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Del Ratzsch Responds to Niall Shanks

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Del Ratzsch as an extended critical review of Niall Shanks’s anti-ID book God, the Devil, and Darwin. The review is at Ars Disputandi — go here.

Del Ratzsch brings up another irritation of mine. Page 6, paragraph [21] “C. Dembski (Example 3). Critics of ID frequently ask advocates: who designed the designer? * * * There is an obvious answer to that question, and it is that there can be a significant explanatory gain at the immediate level even if comparable things remain unexplained on a deeper level. For instance, suppose that panspermia theories were correct.” For the life of me I cannot figure out why this is so hard to understand or accept. I hate to plummet from your high levels of science to the depths of TV, but anyone watching one of the CSI shows or any crime show of the last 50 years knows that police use science [and common sense] to find that the cause of people’s injuries or death is due to “intelligent design” [hence a crime has been committed], without needing to first know “who done it,” let alone know who “designed” the criminal. Suppose there is a race of aliens known as “Crickians” living in the Franciscan quadrant of the galaxy. For hundreds of millions of years they have been conducting science experiments on planet earth, depositing new life forms, killing off others, triggering climate changes [could all be true you know; if Darwinists don’t need evidence for their theories, why should I?]. Recently, spies revealed that their arch enemies, the Dickieheads from the Chocolate Thunder quadrant are about to discover earth. At once, the Crickians send a team to earth to use their Super Gould Ray Guns to destroy all human life [including remains of the dead]. When the Dickieheads arrive, they wonder about how the Hoover Dam and other dams came to be. They soon discover beavers, and some scientists extrapolate that if the beavers built those little dams, then they must have built the Hoover Dam [and Grand Coulee, and Bonneville]. Others suggest that’s too big a leap of extrapolation, so there must have been some greater intelligence that designed and built those dams. No way, say the Dickieheads’ lead scientists. That’s not science. Not unless you know first who designed those dam builders. So the poor dumb schmuck Dickieheads will have to stick with the Beavers story [Go Oregon State in the College World Series!]. You could modify my “theory” to have the Crickians wipe out all biological life before the Dickieheads arrive on earth, then leave the Dickieheads scratching their teeny tiny heads trying to figure out “natural” explanations for dams, airplanes, rockets, etc. and etc. That’ll drive ‘em even nuttier. JohnLiljegren
One thing about Darwinists that really irritates me is their certainty about knowing other people’s true purposes and motivations and knowing other things for which they cite no supporting evidence. Del Ratzsch gets into this a bit on page 3, paragraph 8 [“Yet, Shanks simply asserts--without providing substantive evidence--that ID was `spawned' by the creationist movement, which ‘gave rise to modern intelligent design theory.’”] Ratzsch also gets into the “true motivations” point on pages 13-14, paragraphs 57-59. Am I correct in thinking that the only way Niall Shanks or anyone else can “know” something, especially when it comes to a person’s true motives, is one of four ways: (a) direct revelation from God; (b) someone else told them so [not very scientific, and besides Shanks offers no citations]; (c) inferences from evidence, that is, inductive reasoning [again, no citations by Shanks, as Del Ratzsch points out]; or (d) deductive reasoning from a truthful major premise? None of the grounds (b) to (d) apply in the case of Shanks “knowing” Dembski’s true, secret motivations [unless Shanks wants to argue as a major premise that all people who criticize Darwinism have such and such a motivation]. If I am correct, then can’t we suggest that Shanks is implicitly claiming to have the mind of God? Or, if any of the other three grounds (b) to (d) do apply, then it is up to Shanks to provide the proof. Which of course he cannot and will not do. So every time one of these guys attacks your motives [Dembski and others], why don’t we suggest that the attacker must be claiming either to be God or to have the mind of God? Let them explain how it could be otherwise. JohnLiljegren
[...] t care a whit about toeing the line or belonging with the right crowd. Imagine my joy when Dembski posted a link to an article (PDF) of Ratzsch’s, reviewing the book God, the D [...] Telic Thoughts » A Vertical Playing Field

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