Sunday, October 29, 2006

Aliens demand answers

Cameron at overwhelming evidence blogged on 3rd Oct, 2006

Design Inference

You are alone in your house when suddenly you are surrounded by creatures who announce that they are from another planet. You aren't sure that you are awake--this could be a dream, but it feels very real.

Next you are aboard a spaceship, flying through the solar system. The aliens tell you that they have checked in on earth life periodically since it first started. They tell you that one day they abducted a lifeform from earth and changed it. They then returned it to earth.

Your alien captors give you a chance to guess what it was they changed. If you guess wrong, you will be killed. If you guess correctly, you will be returned to earth.

They give you two options. They say that one was designed by them, the other resulted from the Darwinian mechanism:

a) they changed a bacteria by adding a flagellum

b) they changed a beak on a finch on a Gallapagos island, which Darwin later attributed to natural selection.

Which do you choose? Which do you think was more likely to have been designed, and which is more likely to have resulted from the Darwinian mechanism?

If one thing is more likely to have been designed than another thing, that is a design inference.

The point of this post, as Cameron later describes is "that even the anti-ID crowd will have to admit that some things are more likely to be designed than others. But that is a concession that it is possible to infer design. How would they answer the question, "why is thing A more likely to be designed than thing B?" I'm not sure why he wants to make this point. Of course design can be inferred. Archaeologists do it all the time. The real thrust in his post is not really what he is arguing as much as the "wedge" he is trying to insert into peoples minds. While not saying outright that the choice between the flagellum and the beak is a real one, that is nonetheless the impression one easily comes out with. The alien scenario is, of course, just a hypothetical example he has provided and it is extremely easy to turn it into a pro-evolution one. Just change the options given above into

a) they created the mammalian blood-clotting system
b) they created centaurs (they even show you a living example on their ship)

Which do you choose?


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