On Christmas Day, WJM put the following hypothetical conversation in a comment. Since he has not headlined it himself, as promised yesterday, I now do so:
Typical debate with an anti-ID advocate:
ID advocate: There are certain things that exist that are best explained by intelligent design.
Anti-ID advocate: Whoa! Hold up there, fella. “Explained”, in science, means “caused by”. Intelligent design doesn’t by itself “cause” anything.
ID advocate: What I meant is that teleology is required to generate certain things, like a functioning battleship. It can’t come about by chance.
Anti-ID advocate: What do you mean “by chance”? “By” means to cause. Are you claiming that chance causes things to happen?
ID advocate: Of course not. Chance, design and necessity are the three fundamental categories of causation used to characterize the outcomes of various processes and mechanisms. You’re taking objection with colloquialisms that are commonly used in mainstream science and debate. Here are some examples of peer-reviewed, published papers that use these same colloquialisms.
Anti-ID advocate: Those aren’t real scientists!
ID advocate: Those are scientists you yourself have quoted in the past – they are mainstream Darwinists.
Anti-ID advocate: Oh. Quote mining! You’re quote mining!
ID advocate: I’m using the quotes the same way the authors used them.
Anti-ID advocate: Can you prove it?
ID Advocate: It’s not my job to prove my own innocence, but whatever. Look, it has been accepted for thousands of years that there are only three categories of causation – necessity, or law, chance and artifice, or design. Each category is distinct.
Anti ID advocate: I have no reason to accept that design is a distinct category.
ID advocate: So, you’re saying that battleship or a computer can be generated by a combination of necessity (physical laws) and chance?
Anti-ID advocate: Can you prove otherwise? Are you saying it’s impossible?
ID advocate: No, I’m saying that chance and necessity are not plausible explanations.
Anti-ID advocate: “Explanation” means to “cause” a thing. Chance and necessity don’t “cause” anything.
ID advocate: We’ve already been over this. Those are shorthand ways of talking about processes and mechanisms that produce effects categorized as lawful or chance.
Anti-ID advocate: Shorthand isn’t good enough – we must have specific uses of terms using explicitly laid-out definitions or else debate cannot go forward.
ID advocate: (insert several pages lay out specifics and definitions with citations and historical references).
ID advocate: In summary, this demonstrates that mainstream scientists have long accepted that there are qualitative difference between CSI, or organized, complimentary complexity/functionality, and what can in principle be generated via the causal categories of chance and necessity. Only intelligent or intentional agency is known to be in principle capable of generating such phenomena.
Anti-ID advocate: OMG, you can’t really expect me to read and understand all of that! I don’t understand the way you word things. Is English your first language? It makes my head hurt.
This sounds all too apt as a summary of many exchanges over the design inference, design theory and wider linked issues. Thoughts? END