Wednesday, April 11, 2007

What is wrong with Luskin's attack on Sober? Part II.

I already covered part II of Casey Luskin's "rebuttal" of Elliott Sober and this time around I want to go over part III. Again, it helps to have read both Sober's and Luskin's writings beforehand.

In part III, Luskin claims that Sober ignores the positive predictions that exist for intelligent design. He quotes from Michael Behe's "Darwin's black box" wherein Behe writes:

[I]rreducibly complex systems such as mousetraps and flagella serve both as negative arguments against gradualistic explanations like Darwin’s and as positive arguments for design. The negative argument is that such interactive systems resist explanation by the tiny steps that a Darwinian path would be expected to take. The positive argument is that their parts appear arranged to serve a purpose, which is exactly how we detect design.

The way I see it, the positive argument is entirely circular, which only leaves the negative one. In order for ID to predict ("positively") that "intelligence" generates irreducibly complex (IC) systems, ID would have to say why intelligence did do so instead of not generating IC (for a more in depth discussion of so-called ID "predictions", see my article at "On the ID World"). Here, Luskin shoots himself in the foot. Writes he:

He (Sober) wrongly expects ID to identify the "goals" of the designer, but then fails to recognize that ID identifies the "abilities" of the designer.

Since the designer, according to ID, could do ANYTHING, claiming that ID can identify the designer's abilities means absolutely nothing. On top of that, ID's inability to identify the goals of the designer means that ID cannot predict whether or not the designer should have used IC or non-IC when designing life. Luskin's claim that it does is a pure ad hoc explanation, something Luskin claimed, in part II of his rebuttal, to oppose.

On top of discussing why he thinks that IC is a positive indicator of design, Luskin also brings in Dembski's CSI. But, just as for IC, CSI is no positive indicator of design - and for the same reason.

Is there anything wrong with Sober's writings on intelligent design? If there is, Luskin has failed to point it out in parts II and III of his rebuttals. Part I of his rebuttal deals mainly with the history of intelligent design, something of which I am not terribly interested, so I can't really comment. Luskin has, however, also written a part IV, and maybe, just maybe he might be on to something there... Stay tuned.


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