I’ve been trudging through the commentaries on Behe and his new book. This is exhausting. I know how it ends.
In a nutshell, Behe has accepted all but the remarkable causal supposition of modern evolutionary explanation. This rejected supposition in sum is that the natural evolutionary mechanics, especially random mutation, are commensurate with the results of biological complexity.
This public thrashing ends with Behe being taken to task for re-introducing a God of the gaps. This time those gaps are found between the researchable landscape of biology and the non-researchable landscape that supposes a designer’s intervention.
John Coyne: What has Behe now found to resurrect his campaign for ID? Itâ€™s rather pathetic, really. Basically, he now admits that almost the entire edifice of evolutionary theory is true: evolution, natural selection, common ancestry. His one novel claim is that the genetic variation that fuels natural selectionâ€“mutationâ€“is produced not by random changes in DNA, as evolutionists maintain, but by an Intelligent Designer. That is, he sees God as the Great Mutator.
At this late stage of the ID instigation it should come as no surprise that Behe’s argument cannot escape fatal errors. After all, he’s utilizing a conception, design he’s defined a priori solely for the purpose of arguing it to be true post facto. In doing this he’s required–of himself–to create a tortuous argument that is both post-scientific and illogical.
I latch upon the post-scientific because regardless of the fatal flaws in Behe’s argument, we know it ends with his necessarily pointing in the direction of a supernatural intervention able to penetrate nature without leaving any trace. I assume the reason the ID researchers don’t go after any material facts about the supposed intervention is that they themselves assume their designer works without leaving evidence. Thus: post-science.
Arguments against ID are worthwhile and the best ones leave no valid ID leftover in their wake, yet all such arguments strike me as red herrings in the context of the supernatural supposition. It occurred to me, knowing in advance that the speculative literature about the ‘super-nature’ of the designer is barren, that the term design itself rests on an anthropomorphic assumption. We understand that something is designed because we have only human examples of processes of design and this is because the process of design itself results from human intentionality and the implementation of an operational intention to plan out the making of something. In other words, for example, design is an enactment of a particular human consciousness, so to speak of its particularity is also to recognize that short of this instrumental consciousness all other enactments in nature are instances of building, not design. Spiders build their webs. The spider doesn’t design and then build the web.
But, this is only supposed. Design is conceptualized clearly as a matter of describing what is expected to be evidence of observable elements of the process of design. This underlines design being a term about human activity, and a term defined in its own terms to be so. The ID crowd might come up with a new term to at least puncture the language game.
That they do not highlights the central importance of the anthropomorphic conceit, (reversed as: “in the image of God.”) This makes sense in terms of the language regime: a super-human consciousness is able to design just like conventional human consciousness does. God may use the greatest CAD workstation ever created, is an inveterate tinkerer, and is able to employ the most exquisite heuristics known to God and man alike.
But, all this is done with no trace of the intervention and penetration into concrete nature. My own sense, besides that this tracking of assumptions to where they must begin reveals the assumptions to be magical and reflexive nonsense, is that there cannot be any post-science about the super-nature of a creator if there is no trace of this creator’s, as it were, implementation.
To me, the design inference is unsupportable simply because of this anthropomorphic conceit. Ask yourself how one could infer a process of design that is untraceable to the designer? Also, why can’t we get into the head of God, or into the spider’s head?
Consider too that the evidence for design in man created examples is not complexity alone but is rather the evidence of the process of design; planning, documentation of trial and error, supplemental tools, recipes, blueprints, staged elements, and all other types of necessary instrumentality, etc.