. One who claims 'revolution' should know in their own mind/heart which things don't evolve and which things do. ~~ B-I-N-G-O Benjii, I don't speak your language (quite as do you); so I must know nothing! Try reading again slower and meaning may jump out at you and say 'friend' instead of 'threat' or 'foe'. It's a cooperative language, not a struggle for survival that the ID Movement is better off to seek. Here you're just getting a peek and what's to come. g arago
The evolving technology of language, it's form, is not the same as acquiring the capacity to create and comprehend language in the first place. Charlie
I don't think you know what you are talking about! Benjii
O.k. then, let me try a few. Why do you focus on 'the molecular side' of evolution when your educational background and professional research is not in the field of biology? Is 'molecular' not a biological term? Are you relying on others for 'technical' knowledge in the field? Is evolution not also an interdisciplinary concept in our contemporary scientific milieu? On the same page of this blog you have linked ID with TRIZ, which explicity deals with 'technological evolution,' which you also endorse. This leaves the reader puzzled about your focus. Yes, of course your training is not in one single area, such as mathematics, or statistics, or mathematics, or philosophy or theology. But don't you therefore need soon to write an interdisciplinary manifesto for the ID MOVEment before claiming to prooove ID with mathematics or any other singular discipline? It seems logical that you would say 'which varieties (fields) of evolution you don't agree with' in order to show that you are an evolutionist here, but not there. And thus that such-and-such a place is where your ID theories will find their niche (e.g. information theory, but not psychology). But you haven't done this and I've asked directly to you before and it's not in the Q&A of your REVOLUTION text, so now I ask it again. "I don’t believe that humans evolved from ape-like ancestors by a gradual process of descent with modification." - W. Dembski Hmmm...one could certainly halve this sentence and ask, for an example, if you think YOU have gradually evolved in your own lifetime. But that's unecessary to discuss here and I'm not meaning to compromise your privacy. "I don’t see human consciousness and language ability gradually emerging..." - WD But isn't language considered by many people as a technology? And yet you say you believe in 'technological evolution.' But not in linguistic evolution or mental evolution...? 'Emergence' is something of a throw-in distraction if you really mean to speak about evolution and origins, instead of about processes. It is comforting, at least, to read the note that you are 'still sorting out what you believe' on some things. While on other fronts you are quite certain there is a 'revolution' going on and perhaps that you are leading it or helping other Americans to make it happen. Well, if it's a theology of paradox you are promoting, it will make your answers to questions raised by honest, curious readers of your blog all the more interesting. Good wishes in this Q&A format. g. arago g arago
Thanks bud. I can't believe I'm exchanging Q&A with one of the country's foremost design theorist? Benjii
Okay, Benjii, fair enough. You can track down my email at www.designinference.com. Because of your persistance and good faith, I owe you the courtesy of answering your question, so I'll do it here, though in the future let's do this by email. My focus with evolution tends to be on the molecular side, so with regard to human origins, I'm still sorting out what I believe. I do know, however, what I don't believe, that is, I don't believe that humans evolved from ape-like ancestors by a gradual process of descent with modification. Thus I don't see human consciousness and language ability gradually emerging as an ape-like ancestor gradually becomes more and more human. Thus I see these features of our humanity as well as the physical endowments needed for these features as emerging suddenly. William Dembski
Well, Bill, I would've appreciated an answer for my question regarding the human origins paper you wrote. I tried e-mailing you before but I couldn't find your e-mail on the net. Benjii
I was hoping if after you answered the monkey question I could get your Superbowl picks. Charlie

Leave a Reply